What’s new on Spotify? Podcasts, partnerships and more

23 Feb 2021

Image: © Kaspars Grinvalds/Stock.adobe.com

Spotify’s Stream On event revealed news about Spotify HiFi, a partnership with the Russo brothers and some new big-name podcasts.

Spotify has revealed a number of updates for users across the globe. At its online Stream On event yesterday (22 February), Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek spoke to a number of international artists and public figures – from Bruce Springsteen to Barack Obama.

The streaming giant said its library now has more than 70m tracks, 4.5bn playlists and 2m podcasts. It added that it paid more than $5bn to rights holders in 2020 and that 57,000 artists now represent 90pc of its monthly streams.

Spotify also unveiled some new features at the event. The company plans to expand its Daily Mix playlists in the coming months and roll out a podcast topic search feature. This would let users search for podcasts by theme and topic, and is currently being tested in the US.

New podcasts

Having highlighted substantial investments in podcasts in its Q4 2020 earnings report, Spotify is set to continue this focus. It announced several new podcasts at yesterday’s event.

Renegades: Born in the USA will see Bruce Springsteen and former US president Barack Obama pair up for an eight-episode run in which they discuss their hometowns, role models and more.

As part of a multi-year partnership between Spotify and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, a new unscripted podcast will be launched, inspired by DuVernay’s project on law enforcement accountability. It will investigate and chronicle US police officers who commit murder.

And 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.

New partnerships

Spotify is potentially hoping to expand its reach with a number of new partnerships.

It is collaborating with AGBO, which is Anthony and Joe Russo’s entertainment company, in a multi-year, multi-series deal. The Russo brothers created box office hits such 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.

And while Spotify’s multi-year agreement with Warner Brothers and DC had been announced last year, more details were shared at the Stream On event about the first project to come out of the partnership – an original narrative podcast called Batman Unburied.

A partnership between podcast-creation platform Anchor and WordPress was also revealed. 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.

Going forward, Spotify said that it will also begin testing a capability for podcasters to explore new revenue streams through paid subscriptions supported by their listeners.

New markets

Spotify revealed that it is bringing its services to more than 80 new markets and adding 36 new languages to its platform. The new markets represent more than 1bn people, it said, and create potential for different genres including K-pop and amapiano to be expanded on the platform.

The expansion will involve countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America.

Spotify HiFi

Spotify showcased a new feature for premium subscribers in select markets. Called Spotify HiFi, it will allow users to upgrade their sound for an additional fee to 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 content 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, and will be adding 25 new languages to its fan-development platform, Spotify for Artists, by the end of 2021.

This year will also see Spotify enable sponsored music recommendations across Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and open audience development tool Discovery Mode in beta to more labels.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021