Spotify used a highly produced 90-minute presentation on Monday to roll out a series of announcements geared toward improving its service, expanding its content, and capturing more of the global audio market. “Audio is our history and it’s our future,” said CEO Daniel Ek during the event dubbed Stream On. He predicted by 2025 Spotify will have as much as 50 million creators – both musicians and podcasters – onboard. “We’re in the midst of an audio creation and the early innings of what we see as a truly global creative economy,” said Ek.
Here are some of the highlights of the Stream On event:
Spotify Creates Podcast Ad Network
A few years ago, Spotify had a few thousand podcasts. Today there are more than two million. With a focus on allowing content creators to monetize their work, Spotify is rolling out the Spotify Audience Network. The company said it is still in the early stages of developing the network, but it is described as an audio advertising marketplace in which advertisers will be able to connect with listeners consuming a broad range of content. The company also said it plans to expand streaming ad insertion into “leading” Anchor-hosted podcasts.
Spotify Ad Studio, its three-year old self-serve ad platform used on its music service, will be expanded to also include podcasts. It will start with Spotify Originals and will extended to third-party shows in the future.
Subscription Podcasts Coming
Beyond just ad sales, Spotify is launching a new service that will bring paid podcast subscriptions to its platform. A limited beta will be done in the U.S. which Head of Podcaster Mission Michael Mignano said will give creators the opportunity to publish paid podcast content on Spotify. “This will give podcasters a number of options to choose how they want to monetize their work,” he said. Spotify began allowing podcasters to sign-up for the feature on Monday.
From Written Word To Podcast
Spotify also debuted a new feature that will make it easier to translate the written word into a podcast. It has partnered with WordPress to take written content and make it a podcast through the Anchor platform. “We think it is going to empower a whole new group of creators,” said Sara Lerner, Head of Podcast Formats at Spotify.
Obama and Springsteen To Host Podcast
The development deal between President Obama and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground announced in June 2019 has already led to the debut of The Michelle Obama Podcast. The former President will now get into the act with a series he will co-host with rocker Bruce Springsteen. The show is called Renegades: Born in the USA and its eight-episode debut season will feature conversations between the two friends on topics of race, fatherhood, marriage, and the future of America.
“On the surface, Bruce and I don’t have a lot in common. But over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family and about America,” said Obama. The first two episodes were released Monday.
The Ringer Goes Global
The sports podcast site The Ringer was acquired by Spotify in a $200 million deal last year and now the company founded by former ESPN commentator Bill Simmons in 2016 will go global. Gimlet Head of Content Lydia Polgreen said they plan to take The Ringer international. “We’re going to build on the success of Ringer FC with a slate of programming for markets across the world,” she said.
Batman Leads DC Podcasts
Warner Brother’s DC Comics aligned with Spotify in a multiyear agreement last year. The first project will be the series Batman Unburied, slated for release later this year. “We are really leaning into playing around with surround sound,” said Executive Producer David Goyer. “One of the members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is very creepy and so the idea of that character leaning over the listener’s shoulder and whispering things to them is going to be particularly nightmarish.” Also coming are podcasts starring Catwoman Katana, Superman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Riddler, Batgirl.
Spotify Partners With The Russo Brothers
Spotify announced a new partnership with AGBO, Anthony and Joe Russo’s entertainment company. They are the creators behind films like “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: End Game.” The multi-year, multi-series deal will see AGBO develop podcasts for Spotify. Few specifics were released, but Spotify said the shows will span genres and include “expansive, inter-connected narratives.”
Spotify Is Rolling Out HiFi Audio
Beyond podcasting, Spotify also introduced several new music-focused plans on Monday. That included the introduction of what it calls Spotify HiFi. The company promises the subscription service will serve improved audio quality that is more similar to CDs than streaming as well as provide a “lossless audio format” that will give users “more depth and clarity” especially when they use Bluetooth-enabled speakers. Spotify also said it is working with some of the world’s biggest speaker manufacturers to make Spotify HiFi available via Spotify Connect. Beginning later this year, Premium subscribers in select markets will be able to upgrade their sound quality to Spotify HiFi.