Acquisition Of Tunigo Hints At Spotify's Future Of Radio

    It’s been a busy week, but some news just hitting our radar is Spotify’s acquisition of Stockholm-based Tunigo. Covering news late really isn’t news, but to comment on the deal I think it’s more exciting than the rest of the tech press would have you believe given our interview with Tunigo CEO Nick Holmstén just last March. I’m biased, because I’m interested in the area Tunigo has hinted at, but hear me out.

    Today if you load up the mobile Tunigo app, or in Spotify, it shows you a nice playlist discovery service based on moods and themes, such as party lists, “spring forward” “your favorite coffeehouse” and so on. But a quick browse misses the bigger picture of what the company has in store – they plan to somewhat transition their service from music discovery to almost like a smart-radio service, but all based on expert-curated lists by real people.

    Tungio’s end-vision is to narrow down their mobile app to just a play button that automatically plays music based on whatever data their mobile app can pick up. I haven’t seen anything in practice yet, but in my mind the potential for this is a smarter version of something what you’re favorite local radio disk jockeys did before stations went to corporate office-selected playlists. For example, some tracks are better to wake up to than others, and if it’s raining outside, you’re probably looking for something different to play than when the sun is shining. If an app knows you’re at the gym, it could play completely different music than if you’re at the grocery store.

    CEO Nick Holmstén told us last March,

    “The whole mission of our music application is to just have a play button. That’s where we are starting from. That’s the feature we’re going to release in our upcoming iPad app, and I think [once it’s released] people will understand more where we are coming from.”

    In our interview I got the impression they’ve been working closely with Spotify for some time, and I doubt they were acquired because they put together some playlists and put a nice wrapper on it. Instead it hints that Spotify is taking seriously a concept I’ve had in my mind for a long time – I find myself making playlists based on moods or situations, and I would love to have music that transitions between waking up, commuting, and then typing all day at work.

    The details of the acquisition were not announced, but plugging a central “play button” straight into the Spotify app would be a killer way to leverage Spotify’s 20 million tracks, and would do so much more than the standard “radio based on this artist” concept you see in Pandora, Rdio, and every other streaming service. The Spotify apps have yet to hit “1.0”, so maybe we’ll see some huge feature updates like this plugged into them.

    Even if Tungio is kept as a separate product, putting Spotify’s resources behind the product will mean a much deeper product. We’ll keep you posted!