Spotify wants to own the podcasting space, and its made that clear with a series of high-profile acquisitions and deals over the past two years including the Ringer, Gimlet, Joe Rogan, and, most recently, Megaphone. Its next goal: get more of its 300 million users to start listening to podcasts.
Peter Kafka talked to Gimlet Medias new head of content, Lydia Polgreen, about how she plans to achieve that at the Code Media@Home series.
Our goal is to get people into the habit of listening to content on Spotify thats not music, Polgreen said. While the growth of podcasts has been strong, its still a tiny fraction of overall listening for the service. She pointed to the latest Edison research that podcasting hit an all-time high in 2020, now accounting for a 6 percent share of audio consumption in the United States.
To that end, Gimlet is experimenting with mixed media extensions of podcasts, like vodcasting (video podcasting), and its leveraging Spotifys robust predictive algorithm to feed music listeners shortform spoken content in the Daily Drive, its recommendation service.
Just as Spotify helped people discover the best music for them it didnt just know what you liked, but it was able to predict what you might like, Polgreen said. Theres a lot of really fascinating work going on at the company thats trying to solve this problem for spoken word audio too.
The most recent iteration of this looks a lot like traditional FM radio. Last month, Gimlet Media launched The Get Up, a morning show that mixes daily news and talk with Spotifys personalized music recommendations that special sauce Spotify has with music, said Polgreen.
Deciding to reinvent the drive-time radio show during a pandemic, when a large share of would-be commuters are homebound, doesnt seem like great timing. But according to Polgreen, half a million people have tuned in so far. And after an initial dip, Gimlet listenership is back to where it was pre-pandemic.
Polgreen also told Kafka some of her other ideas for audio: a daily shortform soap opera-style fiction podcast, and a weekly, appointment-listening documentary show. Weve yet to see a show thats become the 60 Minutes for audio, she said.
Watch Kafkas full interview with Lydia Polgreen above to hear more about her vision for podcasting at Spotify, why she left a long career at the New York Times to join HuffPost after the 2016 election, and her thoughts on Joe Rogans interview controversies.
Will you help keep Vox free for all?
Millions of people rely on Vox to understand how the policy decisions made in Washington, from health care to unemployment to housing, could impact their lives. Our work is well-sourced, research-driven, and in-depth. And that kind of work takes resources. Even after the economy recovers, advertising alone will never be enough to support it. If you have already made a contribution to Vox, thank you. If you havent, help us keep our journalism free for everyone by making a financial contribution today, from as little as $3.