This morning in New York City, the streaming giant Spotify - whichbegan publicly trading earlier this month and has a current valuation of $28 billion - held a press conference to announce changes to the free version of its mobile app for both iOS and Android. Free listeners will be able to listen on demand to 15 of Spotify's most popular playlists, including Discover Weekly, which represents about 750 tracks or 40 hours of music.
In 2014, Spotify introduced its free tier to mobile, letting users listen to their playlists on shuffle with ads. It now features new tools previously only available to premium subscribers, such as new music discovery, personalization and low data mode. The reduced data load that Spotify promised today has the potential to make its streaming services far more friendly to users in those countries. For example, when you're creating a playlist, Spotify will suggest songs based on everything from the name of the playlist to the songs you add and what you listen to. There is still no offline mode for free users.
When a user signs up, Spotify will ask them to select at least five artists that they like, so that the firm can build recommendations and playlists around those interests.
Another new feature cuts down on data consumption by 75%. It was a huge part of Spotify's free-tier growth.
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Spotify allows users to create and customise their own playlists and browse content using parameters such genre, artist and album searches. The company expects its overall audience could top 200 million monthly users by the end of this year.
"The motivation to improve the free product right now is twofold: It's us understanding the needs of our users better and reacting to that, and also making sure that freemium is strong and working for us", Zafar said.
There are 90 million users on its free tier, and 71 million paying subscribers.