In Q2 2023, TechCrunch reported that Spotify had passed the half-a-billion user mark. Now, with 515 million active users, Spotify is one of the most popular, most-loved apps worldwide.
The tech giant generated €11.72 billion in revenue in 2022. Looking at their numbers more closely, their subscriber growth was slower than their user growth: a 15% increase in subscribers year on year, versus the 22% growth in total active users.
Source: Spotify First Quarter Earnings 2023. I’d be interested to see the revenue split from premium subscribers and advertisement revenue, as freemium users do contribute to the business through ad revenue.
In terms of their product roadmap, the biggest feature releases this year focused on the audio discovery process: how to help users find new artists and songs.
Despite the 100 million songs and 5 million podcasts already available, one of the big challenges Spotify faces is content discovery. The constant battle against the stale, overplayed playlists, and users going into an audio wormhole and never coming out again.
I’ve had this before.
I zone out listening to my playlists and become increasingly irritated listening to the same songs over and over.
But then when I search, I draw a blank.
What is my music taste? How do I describe it?
I can’t quite find the words.
This is where personalization and ML are key to helping users discover content and deliver experiences that keep Spotify users engaged over time.
One key feature was launched last week to help with just this. To help keep Spotify users fresh and engaged. To get us out of our wormholes.
Enter the daylist.
Sunny, happy & vibey
According to Spotify:
It’s hyper-personalized, dynamic, and playful as it reflects what you want to be listening to right now.
Let’s find out what this new feature is, how it personalises the experience for users, and why it’s so damn good.
Daylist Day 1
Feature introduction: product marketing popup
The first I heard about Spotify’s new daylist feature was in the app itself.
There I was on a workday, looking for a deep work playlist to get me off to a productive start on a Monday.
And I was hit with a pop-up:
daylist pops up on the Spotify desktop app. Love the bright block coral colour.
what’s a daylist?
I don’t know Spotify, what is a daylist?
we’re not sure exactly. but yours is waiting for you
…tell me more…
I love this pop-up.
I often dismiss popups but this caught me for a few key reasons:
- It is bright
- It is easy to read
- It starts with a question
- The copy is odd: ‘we’re not sure’ piques my interest
- The copy is grammatically incorrect (with no capital letters)…further piques my interest
- The CTA ‘yours is waiting for you’ and ‘get yours’ makes it feel like it’s for me
This is a masterclass in product marketing.
Cut through with some unusual copy, keep it light, and keep it very, very cool.
So, I tapped ‘get yours’.
Next, product adoption — drive to core action
I’m taken to my first daylist and I can tell you now: I’ve never felt more seen in my life.
Cozy hiking monday afternoon
The title of my first playlist reflected exactly how I was feeling in that moment. On Mondays, I take it easy with the music — things that are calming and wholesome to ease me into the week ahead.
According to Spotify, I listened to Texas Country (?) and Backroads on Monday afternoons (that’s news to me). So they give me some: mountain, cozy, slow and folksy.
folksy is my new favorite word
What’s great is that this single playlist has taught me more about how I feel on Mondays than anything else. It has increased my self-awareness as well as given me some helpful labels about my music taste that I can then use to discover more music.
Who knew ‘mountain’ was a music genre?
It also helps that the first artist is one of my favorites too: Bon Iver.
Daylist Day 2
Drive repeat listens with a variable reward
The next day, I head into my daylist early. I want to know what’s in store and crucially, I want to learn about my Tuesday-morning-self.
Apparently, I listen to lo-fi beats on Tuesday mornings (I knew this one). So Spotify gives me chill jazz, jazz lo-fi, and lo-fi beats.
who doesn’t love lo-fi
The variable reward of the daylist updating from morning to night makes me come back in later to check if anything has changed.
It’s gone smoothly.
More new keywords to help me label and hone my music taste, Spotify gives me some smooth, french rnb, ambiance, slow and warm.
another few words for my vibes dictionary: warm & smooth
Mapping my daylist’s evolution throughout the day, there are a few key things that stand out:
- Accurate ML suggestions: I love each suggestion for genre and what to play, rarely skipping a song. Vibe match = 100%
- Useful insights: Highlighting the pattern of what I listen to at each time of the day is incredibly helpful for me (a music noob)
- Nice UI touches: the color of the image changes throughout the day to match the morning, midday, and evening sun.
According to Spotify:
You’ll get new tracks at every update, plus a new title that sets the mood of your daylist.
With relatable titles including thrillwave, happy dance, pumpkin spice, and more, the playlist helps you understand more about your taste in music — and express your unique audio identity.
Relatable? Totally. Unique? Yes, my ambient mountain smooth music definitely feels niche.
Curious, I check out how the playlist looks on mobile and I find an even more interesting detail: the update time.
Underneath the nice personalisation touch made for Rosie Hoggmascall, there is a Next update at 20:13.
This small UI detail reiterates the value proposition of the daylist: You’ll get new tracks at every update.
I bet this detail drives the hourly active user to daily active user ratio up (HAU/DAU), as you’re encouraging users back in at another time of the day when they may not have planned to dive in and listen.
If the ratio of hourly to daily users in your product is 50% or more, your user frequency behaviour indicates it is more of an hourly product than daily.
Frequency metric benchmarks per time period. Source: Sequoia Capital Publication on Medium
Spotify is likely to fall into the lucky products in this bucket (like Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok), whereas products like Amazon and Paypal are more likely to be products that are used weekly to monthly (and maybe even quarterly).
Frequency metrics for big tech companies. Source: Sequoia Capital Publication on Medium
Perhaps daylist will drive up user frequency into that hourly group. Who knows.
I do think it’s a shame that this detail isn’t in the desktop version though (it’s not like they didn’t have the space…I’m surprised it made it into the mobile UI and not the desktop). Would love to know why.
Daylist Day 3
Drive repeat listens
It is now the next morning, and I’m back on Spotify to check out what’s new.
The variable reward of an updating playlist every few hours draws me in. It gets me back into that playlist as I know I can make one decision for the day and be rewarded with a stream of on-point tunes.
On my home navigation, I can see the sun icon sun thumbnail for my daylist — even after 48 hours I already recognise the little image. Great shout to keep the image theme the same to help brand the daylist.
I’m introduced to yet more music genre vocabulary, continuing my musical education and self-awareness course:
relaxing guitar fingerstyle wednesday morning
You listened to instrumental and peaceful on Wednesday mornings. Here’s some: fingerstyle, guitar instrumental, acoustic guitar, relaxing guitar and relaxing instrumental
It is not only the imagery of the playlist that continues, but the syntax and the grammar stay the same. Notably, the structure of the daylist title and description are:
- Use lower caps
- Tell me what I listen to
- Tell me what you recommend
I find that the lack of capital letters makes it feel cool and chill, like a suggestion not a hard recommendation. It’s subtle, but works.
Lower caps weren’t put there by mistake. According to a 2017 study in Marketing Letters Published by Springer Nature:
Psychologically, consumers feel closer to lowercase wordmarks, which increase perceptions of brand friendliness compared with the uppercase wordmarks
It is like my daylist is a person. My personal friendly music educator and connoisseur.
My only critical point — the one thing I miss is that you can’t go back. You can’t go back to old daylists (as far as I can tell).
In some ways, this strengthens the variable reward. The intensely strong fear of missing some niche micro-genre on a Thursday evening makes me go to Spotify in a more intentional way than before.
In sum: three days of bangin’ daylists and a whole lot more
Spotify promised a new, one-of-a-kind playlist that ebbs and flows with unique vibes and it most certainly delivered just that.
But it also delivered a lot more.
It’s given me a new understanding of my music taste.
It’s given me new words to help me find more music that I like instead of staring blankly at the search bar.
And most of all, it has given me a new understanding of how I feel on a given day at a given time.
I’ve learned that I need to take it easy in the morning and at the start of the week when I feel especially tired and low. I now know to prep myself with good food, hot bevs, and a blanket at these times. And be kind to me when I feel slow, warm, and cozy.
I knew this deep down, but Spotify’s on-point AI has helped me understand it better through language, vibes, and music.
Spotify’s daylist has given me more self awareness about my mood on a given day than years of journalling. Wild.
Now back down to earth with some practical, tactical takeaways. Here are some things to try with your next big feature release:
- Create a bold popup: spice up the colour, and grammar choice and keep the copy simple to make sure that people actually read it
- Make sure you drive to core value: ensure the UX is as simple as possible and get users taking the core feature action ASAP
- Use branding for the feature: a consistent colour, specific imagery, a new syntax — whatever it is find something that makes it stick out
- Drive repeat use early on: Find a way to drive adoption early quickly. A variable reward is a great way to do that (ideally that is built into the feature in the first place)
This article was originally published on Medium.