Over the past few weeks, fans, artists and industry members noticed a very annoying change or possibly bug on one of the most important music streaming apps, Spotify without warning removed the ‘Appears On’ category on artist profiles. If you’re unfamiliar, it was the section that displayed any work that was not artists own single or album. While it has always been a rather messy area of the artist profile and most certainly gets less visibility, it still has an important purpose. Its removal made us wonder, how could it be done better?
We struggle to understand what problem Spotify would be solving or what they would gain from removing the ability to find all of an artists’ music on their page. Spotify has traditionally been about improving music discovery, yet this move if intentional feels like it achieves the opposite of that. It most definitely has a negative impact on artists, and moreover vocalists already took issue with the fact that their features don’t get included in their overall monthly listener count or their “Top Tracks” section. The new change rubs a little more salt in that wound, and many on Twitter have unsurprisingly expressed outrage directed at Spotify.
While some don’t use it that frequently due to its position, others use it often. When a listener discovers a new artist, the “Appears On” section plays an important role in discovery for artists. Located at the end of a Spotify artist profile, the section bundles together album & EP features, remixes, vocal features, and the inclusion of an artists track on compilations. It helps fans see who they have worked with, and in turn, generates new listeners and fans.
It has not been removed for everyone at the time of writing – still remaining on the desktop app for us, so it’s unclear whether it’s part of a new update being tested or it’s just a bug. However, instead of removing it altogether, we do think the section could use a bit of a makeover that would help fans and artists, while also improving the overall UX and usability of the artist profile.
In our own mockups which can be seen below, we’ve created an alternative layout to the ‘Appears On’ section. In the renders, we’ve divided it into three sections; Featuring, Remixes and Compilations. While the data may not be 100% accurate for Black Coffee in this instance, below is just an example of what it could look like.
The reason this approach may not have been used so far is that given it’s a mostly electronic specific need, not all artists have done remixes. However, even separating compilations from features and remixes would be a welcome change. Compilations played a significant role in the era of CD’s and digital downloads, however playlists have largely replaced their purpose except for label compilations. Seeing these compilations in which many artists have no control over their licensing has always been quite a frustrating element to sift through when trying to find music that is not already featured on the artists profile.
On mobile devices, the three sections would be side-ways scroll-able to keep the latest items first and allow for maximum content to be shown within only a small footprint.
There are many instances where a feature on a track is a more important and significant release than a solo original. While a feature can be made the main artist if delivered as such via distribution it’s not always done. The feature should not be hidden at the bottom of their page, and at the moment; not even on their page at all.
Another possible feature which we could expect to appear on the artist profiles at some point in the future is the inclusion of music videos. With the news of Spotify’s exclusive deal for Joe Rogan’s Podcast, they revealed video content would be coming to the platform, so it’s not unreasonable to expect it could be included as a key element for artists, and a way to further challenge YouTube’s domination.