Spotify capped off a big year with the launch of personalized discovery tools that provides a lot more songs and artists to follow. The improvements, which rely on both algorithmic suggestions and a new Twitter-like music graph, should help drive more usage and address criticism that Spotify’s discovery tools were not robust enough.
Users will now get greeted by a new Discover tab that provides recommendations based on what a user has listened to or interacted with in the past. So, if you have been listening to one artist, Spotify will advise you try out another musician it feels you might like.
Users can play that music right now or save it to a new Collection, which houses all of user’s saved songs. Spotify also displays related music under the music player so people can find similar songs. And it also reminds users when a favorite artist is touring nearby.
There’s also a new Twitter-like Follow tab that allows users to follow influential and knowledgeable users to discover new music. So, users can follow their favorite artist and get notifications the second a new album is out. Or they can track influencers and see what songs they’re listening to. Justin Bieber, Katy Perry are among some of the artists who are part of Spotify’s new music graph.
This should help bring artists and fans closer together. That’s happening now through Twitter and Facebook (s fb) but this makes the relationship front and center in a setting dedicated to music. And it gets at one of the basic problems for many Spotify users: the service can be good users who know what they want to listen to but it’s not great for people interested in finding new stuff.
“This is just an amazing new experience and connection between artists and fans that’s not really possible. Artists can talk back and engage fans right where they are,” said Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek.
Ek said the new improvements will appear in beta later this month for the desktop and will spread to all devices in the new year.
This should keep up the strong momentum for Spotify, which is now up to 20 million users, five million of them paying. It now has one billion playlists and it’s paid out more than $500 million to rights holders. Spotify has also starting rolling out a beta of a browser based application.
One of the themes Spotify kept hammering home was that the streaming music service can work alongside other models of downloading or buying music. Users can use Spotify to discover and find music and many will then decide to own the music.
Ek said that even in Sweden with half of people there using Spotify, iTunes has not declined. To further make that point that Spotify can work for artists and labels, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, who went toe-to-toe with Napster, appeared on stage alongside Sean Parker to announce it was joining Spotify.