After 16 years, Spotify is finally adding the feature that everyone really wants. There’s only one take

make your happy customers is usually a good idea. The good news is that often it’s as simple as giving them what they want. Sure, there are exceptions, but when your customers tell you there’s a problem you can fix, you should see it as an opportunity to give them a better experience.

At first glance, that’s what Spotify seems to be doing with its latest update. On Monday, the music streaming service said it was rolling out what was to be one of its most requested features:

The music – and the way you listen to it – should be yours… So to make that choice even clearer and simpler, we’re improving the listening experience and separating Shuffle and Play buttons for users of Spotify Premium.

The key is that Spotify is making a change with the aim of “enhancing the listener experience”. How? By “separating the Shuffle and Play buttons”.

Sounds simple enough, right? If not, maybe a little background could be helpful.

One of the best features of Spotify’s paid plans is the ability to create playlists of your favorite music. You can add artists and songs to make it easier to find and listen to the music you like the most. You can create multiple playlists depending on your mood or what you are doing. Spotify even curated its own playlists that you can subscribe to.

At the top of the playlist screen is a giant green button that looks a lot like a play button, except it’s not. Until this recent change, the button at the top of a playlist was a combined play/shuffle button. If you pressed it, your playlist would just start playing in the order Spotify chooses. If you wanted to listen to your playlist in the order you arranged, you had to tap on the first song in the list.

Generally, it’s not a good experience to have a giant green play button at the top of the playlist, but not have it start playing songs in the order you put them in. . It’s a list, after all. Lists generally move up and down. It seems Spotify got the message – 16 years after the music streaming service launched – that some people take the time to put songs in a specific order in a playlist because they actually want to listen to them in that order.

Of course, some people like to mix their music. If you’re going for a run, you might not want to hear all of your songs in the same order. Wouldn’t it be great to have a button just for that? Confusion is never a good design trait.

There is, of course, a catch. It is only for people who pay a Premium subscription. Apparently what Spotify really means is that the music should be yours, as long as you pay extra.

To be fair, that’s always been Spotify’s position. The free version has always been limited. You can’t even select the song you want to listen to and are limited to what Spotify calls “custom playlists”. Still, if you bother giving me a playlist, just let me hit play.

Adding premium features to paid subscriptions is nothing new. It’s pretty standard now. It’s also a great way to get people to switch from your free version to a paid version of your service.

But if your app has a design flaw, you just need to fix it, for everyone. When your users tell you, “Hey, every time I press this button, it does the opposite of what I want”, your first thought should be to find a way to fix this problem. It shouldn’t be asking yourself “How can I use this to make more money from my angry users?”

Even if you argue that this change is in line with the way Spotify has always separated free plans from paid plans, it’s hard not to see why it makes people frustrated. Looks like Spotify is trying to make the experience of using a free product as frustrating as possible so people pay money. Instead, it should focus on delivering a great product and adding premium features for its premium subscribers. I’m just not sure it’s fair to call separate buttons a premium feature.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Leave a Comment