Spotify announced today that it is updating its recently launched shared queuing feature, group session, to support remote use. Essentially a “party mode” that was first introduced in May and gives participants the opportunity to contribute in real time to a collaborative playlist and control what is played on all devices. At the time, Spotify explained that the function could still be useful for small groups, such as families who are quarantined, despite social distance measures.
However, today’s update brings the group session into the COVID 19 era, where people continue to spend separately.
Now, premium users can get the same playlist or podcast at the same time, even if they̵
Groups of two to five people can now join a remote group session by clicking a link that is sent from the group session host via messaging apps, SMS, or social media. You can access this link from the Connect menu in the Spotify app in the lower left corner of the playback screen. From here, the host scrolls down to the “Start group session” option to get the link to share with friends or family.
As before, invited attendees can click the link or scan the Spotify code to attend the session.
Once there, hosts and guests can pause, play, skip and choose tracks in the queue or add their own choices. When a person makes a change to the group session, it is immediately displayed on all of the participant’s devices.
The group session was discovered in development last year, long before the outbreak of the coronavirus occurred. It was originally intended as a feature that could tempt Spotify’s more social users – such as partiers or college roommates – to upgrade to a premium subscription to enjoy expanding and controlling the shared queue. However, since social distance measures are still in place, few people today need a party mode function.
Spotify likely found that the feature was underused due to the requirement that users be together personally, and therefore added remote usage.
The bigger limitation, however, is that the group session is limited to premium subscribers.
In practice, this means that many people who have time to sit around and hang out (virtually) with friends who listen to music – often young people on free accounts – cannot even try. Instead, the group session should allow free users to participate in these collaborative playlists, but to a lesser extent than paid subscribers. This would allow all Spotify users to try adding, but still provide a push for an upgrade for those who found the group session feature useful.
The company could even tie the group session to a paid video viewing experience that allowed users to participate for a limited time after viewing a sponsor’s message for the first time.
The “group session” option is still in public beta, which means that it is still being tested and developed. According to Spotify, the function is now available to all premium users worldwide.