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Spotify’s ‘Hey Spotify’ feature is rolling out, expect new ads

Illustration for the article titled Spotify will use your voice to crush you with ads

Photo: Martin Bureau (Getty Images)

For almost a year we have seen Spotify low acquisition after acquisition and product update after product update to establish a foothold in the advertised targeting space. Now the company’s new dataset for this purpose starts: your voice.

This update was a bit of a footnote to the new Spotify voice commands that were first noticed on Wednesday by GSMArena. While the company did not publish an official announcement about the new feature, some iOS and Android Spotify users began noticing prompts to enable a new voice-driven search feature in the app. Ssimilar to the way you might say “Hey Google” or “Hey Alexa” on your smart home devices, the new Spotify feature asks users to say: “Hi Spotify,” as a way to activate it.

While I personally did not receive a notification, I noticed that I could also enable this feature by pressing the “settings” button in my Spotify app and turning on “Voice Interactions”.

It is worth noting here that Spotify has tested this wake word feature in its mobile app for about a year now. Back in 2019, the company even started testing a similar tool for people who might be driving, called – not even fun – “Car stuff. ”

After downloading the update, one of the first things I noticed was that this update is much more friendly to certain artists as opposed to others. Telling Spotify to play, says the Beatles or Pink Floyd, or newly baptized Grammy winner Dua Lipa, you will get what you ask for. This is not always the case with more obscure artists or those with difficult to pronounce names. Just as an example, no matter how many times I tried to get Spotify to play an album by the experimental noise rock duo Xiu Xiu (pronounced “shoo shoo, “For the people at home), Spotify would not stop playing 70s funk hit”Shoe Shoe Shine.

Another nugget that stuck out to me was that Spotify pointed me towards Spotlight by turning on this feature a page specifying how my voice data would be collected, stored, and used.

Illustration for the article titled Spotify will use your voice to crush you with ads

Screenshot: Shoshana Wodinsky (Gizmodo)

The first thing Spotify mentions on this page is that by enabling these controls, you are not only enabling “Hi Spotify ” function but also others – even potentially “interacting with some commercials” using your voice. In fact, voice-activated ads are an idea that Spotify has been kicking around for about two years: Back in May In 2019, the company rolled out a limited run of ads for specific Spotify podcasts – if users said a specific magic word, it would lead them to listen to the show’s latest episode.

Since then, it seems that the company has only rolled out a major voice-led advertising campaign last summer, but has been relatively quiet on the project since then. Romits this new “Hi Spotify ” campaign could be a way to quietly push more users to bring these kinds of voice-activated ads on their devices, albeit in a semi-insidious way. Similarly, Spotify also notes in its policy that your voice data will be used to show you more “relevant” – ie. targeted ads.

On the bright side, Spotify makes it crystal clear that there is only some voice data used for this purpose. According to the policy, Spotify will only start receiving your voice data when you say the watchword (or press the record button) until “Spotify has processed your question or request.” Your phone will also “always notify you when Spotify receives your voice input,” the company added, “For example, with a visual indicator or an audible tone.”

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