Spotify was originally a legitimate way to stream popular music. Then, it also became a video company, but without success. Now, it is trying a new identity: it hopes that ordinary people (not just people you have heard of) start uploading songs and podcasts, and then hopes to make money to spread these songs and podcasts to more and more people.
Spotify still wants the world’s biggest star to provide services. This is why it spends most of its money on licensing deals with major music record companies, and why it spent a lot of money last summer to sign with podcast king Joe Logan. This is also the reason for cooperating with Barack Obama. The service has just announced that Bruce Springsteen and the former president have a new Spotify podcast where they discuss “modern masculinity.”
However, the main message behind Spotify’s promotional event held on Monday is that the company announced a series of new products and several new podcasts, which are aimed at a wider range of musicians and podcasts, who will never be at the Obama level. Famous online, even a little bit famous: Spotify wants everyone to upload their content to Spotify.
Spotify believes that it can make money by combining advertising and subscription fees to distribute these products to hundreds of millions of people. In theory, some of them may return to the people who originally made these things.
After the event, I interviewed Spotify’s content boss Dawn Ostroff (a veteran of the magazine and TV business) about Spotify’s ambitious ambitions and how it manages the transition from content distributor to content owner. In particular, how it responds to the challenges posed by Joe Rogan’s employer.
This is a transcript of our conversation:
Who is this event aimed at? This seems to be reminiscent of all the streaming video publishing activities carried out by companies such as Apple, HBO and Disney in the past year or so-both for investors and consumers.
In fact, we are trying to attract creators. For us, it’s about being able to show where we are from and where we intend to plan for creators.
When you think back to daniel [Ek]For Spotify, its mission and vision are very early, and this is how we connect millions of artists and creators with billions of users. This shows that we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go, and our journey. And be able to communicate with creators about different tools, different products we have, in order to help and support them in terms of profit and influence during the creative process.
Going back to the earliest days, there were long-term discussions with Spotify and creators/artists. At that time, the artists complained that they did not get value from Spotify, but Spotify got value from it. How many of these discussions reflect what you are doing today—how you talk to the artist and what you do for the artist?
Well, we are dealing with tags. It is very transparent: people know that we pay artists and their record companies from revenue. But I think that part of Spotify’s true meaning is to democratize the distribution of artists so that they can experiment, create and hope to grow. Because there is still a lot of room for artists who are not necessarily the world’s top artists. Similarly, for podcasts, for people who are not the top podcasts in the world, there is still a lot of room for them to be interested in podcasts.
And you can globalize the idea of a platform in a way that spans the infinite realm of music, and similarly, we saw this through podcasts, it really unifies the world.
You only need to look at the performance of all major record companies. The number of music catalogs set a record. Hundreds of artists now earn millions of dollars through Spotify alone. This is part of what we want to explain today.
One thing that has happened since Spotify was founded is the way consumers and regulators view large technology platforms. They usually have a good impression of them, and now they have more doubts about them. You have your own complaints against Apple-you say that Apple is powerful. But what surprises me is that in terms of audio, Spotify has such powerful features that people have even more doubts about its purpose and what will happen if you provide data or livelihood to Spotify.
First of all, we are still small compared to Google, Amazon or Apple. We are not in that alliance. But we are very focused on audio. Tech giants should have competition. this is us. We are competing for them in this field.
Ever since we talked about giants: For years, Apple didn’t seem interested in doing business through podcasts. It seems to have been awakened-I think it is because of Spotify-now there seems to be some plans to invest in podcasting and provide paid podcast services. What do you think of Apple starting to compete with you in podcasts?
I cannot comment on their plan. To be honest, I don’t know what their plan is. But we believe that any company that spends money in the audio field is smart. We think the audio industry is still growing-we have seen explosive growth, but we think we have not reached a stable level.
You have spent nearly $1 billion on podcasting startups and content. When Spotify first started buying podcast assets, you said that you might spend $500 million in the first year. Do you think you will continue to spend on this clip?
Our goal is to continue to develop. I cannot comment on the exact number. But we are working hard because it is working.
When Spotify signed Joe Rogan, people like me wanted to know what would happen if Joe Rogan offended someone, that has already happened. It turns out that some people work at Spotify.
What kind of blowback do you have about Rogan? Do these discussions include what happens if your own employees are frustrated?
As far as Joe is concerned: He has always followed the same policies that everyone else on our platform must follow. For us, it’s about giving global audiences the voice of all kinds of people-there are so many people listening to Spotify. And he happens to be still very popular.
I cannot comment on our internal discussions, but the debate is also an important part of Spotify’s internal company culture. This is not only happening with things like Joe Rogan, but also in different areas of our business. For us, this is nothing new.