First came music, then podcasts. Now Spotify is expanding its lineup of spoken word content with a deal to buy the audiobook company Findaway. The streamer says the move will bring audiobooks to its users worldwide as Findaway’s technology infrastructure helps it quickly scale its audiobook catalog.
“It is Spotify’s ambition to be the destination for all things audio both for listeners and creators. The acquisition of Findaway will accelerate Spotify’s presence in the audiobook space and will help us more quickly meet that ambition,” said Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s Chief Research and Development Officer. “We’re excited to combine Findaway’s team, best in class technology platform, and robust audiobook catalog, with Spotify’s expertise to revolutionize the audiobook space as we did with music and podcasts,” he said in the announcement.
Spotify had already been moving toward adding audiobook content. Last year it struck a deal with Wizarding World Digital that brought the chapters of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone” into podcasting. Harry Potter At Home Readings had 17 episodes and were voiced by actors including Daniel Radcliffe, Dakota Fanning, and Eddie Redmayne.
Then in January Spotify released nine audiobooks to test the marketplace for audiobooks with releases like “The Awakening” narrated by Hilary Swank and the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” narrated by Forest Whitaker.
And then in May it announced a deal to add Storytel’s library of audio books to its app. The distribution partnership will allow subscribers of Storytel’s audiobook service to link their two accounts, which in effect will mean consumers who sign up for a Storytel subscription will be able to access audiobooks not only via the Storytel platform but also on Spotify.
Terms of the deal were not immediately announced, but Spotify said it plans to keep Findaway’s headquarters in Solon, Ohio and the division will continue to be led by founder and CEO Mitch Kroll, who will report to Nir Zicherman, Head of Audiobooks at Spotify.
“Together with Spotify we have the opportunity to innovate and democratize the audiobook ecosystem,” said Kroll. “We founded Findaway with the recognition of the power of the spoken word through audiobooks and the unique opportunity to empower storytellers and connect them with listeners. We look forward to combining our leading technology tools and world-class team with the reach of Spotify’s platform to provide an enhanced audio experience for creators, publishers and listeners around the world.”
The sale is expected to close by year-end, pending regulatory review and approval.
Spotify’s expansion into audiobooks expands its rivalry with Amazon, which a year ago began adding podcasts to both its Amazon Music app as well as its audiobook-focused Audible. It comes as audiobooks are one of the fasted-growing segments of audio content. Grandview Research estimates the audiobook business is poised for big growth in the coming years, reaching a $15 billion market by 2027 – or five-times its size in 2020.