You might identify Spotify as a music streaming service, but two major acquisitions show the green team is betting big on podcasts as its next big thing. But what does that mean for those who love podcasts, people who make them and everyone else?
So, for everyone from podcast addicts to Spotify users who haven't downloaded a podcast app before, here's our guide to understanding the changes at play, and what we hope they will lead to.
What's New for Spotify Podcasts
Spotify announced its acquisitions of Gimlet Media and Anchor at the same time, but the former gained more headlines. Gimlet is a Peabody award-winning firm that produces some of the most popular podcasts today, including Reply All and The Cut on Tuesdays (the audio version of the popular NY Mag site).
Gimlet handles everything for its hosts, including distribution, production, advertising and marketing, which means Spotify's gaining a best-in-class team in every single category of the podcast industry, except for hosting.
In its press release announcing the purchases, Spotify noted "Gimlet will bring to Spotify its best-in-class podcast studio with dedicated IP development, production and advertising capabilities."
This is where Anchor comes in. Making podcasts can be a complicated process, but the Anchor app simplifies everything. Not only can you record with its iOS and Android apps, but Anchor provides podcast hosting and distribution, so you never need to learn or worry about server space costs.
MORE: How to Start a Podcast
Anchor even allows for creators to monetize their shows, finding advertisers for your show, and giving creators copy to read. If creators don't want brands on their shows, there's also an option to get Anchor to collect monthly payments from listeners. Anchor doesn't advertise the details of how much of a cut it takes, but it's likely taking at least a marginal amount.
What We Want
So, now that Spotify has all the tools it could need to be the biggest name in podcasting, what do we want?
- Gimlet shows stay where they are: While Spotify is the streaming music king, not everyone uses it, especially when it comes to podcasts. If Spotify were to leverage its ownership, and take Reply All and its other shows off Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Pocket Casts, it will likely chip away at audience numbers for a greater control over advertising. Spotify could argue that it's going to open up audiences of millions that haven't tried podcasts before, there's no guarantee those folks want to listen to anything other than music. According to The Verge, Gimlet's Alex Blumberg committed to keeping Gimlet's existing shows available on the current platforms.
- Amplifying typically unheard voices: Podcasts, as a platform, give present funny, chilling and often socially important stories to a wider audience. If Spotify wants to be seen as a champion of the industry, and not just a collector of properties, it would be smart for the company to use its platform for turn up the volume on often unheard voices. The homogeneity of podcasts (it's often joked that a podcast is another word for three white men) is something that hurts the reputation of all involved, and the industry could seriously benefit from more diversity.
- Evolved podcast revenue: What if Spotify applied its free and premium subscriptions to podcasting? While we know Anchor and Spotify will have a strong combined team of marketers and advertisers, making it even easier for creators to monetize, I'd bet not all audiences want ads. Some of my favorite shows rely on Patreon backers instead, and provide bonus content in exchange. A new tier of Spotify membership that pays money directly to podcasters could send some cash to creators, but — as musicians will likely tell those creators — they likely won't get giant paydays. While some may not want to spend more money, Spotify could use that revenue to create shows with bigger names, or shows with larger budgets that tell larger stories.
Credit: Tom's Guide