Podcasts have been trending in a rage, but podcast discovery is not everyone’s cup of tea. On June 18, Spotify announced its acquisition of Podz, a startup dedicated to solving the issue of podcast discovery. According to Spotify, it acquired Podz, that is, a small, talented team of entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers, to help make the experience even better. Going on for the past years, it has been part of the streaming service’s massive podcast push. Now that it has introduced a paid subscription option, it is likely to grow more. Podz uses machine learning technology to create high-quality clips featuring key moments in a podcast for listeners. The Swedish music streaming company Spotify acquired Podz for an undisclosed amount of money. Spotify published a statement afterward where it described Podz as “a small, talented team of entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers.”
The acquisition is aimed to secure Spotify’s personalized podcast services “even better.” Moreover, it could give potential new subscribers a preview, that is, a more vivid picture than a random sample or even a written description can give about the what and how of the podcast. Pods offer high-quality clips allowing users great opportunities to preview prime moments from episodes of a podcast created by state-of-the-art machine learning technology. This encourages users to discover and find out about new podcast streams. “At Spotify, we are investing to build and scale the world’s best (and most personalized) podcast discovery experience.
We believe that Podz’s technology will complement and accelerate Spotify’s focused efforts to drive discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate the growth of the category worldwide,” the company said in the press release on Thursday. They further added that this capability, combined with Spotify’s 2.6 million podcasts on the platform, learnings from their work in music discovery, as well as current investments in podcast recommendation, will make podcast discovery to the next level. Podz had raised $2.5 million in pre-seed funding before it was acquired by Spotify. Its long list of investors included M13, Canaan Partners, Charge Ventures, Humbition, and Hollywood celebrities like Paris Hilton and Katie Couric.
Spotify has its machine learning experts focused on improving audio discovery for almost a decade now, but they say that there’s still a lot of work to be done. “We believe that Podz’s technology will complement and accelerate Spotify’s focused efforts to drive discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate the growth of the category worldwide,” the company stated in an interview. TechCrunch told us that Podz is a startup company backed by famous investors like Paris Hilton and Katie Couric. It basically solves podcast listeners’ issues, especially during podcast discovery. The main and saleable feature of Podz is its “first audio newsfeed”. This key feature allows users to watch one-minute-long podcast highlight clips which are originally meant as standalone clips. Also, you can listen to the full episode of that same podcast later on if you want.
But podcasts usually go up to 30 minutes, and even more than that, so listeners find it difficult to browse new shows. Believe it or not, watching a single episode of any podcast is far more difficult than just hearing a song by a new artist for the first time. It is often seen that apps like Headliner are used by podcasters in order to create clips and promote them on their social media accounts. Podz has developed the same idea but Podz has introduced a clip using its machine learning technology training for more than 100,000 hours of audio consulted by audio editors as well as journalists. Sp podcasters don’t have to manually choose how to promote their podcast. And for podcast creators, the Spotify system makes it easier for podcasters’ content to be discovered on the platform by various users. This acquiring announcement arrives after The Verge reported that Facebook will launch its own podcasts next week.
Not only that, but its podcast product will allow listeners to make shareable one-minute clips of the audio shows in order to increase visibility as well as engagement. At the same time, Spotify can gain a boost on podcast discovery by acquiring Podz. But Spotify has, over several years, offering different features to bring audio shows before new audiences. For example, in April 2021, it launched a “Top Episodes” ranking for its charts using which you can find even relatively unknown podcasts. A month later, Spotify also added music and podcast search filters for its iOS and Android versions. “Already, the average podcast listener subscribes to seven podcasts but follows almost 30 on Podz. Early signals make us optimistic the team can build a transformative product in the category.” M13 General Partner Latif Peracha had told TechCrunch via email back in February.
This acquisition helps achieve the age-long dream of Spotify to conquer the podcasting market and audio entertainment in general. Spotify also debuted Greenroom which used to be its live audio Clubhouse rival. As a matter of fact, Spotify gives tough competition to Apple when we talk about driving revenue from podcast subscriptions. In the month of April, Apple declared its expansion into podcast subscriptions, and Spotify quickly began rolling out its subscription platform after teasing it in February following that news. Apple stated that 30% of podcast revenue will be taken by him in the first year, but it will drop to 15% in the second. But Spotify played well here as it declared that it won’t take any cut from creators until 2023, and after that a mere 5%.
Although for podcast creators, surrender 5% of their subscription earnings will seem more beneficial than 30% in Apple, users will go wherever they provide the best user experience. So this is tricky business and if Spotify’s plan pays off well, Apple could see trouble maintaining its decade-long dominance in the podcasting medium. More and more companies now seem to invest in Podcast streaming. To add to this, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions are now available for listeners in more than 170 countries across the world. If a user avails of this subscription service, his podcasting experience will be enriched by ad-free listening and access to exclusive titles. According to several reports, Facebook plans to launch its podcast product on June 22, 2021. And it won’t be ordinary as Facebook has planned to add a new feature that will allow users to create clips from their favorite shows.
On the other hand, Spotify dives deeper into podcasting streaming and shows us a highly personalized experience. But the stiff competition will decide the fate of Spotify and its new acquisition. Spotify has around 2.6 million podcasts to offer, including “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which is hosted by comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan. It also offers advice and comedy podcast “Call Her Daddy,” as well as an investigative journalism show called “In the Dark.” Spotify has also included other updates and features including offline music availability, an auto-transcribe feature for podcasts, as well as podcast listening for users who have Apple Watch. In its announcement of acquiring Podz, Spotify also said that it will integrate Podz’s technology into its service and that its listeners will be able to notice elements of its technology before the end of the year.