Spotify Beefs Up Hot Country Playlist and Taps Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves

Popular country-music playlist gets expanded with video, including clips of Urban, Musgraves, and Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake

Keith Urban talks about the evolution of his own recording studio in a clip from Spotify's Hot Country playlist, now enhanced with video each week.

Since the birth of country music more than a century ago, the genre has relied on songs that tell stories and allow listeners to share experiences relating to those stories. As technology has advanced, the discovery of new music has become more challenging, although the accessibility of those new songs and artists, and the ability to share them, has been aided by streaming services like Spotify and its popular playlists. Among the most popular is the Hot Country playlist, with more than 4.5 million followers. Spotify has announced that the playlist has expanded with the addition of original video content.

Launching Friday, April 27th, with video content from Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, plus a special performance from Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton, the Hot Country playlist joins previously launched enhanced playlists Rap Caviar and ¡Viva Latino!, while confirming Spotify's commitment to Nashville and country music. 

The enhanced playlists combine music and video into a single view, allowing users to listen to their favorite audio tracks and to watch interviews and music videos from various artists. Playlists are constantly refreshed throughout the week, and every Friday new and original country video interviews are added. This week, a Keith Urban feature cover story coinciding with the release of his latest LP, Graffiti U, offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the Grammy winner's extensive guitar collection. Urban also talks about his new home studio, and digs more deeply into the themes and events that have inspired the new album. [Watch an in-studio clip of Urban above, in which he talks about have musical "play dates" with his friends and fellow musicians. Below is a snippet of Urban's in-studio performance of the new track "Coming Home."]

Future enhanced playlist content will include a look at the making of Kenny Chesney's stadium tour, Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton's Spotify Premium event recording of "Say Something" at London's historic Roundhouse, video footage from Kacey Musgraves' high tea  with fans – also in London – and a gorgeous acoustic rendition of Musgraves' tender ballad "Butterflies." 

The enhanced playlist feature will also launch in four additional markets outside the U.S.: Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Spain, in addition to the U.K., Sweden and Latin America.

"The Nashville music industry and Nashville artists have really embraced this idea out of the chute. We have some big stars on board with Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney and there are plenty others on queue," says John Marks, Spotify's Programming Head of Country Music.

Spotify is just one of the major streaming services sharpening their focus on country music. Apple Music announced earlier this week that it will be opening an office in Nashville, staffed with a full team committed to growing the genre's streaming presence. Pandora also has a presence in Music City and staged a concert headlined by Blake Shelton in October.