Live audio experiences will be adopted by all major platforms, just as Stories have been, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told investors during Wednesday’s earnings call. The streaming service recently acquired a live audio app, Locker Room, the technology of which it plans to use to power a range of new live audio conversations focused on sports, culture and, of course, music.
Investors were curious how exactly Locker Room would fit into Spotify’s current offerings, given that the streamer today focuses on delivering recorded content – music and podcasts – and not some sort of social networking experience. live.
Ek, reflecting what many in the industry were already thinking, said he sees live audio as a new set of capabilities that will be widely adopted by all. He basically dubbed it the Upcoming “Stories” – a feature popularized by Snapchat, but which eventually caught on across all platforms.
“It’s really no different than what you think of stories,” Ek said, explaining his thoughts on live audio. “Stories exist today in one format across a number of platforms, including Spotify, including, of course, Instagram, Snap, and many more. So i watch [live audio] as a compelling feature set, and I think creators will go where they have the best kind of creator-fan affinity for the kind of interactions they’re looking for. And I think it’s very similar to say how stories have played out historically. “
In other words, every platform can attract a certain type of live audio creator, and Spotify sees its own potential in music and culture – the latter through its existing and expansive investments in podcasts. .
Interest in live audio emerged amid a pandemic that trapped people at home and ended traditional networking and big events, like conferences. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a future for the format when the world reopens.
Of course, Clubhouse deserves credit for generating interest in the live audio space, as its exclusive invite-only status has attracted a host of determined networkers (and influence hunters) looking to participate in the. next big thing. But as the app grew in popularity, big names – like Tesla founder Elon Musk, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher, Drake, Oprah and many more. others – began to take note of it. Soon everyone was building a Clubhouse clone.
Today, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Discord, Telegram, and even LinkedIn have plans for live audio at various stages of development or availability.
Instead of starting from scratch, however, Spotify made an acquisition. Thanks to Locker Room, originally a sports chat room, Spotify has announced that it will soon open live audio to more professional athletes, writers, musicians, songwriters, podcasters and “other global voices” who want to host real-time conversations.
In its first earnings call since the deal was announced, investors asked if Spotify thinks linear consumption of spoken word audio is more attractive than streaming music.
Ek explained how spoken word content might just be the start of what’s to come as the format evolves.
“As more and more people start to interact with a feature in a medium, you start to see more and more professional creators joining us. So I think it’s probably going to start with some spoken word content, ”he said. “But specifically when it comes to Spotify, I think there will be a lot of musicians out there who want to engage in everything from talking to their fans to listening parties and all the other stuff because it’s so clear to them. that on the Spotify platform, this engagement generates a significant conversion into monetization opportunities solely based on our revenue model. “
Spotify said the biggest demand from its more than 8 million creators was to have more ways for them to connect with fans. Live audio, by its nature, would give them a very straightforward way to do this, given Spotify’s reach of over 350 million users.
In other words, the live audio does not present any scenario regarding music streaming, as the investor’s question suggested. It’s more of a loop where one thing feeds into the other. And “live”, apparently, could also mean music, not just gossip.
For example, Ek suggested that when an artist has an album to promote, “you as a fan may be able to experience it earlier than other consumers.” Oh really?
Artists can also use live audio to talk about their songwriting thinking, similar to what the Genius “Behind the Lyrics” integration offers today.
“I think it really depends on the quality of the content,” Ek said. “And I think when I look at our 8 million creators, we have some of the best storytellers in the world on the platform, and that’s ultimately what people are going to be listening to, and that’s what matters.”
But one area that might be difficult is moderation of live content. Live audio presents a whole new range of challenges for any business, as conversations can derail quickly. And Spotify’s stance on the distinction between free speech and police misinformation or other inappropriate content is still somewhat murky. Its lead podcaster Joe Rogan recently advised listeners not to get vaccinated against Covid, if they are young and healthy, for example. Spotify declined to weigh in on this particular controversy. But he’s deleted over 40 episodes of the same podcast in the past – some for seemingly lesser violations, like an episode on Bulletproof Coffee and its health claims, for example.
Before Spotify dashes into live audio, it may first want to consolidate its own values around creator content. He’ll also need a careful, worst-case, plan for what happens when a live session goes out of bounds.
Despite Ek’s optimism about live audio, Spotify stock fell after earnings as there were signs of slower growth on the horizon, thanks to increased pressure from rivals like Apple. and Amazon. The company added 3 million paid subscribers in the quarter, but missed expectations from monthly active users and lowered its forecast for the full year. Revenue increased 2.1 billion euros ($ 2.6 billion) in the quarter, an increase of 16% from the same period last year, but down 1% from in the fourth quarter of 2020, which is causing concern. But live audio might give fans a reason to reconnect more often in the future, if Spotify can make the integration work.