Spotify Podcast Partnerships and Acquisitions in 2020

September 29, 2020

I think we can all agree that there has been a lot happening in the podcast industry so far this year. 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 waking up to see who they've acquired or partnered with over the last 24 hours. We've taken a dive into some of the major moves Spotify has made over the past 8 months. 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.


Michelle Obama 

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). 


Brené Brown

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.

Spotify’s Success

We believe the acquisitions and partnerships discussed above are just scratching the surface of the moves Spotify is going to be making throughout the rest of 2020 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 like Apple in the space. Who knows who the next partnership or acquisition will be but we’ll be here waiting to find out. 


Platform
Price
Pro’s
Con's
Anchor

Free

  • Easy to use
  • Automatically distributes your podcast to major platforms.
  • Embed media player.
  • Great if podcasting is a
    side hobby
  • Very basic editing
  • Since it’s a free tool, you don’t have full control over the monetization of your podcast.
  • Not the right platform for people taking podcasting seriously
Buzzsprout

Free for 2 hours of content per month

$12 for 3 hours per month

$18+ for 6 hours and up

  • Very user-friendly
  • Caters to both long term and beginner podcasters
  • Advanced analytics
  • Easy distribution of your episodes
  • They measure their size requirements to hours not megabytes
  • Bonus: get a free $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for any paid hosting plan!
  • Advanced features like dynamic ad insertion need some work
Libsyn

$5/month for Monthly Storage 50mb

  • Oldest podcast hosting site.
  • Easy distribution to major platforms and great for scaling once your podcast gets bigger.
  • Hosted over 35,000 podcasts.
  • An iTunes Podcast partner.
  • Allows you to publish your podcast to specific directories.
  • Embed media player.
  • Price is based on storage
  • 50mb storage for $5 won’t be enough if you are publishing weekly so you’ll end up with a higher price point
Podbean

Unlimited audio package: $9/month

Storage space:

Unlimited

  • Great support & customer service features
  • Unlimited audio.
  • Pages are easy to customize
  • Can schedule podcast release dates.
  • Easy to use.
  • Uploads and changes to podcast titles and/or descriptions are automatic to Spotify.
  • Embed media player.
  • Simple Analytics
  • Analytics aren’t as advanced as other platforms
  • Upload and changes to podcast titles and/or descriptions take a day to change on iTunes.
  • Not an iTunes podcast partner.
  • The process to send a podcast to iTunes is more tedious. But, you will still be able to get on the platform.
Blubrry

Classic

$5/month

Monthly Storage

50mb

  • Podcast Wordpress plugin and management.
  • If you want to record a new introduction or conclusion, add in a sponsored ad or upload a new version of a podcast, it doesn't count towards your storage usage per month.
  • Blubrry allows a 25% storage overage each month
  • Prices are based on storage.
  • Usability is okay.
SimpleCast

Starting: $15/month

Recommendation: $35/month

Monthly Storage: Unlimited

  • Hosts your audio files no matter what the size!
  • Dynamic insertion for podcast ads or edits.
  • Incredibly detailed analytics including number of episodes completed and listener location tracking.
  • Embed media player.
  • Easy to use.
  • Great distribution! Easy access to all major podcast platforms.
  • Customizable podcast
    website.
  • Prices are slightly higher than other platforms, but well worth it especially if you have a branded company podcast!