Saturday, July 20, 2024

Spotify is leading the way as an innovative tech company in Pakistan – A conversation with Talha Hashim

Spotify has cracked the code to offering an immersive experience to its modern music listeners.

In Pakistan, Spotify’s strength doesn’t solely rest on its extensive music library; it also thrives due to its ability to continuously innovate and adapt to its users’ changing preferences. This point was highlighted in detail by Talha Hashim, Spotify’s Marketing Manager for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh at a recent event in Karachi.

Let’s take a look at what he had to say when he sat down for a conversation with Startup.

Question # 1: Spotify recently launched an “invite-only” global community for influencers at an event in Karachi. During the product education session, you mentioned the JAM, AI DJ and Blend features. How are these innovative tools revolutionizing the way users interact with music on Spotify, and what benefits do they offer to listeners?

Answer: Our goal with this program is to partner with the most talented creators in Pakistan and establish a robust Spotify community. We intend to achieve this by placing a stronger emphasis on education, maintaining regular connections to share the latest Spotify updates, and offering insights into specific features and product “hacks” for unique experiences.

This is something that we highlighted at the Product Education workshop that I hosted recently. In the session, we explored Spotify’s rich tech ecosystem.

At Spotify, all that we do has personalization as its basis in one way or the other. Starting with AI DJ, when we launched it back in February, it quickly became the most discussed Spotify feature on social media amongst users. DJ is a personalized AI guide for Spotify Premium users that knows you and your music taste so well it can choose what to play for you.

DJ provides a new and different way for fans and artists to connect. It’s a little like a radio DJ that tailors its shows for each individual. We’ve found that when DJ listeners hear commentary alongside personal music recommendations, they’re more willing to try something new or listen to a song they may have otherwise skipped. Listeners can find personal DJ by simply heading to the Music feed on Home or find it in the Made for You hub within the Search tab.

Moving on to Jam, a feature that we launched recently in Pakistan, is a personalized, real-time listening experience designed to connect groups over their shared love of music. Jam combines popular social features like Blend and Collaborative Playlists with our personalization technology, offering shared queue control, tailored recommendations, and track attribution. How it works is that a Premium user initiates a Jam, selects music, and invites friends via Bluetooth, QR code, or sharing links through various channels. Everyone can add songs, see contributors, and get recommendations. Hosts manage the session, reorder tracks, and, if desired, enable guest controls for collaborative queue management. Jam elevates music sharing and bonding among friends.

Similarly, Spotify’s Blend feature is a musical social experience that harmonizes the listening tastes of two friends, creating a dynamic shared playlist. It’s a collaborative journey where music becomes a bridge between people, reflecting their unique tastes and creating a playlist that evolves over time. Blend regularly updates based on both users’ music preferences, making it a living, breathing soundtrack of their friendship. Friends can enjoy discovering new tracks, comparing music tastes, and deepening their connection through the power of music. Blend transforms the act of sharing music into a delightful, ongoing dialogue, making it a compelling feature for music enthusiasts and friends alike.

Question # 2: There was a lot of fanfare around Spotify even when it hadn’t officially launched in Pakistan. And ever since the app launched, we’ve witnessed that its popularity has only grown. Can you tell us which features make it stand out and contribute to the immense love from listeners?

Answer: Spotify’s rise in popularity in Pakistan can be attributed to a number of factors. Let’s talk about several standout tech features as an example that cater to a diverse range of music enthusiasts. First and foremost, Spotify Premium stands out for its superior audio quality. Audiophiles and discerning listeners appreciate the premium tier, which offers an impressive 320 kbps audio quality, ensuring that every note and detail in the music is crystal clear. Even Spotify Free users can enjoy music at decent quality, with options for normal (96 Kbps) and high (160 Kbps) quality streams.

Furthermore, Spotify fosters a sense of community and sharing among users. Features like collaborative playlists, the ability to follow friends, and the “Blend” feature, which combines musical tastes of friends into shared playlists, encourage social engagement through music. This sense of connection and sharing enhances the overall Spotify experience, making it more than just a music streaming platform but a social music hub.

Our success in Pakistan comes down to the commitment to delivering top-notch audio quality, affordability, personalized playlists, and a sense of musical community. These factors create an exceptional music streaming experience that resonates with both casual listeners and ardent music enthusiasts, solidifying Spotify’s place as a beloved music platform in Pakistan.

Question # 3: Spotify has always stressed the fact that personalization is at the core of everything that it does. Can you tell us how this concept is embedded in the features that the app offers especially in Pakistan?

Answer: Personalization is indeed at the heart of Spotify’s approach, and this concept is intricately woven into the features the app offers in Pakistan, creating a deeply engaging and tailored music experience for users.

At the sign-up, we ask you a range of questions about your preferences in music and the recommendations as well as the interface that you get is tweaked accordingly. As the user moves on to features like Jam, Blend and AI DJ all of which have been mentioned above come with personalization at their core. We believe that every individual is his own story and they need music that resonates with them in order to experience the true beauty of listenership that Spotify has to offer.

Both our user-generated and editorial playlists are also personalized to not just help the listener find the music that they love but also artists to take their music to the audiences that appreciate their genre. Playlists like ‘Daily Mixes’ and ‘Repeat Rewind’ are just a few that are curated with the personalization prowess of our algorithms. In fact, tailoring experiences is so deeply embedded in our platform that we believe that there are 551 million versions of Spotify, each tweaked to our users individually.

In Pakistan, where musical tastes vary widely, Spotify’s personalization efforts shine by not only curating playlists but also offering regional content tailored to local preferences. Whether it’s playlists featuring Pakistani hits or recommendations based on the burgeoning local music scene, Spotify ensures that Pakistani users find music that resonates with them.

Question # 4: In the context of the recent session, can you share any future plans for Spotify in Pakistan? What exciting new features can we expect next?

Answer: At Spotify, we continue working around the four fundamentals of personalization, discovery, connection and ubiquity. Everything we do and have done so far falls back on these elements. The last two years in Pakistan have been especially fruitful for us and the love from fans has been immense. Therefore, we continue to look forward toward innovating and introducing more features, programs and offerings that facilitate both listeners and artists alike. So, stay tuned.

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