Spotify wants users to pay for separate ‘Play’ and ‘Shuffle’ buttons – TechCrunch
Spotify is updating its app to address a long-standing user complaint about music playback, but it’s asking customers to pay for the fix. The company announced today that it will finally introduce a separate play button and shuffle button at the top of album playlists to make it easier to play music the way you want. This will replace the previously available combo button, which was inconsistent across platforms and frustrating to use. However, streamers may be disappointed to find that what should be an app update for better usability is oddly being sold to them as a reason to upgrade to Spotify’s paid tier – the company says the new button is only offered to Spotify Premium subscribers.
This seems an odd choice given that customer complaints had correctly identified a problem with the Spotify app’s overall interface design and user experience. As a review posted last year on the Spotify Community Forums noted, the button on offer was even different across Spotify apps. On mobile, Playlists had the combined Shuffle/Play button, but on desktop the button was just a regular play button. This was confusing for users switching between platforms, the post pointed out. The user suggested that Spotify simply offer two separate buttons so people can choose how they want to stream music, instead of having to tap on the Now Playing screen to toggle Shuffle mode on or off.
The post received 647 upvotes and comment pages from others who agreed. This was not the only complaint of this nature on the forum site. Others have posted similar requests for separate Play and Shuffle buttons or even different solutions to the same problem. For example, one person asked Spotify to allow users to configure which button appeared in the app to make it the user’s choice.
Spotify has been working on this issue for some time. It first introduced the Shuffle/Play icon in 2020 to reduce streaming to a single click, he said, and last year made the play button the default button on all albums. for Spotify Premium users (as requested by Adele, as you may recall). With this upgrade, the play button will remain the default and Shuffle will be a separate option in the mobile Spotify experience.
While this is arguably a minor change in the app, it’s literally just a button – this is clearly a feature that needed fixing in the minds of users and not a premium offering. Other major music streaming apps, like Apple Music and Amazon Music, already include separate Play and Shuffle buttons, for example.
It’s rare for app makers to charge for something like a different button, especially when the reason for the change is that users were unhappy with the functionality and design of the app. A somewhat related example might be Twitter’s subscription service, Twitter Blue, which allows users to customize the app’s bottom bar with buttons of their choosing. But in this case, the option is more about personal preferences and quick access to favorite features, not usability. Even without paying, Twitter’s features are still easy to access in the main navigation on the left side of the app.
Spotify tells us that the idea of charging for the button has to do with how it perceives the benefits associated with a Premium subscription. Basically, Premium users pay for the option to listen to any song they want, on demand. The button is sort of an extension of that, as it allows users to choose to listen on demand as they wish.