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This Spotify privacy feature lets you sample new music without an audience

Want to check out a new artist or listen to your guilty pleasure music without anyone else knowing? Spotify's private session feature can help. Here's how.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Person listening to music on a bus
Flashpop/Getty Images

I have a number of people who follow me on Spotify. That means they can see what I'm listening to. I like that feature because I spend a lot of time creating playlists (my Run playlist has over 82 hours worth of music) and I like that others can enjoy the songs (or at least see what I'm listening to). Besides, I enjoy introducing people to artists or songs they may never have heard of.

Also: How to improve the quality of Spotify streaming audio

However, I don't always want people to know what I'm listening to every single minute of the day. Here's an example. Let's say I've never listened to a particular artist who is phenomenally popular because their music just isn't my jam. But maybe one day I get curious and want to hear what all the hype is about. I might not want my followers to follow along.

After all, I might have a reputation to uphold. My musical tastes tend to lean toward more complex music. I like a lot of dissonance, challenging chord progressions, and a mixture of time signatures. My favorite artists tend to fall in line with the likes of Rush, Devin Townsend, and Mozart.

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With that said, I might not want my followers to see me taking a diversion into the realm of pop music. Don't get me wrong…it's not that I'd be embarrassed. Music is music and whatever you like is fantastic. But say you're a classical composer and you want to listen to the latest song by Pink or Taylor Swift to get an idea of what's moving modern listeners. For that, you might start a Spotify private session.

What is a private session?

A Spotify private session temporarily hides all of your activity from those who follow you. You manually start a private session and can end it at any time. If you don't end the private session manually, it will stop after six hours.

Also: How to use Spotify's built-in equalizer

So, how do you start a Spotify private session? Let me show you.

How to start a Spotify private session

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is the Spotify app installed and a valid account. This can be done from the mobile app or the desktop app, and the process for doing so is the same. I'll demonstrate the private session feature on the desktop app.

1. Open Spotify

The first thing to do is open Spotify. Do not start playing music just yet.

2. Open Settings

Click your profile icon in the upper right corner and click Settings from the resulting menu.

The Spotify menu on the desktop app.

You must be logged into your Spotify account to use this feature.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Start a private session

Scroll down until you see the Social section of the Settings window. In that section, click the On/Off slider associated with Start a private session.

The Spotify Social section of the Settings window.

I prefer to now show my followers on my public profile.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Enjoy your private session

During your private session, you'll see a small, blue lock to the left of your profile icon. That icon will remain until you either manually end the private session or six hours pass. During your private session, none of your followers can see your Spotify activity.

The private session icon showing in the Spotify desktop app.

The lock icon indicates the private session feature is enabled.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you've finished with your private session, you can go back to settings and disable the private session in the same way you enabled it.

And that's all there is to Spotify private sessions. 

Also: How to add local music files to Spotify on Android

You might not ever feel the need to use this feature -- but on that fateful day you do, you'll be glad it's there to use.

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