An Update on Changes to Spotify’s Podcast Business, June 2023

Below is an adaptation of an internal update on Spotify’s Podcast Business from Sahar Elhabashi, VP, Head of Podcast Business.

In early 2019, we saw an opportunity to invest in the small but rapidly growing podcasting space, and since then, we have helped transform the industry…

  • Spotify is now the most-used audio podcast platform in most corners of the world and is also the No. 1 podcast publisher in the U.S. 
  • There are now more than 100 million Podcast listeners on Spotify (10x growth)
  • Since we entered the space, over half a billion people have listened to a podcast on Spotify
  • Consumption has grown more than 1,400%
  • Podcast content has increased from 200,000 titles to over 5 million shows on Spotify 
  • 165 of Spotify’s Original and Licensed shows hit #1 on our charts across 99 markets in 2022 
  • Podcast ad revenue experienced high double-digit growth from 2021 to 2022

In addition to fueling a revolution for the medium, this massive group of creators and listeners has also taught us an enormous amount about where podcasting is today and where it is going tomorrow. We know that creators have embraced the global audience on our platform but want improved discovery to help them grow their audience. We also know that they appreciate our tools and creator support programs but want more optionality and flexibility in terms of monetization. Fortunately, Spotify is not a company that ever sits still. 

Given these learnings and our leadership position, we recently embarked on the next phase of our podcast strategy, which is focused on delivering even more value for creators (and users!). This begins with maximizing consumption from the massive audience we’ve established through format innovation and ensuring that more creators in more places achieve success. Simultaneously, in collaboration with the podcasting community, we are broadening our analytics capabilities by expanding Spotify For Podcasters, which will help creators maximize their audience on Spotify and beyond. Underpinning this effort is a continued leveling up of our advertising offerings and the introduction of more business models to help more creators make meaningful money from their work. 

We are expanding our partnership efforts with leading podcasters from across the globe with a tailored approach optimized for each show and creator. This fundamental pivot from a more uniform proposition will allow us to support the creator community better. However, doing so requires adapting; over the past few months, our senior leadership team has worked closely with HR to determine the optimal organization for this next chapter. As a result, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to make a strategic realignment of our group and reduce our global podcast vertical and other functions by approximately 200 people, or 2% of Spotify’s workforce. 

Unfortunately, this means saying goodbye to close colleagues and friends. We know news like this is never easy, especially for those impacted. These decisions are not something we take lightly. I want to express my appreciation for everything those leaving have done for podcasting and Spotify. Those impacted by this change have already received an invite for a 1:1 conversation today with a member of our HR team, and we are focused on ensuring that each step in this process is taken with the utmost empathy and respect. The company will support these individuals with generous severance packages, including extended Healthcare coverage and immediate access to outplacement support. 

Looking ahead, as a key component of our focus on creators, we remain committed to original programming. As part of this next phase, we will be combining Parcast and Gimlet into a renewed Spotify Studios operation that will continue to produce a wide range of high-impact originals, including Stolen, The Journal, Science Vs, Heavyweight, Serial Killers, and Conspiracy Theories. The Ringer will continue to build its unrivaled programming slate across Sports, Culture, and Tech. Furthermore, both studios will greenlight new shows with an increased focus on always-on programming that drives strong, loyal audiences and attracts advertisers. 

Julie McNamara (VP, Head of Global Podcast Studios) will continue to oversee the Spotify Studios organization, with Liliana Kim in charge of Current Content for Spotify Studios alongside Liz Gateley, who will be Head of Development. Bill Simmons will continue as MD of The Ringer and Head of Podcast Innovation and Monetization, working with Julie and me to enhance our monetization opportunities across all our podcasts. We will continue to expand our teams that support creator partnerships under Bryan Thoensen (Head of Content Partnerships) as we increase our focus on the millions of creators building audiences and businesses on our platform. 

Our continued success in growing the podcast ecosystem is predicated on the necessity that the Spotify Machine is always in motion. And with these changes, we will accelerate into the next chapter for podcasts on Spotify with strong discovery and podcast habits for users, thriving monetization and audience growth for creators, and a valuable, high-margin business for Spotify. I want to thank everyone for your continued understanding and collaboration. I firmly believe in this team and that this next phase brings opportunities beyond anything we’ve seen.