Daniel Ek, Dawn Ostroff, and Sten Garmark Shed Light on the Insights That Led Spotify Into the Podcast Arena

Did you know that Spotify could have been a video company? This is just the latest revelation from Spotify cofounder and CEO Daniel Ek in our Chief R&D Officer Gustav Söderström’s podcast, Spotify: A Product Story. The miniseries brings listeners insider stories of product strategy and development at Spotify as told by the people who built it. 

In the most recent episode, Gustav talks about Spotify’s search for its “first second product” with Daniel. And for a moment, that product could have been TV. But thanks to internal experiments during Hack Week, as well as the realization that listeners in Germany were using the platform to play audiobooks (uploaded as music tracks) the team realized there was a better opportunity: spoken-word content.

“There were so many signals that pointed out that this was the right thing,” shares Daniel. “And then, ultimately, if we could do this and if we could merge podcasts with music and basically get into audio, we would be in a much better place strategically . . . It was clear there wasn’t anyone globally going after this opportunity, and that opportunity is massive.”

So began Spotify’s shift to an audio-first strategy in 2019

“We felt that one of the big things that we could do was accelerate podcast growth,” shares Sten Garmark, Spotify’s Head of Consumer Experience, who is a guest on the episode. “This is a fantastic medium that has seen a lot of growth, but it’s not a true mainstream product yet—it wasn’t when we started and it’s arguably still not.”

Dawn Ostroff, our Chief Content Officer, joins Gustav on the podcast to talk about developing original content to lead the audio space and accelerating podcast growth in the process. “Everybody appreciated the fact that we could put our own imprimatur on an industry, that we could lead the entire medium,” explains Dawn. “The industry had been so fragmented, and [before Spotify], nobody had stepped in to really aggregate the business from either a creative stance or from the business stance or from the advertising point of view.”

Follow along as Gustav and his guests recount the journey and share four key product strategy lessons Spotify learned along the way.