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Driving in Your Car

Get out of my dreams / and into your Car Thing

Spotify has officially launched Your Daily Drive in the US, a new playlist that combines news clips from The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Public Radio International with streamed music. It’s aimed at listeners who commute by car, and can’t necessarily keep selecting new episodes or songs, but works whether you’re driving or not. It’s currently available to all American listeners, and is being tested for five percent of users elsewhere.

It’s the first time Spotify has combined music and podcasts in a playlist like this, I think. The list updates throughout the day, making sure the news is current. The specific news podcasts the playlist draws from are NPR News Now, WSJ Minute Briefing, and The Daily, according to TechCrunch.

This sentence from the announcement caught my eye, though: “[The playlist] combines music you love with relevant, timely world updates from reputable sources – all put together in a seamless and unified listening experience.” If that sounds an awful lot like what a drivetime radio show does, I think that’s because it. . . is. Spotify is repurposing that for streaming, it looks like.

This new playlist comes just a few weeks after Spotify announced it was testing its first hardware project, a car-based smart speaker called “Car Thing”, intended to capture how people consume audio while driving and thereby tailor its auto offering. Given everything else Spotify has done this year so far, it’s not surprising therefore that they’re trying out ways of getting podcasts to those behind the wheel as well.

Nick’s Note: If it works, why not ape it? The thing I’m fascinated by is the… what’s the word? Skeumorphism? Let’s go with that…. the Skeumorphism of Spotify’s new experimental products here. It’s very clear, now more than ever, that Spotify is going after the totality of radio as we know it, and they’re doing it by taking radio tools that people know (and love, I guess), and bringing their spin to it. It’s also a smart place to start, and a smart place to start getting data on the kinds of user behaviors they want to capture over the long term.