Spotify is tying podcasts and music close together. The company announced today that it’s testing a new podcast format that’ll allow podcast listeners to hear entire music tracks during a show, as opposed to a brief sample. Hosts will also be able to create shows in this format through Anchor, the Spotify-owned podcast creation app. The new format effectively makes Spotify the only podcast platform where hosts can include entire songs in their shows without having to worry about copyright.
Anchor creators in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland will have access to this interactive format, which you can imagine they might use to promote songs like a radio DJ or to offer historical context or insight more like a music podcast. Critically, though, the episodes Anchor users create will only be accessible through Spotify and not distributed elsewhere.
In fact, all shows that take advantage of this interactive format will be exclusive to Spotify because the technology relies on the company’s deals with record labels. (Musicians will be paid per song stream like they already are.) Spotify says the way these podcasts are created allows the company to treat songs and the podcast commentary as playlists almost, which gives podcasters the power to include full songs in their shows.
Still, only premium Spotify subscribers will hear full songs. Free users will only hear a 30-second preview of each track because free users aren’t able to directly play songs; they can only shuffle play.
Along with this announcement, Spotify is launching seven new original, exclusive series that’ll take advantage of the format and make music a central focus. Listeners of these shows, and Anchor-created ones, will be able to interact with each podcast episode’s track list to save songs for later and skip around to different segments.
The broader strategy with this launch seems to be making Spotify the most appealing place for creators to launch and maintain their shows. Apple has started archiving some of New Zealand DJ Zane Lowe’s Apple Music radio shows as podcasts, but the feature is limited only to Apple hosts. Spotify is giving other creators the power to become radio DJs, which might give it a leg up on its competitors.
For example, a music show that typically can’t include full songs might be inclined to try making its show in Anchor, if only so its Spotify version includes the complete tracks. The hosts then might start promoting Spotify as a place to listen, which could drive more people to the platform and to subscribe. The company’s already tried other interactive podcast features like ads and polls that could add to its value as a streaming platform and make it a more dominant player in the space.