I think we can all agree that there has been so much happening in the podcast industry during 2020. We wanted to help you make sense of it all and break down some of the moves that big players are making when it comes to podcasts.
Upon reflection, there’s one large streaming platform that pops into all of our heads when we combine the words: podcasts + 2020... and that’s Spotify.
Spotify has been making waves when it comes to podcasting. It feels like every morning we’re all waking up to see who Spotify has acquired or partnered with over the last 24 hours. We’re going to dive into some of the major moves we’ve seen over the past year, so without further adieu:
The Ringer and Bill Simmons
In February this year, Spotify announced their acquisition of The Ringer and Bill Simmons’ podcast. This was huge. It makes sense for Spotify to be purchasing already existing shows and bringing them onto their platform along with the existing audiences. It’s unknown how many downloads Bill Simmons’ podcast has per month but it’s said that The Ringer has about 100 million downloads across it's portfolio of shows.
Why is it smart for Spotify to do this? Well, rather than Spotify having to create podcasts from scratch and build them as well as an audience, they are acquiring shows that already have an amazing reputation and audience base that they get to migrate over to their platform. Not only does this quickly grow Spotify’s position in the podcasting space, it also provides them with another sizable revenue channel to expand on as many of these shows already generate recurring monthly revenue.
Spotify has been careful with the move -- they’re not purchasing shows and immediately cutting everyone off from using other listening platforms. They are slowly integrating listeners onto their platform by offering bonus content or exclusive content that isn’t offered anywhere else, such as Gimlet Academy, which was released after their acquisition of Gimlet Media in 2019.
The Joe Rogan Experience
And then along came Joe Rogan. In May, Spotify announced their acquisition of The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the most popular podcasts out there. It was at this time that Spotify really made it known that they are on track to become the biggest player in the podcasting world.
Now Spotify has yet another huge show under their reins. Again, this means that they’re bringing even more listeners to their platform and also making money off of the show through ad dollars.
But, all these acquisitions did make some people mad… probably the Apple Podcast lovers of the world. Listeners began expressing frustration that they can only get their favourite shows exclusively on Spotify now. This is something that Spotify really has to take into consideration, the people that this could truly piss off and how listeners will react to the hosts selling their podcasts to Spotify.
Kim Kardashian West
And then in June we had another Spotify deal thrown at us -- Spotify x Kim Kardashian West.
Because this deal is a partnership to create a brand new Spotify exclusive podcast rather than migrate an existing show onto Spotify’s platform, it’s been predicted that this content won’t end up being as lucrative as Spotify’s earlier acquisitions in the year. But at the end of the day, many listeners will still be tuning in to this series which inevitably will contribute to Spotify’s growth and roster of original content.
Warner Bros. and DC
Kim Kardashian West wasn’t the only Spotify news in June. Throughout that month, Spotify also announced their exclusive partnership with Warner Bros. and DC. With this partnership it's easy to guess what the content will be - a slate of original shows that either create new story arcs for some of our favourite superheroes or further expand already existing ones.
Similar to Kim Kardashian West, this was not an acquisition of an already existing podcast but a partnership to create a new show. While these series won’t be immediately lucrative for Spotify, the company is pushing to be the biggest player in podcasting. Building valuable partnerships and creating original content is part playing the long game.
And then we entered July. And what did that month bring us? None other than the former first lady, Michelle Obama. At the beginning of the month Spotify announced yet again, another exclusive partnership, this time with Michelle Obama. This series has already been released and is just as wholesome as you’d guess. You can check it out here.
Although numbers haven’t been released on how well the podcast is doing thus far, a quick Google search will show you the mass amounts of publications currently writing about it (and loving it).
And lastly, Spotify just announced their exclusive partnership with Brené Brown, the go-to of all things courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Brown already had one existing podcast, Unlocking Us and through this exclusive multi-year partnership, Spotify has released Dare to Lead, Brown’s first Spotify original.
When asked why she brought her shows to Spotify, Brown stated, “I wanted a home for both podcasts, and I wanted it to be a place that felt collaborative, creative, adventurous, and full of music.”
This partnership is unique, since Brown already had an existing podcast that she decided to make exclusive on Spotify as well as a new podcast that’s being created in partnership with Spotify.
In November, Spotify shared that they were acquiring Megaphone. Megaphone is “one of the world’s leading podcast advertising and publishing platforms”. Through this acquisition, Spotify takes a leap into the advertising side of podcasting.
Earlier in the year Spotify released Streaming Ad Insertion which uses programmatic advertising to place relevant and targeted ads to their listeners. Together, Spotify and Megaphone will be able to offer more innovative tools to their advertisers and publishers (including some more in-depth analytics).
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
This was Spotify’s final partnership announcement of 2020. Spotify is teaming up with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). This partnership is a little more unique, through the name Archwell Audio (listen to the first episode here) Spotify users will be receiving multiple podcasts from this pairing with a goal to inspire and share powerful stories.
Spotify stated that this is a multi-year partnership. Although there’s currently only one episode out under Archwell Audio, we are all waiting patiently to see the other podcasts that are produced through this partnership.
The acquisitions and partnerships discussed above, we believe are just scratching the surface of what Spotify is going to be doing throughout the rest of 2021 and the years to come. It’s clear to all what their content strategy is and it does seem to be working. In a recent report, Spotify announced that their active users listening to podcasts has gone up from 19% to 21% and the content that they’re listening to has more than doubled.
Alas, as podcast lovers ourselves, we’re looking forward to seeing what Spotify has in store and how it will end up competing with other big players in the space such as Apple. Who knows who the next partnership or acquisition will be but we’ll be here waiting to find out.