Spotify spends over $200 million securing podcasting future

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Podcasts have enjoyed a popularity boost in recent years, with weekly listening numbers reaching a high of 48 million in the US in 2018 – and Spotify has taken notice.

The streaming giant has announced that it has acquired not one, but two podcast-related companies, in a bid to become “both the premier producer of podcasts and the leading platform for podcast creators”, according to an announcement on the Spotify investors website

The first of the acquisitions is Gimlet Media, a podcast production company that will apparently bring Spotify its “best-in-class podcast studio with dedicated IP development, production and advertising capabilities”.

Podcasts produced by Gimlet Media cover everything from history to internet culture, with some outlets reporting that it was bought by Spotify for over $200 million

Spotify has also announced its acquisition of Anchor, whose platform is designed to make it easier for podcasters to create, distribute, and monetize their shows. The app is available for free on iOS and Android.

How will Spotify change?

Spotify co-founder and CEO, Daniel Ek says that “these acquisitions will meaningfully accelerate our path to becoming the world’s leading audio platform, give users around the world access to the best podcast content, and improve the quality of our listening experience as well as enhance the Spotify brand”.

Although the streaming platform hasn’t confirmed how much podcast content it’s planning to put out this year, we can be fairly certain that we will start to see more podcasts on the platform, signaling a move away for the company from music-only streaming. 

In a separate blog post, Ek suggested that “over time, 20% of all Spotify listening will be non-music content”, adding that Spotify’s podcast users “spend almost twice the time on the platform” as those who listen exclusively to music.

Diversifying its content in this way gives Spotify an edge over competitors like Apple Music; although Apple has its own podcast app that comes pre-installed on iOS devices, having podcasts and music in one place is an attractive proposition for customers looking for an easy way to stream content. 

As well as that, the acquisition of Anchor could mean that Spotify begins to produce its own podcasts, much like Netflix creates exclusive content under Netflix Originals. 

So, what do these acquisitions mean for the humble listener? Hopefully, it means we’ll be getting higher-quality podcasts and more of them, all in one convenient place, but we'll have to wait and see.