After 16 years, Spotify is finally adding the feature everyone really wants. There is only 1 catch

Make yours happy customers is generally a good idea. The good news is that giving them what they want is often that easy. Sure, there are exceptions, but when your customers tell you there’s a problem you can solve, you should see it as an opportunity to provide them with a better experience.

At first glance, Spotify seems to be doing just that with its latest update. On Monday, the streaming music service announced that it is introducing what is arguably one of its most requested features:

Music – and how you listen to it – should be your control… To make that choice even clearer and easier, we’re improving the listening experience and separating the shuffle and play buttons for Spotify Premium users.

The key is that Spotify is making a change with the goal of “improving the listening experience.” As? By “separating the shuffle and play buttons”.

That seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? If not, maybe a little context would help.

One of the best features of Spotify’s paid plans is the ability to create playlists of your favorite music. You can add artists and songs to easily find and listen to the music you like the most. You can create multiple playlists depending on your mood or activity. Spotify even has its own curated playlists that you can subscribe to.

At the top of the playlist screen is a giant green button that looks a lot like a play button except it’s not. Until this recent change, the button at the top of a playlist was a combo play/shuffle button. Tapping it will simply play your playlist in the order set by Spotify. If you wanted to listen to your playlist in the order you curated, you had to tap the first song in the list.

As a general rule, having a giant green play button at the top of the playlist but not playing the songs in the order you placed them is not a great experience. After all, it’s a list. Lists usually move from top to bottom. It seems that Spotify — 16 years after the music-streaming service launched — got the message that some people take the time to put songs in a playlist in a certain order because that’s the order they actually listen to them want.

Of course some people like to mix their music. When you go jogging, you might not want to hear all of your songs in the same order. Wouldn’t it be great to have a button just for that? Confusion is never a good design trait.

There is of course a catch. It’s only for people who pay for a premium subscription. Apparently Spotify really means the music should be yours – as long as you pay extra.

To be fair, that’s always been Spotify’s position. The free version has always come with limitations. You can’t even choose a song to listen to, and you’re limited to what Spotify calls “personalized playlists.” Still, if you’ll bother giving me a playlist, just let me hit play.

Adding premium features to paid subscriptions is not new. It’s pretty standard now. It’s also a pretty good way to get people to switch from your free version to a paid version of your service.

But if your app has a design flaw, you should just fix it — for everyone. When your users tell you, “Hey, every time I tap this button, the opposite of what I want happens,” your first thought should be to just find a way to fix that. Don’t ask yourself, “How can I use this to make more money off my angry users?”

While you’ll argue that this change is consistent with how Spotify has always separated the free plans from the paid plans, it’s hard to see why this frustrates people. It feels like Spotify is trying to make the experience of using a free product as frustrating as possible to get people paying money. Instead, it should focus on providing a great product and adding premium features for its premium subscribers. I’m just not sure it’s fair to call separate buttons a premium feature.

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