Uber and Spotify launch car music playlist partnership

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The partnership will only apply to premium Spotify account holders

People with premium Spotify accounts will be able to listen to their own music in cars booked through Uber, the firms have announced.

The partnership means that users will be able to link their two accounts within the Uber app and build music playlists for their journeys.

The service will launch in 10 cities around the world on Friday 21 November, including London, Singapore and Sydney.

Drivers can choose whether to take part, Uber said.

Unlike a traditional minicab firm, Uber has no human operators taking bookings.

Instead, customers request a lift through an app, and the process is completely automated by software, which allocates the booking to the driver best placed to take it on.

Spotify is an on-demand song service, which allows premium members to stream selected tracks over the internet without adverts if they pay a monthly fee.

To offer the new facility, drivers will need to connect their Uber phone to their car's entertainment system, said Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber.

The option to choose music will only appear on the app when a car that is "Spotify-enabled" is booked, he explained.

The driver will retain control over the volume.

"If we see tension points those are things we will work into the experience and handle in an elegant way," Mr Kalanick said.

"For Uber it's the first time we've personalised the experience inside the car. For music lovers that's nirvana - it's a really awesome place to be."

The firms said they planned to extend the service to other cities in time. Uber also operates in Manchester and Leeds in the UK.


Both Mr Kalanick and Spotify's chief executive Daniel Ek declined to go into detail about the finances of the deal.

"There's a mutual win/win on this one," said Mr Kalanick.

Spotify hit the headlines recently when the singer-songwriter Taylor Swift withdrew her music catalogue from the service, claiming it did not fairly compensate artists.

"After a couple of weeks on the defensive, Spotify will be hoping that this alliance with a similarly hyped digital business will move the streaming music debate onto new topics," Chris Cooke, business editor of Complete Music Update (CMU) told the BBC.

"One of the big issues that was discussed following Taylor Swift's departure from Spotify was how streaming services can distinguish their paid-for level from their free level.

"Artists like Swift think that Spotify's free option gives too much away.

"But by offering extra functionality like the in-car listening with Uber, Spotify might be able to persuade more people to upgrade to premium despite having a very generous freemium offer."

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