Podcasting Just Got a Whole Lot Bigger This Week

Spotify CEO

Yesterday the popular music streaming service Spotify announced at a news conference in New York that it was launching several new enhancements to its service.

Among the suite of new features they are rolling out is one that is stirring up buzz in the podcasting world: Spotify will start to deliver podcasts to its 70 million users.

If you’re a podcast listener, this is a good thing. Now you’ll have another platform beyond iTunes — or, for Android users, Stitcher — for discovering and enjoying podcasts.

Listening to podcasts within the Spotify app means you can toggle back and forth between your favorite music and podcasts (and videos, another new feature Spotify announced this week) without having to jump into a different app.

For producers of podcasts, however, Spotify’s announcement is a very good thing. That’s because of a new partnership they’ve struck with Libsyn, the leading hosting service for podcasts.

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of them. Libsyn is the behind-the-scenes service that thousands of podcast producers like me use to host the MP3 files that are streamed (or downloaded) by subscribers from iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and other podcast distribution platforms.

With a simple cut-and-paste of a link, and perhaps with a few more bits of basic information, podcasters will now have access to Spotify’s 70 million listeners.

Wow.

And, as part of the deal, Libsyn will deliver a separate stream of statistics on podcasts that are consumed on Spotify, information that all podcast producers covet, especially those that sell advertising time and need hard download numbers to negotiate rates.

Observers are predicting that with this move, Spotify will quickly eclipse Stitcherto become a strong second to iTunes, the 800-lb. gorilla of this space.

Earlier this year, I wrote about how I believe 2015 will be the “year of the podcast”. I cited several factors on both the supply and demand sides of the equation that are likely to play into this trend, like the introduction of podcasts into the dashboards of new cars with the roll-out of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

What I didn’t predict, of course, was this announcement.

While it’s still early days, and details are limited regarding how fast Spotify will roll-out podcasts to its users — and in which markets — my friends in the podcasting community are excited by the additional growth in subscribers and downloads this move could provide.

And if this announcement still doesn’t convince you that podcasts are on the rise, consider the most recent survey of over 2,000 podcast listeners in the US, conducted by Edison Research in October and November of last year.

Their survey showed that the share of podcast listening among Americans increased by a whopping 18% over their previous survey, conducted just six months prior.

Their survey also showed how voracious podcast listeners can be when it comes to consuming audio content: podcast listeners in the US spend an average of just over 6 hours each day listening to any form of audio, including music, compared with 4 hours a day on average for the rest of the population.

And if you’re into big numbers, try this one: by extrapolating its survey results to the entire US population, Edison Research estimates that Americans listen to about 21,117,000 hours of podcast audio each day.

Now that’s a lot of podcasts. And a lot of listeners.

Watch this space.

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What impact do you think Spotify’s move will have on the podcasting industry? Please let me know in the comments below!

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