With over 380 million users and 172 million subscribers, Spotify continues to dominate the music streaming market. While there are plenty of features to love about the service (curated playlists and podcast integration, to list two personal favorites), its friend activity leaves a lot to be desired.
Spotify is the soundtrack of my life
I’m the type of Spotify user who has the app on and open all the time, fundamentally 24/7 – no matter what I do. Whether I’m cleaning my house, walking my dog, having company for a drink, driving somewhere, trying to fall asleep, or traveling, Spotify is never idle. I like it in a way that makes me realize how much my tech owns me rather than me owning my tech, and it might make me uncomfortable if I was the kind of person who tried to “unplug – I’m not that kind of person, though. At least not with music.
When it comes to streaming music platforms, there’s a lot Spotify gets right (and at least one major flaw that it gets it wrong). Spotify does a great job of letting me create playlists while suggesting music to add that I may not have thought of or considered, and I have a playlist for every moment, every person and every event in my life (i.e. songs that remind me of my brothers, an “Out West” playlist, “QuaranTunes”, “Breidi’s Bach”, a playlist dedicated to my favorite Rihanna songs, etc etc etc). I like being able to collaborate on playlists if a situation calls for it. I like that the podcasts I consume are integrated with Spotify itself, whereas Apple Music doesn’t provide the same enjoyment to its users.
I love the “Discover Weekly” playlist that hosts my homepage on Monday mornings, welcoming me into the bustle of my week. On Fridays, I look forward to opening Spotify and seeing a curated playlist for me – “Release Radar” – which includes recently released songs from artists Spotify knows I listen to, in addition to “new singles chosen for you”. Otherwise, how could I hear J Balvin’s new song, “Ego”? With the sheer volume of songs posted daily on Spotify, would I even know they were released? It’s essential listening for me, and thanks to Spotify, I have at least to feel like I don’t miss new music from favorite artists, even if I don’t really. Spotify Radio? To like. Top 50 rankings divided by country? To like. The ability to save music for offline listening (necessary when travelling)? To like. Share songs and playlists in my Instagram stories? To like. You get it.
Spotify’s Activity Feed is not very user-friendly
However, among the aforementioned benefits of my Spotify Premium subscription, the only feature that I cannot figure out is its friend activity.
Many Spotify subscribers love the social aspects of the platform – something other music streaming platforms don’t have in the same abundance – and Friend Activity is meant to show you what song your friends are playing (re: followers ) listen when they listen. For many, it’s a unique way to discover new music, or, if you’re a friend of mine, to text me (aggressively!) teasing me for listening to Disney songs at 8:00 in the morning. It’s a cute perk that would be even cuter if it wasn’t dysfunctional, and/or showed you the podcasts people have listened to rather than just the songs.
Spotify’s own community webpage is plagued with confusion about subscriber’s friends streams that it just doesn’t work. As one person describes it:
Many users have a problem with the way their friends’ activity is displayed. Even after enabling my own sharing activity, choosing to view my friends’ activity, and reaching out to friends to do the same, the following issues occur:
— Friends activity view does not show all friends who are being followed
– Friends activity does not update live (Friend icons no longer flip up when a friend starts a new song for example. The songs they are listening to do not change either.)
— The blue dot appears next to active users, but the “music bars” on the right do not animate.
There are six pages of comments on the Spotify community about the Friends Activity Stream, and Spotify’s response to these issues is to make sure the feature is turned on (obviously?), log out and log back in “twice a suite” and perform a “clean reinstall”. ”. Even then, however, the flow falters. As one user said,
I’m so glad I’m not alone! I googled this and i installed and uninstalled and disconnected and reconnected and re-followed people and nothing changed but i know some of my friends i asked also put theirs in public and I’m still not seeing it!
The irony of the Friend Activity stream, at least for me, is that I don’t even care what my friends are listening to. How I love and respect you, but I’m extremely picky when it comes to new music (a song I’ve never heard before has about 20-30 seconds to practice). How the hell ever, if Spotify is going to have a friend feature, it should work.
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