The original version of Spotify’s Group Session feature, which lets you listen to your Spotify queue with your friends, came with a head-scratching restriction: Everyone in the group had to be in the same physical location. Well, no longer.
Starting today, Spotify is rolling out an update to its still-in-beta Group Session feature that finally lets you create remote listening groups, perfect for spinning up Spotify tunes with friends who are thousands of miles away.
Plenty of third-party apps that take advantage of Spotify’s public APIs already allow groups of remote friends to listen to Spotify together, but the newly updated Group Session feature marks the first time that Spotify has natively supported remote group listening.
Creating a remote Group Session works in more or less the same way it did before. Once the leader starts a Spotify queue, they can tap the Connect button in the bottom-left corner of the screen (it’s the button that looks like a speaker in front of a PC monitor) and scroll down to the Start a group session banner.
Once you’re there, you’ll also be able to copy a “join” link that you can share via text or social media.
Previously, there was only a barcode that your friends had to scan in order to share your Spotify queue, which meant they had to be in the same room with you to join your Spotify listening group.
Besides listening to music together in real time, members of a Spotify Group Session will be able to pause, play, skip, and select tracks in the shared queue, as well as add new tracks.
The ability to listen with friends remotely makes Spotify’s Group Session feature far more compelling, but there are still a couple of key caveats.
First of all, everyone in a Group Session must be a Spotify Premium member, which does make sense from a practical standpoint given the unskippable advertisements that free Spotify must listen to.
The second catch is that Group Sessions are capped at five people, which means you’ll have to look for a third-party alternative if you want to stage a remote Spotify concert.
Spotify’s updated Group Session feature is rolling out starting today, but not everyone will get it at once. The Spotify app on my iPhone XS, for example, is still showing the old Group Session interface.