Spotify launches real-time group sessions for friends and family

12 May 2020

Image: © rcfotostock/

The feature is a step up from collaborative playlists, giving multiple users real-time control of a Spotify listening session.

Spotify has introduced a new group session feature for premium users. The feature lets friends, relatives and housemates in the same location share control of a playlist and queued music.

Group session has already rolled out in beta and will only be accessible to paid subscribers. The feature works by letting a host set up a group session, before offering playback control to select Spotify users in the vicinity.

Both the host and guests can add tracks to the queue, press play, pause or skip songs, depending on the permissions that have been granted by the host of the session. Changes made by any guest are immediately displayed on all participants’ devices. After an hour of inactivity, users are disconnected from the session.

Group sessions

Spotify has published instructions on how to use the feature for those who have access. The host will receive a sharing code to start a group session, which friends and relatives can scan with their own devices to join.

The music streaming business told the Verge that it plans to “evolve the experience over time”, based on feedback from users.

The feature is a step up from collaborative playlists, which are already available on the platform, as well as the Family Mix playlists that Spotify offers households with a premium family subscription. Family Mix combines the music that everybody in a household enjoys, for communal listening.

In the works for some time

As pointed out by TechCrunch, the Spotify group session feature was discovered by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong back in May 2019.

When she explored the feature, Manchun Wong said that group session shows the host how many users are listening. She also pointed out that the feature offers a much “more real-time” experience than collaborative playlists.

Last month, Spotify said that its subscriptions had surged during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also noted a change in listening habits as more users stayed home.

“It’s clear from our data that morning routines have changed significantly,” the company said in its Q1 results. “Every day now looks like the weekend.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic