Spotify is no longer a music-streaming company. On Wednesday morning, the company announced a new playlist that combines music, news and podcast content for the first time and in one single personalized feed. The change effectively offers a leveled-up alternative to terrestrial radio and positions the Swedish streaming service as an all-inclusive audio platform.
The new feature, called “Your Daily Drive,” serves as a one-stop shop for personalized entertainment and education that the company not-so-subtly suggests works for commute listening. “If it feels like you’re always in the car, you’re not alone,” reads the company’s press announcement, which points to a new “Driving Hub” section of the app available to U.S. users starting today. “Americans log 70 billion hours behind the wheel each year, with a big chunk of that time spent commuting to and from work or school. To help make that time fly by, stay up to date on the world around you, and maybe even rock out to a few timeless classics.”
Spotify says “Your Daily Drive” will combine the personality-driven nature of news talk shows with the company’s strengths in audio streaming — an extensive on-demand catalog as well as a discovery platform that’s become the gold standard of the industry — into a “seamless and unified listening experience.” The playlist will include short-form podcast news alerts from publications like the Wall Street Journal and NPR alongside a frequently updated mix of already-loved songs and yet-to-be-discovered tracks.
Those in the music industry have anticipated Spotify’s move to compete with terrestrial radio ever since CEO Daniel Ek started making comments a few years ago about wanting the company to look beyond music. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but what I didn’t know when we launched to consumers in 2008 was that audio, not just music, would be the future of Spotify,” the ordinarily taciturn Ek wrote in a lengthy blog post in February, when Spotify announced the acquisition of podcast companies Gimlet and Anchor.
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Because Spotify has troves of data on its users’ listening habits and mood patterns, among other characteristics, it’s arguably one of the companies best positioned to challenge terrestrial radio — a space that still commands an audience of 93 percent of all Americans each week, according to Nielsen — but other music-tech companies have also been eyeing the space for a while. SiriusXM, for instance, hinted during its acquisition of Pandora (a company known for its algorithm and advertising prowess) that it would explore ways to join various music and non-music audio offerings for more enticing products. The music-streaming field on mobile phones and computers is well-saturated by now; streaming companies see cars, though, as the next lucrative conquest.