Spotify's smart new playlist tunes you in to your friends' favorite songs

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Spotify wants you to know what your friends are listening to. The popular streaming service unveiled two new features on Thursday that help you get in touch with your friends' musical tastes. The first is called Top Tracks in Your Network, which is exactly as it sounds: a ranked playlist based on what the people you follow on Spotify are listening to.

You can also see what your friends are listening to when you visit artist or album pages on Spotify.

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Spotify's new Top Tracks in Your Network is under the Top Lists category in the app's Browse section.

Why this matters: The catalogs for music streaming services aren't all that different save for a few exclusives here and there. To woo new subscribers, each service is working hard to differentiate itself. Rdio, for example, stresses personalized radio streams, as does Pandora. Spotify's new features, on the other hand, is all about social—connecting you to your friends in a much deeper way. Top Tracks, for example, provides a lean-back experience based on your friends' music tastes and doesn't require actively seeking out tracks from the Spotify news feed. 

Splitting the difference

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Spotify's artist and album page updates shows what your friends are listening to.

Spotify is taking a dual approach to the Top Tracks chart and the artist pages feature. To start, Top Tracks in your Network is only available on Android and iOS at Browse > Top Lists. The new album and artist pages, meanwhile, are only available on the desktop and Spotify's Web player.

Both features will be available across all of Spotify's platforms in the coming weeks.

Top Tracks in Your Network ranks songs based on how often they've been played among the people you follow. The playlist is updated every day to reflect the latest listening habits of your friends.

Taking a quick glance at my own top list I got a playlist of 50 songs and each entry displayed the profile photos of the people I follow who had listened to the song. In my own case, I was struck by how few people were making up my list—6 active users even though I follow 48 people.

The prospect of having a recommended playlist auto-created for me every day had me seriously thinking about following some more people or cutting others from my list.

Of course there is a downside to Spotify's Top Tracks in Your Network since your listening tastes will help populate your friends' playlists. Meaning you might want to think twice before playing Oops! I did it again on a repeating loop all afternoon.

If you don't want to participate in Spotify's sharing fiesta, going to File > Private Session should keep your more embarrassing listening habits private. Private sessions automatically expire after several hours of inactivity or if you logout of the Spotify app you're using for the private session. Once a private session expires you have to re-enable the feature to keep your listening private.

We're confirming with Spotify about a more permanent method for halting any sharing with the Top Tracks in Your Network playlist.

This story, "Spotify's smart new playlist tunes you in to your friends' favorite songs" was originally published by PCWorld.

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