Andrew Wallenstein — the president of Variety’s intelligence program — tweeted out an interesting set of screenshots. The screenshots show an official survey distributed by Spotify to some of its subscribers. The survey centres on whether or not users would subscribe to a hypothetical subscription service centred only on podcasts.
— Andrew Wallenstein (@awallenstein) November 6, 2020
Theoretically, this additional subscription service would not include access to Spotify’s collection of music. It is unclear if this would be an additional subscription independent of the music service, an add-on for current subscribers, or something different altogether.
Granted, this is just a survey. There’s no evidence that a Spotify podcasts-only service is in the works. In fact, the company told:
“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of surveys in an effort to improve our user experience. Some of those end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as important learnings. We have no further news to share on future plans at this time.”
Spotify podcasts: Gotta make money somehow
Whether or not Spotify is actually working on a subscription service centred around podcasts, it’s inevitable that a money-making system is on the way. Over the past few years, the company has invested millions in exclusive podcasts — most notably The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the world’s most popular shows. It needs to recoup all that money somehow.
The question then becomes whether or not users will pay for access to podcasts. The survey suggests there could be multiple tiers with perks such as access to exclusive episodes/content, ad-free listening, and a few other premium features. These are enticing, for sure, but people are already pretty used to podcasts being free and ad-supported. Other platforms that have tried to charge for access to podcasts have either failed outright or struggled to gain paying users.
Of course, all those other platforms aren’t Spotify, the world’s largest and most successful audio-only streaming platform. We’ll need to take a wait-and-see approach to this, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Spotify podcasts-only service drop soon.