Spotify has long recognized that social, in its many dimensions, is a key differentiator for the music service. Spotify’s extensive (some say intrusive) sharing features set it apart not only from competing listening platforms, but represent a “killer app” that distinguishes interactive listening from traditional broadcast with which it broadly competes. At the same time, social is sticky, conduces users to build identities within Spotify, and ties them into a community matrix that intersects their larger social graphs.
On that last point, Spotify has launched an at-large Follow button, extending Spotify user profiles outside of Spotify boundaries, much as Facebook, Twitter, and other social services do. The button is beautifully productized, instantly accomplishing the follow action when the user is logged into Spotify, without popups of further authentication.
The little Spotify Follow button has the power to reverse Spotify’s usage equation -- from a listening service with social features to a community platform that concentrates on social listening. Perhaps the greatest benefit to Spotify is simple brand extension. As Spotify Follow buttons begin to appear all over the web (which is the prediction here), they both increase engagement of existing users and draw in new ones. As ripples from the iTunes Radio launch continue to wash through the waters of Internet radio, all stripes of competition must find ways to retain and grow audience.
It’s easy to imagine that the Follow button will be eagerly adopted. First, by devoted Spotify users seeking to build their follower base and increase social influence as music curators. The Spotify follower count could become a prestige marker similar to a person’s Twitter flock. Second, the Follow button could afford musicians, bands, and labels a new way of attracting attention to their profiles on Spotify. To whatever extent musicians suffer from the high signal-to-noise ration in Spotify, the Follow button gives them a way to cut through.