Sorry Spotify, not everything needs to be TikTok

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It makes total sense that Spotify would chase after TikTok. 

TikTok is what all the kids are into and so naturally every major brand is out here trying to capture a slice of that highly sought-after market, but Spotify’s new redesign featuring videos and a vertical scroll that mimics the wildly-popular social media app prefered by Gen-Z is bound to fail just as certainly as Spotify is bound to try it anyway. We’ve seen this story play out a thousand times before, and it doesn’t get any less sad with repetition.

It’s the kind of thing that is so transparently lame that Gen-Z is bound to shrug it off if it doesn’t downright laugh at it, and all Spotify is doing in the attempt is risking alienating the people who actually use the music service. 

I’m not saying that Spotify cannot try something new, it absolutely should, but let’s put the emphasis on new.

Kids aren’t going to use a boomer music app

Whether it’s Instagram or Spotify, every legacy tech company is pretty much having a midlife crisis right now and buying the proverbial sports car thinking that this is what will make them young and appealing again, and TikTok is absolutely to blame.

There’s something about a new app coming on the scene to steal away the hearts and minds and screen time of a highly desirable 12-to-18 demographic to make a legacy app question itself. Apps, like people, hate to feel like the times have passed them by. 

I, too, have felt the sting of no longer being the young millennial that seemed to know what all the latest trends were. But the only thing worse than hearing 1996’s Doom get called a Boomer Shooter by a 14 year-old is talking to that 14 year-old like I was one of their cohort.

And that’s what all these tech companies pivoting to TikTokify themselves are doing, at its core, and kids can sniff the poser stink off the effort from half a world away. Gen Z is wedded to TikTok, and no company is shaking them, no matter how much they try.

Change is good, but not like this

A girl with the dark side tiktok promoting social network with a smartphone in hand.

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ti Vla)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with shaking things up, and redesigns can be great. New UI experiences can streamline a service and give your user base more of what it wants, and there’s always the allure of a new look.

Spotify even has a real reason to make needed changes. It’s expanded well beyond just being a music streaming app, and UI changes are definitely warranted as a result.

But change has to be driven by need, and an entirely new redesign needs to emerge from the needs of the existing user base, not from an attempt to capture another one entirely. I can tell you that plenty of existing users are going to absolutely hate the new design, and they might head elsewhere. Apple Music isn’t pulling this kind of thing.

So all Spotify is doing is risking existing users to dress itself up like the Steve Buscemi meme.

Change needs to come from within if it’s going to work

Spotify app on a smartphone next to a pair of true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Chubo – my masterpiece)

The strangest thing about the whole obsession with TikTok is that there are plenty of social media and tech companies that already have incredibly strong brands as it is. 

As much as we’ve tried to get away from it in recent months, there really is nothing like Twitter out there, and Spotify has an equally strong brand ID. Why risk throwing that away just to be a TikTok clone that Zoomers can point at while rolling their eyes from the back seat of the car?

Spotify should work within that structure to find the needed change it will inevitably have to introduce, since that is ultimately what has the best chance of success. No, you might not win over the Gen Z crowd, but Spotify was never going to do that. 

Build a strong enough brand and eventually many Gen Zers might end up migrating to Spotify over time when TikTok no longer serves their needs — or when some other upstart app hits the scene and wins over whatever Gen Z’s younger siblings are called and TikTok upends its entire interface to chase after that apps audience.

Hopefully, by then, Spotify and other tech brands will have learned to age gracefully like the rest of us.

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