Spotify’s recent Investor Day included some notable numbers and quotes around podcasting.
This year’s results show podcasting bringing in $215 million, although as a whole podcasting was “a negative impact of $110 million.”. Spotify is, of course, doing all of this to eventually make a profit. You don’t sink $1 billion dollars (and counting) into a project without expecting a return. With that amount of money, Spotify is the aggressive elephant in the room. That dominance is taking podcasting away from the community to make it something this single company can own.
Podnews’ James Cridland has picked out a key comment from the investor call:
Maya Prohovnik, who oversees Spotify’s creator tools across podcasting, described RSS as “outdated technology”, and said they have been able to replace it for their on-platform distribution. She also claimed that every new Anchor show brings 2.5 new monthly active users to the Spotify platform.
RSS is an open standard, available for free, that allows podcasts, apps, directories, and listeners to share data freely and easily between every part of the community. I can’t think why that sort of open feature would be seen by a monolithic company set on creating a “$20 billion opportunity” as an outdated technology.
By removing RSS from Spotify and keeping listeners in ‘the system’ Spotify can keep capturing listener minutes that can be sold to advertisers. With some back of the envelope maths, one of those monthly users will be a premium subscriber – roughly $10/month – and of course all of the minutes generated are going to create opportunities for advertising. Through Anchor, Spotify’s free to use podcast hosting platform, and the capturing of RSS feeds to populate the Spotify catalogue, it has recruited an army of podcasters all working for Spotify.
And there’s not much the podcasting community can do about Spotify’s dominance.
Looking at some of my own podcast statistics, twenty percent of listeners use Spotify to listen to ESC insight. My shows are going to be found there, yet the listeners are not going to be able to easily leave Spotify to listen elsewhere, I’m reliant on Spotify’s statistics, and I don’t have an easy way to interact with those listeners that is not under Spotify’s control.
Spotify has decided how the future of podcasting on its platform is going to look and sound, and that’s going to be forced on the wider podcasting community. Given the size, scale, and resources it has, nobody can successfully challenge its view.