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Spotify’s Big Investment In Podcasts

Streaming has become a staple in the world of entertainment. Not only are there now a ton of platforms to watch all sorts of original television shows and movies, but streaming has taken over the music industry as well. Between Apple, Google, Amazon, and Spotify there are plenty of ways for anyone to have unlimited access to some of their favorite artists/albums/songs. However, if we’re talking numbers, Spotify is the most popular service, with over 113 million paid monthly subscribers. 

In 2020 Spotify’s content chief, Dawn Ostroff, wants to focus on a newer form of entertainment that’s entering into the streaming world: podcasts. In fact, Spotify invested about half a billion dollars into purchasing podcast-related companies in 2019, and they’re just getting started. While podcasts are certainly on the rise in terms of popularity, making such a large investment in a newer market is risky in terms of profits, however, Spotify has acknowledged in their own financial statements that they understand there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to “generate sufficient revenue to offset the costs of acquiring” the podcast content itself, but they’re still confident in their investment. 

“I’ve always tried to go where people will eventually follow. It’s always more exciting to build something than to be sitting on top of a mountain after something is built, just trying to defend your place. Moving Spotify into the world of words means getting a jump start into a market that will pay off in ad revenue eventually,” Ostroff stated in an interview. 

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Spotify began implementing podcasts onto their platform back in October of 2018, with the launch of a program they called Spotify For Podcasters, giving users access to podcast episodes and all the stats behind it. Four months later the company bought both Gimlet and Anchor in what would become the half a billion dollar deal. Gimlet and Anchor were two of the largest podcast content producers in America before being absorbed into Spotify. 

“Gimlet will focus on creating new podcasts exclusively for Spotify subscribers, and Anchor’s tools will enable creation for the next generation of podcasters worldwide. Gimlet and Anchor will position us to become the leading platform for podcast creators around the world and the leading producer of podcasts,” the company wrote in a blog post after the deal was finalized.

Other adjustments Spotify has already implemented include an app redesign for premium users which gave podcasts a more prominent spot on the home screen. The company also finalized a deal that would allow them to exclusively produce podcasts for Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground.

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Spotify already began feeling the positive effects of their investment during their third quarter in 2019, in which users who listened to podcasts jumped by 40%. Now, more than 15% of Spotify premium users also actively listen to podcasts. This is significant because 90% of the revenue Spotify brings in is from its premium users monthly paid subscription. Spotify Premium typically costs $9.99 a month, however, there are specialty priced packages that combine your premium costs with a Hulu subscription as well. As a student at university, you can get the bundle for $5 a month, the company also offers a family plan for $14.99 a month. 

One of Spotify’s biggest claims to fame is their ability to recommend new music to its users and create a slew of playlists and radio stations filled with musical content that their algorithm thinks premium users will enjoy based on their daily listening habits. When it comes to their podcasts, Spotify has shifted their focus to ensure the same attention is being paid to that section of the app. 

Spotify currently has over half a million podcasts to choose from, and that number is only going to continue to rapidly grow as podcasts grow in popularity in general. However, it’s difficult for users to have access, or even know about, a majority of these podcasts because there’s no “radio stations” for different podcasts to be featured, at least not yet. Spotify wants to unify the data they have encoded for their music recommendations, and bring it over to the podcast side of things. One of the main ideas the company has is to implement advertisements on the podcast pages, and within the episodes themselves, that recommends content based on listening history. 

For now, Spotify doesn’t have to worry too much, as podcasts are only going to become more and more popular, to the point that the app will likely be known for both them and music in the coming months.

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The Best Free Music Streaming Subscriptions

Music streaming has quickly become the main way that we all consume our favorite songs and albums. There are so many services available now that offer millions upon millions of different discographies for users listening pleasure. If you aren’t one of the many who already is paying for a music streaming platform monthly, don’t fret. Plenty of these platforms offer free subscription packages so users don’t have to add another monthly payment on top of all their other bills. These free packages are often limited in terms of song skipping, and contain some advertisements, however, that doesn’t mean they don’t still offer the same great quality music. 

Spotify has definitely become one of the most popular streaming services currently on the market. The company offers multiple payment packages that include other perks such as Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus as well. These packages allow for customers to pay one monthly fee for both either Spotify and Hulu, or Spotify and Disney/ESPN Plus. Additionally, if you’re a student, the monthly price for all the packages are cut in half. That would equate to about $5 a month for both music and video streaming service. However, some individuals don’t want the visual additions to these packages and want to remain completely cost-free when it comes to their music. The free package of Spotify has a lot of the perks similar to the premium packages, making it one of the most desirable free packages for music streaming. 

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With Spotify’s free package you still have access to the entirety of their music library and can access the service on any compatible device including Alexa and Google Hub speakers. When you’re listening to playlists, whether it be ones you made yourself or pre-made ones, you can select whichever song you want to listen to, however, you have a limited number of skips forward and can’t go backwards. Additionally, you are subject to advertisements, however, Spotify has a pretty standard algorithm in which they let users have thirty minutes of uninterrupted listening, and then commercials appear every fifteen minutes for every given streaming session. When on the mobile app, you can’t select songs to listen to in a given playlists library like previously mentioned, that feature is exclusive to desktop listening. You also are only able to listen to albums and custom made playlists on shuffle mode, and are given a total of six skips per hour, according to Gizmodo Magazine. 

Amazon Music is another music streaming service that has newly emerged for free users. Previously, you had to have an Amazon Prime account to have access to Amazon’s music streaming, however, now the company has two separate services. Amazon Music Unlimited is what’s included with Prime, and standard Amazon Music is available for users free on any compatible device, you do need to have a regular Amazon account though, but that’s also free.

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The free package is much more limiting compared to Spotify’s free package, but it still definitely has its perks. According to Gizmodo, the free package only includes a library of 2 million songs to stream, compared to the Unlimited Package which has a library of 50 million songs. Like Spotify, you can’t select songs within albums, you have a limited number of skips, and are subject to frequent advertisements. You also can’t create your own custom playlists either, and Amazon will pretty much be constantly harping you about upgrading to the Unlimited package, but if you’re the type of person who wants a streaming service that can deliver you a good radio mix based off a certain artist, album, mood, etc. than this service could definitely be for you. 

Finally, another relatively new streaming service that’s entered the market is YouTube Music. Like Amazon and Spotify, this service is available on any device that’s compatible with music streaming. Additionally, like Amazon, if you have a YouTube Premium membership, YouTube Music is included for free, however, you can have the music streaming without a premium account, just with some more obvious restrictions. Unlike the other streaming services, all that applies to desktop use, also applies to mobile use with the service. On the mobile app, however, you have to keep the app open in order for the music to continue to play, which could be a major drawback. Other than that, users are able to skip around inside given playlists, pick out specific songs they want to hear, listen to their music in any order they’d like and create their own playlists. Advertisements are a given, but users have reported that they’re relatively infrequent, and most of them can be skipped (Gizmodo). 

Regardless of what you choose, there are definitely plenty of free music listening services online today that can help you save some money every month. Just do your research and find one that can fulfill your specific streaming desires.