Spotify ($SPOT) is taking cues from social media and entering the creator economy. Yesterday, at its virtual Stream On event, the streaming giant outlined “the new golden age of audio” and announced a suite of tools to help podcast creators develop interactive shows on its platform. 

The company is partnering with WordPress to turn written content into podcasts via its podcast creator platform Anchor. Soon, Anchor will introduce a feature that allows creators to add videos to their podcasts, a functionality currently only available for music artists. Spotify is also launching engagement tools like polls and Q&A for podcasters via Anchor, mirroring Instagram Stories’ interactive features. 

Later this year, Spotify will launch a new "hi-fi" (high fidelity) subscription tier, offering users high “CD-quality” sound with a lossless compression format. The company also has plans to build and scale a new podcast discovery mode with podcast recommendation lists based on a listener's music taste. 

CEO Daniel Ek has been after the booming podcast industry for a while, in the hopes of driving long-term engagement and expanding the Spotify brand beyond music. In 2019, Spotify acquired the podcast networks Gimlet Media, Anchor FM, and Parcast. Last year, Spotify announced plans to buy out podcast networks from The Ringer and Slate. The platform has tripled the number of podcasts in the past year to 2.2 million programs.

"I believe by the end of 2025 we could have as many as 50 million creators on the platform,” Ek told the Verge. For context, Spotify counted around 3 million creators on its app in 2018. Ek says Spotify will soon expand its global footprint to more than 1 billion people in new global markets. (Spotify is currently available in 93 markets across the world.)

The music-to-podcast-to-creator pipeline seems to be working for Spotify. Since Spotify began acquiring podcast entities in 2019, its web traffic has grown considerably, from a weekly average of 436.1 million pageviews to 614.4 million at the time of writing. The company counted 345 million listeners and 155 million paying subscribers as of the end of last year. 

Meanwhile, Anchor’s average weekly pageviews surged from 6.2 million to 31.3 million from February 2019 to the summer of 2020, an increase of more than 400%.

Since 2018, Spotify has gone from one job listing with “Podcast” in the title to a peak of 36 last November. There are 25 openings at the time of writing.

According to our data, Spotify expanded its Content department at the start of 2020 and introduced the ‘Content and Creator’ category with 59 job openings. As of Q4, it’s among Spotify’s categories with the most openings.

Also in Q4, Spotify introduced the “Marketplace” category, in charge of building Spotify's content platform and creator products like Spotify for Artists, Soundtrap, and SoundBetter. The category’s job listings have from just one opening last year to 32 openings.

Spotify is far from the only tech company making the pivot to podcasts and creators. Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok are fighting for creator loyalty with new features and funds. Twitter acquired podcasting app Breaker earlier this year in an attempt to enter the audio space. Clubhouse is making waves in audio-focused social media. Spotify is a bite away from eating the podcast industry, but the relationship between audio and the creator economy is in flux. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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