January 19, 2018
Popular streaming music service Spotify plans to take on radio and podcasts from Apple and others by introducing news and political coverage to its content offerings. Spotify’s new Spotlight feature will include programming from partners such as BuzzFeed and Refinery29. BuzzFeed, for example, will provide daily newscasts that run four to seven minutes in duration. Spotify’s 70 million users already have access to music and new video and podcast offerings; Spotlight will add news, politics, pop culture and sports coverage. The strategy could position Spotify as a competitor to YouTube and Apple.
“News programming can help Spotify capture some of the $18 billion spent on radio advertising each year and boost profitability as it prepares to trade on the New York Stock Exchange,” suggests Bloomberg. “While the company almost singlehandedly reversed the record industry’s long decline, it has been unable to turn a profit due to the high cost of music rights.”
Spotlight will initially be available to Spotify users in the U.S. During the initial testing phase starting in February, some programs will include ads while others will not. Spotify plans to make it easy for listeners to navigate between stories and will include visuals.
The hope is to replace the video series that have struggled on the service so far and reinvent the podcast model to create a new offering that works better for consumers.
Courtney Holt, the former head of Maker Studios, was hired last year to oversee Spotify’s video and podcasting efforts. According to Bloomberg, Holt conceived Spotlight to mimic “the most successful videos on Spotify to date — music videos and behind-the-scenes footage presented within playlists RapCaviar and Viva Latino. Users can listen to those videos without watching, or watch for additional information.”