Spotify Use Anti-Delight To Drive Customer Engagement
6 February 2017
Philip Shelper


As engagement aficionados’, Loyalty & Reward Co spend countless hours obsessing about customer delight and the role it can play in driving affinity with a brand. Take for example the Waldorf Astoria in New York, who allocate a dedicated concierge to guests even before they arrive to ensure each minute of their stay is tailored specifically to them as individuals. No wonder they’re regularly voted the best hotel in the world.

Spotify has taken the reverse approach to driving deeper engagement, which we lovingly label ‘Anti-Delight’. This is where the free version of the product is specifically designed to irritate the user into paying for the full product so they no longer need to suffer day-after-day the frustrations of Spotify’s refined psychological warfare.


To start, using Spotify Free means you can’t select any song. Users can search for an album, but to listen to the album the only option is ‘shuffle’.

Anti-Delight 1: if you’re wanting to listen to a particular song, you can’t. By pure fluke the shuffle feature might play it, but it’s more likely it’ll play a few different songs then jump to a different artist altogether. Grrrr.

Anti-Delight 2: Albums are designed to be played in sequence, not track 6, then track 3, then track 8. Compulsory shuffle doesn’t allow this fundamental law of music consumption to manifest. Boo.


Spotify Free plays ads, which users are informed of when they start using it, but it’s a very powerful anti-delight mechanic, in the same way that mosquitoes buzzing in one’s ear are a great advertisement for insect repellent.

Anti-Delight 3: The ads take annoying to a whole new level, with most of them encouraging take-up of Spotify Premium. Please take our money now. No, no, we must resist!


The best thing about digitalised music is it’s super easy to skip rubbish songs. Remember in the olden days the agony of trying to skip a song on cassette. Ugh, we hate the olden days. Spotify has used the skip function to introduce a new, cruel Anti-Delight; limited skips.

Anti-Delight 4: Spotify Free has a limitation of 5 song skips, plus you can’t reverse to previous songs. If you’re working through a playlist hunting for gems, forget about it. You’ll be force to listen to hours and hours of terrible songs. Kill us now.

Sound Quality

When you spend $500 on a pair of wireless headphones, the last thing you want is crappy sound. Spotify Free serves it up in droves.

Anti-Delight 5: Spotify deliberately reserves high-definition sound for Spotify Premium members, meaning those on Free are subject to dull, lifeless air vibrations akin to a 50’s speaker system. The only upside is by the time you’re old enough to be able to afford a pair of $500 headphones, your hearing is probably shot anyway so you’re unlikely to notice the difference.


Our Verdict: Spotify Free’s 5 levels of Anti-Delight hell are the product of shrewd individuals which were brought into existence by evil wizards for the express purpose of relieving the weak-minded of $11.99 per month. Here’s our $11.99. Please take it. Just make it stop, make it stop.


Philip Shelper is a loyalty management consultant based in Sydney, Australia who obsesses about everything to do with loyalty and rewards. His company Loyalty & Reward Co are a leading loyalty management consulting firm.

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<a href="" target="_self">Philip Shelper</a>

Philip Shelper

Phil is the CEO & Founder of Loyalty & Reward Co, the leading loyalty consulting firm. Loyalty & Reward Co design, implement and operate the world’s best loyalty programs for the world’s best brands. Phil had previously worked in loyalty roles at Qantas Frequent Flyer and Vodafone. Phil is a member of several hundred loyalty programs, and a researcher of loyalty psychology and loyalty history, all of which he uses to understand the essential dynamics of what makes a successful loyalty program. Phil is the author of ‘Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide’, the most comprehensive book on loyalty programs on the planet.

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