Spotify is launching a Group Session feature, a party control mode that enables two or more listeners to collaborate on a shared playlist. The new feature is designed to work with people in the same shared space, who might typically have had to pass around a phone or tablet in order to control what’s playing.
With Group Session, they’ll be able to individually add to and generally control a single playlist from their own devices, shared across all of the people in the session. Initially Spotify is offering the feature in beta. Only those with a Spotify Premium account – or who share a Spotify Premium Family account – will be able to use it.
To use it, the Group Session “host” pulls up a scannable code on-screen. Other people can use that to connect their own phones and accounts to the session. After that, everyone can control the playback – including skipping forward or back in the track queue – as well as add the music they want to hear next.
All of the changes are instantly reflected across every device logged into the same session. Group Sessions are automatically ended after an hour of being left idle.
It’s reminiscent of turntable.fm, the ill-fated music social network which shut down in 2013. That offered user-created chat rooms in which participants could “hop up” to take over as room DJ. The tracks played could either be from turntable.fm’s library, or from the user’s device. However even after signing deals with ASCAP in 2011, turntable.fm opted to shut down at the end of 2013 to focus, briefly, on Turntable Live.
Spotify Group Sessions won’t have the same chat features, but then that’s because they’re intended to be used by people physically in the same space. Right now there’s no apparent limit on the number of people who can actively take part in a session, though since it’s limited to Spotify Premium subscribers only that may not have been an issue anyway.
Spotify already offers collaborative playlists, which can be set so that other users can add, delete, and reorder the tracks. What they don’t support, though, is the same live playback tools that Group Sessions do.
Group Sessions is rolling out to Spotify Premium subscribers from today.