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Spotify’s Free Music-Streaming Plan Is Getting Some Big New Features

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Music fans who don’t want to pay $9.99 per month for Spotify’s premium subscription will now have more features to choose from. The streaming music giant announced Tuesday that it will be releasing several new capabilities for its free music tier that will be launching for iOS and Android over the coming weeks.

Among the biggest changes is the introduction of 15 new on-demand playlists that the company says will serve up music tailored to users’ personal taste. Listeners will be able to play any track within these playlists at any time, rather than having to wait for the app’s shuffle mode to choose the desired song.

In an effort to offer better music suggestions for non-paying listeners, Spotify also says it will ask users about which artists they like upon signing up for an account, and will then deliver playlists that match those choices. Spotify is also making it possible for users to “like” songs they enjoy and “hide” songs they don’t in order to improve its recommendations. A new Data Saver mode will optimize the app to use less data while streaming, a move that could make its service more appealing in areas with limited connectivity.

The update is also likely an attempt by Spotify to retain its lead in the streaming music space as Apple slowly encroaches. The company has 71 million paid subscribers while Apple Music now boasts 38 million members, which Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, announced last month at South by Southwest according to multiple reports. Both The Wall Street Journal and Billboard recently reported in February that Apple’s streaming service, which doesn’t have a free tier, appears to be growing more quickly than Spotify.

Taken together, the features included in the update will ease up on the restrictions Spotify has imposed thus far in its free tier. Considering non-paying users can’t listen to music offline, don’t have access to play any track on demand, and can only use the skip button a limited number of times, the update will give those users a bit more control.

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