Last year, Spotify announced that it was going begin a focus on podcasters, and at Tuesday’s C Space Storyteller session at CES 2019, company VP Courtney Holt revealed some of the ways it is happening, including introducing journalist Jemele Hill on stage as the latest exclusive podcaster to sign with Spotify.
The session was moderated by Natalie Jarvey, Media Editor, The Hollywood Reporter, who asked Hill why she signed with Spotify to create her new podcast, called Unbothered. “I tend to have some things to say,” said Hill, “and not a lot of platforms give the freedom to be thoughtful, and Spotify is great for authentic voices. They have a proven track record of supporting them, and I am excited to help the brand and myself grow and be challenged.”
“Over the last year we have been focused on building a podcast universe,” added Holt. “The types of podcasts that we were working on were really authentic voices — Joe Budden is a great example of that. We decided to invest in more of those voices.”
While Spotify has a focus on podcasts, it isn’t getting away from music — in fact, Holt sees music and podcasts integrating perfectly for listeners. “When we started the podcast initiative, we recognized that it was a good complement to our music series,” said Holt. “People who consume podcasts consume more music, more Spotify. They were increasing time with the platform.
“Using music data to recommend podcasts really works. We kept testing, and realized it was driving more engagement. We allow artists to authentically reach their audience with the music they want to make, and we see podcasts as an extension of that.”
Another part of Spotify’s podcast initiative is advertising — tying brands to the podcasting personalities. “I think the podcasting case is still in its infancy when it comes to commercialization, even though it has gone light years ahead of where it was,” said Holt, “But because our platform can do things around audience segmentation, we can do great work with brands. We want to align a brand with Jemele where she can incorporate it into the show in an organic way. Our data and global reach will allow us to do innovative things with brands. This also extends to music — podcasts and music gives us a best-of-breed opportunity.”
Holt explained that people assume that the podcasting industry is bigger than it really is, but the majority of people do not consume podcasts on a weekly basis. In 2019, Spotify is working to change that. “We are going to build content for the population that has not come over,” said Holt. “It is a great format to build and discover new IP, new characters, new stories, and new relationships. It has a lot more growth, and we want to expose it to the majority of audiences around the world.”