Spotify is TikTok-ifying itself with a vertical feed of music videos

By Malavika Pradeep

Published Nov 25, 2021 at 10:59 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Another day, another app cosplaying TikTok’s signature video feed format. Joining Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix in the pursuit of some gen Z action is none other than the foregone music giant Spotify—with yet another feature inspired by the coveted short-form content platform.

First spotted by developer Chris Messina, Spotify is currently testing a vertical feed of curated music videos that users can scroll through indefinitely. Dubbed ‘Discover’, the feature appears as a newly-minted tab in the navigation bar at the bottom of the Spotify app—right in between the Home and Search icons.

https://twitter.com/chrismessina/status/1463542273216446472

In an interview with TechCrunch, Messina explained that he stumbled across the feature in Spotify’s TestFlight build—a beta version for iOS. He also noted how the new circular icon in the navigation toolbar would immediately direct one to the video feed upon tapping. Users can then swipe up and down to view music videos on their curated feed, much like how we already do on TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and more. Here, they also have the option to like the songs by tapping on a heart and bring up the standard song information sheet by clicking on the three-dot menu placed next to it.

Messina further speculated that the feature will replicate Spotify’s existing ‘Canvas’ format. Introduced in 2019, Canvas essentially allows artists to create and add highly-stylised video clips to their music on the app. The response to the feature back then, however, was mixed. While some appreciated it, others admitted their preferences for static album art during listening sessions. The latter was also accompanied by claims that the videos and looping imagery distracted one from the music itself. On the other hand, the feature appears to drive the engagement metrics that Spotify desires. “The company reports that users are more likely to keep streaming, share tracks or save tracks when they see a Canvas,” TechCrunch noted.

https://twitter.com/chrismessina/status/1463588985213620227

When the publication reached out to Spotify, the company confirmed that it was exploring the idea of a vertical video feed. “At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience,” a spokesperson said. “Some of those tests end up paving the way for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning.” In short, the Discover project is still at its initial testing phase and there’s no way of confirming whether it will roll out to the public or not. If it does, however, the feature would undoubtedly redirect engagement back to Spotify from other platforms like TikTok—the one it’s trying to replicate in the first place. How? Let’s get ‘into the thick of it’ with some statistics.

Earlier this year, TikTok commissioned MRC Data—an independent research and analytics group—to dig deeper into one of the app’s top defining spheres of influence: music. According to reports obtained from the group, TikTok has proven to be a more powerful music discovery platform than Spotify. “Even generously assuming that 100 per cent of Spotify users discover new artists and music on the streamer, that would make TikTok 168 per cent more powerful for artist and music discovery than the world’s most powerful streaming service,” the research summed up.

In order to rejuvenate engagement and boost content discovery, Spotify has previously tested a Stories feature which allowed influencers to post and share their own curated playlists. But it never got to see the light of day. If Discover ultimately makes its way into the public, the feature would act as a potential source for Spotify to finally pull the UNO reverse card on TikTok. Because, after all, TikTok’s popularity is hinged on short-form music clips in the first place. So, why can’t the opposite work for Spotify and help the platform reclaim its identity as a musical powerhouse?

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