Yesterday (22 February), Spotify Stream On revealed a number of updates for Spotify users across the globe. Its founder and CEO, Daniel Ek, spoke to a number of international artists and public figures – from Bruce Springsteen to Barack Obama – for the occasion.
At the virtual event, Spotify said its library has more than 70m tracks, 4.5bn playlists and 2m podcasts. It said that it paid more than $5bn to rights holders in 2020 and that 57,000 artists now represent 90pc of its monthly streams.
Aside from the rundown on figures, Spotify also unveiled some new features. The company said it plans to expand its Daily Mix playlists in the coming months, for example, and to roll out a podcast topic search feature. This feature would let users search for podcasts by theme and topic, and is currently being tested in the US.
Having showcased substantial investments in podcasts in its Q4 2020 earnings report, Spotify is set to continue along this trajectory. Three new podcasts were announced at yesterday’s event.
The first is called Renegades: Born in the USA and will see Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama pair up for an eight-episode run in which they discuss their hometowns, role models and more.
The second is part of a multi-year partnership between Spotify and filmmaker Ava DuVernay. DuVernay’s podcast will be unscripted and is inspired by her project on law enforcement accountability. It will investigate and chronicle US police officers who commit murder.
Finally, a new podcast hosted by Pakistani-American writer and producer, Misha Euceph, will showcase narratives from Muslim activists, artists, actors, performers and athletes. Euceph’s podcast is called Tell Them, I Am, and will launch through Spotify’s Higher Ground partnership with Barack and Michelle Obama.
A number of new partnerships will see Spotify’s reach grow further. One example is its collaboration with AGBO, which is Anthony and Joe Russo’s – AKA the Russo brothers – entertainment company.
The Russos created such box office hits as Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: End Game. Now, Spotify listeners will be able to access “stories that have the power to span generations and territories”, the company said.
A partnership between podcast-creation platform Anchor and WordPress, an open-source content-management system, was also announced at Stream On. The companies have developed a new tool for Spotify users that is available now. It allows bloggers to publish their written content as a podcast, and podcasters to create written content for their websites.
And while Spotify’s multi-year agreement with Warner Brothers and DC had been announced before Stream On, more details were shared at the event about the first project to come out of the partnership, an original narrative podcast called Batman Unburied.
Spotify also said that it will bring its services to more than 80 new markets and add 36 new languages to its platform. The new markets represent more than 1bn people, it said, as well as potential for offerings in specific genres to be expanded, including K-Pop and amapiano.
The expansion will involve countries across Africa, Asian, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America.
Spotify Stream On showcased a new feature for premium subscribers in select markets. Called Spotify HiFi, some customers will be able to upgrade their sound quality to this new level and listen to their favourite songs “the way artists intended”, Spotify said. It described the sound as a “CD-quality, lossless audio format”.
The company said it would begin rolling out the HiFi feature later this year and that more details are coming soon.
Updates for Spotify creators
For creators using Spotify, the company said it will be rolling out Spotify Clips to help artists share “intimate moments” with fans using video on certain playlists.
It has made the short looping visuals that creators can add to their tracks available to all artists, it said, and will be adding 25 new languages to its fan-development platform, Spotify for Artists, by the end of 2021.
2021 will also see Spotify enable sponsored recommendations that introduce fans to new music across Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and open audience-development tool Discovery Mode in beta to more labels.
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