Quick Take: Spotify’s Throwback Hub and the Future of the Album

Photo of Zach Fuller
by Zach Fuller

Throwback Thursday, one of Spotify’s most popular features, has been expanded into a new Throwback hub. Launching initially with 30 playlists and described by Austin Daboh, Head of Music Culture & Editorial at Spotify, as being “a permanent home for our main nostalgia brand”, the announcement is a subtle yet defiant statement against the format playlists are set to usurp: the album.

Spotify’s most recent UX update not only emphasised podcasts more than before, but also placed playlists ahead of albums. Until this announcement there had been lingering questions over the format, given that the amorphous nature of playlists has often meant that people become more attached to playlist brands rather than the list items. What the introduction of throwback hubs therefore facilitates is bringing a particular version of a playlist brand into regular user listening habits. This will allow Spotify additional data regarding not only the playlist brand itself, but rather which specific playlists have worked best in the long term. With the traditional emphasis on quick gains for the recorded music industry, observing if certain curations have staying capacity will be a powerful tool for Spotify.

Over 30 throwback playlists, including Brits Winners, Divas, Emo Kids and Girlband vs Boyband, will be housed in the new hub. Although this was a quiet announcement, have we just witnessed the next major format shift, whereby people will talk more about their summer 2019 playlist than they do Dark Side of the Moon? Time will tell, but it looks like the album’s nostalgia factor has a new competitor in town.

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