A year ago, the music industry pushed through a change that saw new albums being released globally on Fridays (they were traditionally released on Monday in the U.S., a boon for record store owners who could expect an uptick in foot traffic that day in addition to their -- relatively -- busy weekends). The sheer volume of music coming out worldwide each Friday, and those records' ubiquity in the streaming age, all but guarantees that casual, or even engaged, fans were fighting a losing battle in keeping current. To that end, Spotify has announced Release Radar, a new algorithmically generated, personalized playlist to help sieve and highlight new records.
Each Friday the service will generate a two-hour-long playlist comprised of new music from the artists fans follow, along with suggestions. (Call it unfortunate timing that Spotify has launched a promising feature on the same day Frank Ocean's ridiculously anticipated new record is expected to be streaming exclusively from Apple Music.)
Spotify's Discover Weekly feature was aimed at, obviously, helping customers find gems within its vast, labyrinthine catalog. That feature has drawn a lot of praise since launching in July last year, resulting in five billion total track streams as of May, a lot of it pointed at lesser-known artists; as Spotify has claimed, over 8,000 artists each month "get more than half of their listeners" from the feature. While YouTube is held over the coals for hastening the destruction of the global recorded music industry, Spotify is driving ears towards bands still renting a van.
Release Radar is also similar to New Music Friday, a running playlist of new releases from "hot" new artists that Spotify maintains (editors from the company also highlight their favorite arrivals on the playlist each week for Billboard).
Spotify is, wisely, focusing on simplifying and tightening the discovery and listening experience for fans, the vast majority of whom are casual listeners with little desire or time to spend squinting through a telescope in order to find a star they aren't even aware exists. Through this, Spotify is beating Apple at the game it invented. While Apple Music is sewing up exclusives (just this week, Ocean and Britney Spears) left and right -- a game Spotify has refused to play up until now but one the company has reluctantly been mulling a move into since at least this past December -- its service lacks the snackable, smart curation tools that Spotify continues to iterate.
Next up: the video wars.