Spotify continues to invest in its podcast business, with its latest deal focused on discovery. It has bought the startup podcast discovery platform Podz. Terms of the deal were not announced but Spotify said a “small, talented team” of engineers and designers would be joining its tech team.
“Spotify has had machine learning experts focused on improving audio discovery for almost a decade, but there is more work to be done,” the company said in an announcement. “We believe that Podz’ technology will complement and accelerate Spotify’s focused efforts to drive discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate growth of the category worldwide.”
Launched in February, Podz says it will replace podcast directories with a personalized audio newsfeed of 60-second highlights, automatically selected using the power of artificial intelligence to help solve the podcast discovery conundrum. By using information from a user about their interests and information collected from the podcasts they subscribe to on Apple Podcasts, Podz said it can serve up clips of podcasts that might interest them. Users will then be able to click through to listen to the entire episode.
Spotify will now integrate the 2.6 million podcasts on its platform, saying the learnings from its work in music discovery, and current investments in podcast recommendation, will take podcast discovery to the next level. “We plan to integrate Podz’s technology into the Spotify experience, and listeners should start seeing elements of that work before the end of the year,” the company said.
Among the other investors in Podz were the venture capital firms M13, Canaan Partners, Charge Ventures, and Humbition who have ponied up $2.5 million pre-seed funding. Other investors included TV host Katie Couric, influencer Paris Hilton, and journalist Mara Schiavocampo, each of whom also host a podcast.
Spotify Relaunches Live Audio App
This week Spotify also brought live audio to its ecosystem. It bought what had been Locker Room in March from Betty Labs for $68.8 million (€57 million) and it has redesigned and rebranded the app as Spotify Greenroom. It lets Spotify users host or participate in live audio chat rooms with new recording capabilities that will allow those conversations to be recorded into on-demand podcasts. And to make it more appealing, Spotify says users will be able to use their Spotify log-in information on Greenroom.
Spotify says it plans to leverage its recommendation technology currently used for music and podcasts to help Greenroom users find conversations they will want to be part of. For podcast hosts or radio personalities, Greenroom could be a way to host a live chat with as many as one thousand show fans.
“The Greenroom offering will continue to evolve as we learn more about what creators and listeners want from their live audio experience,” the company said. “We believe Spotify has an opportunity not only to enable live broadcasts, but to aid discovery, drive consumption, and accelerate growth of the live category overall. Today’s app unveiling is our opportunity to begin laying the foundation for the exciting roster of content and capabilities Spotify has in store in our venture into live audio.”
Greenroom enters a space where it goes up against Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Facebook Live Audio Rooms. Yet there are already signs that there is limited consumer interest in such features. The media research firm WARC said last month that since peaking in February with 9.6 million downloads worldwide, the social audio app Clubhouse has seen its downloads in “continual decline” ever since. In April they fell to 900,000 with more downloads in Germany and the U.K. than in the U.S.
Spotify has also launched a Spotify Creator Fund, which will help live audio creators monetize their work. Anyone who is interested can sign up to find out more about participation when the Creator Fund opens later this summer.