Popular European music streaming startup Spotify has been able to survive and thrive in a tough market that has seen its fair share of startup casualties. In an effort to maintain its growth, it has announced the largest upgrade since it first launched in 2008.

The goal: turn Spotify into a “total music management platform“. The means: a hefty dose of social features.

These social features include:

  • Facebook integration. Spotify users can now import their Facebook friends and can view the music their friends have posted to Facebook.
  • An inbox. To encourage more interaction, Spotify has added an ‘inbox‘ feature that allows users to send tracks to their friends with just a few clicks.
  • Public profiles. With public profiles, it’s easy for Spotify members to give others the ability to view their activity on the service.
  • Playlist updates. These include a “popularity count” feature and playlist update tracking.
  • Track replacement. If a friend in another country sends a track that can’t be streamed in your location, Spotify will try to find a replacement.

There’s an obvious common thread running through all of the social features: discovery. Music is in many ways very social. Chances are your friends have similar musical tastes, and that they’ve introduced you to some of your favorite music.

While Spotify’s new social features are just that — features — they have the potential to make the service infinitely more useful and interesting. That, of course, would not only be a good thing for users, but for Spotify. Earlier this year, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek stated:

If we can enable sharing of music on the internet, that application is
going to be huge. That could be bigger than uploading your photos on
the internet. Hundreds of millions of people want to share music with
their friends . . . It would be as big if not bigger than what Facebook
or Twitter is. Our ambition is to be one of those players that drives
that.

Needless to say, Spotify has big goals. And it will reasonably need to realize some of them if it hopes to win over record labels, many of whom still have good reason to be quite skeptical.

Photo credit: Jon Åslund via Flickr.