Singer Adele, whose new album 30 was released on Friday, has announced to her 27 million Twitter followers that music-streaming platform Spotify has agreed to remove the button allowing users to shuffle songs on albums


Because Adele asked them, and because she’s the biggest-selling female star on the planet. “Anything for you,” announced the streaming giant on its Twitter page, accompanied by a praying hands emoji.

That’s nice. But why?

The star explained: “This was the only request I had in our ever changing industry! We don’t create albums with so much care and [put] thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening.”

In other words?

In other words musicians and their record labels do think about the track listing on their albums because they want the songs to be heard in a specific order, for reasons both commercial and artistic. For example there is a logic behind Smells Like Teen Spirit opening Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Life In A Day ending Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You open and close each ‘side’ with strong songs and you arrange everything else around those four ‘tentpoles’.

But not if you shuffle?

Indeed. An on-screen button – actually a symbol of two inter-weaving lines – allows Spotify users to play album tracks randomly. So if your first listening experience of, say, The Beatles’ White Album kicks off with Revolution 9 and is then followed by Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da when it could have opened on Back In The USSR and Dear Prudence, you’re not really hearing it as the musicians intended. Or wanted. Now the Spotify app will default to playing album tracks in the order they appear. In a statement, the company said it was “excited” to be rolling out a feature which had long been requested. It continued: “As always, we will continue to iterate our products and features to create the best experiences for both artists and their fans.”

And if you do want to shuffle?

There is still an option, so in one sense it’s kind of a pyrrhic victory. But it will cheer fans of concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Is 30 a concept album?

Yes, if the concept is to sell millions of records and notch up tens of millions of Spotify plays. And yes, it’s conceptual in the sense that it charts the 33-year-old singer’s divorce.

Anything else?

Music fans are cheering, especially those who love the album format, which still has life in it thanks to the ever-increasing sales of vinyl records. Tim Burgess, frontman with The Charlatans and the founder of Tim’s Twitter Listening Party, in which social media users listen to a classic album together in real time, wrote: “Long live the album.” But he also had a message for Adele: “Spotify replied ‘anything for you’ – if so, maybe ask them to pay artists fairly.”