Spotify Tests Snapchat-Style Stories Feature Called ‘Storyline’ Offering Additional Artist Content

Spotify is testing its own version of Snapchat/Instagram-style Stories, reports TechCrunch. The short-form sharing format now ubiquitous across social media platforms is to be called "Storyline" on the music streaming service, and enables artists to share their inspirations, insights, and provide further details about their work and creative process.


The format is being compared to Spotify's "Behind the Lyrics" feature which uses pop-up cards that load concurrently with the music, except users tap through different Storyline screens at their own pace and see segmented lines at the top of the screen to indicate how many slices of the story remain ahead of them.

A Spotify spokesperson told TechCrunch that Storyline is still in testing in the U.S. and in other markets on both iOS and Android, but there's no sign of it on desktop and no other details on a possible global rollout are available at this time.

Users participating in the test will see an indicator at the bottom of Spotify's player interface that alerts them to the additional content, which can include lyrics, text and images, and users can swipe up on the screen to reveal the story and start tapping through it.

The Storyline feature was first picked up on Reddit and covered by Android Police.

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EU to Investigate Apple Over Spotify’s Antitrust Complaint

Apple is to be formally investigated by the European Commission after Spotify accused the company of using the App Store to deliberately disadvantage other app developers.


According to a report by the Financial Times, EU competition commission has decided to launch a formal antitrust investigation into Apple's conduct "in the next few weeks" after surveying customers, rivals and others in the market.

Spotify in March filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the EU in which it argued that the iPhone maker enforced App Store rules that "purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience."

Apple swiftly hit back at the accusation, labeling it as "misleading rhetoric" and arguing that "Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free."

Spotify's complaint focuses on Apple's policy of charging a 30 per cent fee on App Store purchases, which means Spotify has to charge existing subscribers $12.99 per month for its Premium plan via the App Store just to collect its standard $9.99 per month charge.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek claimed that the policy gives Apple an "unfair advantage," since Spotify is unable to fairly compete with Apple Music's standard $9.99 per month price within the App Store.

Alternatively, if Spotify chooses not to collect payments via the App Store, Ek said that Apple "applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions" on the company. Over time, this has also included "locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch."

The EU can force companies to change business practices they deem unlawful and levy fines of up to 10 per cent of a company's global turnover. However, investigations by the European Commission can take years to resolve unless the companies involved offer to settle the probes by making legally binding agreements to change their behavior.

For further details on each company's stance on the issue, see Spotify's Time to Play Fair website and Apple's press release addressing Spotify's claims.


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Spotify Testing ‘Your Daily Drive’ Curated Playlist That Mixes Podcast and Music Recommendations

Spotify is beginning to test new podcast features for a select group of users, beginning with a playlist that suggests podcast episodes for you to listen to, interspersed with songs.

The playlist is aimed at users who commute frequently in their vehicles and is called "Your Daily Drive" (via The Verge). The podcasts seen in the playlist mainly center around news shows.

Spotify has been slowly gearing up for a strong push into podcasts for a few years now, but it has yet to introduce any sort of podcast curation feature or used its algorithms to recommend podcasts to subscribers. In the new playlist, the company is testing out doing just that, albeit with a few song recommendations thrown in as well.

Spotify confirmed the test to The Verge with the usual statement: "We're always testing new products and experiences, but have no further news to share at this time." Because of this, it's unclear if this new playlist will launch to a wide audience on Spotify. As of now, the playlist's podcast recommendations are in Portuguese so it appears the test is happening only outside of the United States.



In 2019, Spotify's podcast goals began taking clearer shape with a trio of acquisitions revolving around podcasts, including Gimlet Media, Anchor, and Parcast. These acquisitions give Spotify a suite of high-profile shows to launch on its platform, as well as Anchor's podcast creation tools that could let users create and share their own podcasts on Spotify.

Once it fully launches, Spotify's podcast initiative will be a direct competitor to Apple Podcasts, which has long dominated the market, although some creators and listeners have ongoing gripes with the platform. To get an edge on Apple Podcasts, Spotify plans to focus on exclusives and improved podcast discovery -- like with this week's test -- to challenge Apple as the go-to destination for podcasts.

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Spotify Now Has 100M Premium Subscribers Worldwide

Spotify now has 100 million paid subscribers around the world as of the first quarter of 2019 (via The Verge). The company announced the major milestone today, confirming that Spotify Premium subscribers grew 32 percent year-over-year. In total, there are 217 million monthly active users on Spotify (including the ad-supported tier).


Spotify said that there were numerous reasons behind the growth in Q1 2019, namely including its Spotify Premium + Hulu bundle offered in the United States. Spotify launched this new bundle in March, offering a free subscription to Hulu with Limited Commercials at no extra cost for all U.S. Spotify subscribers.

In the United Kingdom and France, Spotify offers all premium Family Plan subscribers a free Google Home Mini smart speaker. This offer is still ongoing and ends on May 14, 2019. According to Spotify, "voice speakers are a critical area of growth, particularly for music and podcasts." The company said that it plans to continue to pursue opportunities to expand its presence in this area.

Spotify's update comes nearly six months after the company reported that it had reached 87 million paid subscribers and 191 million monthly active users. While Spotify is far ahead of Apple Music's over 50 million paid subscriber count, The Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that Apple Music has surpassed Spotify's paid subscriber count in the United States.

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Spotify Testing ‘Premium Duo’ Subscription That Offers Discounted Price for Couples or Roommates

Spotify has begun testing a new subscription plan called "Premium Duo," offering users two Spotify Premium subscriptions for a discounted price of €12.49 per month (via The Verge). Tests for Spotify Premium Duo are currently being held in Colombia, Chile, Denmark, Ireland, and Poland, and the company has not mentioned when or if the plan will expand to more territories, including the United States.


The new plan is aimed at couples and roommates, providing a separate Spotify Premium account for each person so they can enjoy their own music. Both users on the plan must live at the same address, and Spotify requires a confirmation of address during the sign-up process. Spotify Premium for Family (up to six people sharing the same plan) also requires users to live at the same address, but many people still use it to share accounts from afar with their friends, so Spotify appears to be attempting to curb this behavior with Premium Duo.

Premium Duo comes with an exclusive playlist called "Duo Mix," which Spotify regularly updates based on music that each user on the plan listens to. On mobile devices, Duo Mix will also have two alternate versions that users can switch to with just a tap: "Calm" for more mellow tracks and "Upbeat" for songs with a faster tempo. Additionally, the two members on Premium Duo will be able to create playlists and share them with one another thanks to a Shared Playlists feature.

The bill for the plan will be sent to the person who sets up and purchases the Premium Duo account. In terms of pricing, it appears that the new plan sits somewhere between a normal Premium membership ($9.99) and a Premium for Family membership ($14.99).

Head to Spotify's website for more information on Premium Duo.

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Spotify Continues Push Against Apple Podcasts With Third Podcast Acquisition

Spotify today announced its latest acquisition, this one related to a podcast company called Parcast (via Reuters). This marks Spotify's third podcast-related acquisition in two months, and represents the company's ongoing plan to boost the music streaming platform as a hub for podcasts that can compete with Apple Podcasts.


Last month, Spotify purchased Gimlet Media for $300 million, acquiring the company's big-name podcasts like "Homecoming" and "Reply All." Around the same time, Spotify also purchased Anchor, a company that is more behind-the-scenes of the podcast world and lets its users record and create their own shows that can easily be shared online.

Parcast will be added to that list, and Spotify will now have ownership of its specialization in crime and mystery-themed podcast content, genres that are hugely successful in the market. Parcast is home to a big list of popular genres and podcasts, covering topics like cults, serial killers, haunted places, unexplained mysteries, extraterrestrials, and more.

These purchased shows will also join new and original podcasts created by Spotify, all of which will be curated by the team that built Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist algorithm. Eventually, the music streaming company hopes to become the Netflix of podcasts, able to provide recommendations on what to watch and house both third-party and exclusive first-party content.

Spotify first began its efforts to enter the podcast field around two years ago, when it said it was "coming after" Apple with a strong push into podcasts. The last few years have been marked as a so-called golden age for podcasts, causing many companies to look into entering the field.

Apple and Spotify have been in another dispute this year as well, after Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission. In the complaint, Spotify accused Apple of enforcing App Store rules that "purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience" and said that Apple acts "as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers."

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek particularly called out Apple's policy of charging a 30 percent "tax" on App Store purchases. This results in Spotify charging existing subscribers $12.99 per month for its Premium plan via the App Store just to collect nearly the $9.99 per month it charges normally. The spat continued with Apple claiming that Spotify provided "misleading rhetoric," and with Spotify stating that "every monopolist will suggest they have done nothing wrong."

For the podcast initiative, it's unclear when Spotify plans to launch the new part of its service.

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Spotify Offering UK Family Plan Subscribers a Free Google Home Mini Speaker

Spotify on Monday began offering all premium Family plan subscribers in the U.K. a free Google Home Mini smart speaker.


From today, both new and existing family plan subscribers can claim their free Google speaker, worth £49, simply by heading to the Spotify website. The offer ends on 14 May 2019.

Spotify's premium family plan costs £14.99 per month and allows up to six people to access the service using a personal account for each family member.

With that in mind, it's worth noting that the free speaker offer can only be claimed by the master account holder. However the device's built-in Google Assistant can recognize up to six different voices in the home, which means each person in the family can stream Spotify tracks from their own accounts.


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Spotify on Apple’s Response to App Store Dispute: ‘Every Monopolist Will Suggest They Have Done Nothing Wrong’

Spotify on Wednesday announced it filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission over unfair App Store practices. Apple responded two days later, labeling the complaint as "misleading rhetoric" and arguing that "Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free."


The war of words has since continued. In a statement issued to Variety, Spotify said "every monopolist will suggest they have done nothing wrong" and that, consequently, Apple's response was "entirely in line" with its expectations.

Spotify's statement:
Every monopolist will suggest they have done nothing wrong and will argue that they have the best interests of competitors and consumers at heart. In that way, Apple's response to our complaint before the European Commission is not new and is entirely in line with our expectations.

We filed our complaint because Apple's actions hurt competition and consumers, and are in clear violation of the law. This is evident in Apple's belief that Spotify's users on iOS are Apple customers and not Spotify customers, which goes to the very heart of the issue with Apple. We respect the process the European Commission must now undertake to conduct its review.
See Spotify's Time to Play Fair website and Apple's Addressing Spotify's Claims press release for each company's stance.

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Apple Says Spotify Seeks to Keep All Benefits of App Store Without Making Any Contributions to Marketplace

Apple today responded to Spotify's recent complaint with the European Commission over its App Store practices in a press release, referring to it as "misleading rhetoric." Apple adds that Spotify "seeks to keep all of the benefits of the App Store ecosystem" but "without making any contributions to the marketplace."


The intro of Apple's press release:
We believe that technology achieves its true potential when we infuse it with human creativity and ingenuity. From our earliest days, we've built our devices, software and services to help artists, musicians, creators and visionaries do what they do best.

Sixteen years ago, we launched the iTunes Store with the idea that there should be a trusted place where users discover and purchase great music and every creator is treated fairly. The result revolutionized the music industry, and our love of music and the people who make it are deeply engrained in Apple.

Eleven years ago, the App Store brought that same passion for creativity to mobile apps. In the decade since, the App Store has helped create many millions of jobs, generated more than $120 billion for developers and created new industries through businesses started and grown entirely in the App Store ecosystem.

At its core, the App Store is a safe, secure platform where users can have faith in the apps they discover and the transactions they make. And developers, from first-time engineers to larger companies, can rest assured that everyone is playing by the same set of rules.

That's how it should be. We want more app businesses to thrive — including the ones that compete with some aspect of our business, because they drive us to be better.

What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store's customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.

Spotify has every right to determine their own business model, but we feel an obligation to respond when Spotify wraps its financial motivations in misleading rhetoric about who we are, what we've built and what we do to support independent developers, musicians, songwriters and creators of all stripes.
Apple goes on to rebut each of Spotify's accusations listed on its Time to Play Fair website on a point-by-point basis.

Apple says the only time it has rejected Spotify app updates is when Spotify has tried to sidestep the App Store rules. Apple also says it has reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions and approved the Spotify app on Apple Watch with the same process and speed as any other app.

Apple adds that "Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free," noting that the "majority of customers use their free, ad-supported product, which makes no contribution to the App Store."
Spotify wouldn't be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they're leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that's wrong.
Apple says the only requirement for developers is that any digital goods and services be purchased inside the app using Apple's in-app purchase system. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of revenue for the first year of an annual subscription, but says Spotify left out that it drops to 15 percent in the years after.

Apple concludes by saying it shares Spotify's goal of sharing music but has a different view of how to achieve that goal. Apple takes aim at Spotify "suing music creators" after a decision by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board requiring increased royalty payments, calling it "just wrong," although Spotify already disputed that allegation.

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Speaks Out on Dispute With Apple Over App Store Policies

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek elaborated on his company's complaint against Apple with the European Commission in a speech today at the International Conference on Competition in Berlin, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.


Spotify has accused Apple of unfairly applying its 30 percent App Store commission. While a 70-30 revenue split applies to most apps, including Spotify, others like Uber and Deliveroo are exempt since Apple's commission does not apply to "goods or services that will be consumed outside of the app."

Ek doubled down on this issue, referring to Apple's commission as a "competitor tax":
Let's call this 30% revenue-share exactly what it is – a competitor tax. Importantly, Apple's posture towards Spotify became increasingly hostile after Apple acquired a rival music streaming service and launched Apple Music. But until now, we felt like we didn't have much of a choice.
Spotify Premium normally costs $9.99 per month, the same price as Apple Music, but if Spotify were to offer that price on the App Store, it would only receive $6.99 of that amount after Apple's cut.

Spotify did experiment with offering Premium for $12.99 per month through its iOS app starting in 2014, netting it $9.09 per subscriber after Apple's cut, but this put it at a competitive disadvantage since Apple Music is $9.99 per month. Spotify has since stopped allowing upgrading to Premium through its iOS app.
As we all know, iOS and the App Store is the only way to offer our service to anyone with an iPhone or iPad. That's over a billion people around the world. So not being on their platform is just not an option for us — or really for any competing internet service in this day and age. Apple knows this.

If we wish to use Apple's payment system to allow our customers to upgrade to our Premium service, we must pay that 30% tax. This means we cannot be price competitive because we are forced to increase our cost to consumers … while Apple avoids the tax all together and can offer Apple Music at a much lower, more attractive rate. This is especially damaging to a company like ours who already pays out a significant portion of our revenues to record labels and music publishers.
The issue doesn't end there, as Apple's App Store review guidelines prevent Spotify from letting users know that they can subscribe to Premium for $9.99 per month on the web or other platforms. The guidelines also prevent Spotify from advertising discounts and other promotions in its iOS app.
We are essentially faced with a "gag order" that prevents us from communicating with our own users about our service. From dictating how we communicate with our own customers to imposing an unjustified tax, Apple isn't playing fair. Let me be clear: we have no desire to step into the spotlight on this issue. But we also believe we have no other choice.
Ek concluded with a ping-pong metaphor:
It's like inviting you to a match on our ping-pong table and then forcing you to play blindfolded while we change the rules throughout the game.
On a new website titled Time to Play Fair, Spotify also says it is not allowed to be on the HomePod or Siri, along with other accusations.

Spotify is aiming for all apps to be subject to the same fair set of rules, including Apple Music. Spotify also believes consumers should not be "forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs such as Apple's" and that Apple should not be able to place "unfair restrictions" on marketing and promotions.

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