Spotify announced a new programming tactic it calls a “radio show,” starring singer/songwriter Billy Bragg. A monthly production, the first episode will appear tomorrow, February 11. The program’s hook is a “talking playlist,” and it will feature Bragg selecting tracks and inserting commentary into the playlist.
Bragg has been vocal about Spotify in the past, not exactly evangelizing the service, but defending it against critics. In a well-publicized Facebook post, the singer wrote an open letter to musicians who complained about royalty payouts from Spotify and streaming services generally, admonishing them to work out better payments deals with their labels. In the “radio” alliance with Spotify, Bragg appears to be throwing a more solid endorsement to the service, while creating a product that enhances his personal brand.
For Spotify, the “talking playlist” adds a new angle to service programming, borrowing a page from the resurgent podcast movement. It also contributes to what might be called a “curation debate.” The new Beats Music service is marketed as a celebrity-curated listening platform, and the messaging of its CEO, Ian Rogers, has criticized more mechanical programming used by competing services. Bragg puts a celebrated human personality into the traditional Spotify playlist. It’s easy to imagine Spotify extending this programming hook to a series of celeb-curated playlists.