Last night, Spotify took a huge step into the future at the 2023 Stream On event. The second edition of its kind focused heavily on expanding the horizons for creators and embracing them regardless of their Audio area - Music, Podcasts, or Audiobooks.
Spotify unlocked new pathways for content creators and listeners around the world at Stream On, with fresh new features announced to improve connections and build truly engaged listener communities.
I joined Ross (aka @OurPodfather, one of the Community Managers), to bring this blog to you and share some of what took place at Stream On 2023.
To start, we heard about the audio market's rapid growth, and how Spotify is dedicated to becoming a real ‘home’ for curators, helping them reach more people worldwide. After all, the music industry is "healthier and more diverse than ever", said Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek.
We heard not only about Artists and music though, but also Spotify’s heavy focus on Podcasts and Audiobooks, and why they’re so vital to the platform. Podcasts remain a fast-maturing area, and they’re becoming a favorite for users around the globe. It was so cool to hear how countries like Brazil and India are emerging as some of the biggest podcast markets, but we’ll come back to talk more about the changes to Podcasts later!
All in all, last night truly reinforced Spotify’s continued commitment to all Audio avenues, and we’re excited to talk about it here in this blog.
Starting yesterday, we’re going to see Spotify gradually updated with new features and tools to help us listeners discover the absolute best new content and to help creators get heard. Artists and listeners alike will become more intertwined than ever, and we’re getting the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Audio we love. With these changes, we’re about to have even more legendary and personalized libraries at our fingertips.
The Home screen is getting a fresh new design that will offer not one, not two, but three interactive feeds. First up, animated song canvases, audio, and music previews will mix into one for the most unique and personalized Music experience yet. You’ll actually see the artists you love, or are about to fall in love with and have everything right in front of you. On the Podcasts feed, you’ll be able to listen to Podcast previews before you commit - and even watch them if videos are available! Then last, but not least, the Audiobooks feed will also work around you, bringing you suggestions (with up to five-minute previews), and helping you to find that one title you can’t stop listening to.
Next up at Stream On, we want to talk about how Xavier "X" Jernigan, the voice behind the new Spotify AI DJ feature took to the stage! “X” explained how Spotify is reimagining the way listeners interact with the music they love, through AI DJ. This was launched a few weeks ago in the U.S. and Canada, and it was pretty incredible to see “X” tell the story of how this brings Spotify to life!
Having spoken a lot about discovery and being delivered the freshest new content, Spotify also recognized how we love to create our own playlists too. Spotify lovers are constantly saving their favorite Audio to playlists, and it seems we’re pretty keen on becoming curators ourselves through the Spotify experience. These home-grown self-made playlists remain one of the top choices when deciding what to play, however Spotify understands that over time tastes change and we don’t just stay in one playlist. We move on, and begin making the next playlist in our library (sometimes forgetting about the ones that came before). After all, our tastes remain dynamic with everything offered to us.
As a way to keep user-built playlists new and fresh, Spotify is introducing Smart Shuffle mode. This is a special feature if you ask me, that adds new recommended songs to your playlist, carefully considering how each song will integrate and suit the vibe just as you want something new mixed in. It's similar to the Enhance feature, but now, it's on-demand by creating a new experience to keep those listening sessions evergreen.
Going one step further again, listeners can now easily explore new feeds for discovery in the Search tab too. You'll scroll up and down to find songs, and can easily save them, share them with friends, or follow the artist all in one place. Exploring related genres is going to be easier than ever using hashtags too! Previews will arrive on Made For You playlists too, like Discover Weekly or Release Radar, introducing another unique experience.
So, what next? Spotify introduced three new tools for artists to help them with that connection element, and enable them to promote to their fan base with Spotify for Artists at the heart of it. You can read more about that here.
Countdown Pages was then presented by artists themselves, which as the name says will allow listeners to pre-save upcoming releases, and get notified first upon release. Counting down with the artist not only keeps us in the loop in realtime, but also provides another of those ‘connection’ points between the artist and listener.
More artists will also be able to interact with their fans through Video Clips on their albums page or their profiles on Spotify. "The possibilities are expansive, with Clips enabling artists to build excitement for an unreleased song, promote a new album or single, tell the story behind a song, and much more".
Now, I promised you we’d come back to it, so over to Ross to tell you more about the big updates on Podcasts...
During the event, Spotify announced a series of exciting updates that are aimed at enhancing the experience for Podcasters and listeners. These updates include new features such as video podcasting rolling out further, interactive episodes with Q&As and polls, and educational content coming that allows users to learn and grow alongside their favorite shows.
Spotify is also expanding its lineup of Spotify Originals and Exclusives, which will bring yet more exciting shows to the platform. Examples of these shows include The Riddler: Secrets in the Dark and video podcasts like Forbidden Fruits. Spotify is partnering with creators such as Markiplier, Collab, Creative Juice, and Karat to provide a wide range of diverse content for listeners.
Spotify's Audience Network has seen significant growth since its launch in 2021, with the number of podcasters participating increasing eightfold, and the monthly payout to opted-in publishers growing by nearly 50%. The company's acquisition of Megaphone has also given Spotify a new hosting, insights, and monetization solution for enterprise publishers such as The Wall Street Journal, Paramount, and ESPN. This service will be uniquely integrated into Spotify for Podcasters in the future.
Spotify has also partnered with Patreon to enable creators to publish patron-only content on the platform. This integration powered by Spotify Open Access allows patrons to easily link their Patreon account to their Spotify account and access exclusive content.
It’s also going to be easier for Podcasters, as all their tools are being consolidated into one platform called Spotify for Podcasters. This new platform means that creators can now access everything they need to make, manage, and level up their show all in one place. Plus, they're offering free hosting and advanced analytics to track a show’s growth, which is pretty cool. But it's not just for creators who are already on Spotify - all Spotify for Podcasters users, even those who aren't hosting their content with Spotify, will have access to interactive features like Q&A and Polls in their dashboards. And if that's not enough, access to video podcasts is being opened up to more creators too.
In addition to the new capabilities, features for listeners to better discover and engage with creators' work like podcast previews mentioned before, and Podcast Chapters are the icing on the cake.
Wow, this article was becoming so big that we needed to feature just some of our favorite parts of the 2023 Stream On, but there is more, and you can find it here:
Spotify is always full of new things, and if you don't want to lose it, stay tuned on Spotify For the Record. There you can find even more information about Stream On and some exclusive articles for you, no matter if you're a listener, a creator, or both.
Big thanks to @OurPodfather and the Stream On team for helping with this article.
See you at the next one!