The next episode of the Future Ear Radio podcast features Andreas Stegmann. I met Andy through Twitter after coming across his medium post, “Spotify at the Crossroads,” and was so blown away by the quality of his piece, that I sent him a message to introduce myself and invite him on the podcast to have a follow up conversation about his article. So, in order to get the most out of this particular episode, I’d suggest you read his medium piece in full. Also, as a note, we recorded this in December, prior to Spotify’s Ringer acquisition.
The conversation begins with us establishing that we’re currently in the early, wild wild west phase of podcasting. One of my favorite quotes regarding this notion is from Sean Rameswara, host of the podcast Today, Explained: “If you think of audio as the way you think of, say, film, like we’re still in the black-and-white period of podcasting. What’s color going to look like? What’s 3-D going to look like?”
As Andy and I discuss, what makes Spotify so unique in its position within the podcasting space is that it’s both smaller than the tech behemoths that host podcasts, such as Apple and Google, and a heavy weight among the smaller indie podcast platforms, such as Breaker and Overcast. As Bret Bivens and I talked about in episode 14, Spotify’s middle-tier size and poor gross profit margins of its core business (music streaming), equate to the company desperately needing to find new ways to profit off its user base.
Spotify might be a heavyweight compared to the indie podcast players, but it has the same type of incentive as the indie players to succeed in the podcasting realm, in a way that behemoths Apple and Google don’t as each of their core businesses lie elsewhere. As we discuss throughout the podcast, Spotify will need to embody both sides of the fence that it’s straddling, offering robust tools and scaling opportunities that its size can afford, while also appealing to the features and open sourcing that indie platforms have found success in the wake of Apple and Google’s non-attention toward podcasting.
Spotify’s secret sauce might ultimately lie in the way that it can curate podcasts to enhance discoverability. One way that it can do so is to create a “podcast snippets platform” to allow users to better share clips of the best content they’re listening to, which can lead to more intrigue and podcast subscribing from those exposed to their network’s clips. The other obvious candidate to fuel podcast discoverability is Spotify’s curation engine that it uses to feed its music listeners suggested artists and songs based on their consumption habits.
Throughout the conversation we cover a wide-range of areas where Spotify might be able to drive the podcasting industry forward and once again survive this new make-or-break moment that’s its facing. Either way, we’re in the midst of some pretty seismic change as more and more companies look to capture our attention (the currency of the internet) via our ears.
-Thanks for Reading-