Spotify tries asking users to record audio reactions to music playlists

News articles have comments, YouTube has reaction videos, and now a new test from Spotify sees the streaming service experiment with audio reactions for music playlists. The experiment came to light thanks to a Reddit user based in Vietnam who posted screenshots of the reaction prompt.

“So what do you think?” the interface reads. “Record an episode to share your thoughts on the playlist.” Below the prompt there’s a green-colored record button to start the audio recording, which it appears will then be uploaded as a podcast episode to the service. There are also some simple editing options like being able to add background music and tags. The reaction feature seems to be accessible via a microphone icon on the playlist’s page.

The company confirmed the test in a statement given to TechCrunch. “At Spotify, we are always looking for ways to enhance our users’ experience on our platform, and we regularly test features that we believe will bring value to listeners and creators,” the statement reads. “We are currently running a limited test of in-app audio creation, but have no further details to share at this time.” It’s unclear how widely this new test has been deployed and the company did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

User engagement is a fundamental part of the online experience for many services, which encourage users to become a part of the conversation after reading an article or watching a video. And in recent years, reaction features like TikTok’s Duets have become core to the service offering. Spotify’s test seems to be an attempt to bring similar social elements to music playlists, and hopefully benefit from the resulting increase in user participation.

The discovery of the test comes a little over a month after Spotify was spotted experimenting with allowing users to record and post podcasts directly from the app, substantially lowering the barrier to entry to potential audio creators. At the time, Spotify had made the feature available to a small number of users in the US and New Zealand.

Compared to asking users to record full-on podcasts in the Spotify app, simple audio reactions arguably make a lot more sense. Users have come to expect high production values from podcasts — the result of professional equipment and slick editing — which a mobile app like Spotify might struggle to replicate. But the bar for short audio reactions could be a lot lower (as it is for TikTok Duets), and users might be more willing to listen to clips recorded with a phone’s microphone.

However, it’s worth noting that Spotify often experiments with new features that get limited public-facing releases but never officially launch. In recent months we’ve seen the platform test everything from a TikTok-style discovery feed to NFT galleries for musicians. And more than a year after giving its lossless streaming tier a flashy launch event, the company has yet to make Spotify HiFi available to customers.