Early Wednesday morning, Spotify live streamed their press conference via Twitter’s new live stream app Periscope. I tuned in just as Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek took the stage. Just 2,000 other Periscopers caught the live stream which lasted just under an hour before it mysteriously ended mid sentence. “And now we have a special treat…” exclaimed Mr. Ek before the feed got cut. Maybe they had a musical act who didn’t want to be live streamed or maybe they have the same technicians running the live stream as Hooli’s Nucleus.
It was odd Spotify chose to broadcast from a phone via Periscope. Couldn’t they have teamed up with Periscope to create a professional looking stream and not made it seem like this was shot by one of Mitt Romney’s caterers?
Some commenters watching noted they miss Apple’s keynotes. It’s odd Spotify didn’t have a high quality live stream available on the web.
Either way, Spotify announced some exciting new features. Some already rumored and some quite innovative.
The most impressive (creepy?) new feature is Spotify’s ability to detect the pace and tempo of your run and match it with the perfect song. Chief Product Officer, Gustav Söderström, explained that smart phones already have sensors that capture this information and Spotify is able to read it, interpret it to beats per minute (BPM) and find a song that matches your run tempo, “in about 5 seconds.”
Spotify is teaming up with artists to create an entirely new format of music that will change to fit your pace. Söderström said “we’re not trying to slip bpm stretching past you.” The composition itself will magically rearrange to fit your pace. “You will have a very different experience every time you want to go for a run” he mentioned.
Tiesto hopped on stage as one of the creators making this new format of music and discussed why he jumped at this opportunity. He said that a lot of his fans like to work out to his music but that most of his songs are at 128bpms (too slow to run to). He rearranged some of his music and has created many of his songs at 160 bpm (perfect run tempo).
A bit easier for electronic artists to speed up or slow down (and slightly rearrange) their tracks, than, say a rock band who would actually need to record the song at multiple tempos. I don’t see this catching on.
Now Start Page
Spotify will grab your location and based on what kinds of music you normally listen to at that time and location (work, waking up, dinner time, etc) Spotify will recommend a playlist based on your music collection along with some suggestions. Over time Spotify learns what you like and what you do and will adjust and customize the playlists.
Video, Podcasts, News
Instead of having to leave the Spotify app and go to your Podcast, NPR or YouTube apps, Spotify is integrating video, podcasts and news directly within Spotify.
They spent a solid 3 minutes showing a clip from Comedy Central’s Broad City to introduce the kind of content you can now watch on Spotify (and then the Broad City ladies came out for a disjointed stand-up style schtick where they got way too excited for this 8AM techie crowd). Spotify has teamed up with Comedy Central, NBC, ABC, MTV, Vice, BBC, Condé Nest Entertainment, Maker Studios, Ted, Nerdist shows and others.
There will be exclusive original video and audio content within Spotify like Amy Poehler’s Dance Move of the Day, curated radio shows by Icona Pop, Tyler the Creator and Jungle, “A Full English” which will be a conversation between artists and personalities over breakfast, “Incoming” a weekly audio show hosted by Joe Levy discussing new music. “Guest List” a (video) show interviewing stars about their favorite music. “Turntable” which brings chefs and musicians together for a performance and a meal, “The Drop” where artists tell how their new album came to life, “Spotify Sessions” which Spotify explains as “intimate performances from the hottest new artists to living legends,” and “Landmark” which is an aural history of some of the “greatest records ever released, told by the legends who helped create them.”
The timing of this press conference comes just weeks before Apple officially announces their new streaming platform, Apple Music, and shortly after Jay Z’s Tidal launch. Spotify is hoping to stay three steps ahead on the streaming front.
It’s a little disappointing that Spotify has decided to branch out into new media before mastering music. There are still no lyrics or track credits on mobile. And the highest streaming resolution still remains at 320kbps (while the default sits at an abysmal 96kbps – which most don’t even realize they can change).
Gustav Söderström (when introducing the running feature) protested “The music player still looks like it did 15 years ago. Surely there must be some innovation that could happen in music based on the insane technological progress.” Exactly.