(By Juergen Berkessel) From the Spotify perspective, I agree with the analysis of The WSJ and others: Spotify wants to become the next Netflix. This means a focus on premium content and acquiring exclusive podcasts only available on Spotify. I think this theory covers both the Gimlet and Anchor acquisitions.
Of course there are more questions than answers at this point. So what follows is speculation…
Does “Netflix of podcasting” imply exclusive content?
I could see that if their strategies succeed, exclusive versions of the best and most desirable podcasts may only be available on Spotify, driving new subscribers to their overall platform.
So yes, I anticipate that Gimlet Media will produce some bespoke content for Spotify.
But I also think there are a lot of variations on how this could play out when it comes to exclusivity — for example offering ad-supported versions of exclusive podcasts outside of Spotify, meaning iTunes and elsewhere.
The future of podcast monetization?
Also, I would predict that podcast hosting, ad platforms, monetization, and re-imbursement models will be routed through Spotify. Could they be going for a model of reimbursing premium podcasters like they currently reimburse musicians?
This could mean a democratized monetization model for mid-level podcasts, with micro payments to podcasters that are not currently commanding enough downloads to easily run ads inside their shows. I see this as a positive alternative for podcasts that don’t have any monetization options outside of Patreon. However, the emphasis being on MICRO-payments, as in “don’t quit your day job.”
Symbiotic or competitive?
I am also wondering whether this is symbiotic with Apple and iTunes, or competitive when it comes to discoverability?
Will Spotify finally be able to break up Apple’s monopoly in the podcast discoverability space?
Just considering my own behavior. I happen to have a Spotify music account. I NEVER search for any music on iTunes anymore. I search in Spotify directly. So just imagine a future where Spotify would be the first place to search for interesting podcast content to listen to.
If you want to be the Netflix of podcasting, you need content. Content you develop, or acquire. My understanding is that Anchor owns the podcast content hosted on their platform, and so I am assuming that with this acquisition Spotify will acquire direct ownership of a massive amount of transitioned podcasts, leaving them to be able to decide on monetization and subscription and discoverability models.
From the Gimlet perspective, this is the best exit their investors could expect now or in the future. In my opinion, I think there may also be an opportunistic element for Alex Blumberg to get his life back and move forward in the best possible way.
I imagine him being able to move towards more fun and meaningful opportunities within Spotify. Gimlet and its storytelling chops should be the perfect podcast content strategists. I think Alex and his team could be focused on developing interesting content, rather than Gimlet being a money-making entity beholden to investors.
One of the most compelling aspects of the StartUp podcast, has been the intimacy of sharing his journey, including the stress of the work-life balance. Listening to the last few episodes, it seems like the current stress levels are not sustainable, so with this exit perhaps the pressure from keeping investors happy will be eased.
More acquisitions coming?
I am again speculating for now, and I think the picture will become clearer over time. But yes, CEO Daniel Ek’s $500 million budget leaves room for additional deals. In addition to new acquisitions of podcast networks and content, I would not be surprised if Spotify will also start to acquire podcast-specific technology and ad-platform companies. Not naming any names at this point.
So as a podcast producer, how do I feel about all this?
I think any movement within the podcasting industry that rivals Apple, or makes them move a bit faster on the innovation front, is a good thing.
Juergen Berkessel is the founder of Polymash Podcasting, a Podcast Production & Marketing company. Check out his website HERE. He’s also the host of The Podcast Growth Show. Juergen can be reached at 732-485-6084 or firstname.lastname@example.org