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Adele and the Album Shuffle


Adele and the Album Shuffle

It was interesting to find out that Spotify changed the default "Play" button in the album context menu after Adele requested it, as reported by the BBC:


Adele tweeted that "Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended."


I also believe albums are sacred bodies of work and should be listened to from start to finish. However, I think that this feature change (and the big news coverage around it) misses the point, which is that streaming platforms are generally geared towards consuming (mood-/genre-/ decade-based) playlists, not albums. Albums are uploaded as such onto the platform, but the vast majority of the plays the songs on the album get are from being added to/featured on playlists.


All that to say that, if Adele was hoping that this would somehow change how people consume albums on streaming platforms, she's misunderstood the entire premise of streaming and how its user base interacts with the content on these platforms.


This is the main reason why, if I want to appreciate an album (preferably more than once), I buy the CD and listen to it in the car. Maybe it's a generational thing, but I don't trust myself to listen through an entire album on Spotify without compulsively adding a song to the queue or switching to another playlist entirely.


I'd love to hear other people's views on this.

6 Replies

I'm not bothered by the change, I never listen to an entire album but thought it was a terrible feature to have as the default on albums anyway.  The shuffle feature is still available from the song page if people want to use it.


I am bothered though by how quick and easy it seems to have been for them to make the change, when paying customers have been asking for pretty standard features to be put in or returned for years and have been ignored. 

I usually listen to an album in order the first time I listen to it but sometimes I just want to shuffle it to listen in random order. Sometimes you just want to be surprised by what song is coming next to mix things up a bit and not be the same all the time. I think you're right though that most of the time people are listening to things in a playlist with other songs mixed in. I think I really only listen to an album in order when it first comes out. After that I might come back and listen in order but it's rare. I usually just listen to my playlists, I like a variety.


I never really liked the shuffle play button anywhere in the app years ago when I first started using Spotify because I thought it was confusing for most users who wanted to play the list in order. However I've grown to like it as an easy button to press to shuffle play the album or playlist I want to listen to.

I think the users who don't like the shuffle play button misunderstand how to actually use the Spotify app. If you want to play a list in order you press the first song in the list, if you want to shuffle play the list, you press the play button.


So here is my suggestion to fix the design in the app to be less confusing and let the user decide if they want to either play the list in order or shuffle it:


Why can't we have BOTH Play & Shuffle buttons? Other music apps already have this.


It would just make it easy to either play in order or shuffle. We already had both options before, all users had to do was press the first song in the list to play in order or press the shuffle play button to shuffle. Now both pressing the play button and pressing on the first song in the list do the same thing. But those who used the shuffle button now have extra steps to turn it on.


💡New Idea:


Albums & Playlists: Have BOTH Play & Shuffle buttons at the top


Please click the link and vote for it in the Spotify Community if you agree.

MattSudaSpotify Star
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If Adele wants me to listen to either a whole album of hers, or not all .... with all due respect, and as much as I like  her voice: No Adele for me.

I really understand if artists want to present their art in a particular form. But the average 3 minute track is just not made for this. If someone wants to turn the whole new world of music consumption upside down and make people consume in a particular way, why not just release one-track albums? Why force it on everyone? Are we in an artist-dictatorship now? 

I feel as though there is a huge market of album listeners that are almost neglected by top streaming companies as the design is based around playlist. More generations are open to listening to albums, its just not easy to sort and explore them.

I suggest there should be a way of sorting your albums at the very least so people can commit less to getting into album listening. My idea is for a playlist made for albums so you can sort by mood, movies, genre, artist, etc.

@Frankrizzo303 Great point: the fact that an artist could tweet about a desired feature on a whim and that a company would immediately respond and implement it could make users feel undermined and underappreciated. Personally I think it's cool that Spotify jumped on the opportunity to implement something that is uncontroversial as a random act of kindness, but again, it really shouldn't be seen or presented as anything more than that.

@MattSuda I agree that having the normal play button in some contexts and the shuffle play button in others is confusing. I think your solution honours the difference in people's preferences while also keeping the design consistent across the app. You have my vote 🙂

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