You know the feeling. You’re on the road and a song comes on. It’s not just any song – it’s the perfect song…and, all of a sudden, your ordinary drive is extraordinarily awesome. You turn the volume to full blast, nod your head to the beat and maybe even smile at the driver next to you at the traffic light. If they happen to be listening to their perfect driving song, they might just smile back.
Drivers have been rocking out in their cars for nearly 70 years, since the first FM radios were fitted into autos in the early 1950s. Later, the advent of cassette mix tapes, then burning CDs helped consumers customize their driving soundtracks. Naturally, when music streaming services came on the scene, people were even more empowered to personalize their listening experiences…and they did, creating well over one million Spotify playlists specifically geared toward driving.
“If you’re listening to music you don’t love, and you can’t skip, it makes the drive seem harder and longer,” says Jonathan Tarlton, of Spotify’s automotive business development team. “But when Spotify can really nail it and you hear perfect track after track, you might want to take the long way to work.”
Today, some 70 million users use Spotify in their cars—and there’s a good chance that number will grow, thanks to a recently announced collaboration between Spotify and Cadillac. Cadillac drivers can now download the Spotify app directly to their car’s infotainment system–no phone, no cables, no bluetooth necessary. The app understands that you’re in the car and will provide music recommendations that are perfect for road tripping, getting to work, or singing along with friends. It’s more convenient, safer and delivers personalized playlists, perfectly suited to each and every driver.
“It’s as simple as tuning to a radio station,” says Stefan Cross, a communications manager for General Motors, Cadillac’s parent company. “It requires much less hassle on the backend. It’s really getting the music that you want in a safe non-distracting way, but still providing you a very robust experience.”
And that might do more than improve drivers’ moods. It could actually make them better drivers.
Cadillac decided to partner with Spotify on music streaming in part, Cross says, because of something Cadillac’s own research had revealed: Access to various music options seems to discourage aggression among drivers. “In focus groups, we have found that when customers have more listening options, they have fewer hard brakes, which is typically a sign of aggressive driving,” Cross says.
Tarlton says Spotify is interested in “leaning in” to the idea of proactively using music to help people overcome challenging driving situations, like providing specific playlist recommendations to lift their spirits when it’s raining.
For now, Spotify is building a foundation for in-car playlists. Monday morning commuters may receive recommendations for upbeat songs to help energize them for the work week ahead. On a Friday evening, drivers gearing up for the weekend may enjoy brand new music from Spotify’s popular Release Radar customized playlist.
Of course, you won’t find the app surfacing Sleep playlists, but other than that, the sky—or rather, the open road—is the limit for Cadillac drivers and Spotify users intent on finding the ideal driving soundtrack.
“Drivers have this new world of choices,” Tarlton says. “Now, they can be their own DJs.”