New personalizable web radio service the "central feature" of Spotify's iPhone, iPad apps

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Issue Date: 
Jun 19 2012 - 11:00am

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Spotify Radio on iPhones

A coming update to Spotify's iPhone and iPad apps will include customizable streaming radio, available even to free users (previously Spotify's mobile app was completely off-limits to free users). Observers say the move makes Spotify "more directly competitive with online radio leader Pandora," as Billboard writes.

The new streaming radio service -- now "the central feature of the mobile app," according to Spotify product manager Donovan Sung -- lets users create stations from songs, playlists, albums, artists or their friends' musical tastes. Users can save tracks for on-demand listening later and customize the stream with thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons.

Spotify quoteInterestingly -- reportedly unlike Spotify's earlier radio product (more here) -- the new radio streams are "DMCA compliant," reports All Things Digital, meaning "Spotify doesn't need permission from music owners in order to roll it out. It also means the streams are "cheaper to operate" for Spotify, writes Bloomberg, "because royalty rates are lower" than direct deals. The streams also include advertising (like Spotify's free desktop offering).

The iOS update will arrive "in the next few days," Spotify told Engadget. An Android version may be coming later this year.

"We feel like the radio experience of just hitting play, leaning back and not controlling exactly what plays is core to a great music experience,” Charlie Hellman, Spotify VP of product, told Bloomberg.

We first caught wind of Spotify's plans to create a Pandora-like Internet radio service in April (RAIN coverage here).  On-demand competitor Rdio is also reportedly working on a Pandora-like web radio offering (RAIN coverage here).

Peter Kafka argues in All Things Digital that this is bad news for Pandora. "A lot of people confuse Spotify’s streaming music service with Pandora’s streaming music service. Now they’re going to be a lot more confused." That's "a problem for Pandora."

He continues, "Spotify now has a chance to expose many more people to its product, in the hopes of eventually converting some of them to paid subscribers. And Pandora, which has consistently argued that it hasn’t seen any impact from Spotify’s U.S. launch last summer, may no longer be able to say that."

You can find more coverage from All Things Digital here, Bloomberg here, Engadget here, The Verge here, Boy Genius Report here and Billboard here.


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