Spotify's spotty Spotlight

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Issue Date: 
Oct 2 2013 - 12:45pm

From Issue:

Some noise is happening around Spotify’s recently-announced and felicitously-named Spotlight feature, which aspires to highlight new and exclusive music. Today’s view of Spotlight features Drake and Arcade Fire, so it’s not exactly bleeding-edge alt. Two up-and-comers, Haim and Lorde, are atop the new feature, and those two groups are getting most of the PR attention as Spotlight rolls out.

Never mind the confusions of whether Spotlight is looking under rocks for unknown talent or sitting on the couch with stars, the main problem is product bafflement. Interested users can’t figure out exactly what Spotlight is or how to find it. We scratched our heads here, poking at various Spotify environments (web app, Windows desktop app, Android phone app, iPad app) like chimps with sticks, trying to find a Spotlight-branded feature. On the Spotify blog, where Spotlight was vaguely announced Monday, one disgruntled customer griped, “You’d think they’d at least tell us what the product is.”

Answer: Spotlight is, in part, a Spotify-curated playlist. Find it by searching for “Spotlight On 2013.” The playlist has about 1,500 followers as of this post -- not huge uptake. But there's more to the fragmented Spotlight product. Feature articles, including band profiles of Spotlight artists (Haim and Lorde again), are branded as "Spotlight On" pieces, and can be found in the Browse section, after clicking the News button.  

Spotlight is clearly not (yet?) a broken-out discovery environment. And the playlist, in our opinion, isn’t compellingly interesting. But Spotify users should keep their hopes high for development here. Spotify is powering into “360 programming” -- witness the Spotify Landmark series, which debuted with an elaborate multimedia presentation of Nirvana history. So it would not be a surprise if Spotlight turned into an integrated feature that threw its marketing muscle behind new bands (much-needed positive PR, there), and which gave its users a more coherent environment to dig into. 


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