Spotify Debuts Its Long-Rumored “Hey Spotify” Wake Word For Hands-Free Music Selection

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Spotify users can now select music with their voice. Photo Credit: Alexander Shatov

Spotify has officially debuted its long-rumored “Hey Spotify” wake word for listeners on mobile devices.

The feature, which arrives a little over a year after rumors first suggested that the Stockholm-based company was developing a wake word, just recently came to light in the form of a notification. Now, upon navigating to the “Voice” section of the Spotify app’s settings page, fans can activate the “Hey Spotify” function. The service will then listen for this wake word “when the app is open and on your screen.”

After speaking said wake word – or wake words, that is – users will see on-screen text reading “Try saying an artist, song, or playlist name.” From there, providing an artist name will prompt the app to shuffle that creator’s music, and listeners can transition to different musicians’ tracks simply by repeating the wake word and specifying another artist.

Other voice-enabled aspects could help artists build their fanbases in new ways. For example, a Siri-like Spotify may eventually allow listeners to more easily find new songs, search for nearby tour dates, or learn additional details about an artist (incidentally, that makes having a solid artist bio even more important — here’s a good guide on how to write an effective musician bio).

Through 2021’s opening three months, Spotify debuted an array of other experience-minded functions, including a system that inserts “slow down” songs into playlists when listeners approach school zones as well as support for on-screen lyrics. More broadly, evidence suggests that the platform will move forward with a multitude of additional improvements in the approaching months and years, given the sizable collection of patents that it’s secured.

To be sure, Spotify in December of 2020 filed a patent for auto-generated playlists based upon past listening activity, after moving that same month to patent a “spoken words analyzer,” which would identify songs’ lyrics with AI and classify the works accordingly. Plus, on-platform music videos could be right around the corner, per reports that also emerged in 2020’s final month.

Furthermore, Spotify has also patented technology to target users with “nostalgia metrics,” and 2020 saw the platform launch a lyric-search feature and seemingly set the stage for the rollout of livestream-concert support.

Separately, the leading music streaming service has continued to invest in non-music audio entertainment, including by bankrolling all manner of exclusive podcasts, enlisting high-profile figures to record audio editions of classic books, and, about one week ago, acquiring Clubhouse competitor Locker Room.

In “the coming months,” Spotify intends to “evolve and expand Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans,” potentially supporting debates, AMA sessions, real-time discussions, and much more. Given these ambitious plans and ongoing investments in podcasting, among other factors, it’s possible that Spotify could experience fundamental changes throughout the remainder of 2021 and beyond.