“Thanks, I Hate It” is the name of a very fun song by pop-punk band Simple Creatures, and it was also my exact reaction to the news that Spotify is being redesigned. The popular music streaming service is one of my daily essentials, and so far its well-thought-out homepage and interface has been a big part of the reason I’ve largely ignored competitors like Apple Music.
But the service’s new TikTok-inspired look made me wonder if the grass might be greener on the other side. This is because despite the fact that Spotify is a music streaming service, the redesigned homepage seems not to be about highlighting new tracks, artists, and playlists, but rather the focus seems to be on video content and podcasts. This made me consider switching in the near future.
Spotify tries to fix what isn’t broken
I would argue that redesigning Spotify’s homepage is a fundamentally flawed endeavor. The app has a really well-organized interface that’s really good at throwing relevant recommendations your way. I’ve lost count of the times an artist I’ve never heard of has come into the limelight and has quickly become a new favorite.
A perfect example of this is the fact that I’ve spent the better part of the past six months listening to Texas-based artist Dayglow on repeat. And I only discovered the indie-pop singer because of a recommendation on the Spotify homepage. This is just one example of how Spotify is currently doing an excellent job of highlighting new music.
I also love how easy it is to make Spotify’s current home page navigate to curated playlists. In fact, I’ve stopped creating my own custom playlists because, after a quick swipe of the Spotify homepage, I’ll find half a dozen auto-generated songs that are always full of songs I love. It’s also usually sprinkled with new music, which also appeals to my taste.
So far, I can only describe the user experience on Spotify as exceptional. It’s a big part of the reason I never considered canceling my subscription or switching to an alternative service. But based on what we’ve seen with the new UI, I’m increasingly concerned that that might change very soon.
The new Spotify isn’t about the music
Spotify’s new homepage has more than a hint of TikTok about it. Set upon rows of recently played artists, recommended playlists, and new music to discover, the rows are set to be replaced by a vertically scrolling feed of oversized cards that dominate the entire screen. In short, it looks terrible.
Instead of being presented with a whole bunch of options at once, you’ll have to scroll through the cards one by one. This is sure to get boring quickly. The new feed looks so choppy that I suspect many users will head to the search bar as their first port of call rather than browsing the homepage. This, in turn, will greatly limit the user’s exposure to new music and many people will instead resort to listening to familiar favorites on repeat.
Of course, it is important to note that there is no indication that Spotify’s recommendation algorithm will change. So, in theory at least, all of the things I love about the service’s ability to constantly surface new, relevant artists should still be there. But as noted, the redesign will make spotting these new artists a much more difficult task — Hooray!
From the preview we’ve seen, it appears that podcasts, audiobooks, and video content will feature heavily in these cards. Which is something I don’t care about at all. I get my podcasts from the dedicated iOS Podcast app, and I’m very satisfied with this system. Last year, I can only remember listening to one podcast on Spotify — and that was only because it was exclusive to the platform.
Spotify has invested heavily in podcasts over the past five years, and has acquired some great shows as exclusives, so it’s only natural that you’d want to promote those shows to users. And we shouldn’t forget that monetizing podcasts is much easier than monetizing music, which gives the service an incentive to promote it excessively.
The cynic in me has to wonder if the new homepage will regularly recommend new albums to listen to, or will it instead be used to ranting about any new audio offering Spotify has just paid thousands of dollars to make exclusive? Confirming the option to prevent podcasts from appearing in the new feed would be greatly appreciated.
Apple Music vs Spotify – Should I Switch Sides?
And at this point, Apple Music enters my mind. the Apple Music vs. Spotify The debate has raged across the Tom’s Guide desk many times in the past, and many of my colleagues have made a compelling case for Apple’s service, but I’ve always found myself faithfully sticking to the green side of the fence.
However, for me, Spotify is just about the music, and this redesign seems to shift the focus away from that. It’s dangerous game for a service to keep my monthly fee.
For now, I’m trying to force myself to keep an open mind. Yet all the redesign is yet to be fully rolled out. There is a possibility (very small) that it could pleasantly surprise me once I get down to business. However, based on what I’ve seen so far, the previously highly secure Spotify in my streaming portfolio is starting to look a little precarious, and its loss may ultimately be Apple Music’s gain.
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