All posts in “Spotify”

Tech devices that make for great last-minute gifts for anyone

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work.

It should be easy to give a gift. But it can be hard trying to choose what gift to give. That’s especially true with technology, where products tend to be more functional than emotional. Here’s what matters most: finding a present that connects to the recipient, creates a sense of enjoyment, and that they’re actually going to use. Here are five tech gifts that will appeal to almost anyone.

Jaybird X3 Wireless Sport Earbuds

The Jaybird X3 earbuds are designed for working out, but their design and great audio makes them perfect for anyone on the go. The X3’s interchangeable tips and fins offer a highly customizable, comfortable fit. Overall sound is high quality out of the box, but we like that the companion Jaybird app allows a tailored listening experience. Eight hours of playback time means you’ll be set throughout multiple workouts or a full work day.

Amazon Echo (2nd generation) Voice-Controlled Speaker

While there’s more than enough buzz surrounding voice-controlled speakers, they’re not yet considered a standard home item. But we think they’re helpful, and we know that a lot of folks find them incredibly useful for ordering food, listening to audiobooks, streaming music, or controlling their appliances and lighting. Our favorite is the Amazon Echo (2nd generation), which does more (and does it better) than any other current model. It supports a huge list of smart-home devices—including thermostats, light bulbs, and vacuums, and it has a set of skills, including offering custom weather, news and calendar alerts. (Note: If you’re giving one of these devices as a gift, make sure the recipient’s preferred music service is supported; Amazon’s devices, for example, work with its own Prime Music service, as well as Spotify, but not with Apple Music.)

Jackery Bolt USB Battery

A convenient device (which at times doubles as a lifesaver) is a gift that anyone would consider a necessity. We researched more than 300 USB power banks and battery packs and tested 40, naming the Jackery Bolt as our top pick. The Jackery Bolt is made out of aluminum and is the perfect size for carrying around in your bag or pocket every day. It has two connector cables (one Lightning and one MicroUSB), and its 6000 mAh battery has enough power to charge a medium-sized smartphone twice.

Nixplay Seed Digital Photo Frame

The Nixplay Seed digital photo frame is perfect way to keep faraway friends and family members in sight. Since it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, you can be anywhere and use social media platforms, cloud storage, or your smartphone to upload pictures. It’s a great gift because new and old moments can be shared anytime, giving viewers more reasons to touch base with you. It has a high-resolution IPS display that can show images in landscape or portrait orientation. The photo frame’s remote and sensor—which turns the device off when no one’s in the room — lets you choose what you want to see at your convenience. Multiple people can create photo playlists through the Nixplay website, or add pictures to be shown by sending them through email. With 8GB of storage it has the capacity to hold roughly 25,000 smartphone photos.

GoPro Hero5 Black Action Camera

The GoPro Hero5 Black is our top pick for action cameras because it can be used for everyday filming, capturing memories during travel adventures, and is great in environments that aren’t suitable for larger, pricier camera equipment. It doesn’t have a clunky case, but it’s still waterproof. For those who usually place tech integration at the top of their gear list, the GoPro Hero5 Black also has a touchscreen interface and voice-control capabilities. During testing we found its footage to be crisp and clear with accurate color in addition to sound quality that’s worth keeping in professional edits.

Garmin Vivosport Fitness Tracker

If you’re looking for a way to jumpstart your exercise routine and you haven’t picked up a fitness tracker, now’s the time.  We’ve tested 23 fitness trackers over the past three years and think the Garmin Vivosport is the best option. Its built-in GPS, long-lasting battery life and color display set it apart from others. In addition to monitoring your workouts (including strength-training reps), it helps keep tabs on your sleep and stress levels, and is Bluetooth-enabled for IOS and Android integration with streaming music and notifications.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter.

Note from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

Spotify misses on revenue in first earnings report with 170M users

In Spotify’s first ever earnings report, the streaming music came up a little short, pulling in $1.36 billion revenue in Q1 2018. That’s compared to Wall Street’s estimates of $1.4 billion in revenue and an adjusted EPS loss of $0.34. Spotify hit 170 million monthly active users, up 6.9 percent from 159 million in Q4 2017 and 99 million ad-supported users. It also hit 75 million Premium Subscribers, up 30 percent year-over-year, and 75 million paid subscribers, up 5.6 percent from 71 million in Q4 and up 45 percent YoY.

Interestingly, the MAU count indicates that 4 million of Spotify’s 75 million subscribers pay but don’t listen. Spotify confirmed as much. For reference, Apple Music has roughly 40 million subscribers.

Spotify’s results were in line with the guidance it gave yet Wall Street was still disappointed. Spotify shares promptly fell over 8 percent in after-hours trading to around $156, beneath its IPO pop a month ago but still above its $149 day one closing price and $132 IPO pricing.

Spotify’s Gross Margin was 24.9 percent in Q1, over the top of its guidance range of 23-24 percent. Its operating loss was $48.9 million, which improved significantly, and come in under the $59 million to $95 million operating loss Spotify warned of. The music company now has $1.91 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of Q1.

As for Q2 guidance, Spotify expects 175 to 180 million MAU, 79 to 83 million paid subscribers, and $1.3 to $1.55 billion in revenue, excluding the impoact of foreign exchange rates. It’s planning an operating loss of $71 million to $167 million, in part due to a $35 million to $42 million expense related to its direct listing debut on the public markets.

During the earnings call, CEO Daniel Ek said he hasn’t seen any significant impact from increased promotion by its competitor Apple Music. In fact, churn hit an all-time low of 4.7 percent, and lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratio is holding firm at 2.7:1. But overall, “We don’t see this as a winner takes all market” Ek says.

As for voice-activated smart speakers, Ek said “We view it longterm as an opportunity not a threat” since Spotify is available on Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices.

Spotify is hoping to boost paid subscriber numbers by first luring more users to its free ad-supported service. Last month it unveiled a revamped free tier that lets users listen to songs on-demand on particular Spotify-controlled playlists instead of only being able to play in shuffle mode. The idea is that once users get a taste of on-demand listening, they’ll pay to upgrade so they can listen to whatever they want across the whole catalog.

That strategy could not only boost subscriber numbers, but also give Spotify more leverage over the record labels. More than 30 percent of all Spotify listening now happens on its owned playlists. That gives it the power to choose what will become a hit, and in turn means record labels need to play nice. This could help Spotify secure more exclusive content and a better bargaining position in royalty negotiations.

How to organize your Spotify account

This post is part of Mashable’s Spring Cleaning Week. Just a little something to distract you from the eternal dread of constantly wiping all those fingerprints off your screen. 

It’s really easy for your Spotify account to become one helluva cluster.

Sometimes you’re really feeling particularly rowdy and you need to bump the latest stylings of Cardi B while hitting the milly rock during your mid morning commute. Sometimes you need to turn your grocery run into an adventure by moonwalking down an aisle while listening to Bruno Mars. Sometimes, you really just need to ugly cry into your palms while listening to a Jessie Reyez and Daniel Caesar collaboration.

Sometimes, you just want to listen to bad music.

All that being so, it’s real easy for your Spotify account to become a minefield of erroneous playlists, haphazardly added local files, and poorly organized libraries. All of which don’t really go together and eventually build up to such a mess that it’s way too daunting to try and fix.

But don’t fret (HAH, see what I did there), there are actually a handful of really easy ways to fix things up. Here are a few, simple ways to clean up your Spotify account to make it a more wholesome, seamless listening experience.

Have a “pocket” playlist

Make sure to always have a playlist in which you can save songs you think you’ll want to listen to later, but aren’t entirely familiar with — in other words, a “pocket” playlist. A playlist like this is perfect for all of you out there who love to listen to radio mixes, or Spotify’s curated playlists. It’ll give you a space to test and listen to new music, which you can then move to your more established playlists once you realize that that one song you heard while walking through Starbucks is indeed a banger.

Get collaborative 

This is a real playlist. The description is 100% real too.

This is a real playlist. The description is 100% real too.

Image: Brian De Los Santos/mashable

Open playlists can actually work really well in a similar way if you have a friend who has a similar taste in music. Click on the playlist you’d like to make collaborative, hit the three dot icon and click “Collaborative Playlist.” Then, share it with a friend and encourage them to find and share good music on it. If you like it, take it and move it onto one of your personal playlists. If not, delete it. Encourage your friend to do the same.

Playlist groups

Dire circumstances call for good music.

Dire circumstances call for good music.

Image: Brian De Los santos/mashable

Have a ton of playlists? Tired of scrolling through them all? Cut that number down by creating Playlist Folders. Go to File then hit New Playlist Folder. That way you can throw similar types of playlists together, whether it be a group of gym playlists or party playlists. You can even nest folders by creating a folder within another folder.

Sort and filter

All searches should always contain the word "Cardi."

All searches should always contain the word “Cardi.”

Image: brian de los santos/mashable

If you’ve got a very large playlist, or if you’re sifting through your own library, make sure that you’re making use of Spotify’s sort and filter tools. To sort, hit the carrot next to the Artist or Album tabs to list each of those categories in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order. Hit the Calendar icon at the end to sort songs by date added. If you want your songs to go back to the original order they were in just keep clicking the carrot until it goes away.

If you want a bit more control in finding songs within a playlist or your library, you can filter through all of them by using the search bar just above your playlist. Just type in what you’re looking for and it’ll turn up all things related to that term.

Use that queue

Instead of creating new playlists with just three or four songs that you’re into at that point in time, use Spotify’s Add to Queue feature. You can’t loop the tracks on there like it were a playlist, but if you’re looking to listen to a few songs in a row, as opposed to say, a whole album, add them to your queue to keep the clutter off your playlists.

Create a local files folder

Make sure to also title your local folder something very applicable to your own personal brand.

Make sure to also title your local folder something very applicable to your own personal brand.

Image: Brian de los santos/mashable

Every so often you may notice ridiculous, random files you have saved on your computer popping up in your searches as local files. That’s because Spotify automatically uploads any .mp3 or .m4p files on your computer’s My Music, Downloads, and iTunes folders into your library. To clean it up, sift through your hard drive for all the music you want to be on Spotify and put it in one folder. Then in the Settings menu, hit the Add A Source button under the Local Files menu, and navigate to that folder. Flip off all other sources, and your library should be cleared up.

Stop the gap

Image: brian de los santos/mashable

If you want to listen to all your music * efficiently * — that is without any time inserted in between tracks — go back into your Settings tab, scroll down, and hit Show Advanced Settings. Under Playback, turn on Crossfade Songs. You can keep the mixing time at the default (5 seconds) if you want to make it feel like a party mix, but you can also set it to 0 to make it so that songs play seamlessly right after one another.

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Spotify beefs up its free tier

Today at the Gramercy Theater in NYC, Spotify’s Chief R&D Officer Gustav Söderström announced a brand new free version of the Spotify mobile app.

By leveraging their investment in machine learning, Spotify’s new free tier recommends music to users on the fly. That said, the free tier has always limited users to shuffle. With the new version, users can listen on-demand to whatever song they want, as many times as they want, as long as those songs appear on one of the 15 personalized discovery playlists like Daily Mix, Discover Weekly, Release Radar or Today’s Top Hits.

In total, that’s around 750 tracks (>40 hours of music) that Spotify is serving up to users for on-demand listening.

Spotify will also make recommendations in the free mobile version based on existing user-made playlists, from the songs on those playlists to the name of the playlist itself. The company is calling this “assisted playlisting,” which essentially means that each time you search for a song to add to a playlist, Spotify will make recommendations similar to it as well.

Finally, Spotify has built in a low-data mode (called data saver) that cuts data consumption by up to 75 percent. In the past, Spotify didn’t allow offline listening for free, meaning that users were somewhat tethered to wifi if they needed to conserve data.

With the new data consumption system, which caches music ahead of time to stream via 3G, users can actually listen to much more music with wireless data. Alongside utilizing 3G, Spotify is also optimizing the streaming itself as well as the app (including imagery and other UI elements) to save data and power.

All that said, advertisements will still run on the free tier of Spotify. Which is part of the company’s strategy not only for funding a free tier but for converting users to premium.

In 2014, Spotify introduced its free tier to mobile, letting users listen to their playlists on shuffle with ads. It was a huge part of Spotify’s free-tier growth. In fact, today Spotify has 90 million users on the free tier. And many of those convert to paid users — the company now has 70 million paid subscribers.

“If you’re on a date listening to music, you’re not going to want an ad to come on,” said Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services Troy Carter.

The company has focused heavily on mobile since 2014, especially where it concerns the premium mobile player.

Spotify is built upon three tiers: ubiquity, personalization and freemium. Söderström explained that Spotify thinks of itself as the broadcast radio of the 90s, where discovery of great music was supported by ads and drove people to the record stores.

Spotify’s free tier represents broadcast radio for Spotify, and is a critical piece of Spotify’s overall strategy as paid services like Apple Music continue to grow.

Virtual Instagram celebrity ‘Lil Miquela’ has had her account hacked

The Instagram account for the virtual celebrity known as Lil Miquela has been hacked.

The multi-racial fashionista and advocate for multiculturalism, whose account is followed by nearly 1 million people, has had “her” account taken over by another animated Instagram account holder named “Bermuda.”

Welcome to the spring of 2018.

The hack of the @Lilmiquela account started earlier today, but the Bermuda avatar has long considered Miquela her digital nemesis and has taken steps to hack other of Miquela’s social accounts — like Spotify — before.

Because this is the twenty-first century — and given the polarization of the current political climate — it’s not surprising that the very real culture wars between proponents of pluralism and the Make America Great Again movement would take their fight to feuding avatars.

In posts on the Lil Maquela account, Bermuda proudly flaunts her artificial identity… and a decidedly pro-Trump message.

Unlike Miquela, whose account plays with the notion of a physical presence for a virtual avatar, Bermuda is very clearly a simulation. And one with political views that are diametrically opposed to those espoused by Miquela (whose promotion of openness and racial equality has been a feature that’s endeared the account to followers and fashion and culture magazines alike).

Miquela Sousa, a Brazilian-American from Downey, Calif., launched her Instagram account in 2016. Since the account’s appearance, Miquela has been a subject of speculation in the press and online.

Appearing on magazine covers, and consenting to do interviews with reporters, Miquela has been exploring notions of celebrity, influence and culture since her debut on Facebook’s new most popular social media site.

A person familiar with the Lil Miquela account said that Instagram was working on regaining control.