4 min read

musings on spotify's vertical video feed

musings on spotify's vertical video feed
Photo by @felipepelaquim / Unsplash

i've been using the spotify's vertical video feed since it showed up on my app a couple months ago and i love it!!! it's so fun

some notes:

  • it lowers the effort of discovering a new song. i can sample ten songs in two minutes. i don't need to listen to the whole song! and if i'm meh about a song, i just swipe down.
  • it makes the discovery process more visual (duh). overall, i enjoy this! enjoy the music twice - once for the audio and once for the visuals (h/t Twice)
  • i love how quick it is to "like" a song and add it to your liked songs. it's a seamless way to curate your library.
  • overall, this feed made me more discerning as a listener of music. since i'm judging off small snippets. especially when i closed my eyes and omitted the visual component, i felt i was developing my ear and taste for music.
  • this feed might be making me more discerning because "liking" a song on Spotify feels heavier than a like on Instagram. for me, my Liked songs is a list I visit often. so i want to be discerning and think critically if I really like a song.
  • similar to the FYP on other platforms, the Spotify vertical video feed does shift you towards discovering new artists, rather than continuing your affections for artists you already know.
  • people will always weight music from artists they like more highly when they see it in the feed. but music from new artists is now only a swipe away.

there will be ramifications to songs as a result, especially if the feed really catches on.

  • the 30 second clip used in the feed will become incredibly important and need to capture mainstream attention, potentially by becoming "poppy". but interestingly, that might allow for more artistic freedom in the rest of the song.
  • previously, title tracks / A-sides of an album had to capture mainstream attention while B-sides artists could be more experimental. at least in kpop. maybe it'll shift to the 30-second clip needing to be hook-y, while freeing up the rest of the song to be more interesting or artistic.
  • also, this might change how important song length is. I remember Suga and RM on BTS talking about how for a song to chart it had to be <3 mins or close. maybe this'll free up the original song to be longer.
  • the dances and outfits and visuals used in those clips also need to be really catchy!
  • i do worry that old songs that aren't optimized for this format might struggle, biasing us to songs from this new era.
  • finally, the onus may be less on the intro of a song to be catchy. I noticed how both People Pt. 2 and Snooze by Suga have abrupt openings (to me). Maybe that was to get to the catchy part quick. Now artists can take 30 seconds from the middle, so the intro doesn't have the burden of having to be hyper-catchy.

from a business/KPIs standpoint

  • I wonder how Spotify reasoned about this affecting total listen time and retention. I noticed I'm more likely to end a vertical video feed session without leaving a song playing, meaning my total listen time is probably lower. are they worried about this? how does vertical video feed usage (and potentially the resulting decline in total listen time) affect retention?
  • tbh feed usage is probably correlated with retention. 1, it's more of an active, eyes-on-screen activity, which suggests engagement. 2, rn the people using this are Spotify power users (it's somewhat hidden).
  • also arguably it's better to cannibalize yourself in this way, instead of just letting users go to Tiktok for a similar use case. if it does truly hurt total listen time.
  • I wonder what the average VVF session time is. It's kind of tiring to listen to music so actively for super long.

from an artist standpoint:

  • are artists happy with this change? does this commoditize their music more to just be hooks with a short looping video?
  • my opinion: the future is now, gotta get with it. imo artists have already had to adapt to this with tiktok.
  • sadly, if the visual component becomes crazy important, it'll be harder for smaller artists to break into the feed. i know even before the feed, the looping video was already a lot of effort for small-time musicians.

btw i found this thai rap song that i never would have found otherwise LOL. check it out it's such a good one.

the piece that played in the feed was the hard hitting rap in the middle of the song, which imo has clear mainstream appeal. the rest of the song is more interesting and less mainstream. the intro is kinda funky, and towards the end she starts screaming and otherwise making weird sounds lol. cool!