Even as it strikes deals worth more than $400 million to stake out a claim in the podcast business, a top Spotify executive says music will always come first for the streaming service. “Music is front and center no matter how you slice it,” Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff told a panel discussion at the Cannes Lions festival in France on Tuesday. “It is what our platform is known for and what it does best,” she said.
Yet while music may lead the charge, the Hollywood Reporter says Ostroff also told the gathering of adverting and marketing executives that spoken word audio will also have a place in what Spotify does in the future. “It's the next big thing, if it's not already,” she said. “It's reaching so many people in a unique way, it's allowing people to have depth if they want to be informed, it's allowing people to be entertained, allowing people to have different experiences that they normally wouldn't be able to have. It's opening up a world to people.” And that’s why Ostroff said Spotify will be audio platform that will feature not only music and podcast but also any other way people communicate through audio. “In the U.S., more people are listening to digital audio than are watching video or on social media on mobile,” she noted.
Ostroff thinks the audio format is earning a deserved second look from marketers and consumers since it not only works well in a world where people are busy multitasking, but also people are attracted to the intimate nature of what comes from one’s headphones. “Whether it’s a song or a podcast, the intimacy of the medium is what I think is really taking people by surprise. You feel like you’re a part of something or that somebody is speaking or singing directly to you,” she said. “This is exciting for brands because there is a way for brands to tell stories through podcasts in a different way than TV, film, or digital video.”
During the Cannes panel, Variety reports Ostroff also shed some additional light on the multiyear deal Spotify signed with Higher Ground, the production company run by former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. “Both the President and Mrs. Obama have incredible voices in terms of what they want to say,” Ostroff said. “And the two of them, to their credit, both decided that they want to do a podcast each in addition to producing a podcast series for us. The topics have not been determined yet but we’re in discussions.” The former first couple will also have a hand in producing other podcasts, she said. “It's safe to say we're so pleasantly surprised by the response, not only in the U.S. but globally, because people are really interested in what they have to say,” Ostroff added.