Spotify has invested heavily in prerecorded podcast content, and now, the company is looking to host live audio conversations. The platform announced today that it’s acquiring Betty Labs, the company behind the live sports audio app Locker Room. Spotify didn’t disclose how much it spent on the purchase.
As a result of the acquisition, Locker Room will stay live in the App Store but will be rebranded with a different name in the future on iOS and, eventually, Android with a broader focus on music, culture, and sports content. Spotify says it sees live audio as ideal for creators who want to connect with audiences in real time, whether that’s to premiere an album, host a question and answer session, or possibly even perform.
Gustav Söderström, chief R&D officer at Spotify, tells The Verge that Spotify will let anyone host conversations — not just approved creators — meaning its app will directly compete with all of the various live audio apps currently on the market, including Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse, and Discord. Although he says Spotify-employed creators won’t be required to go live only on Spotify’s app, he thinks it’ll be a “great complement” to their existing Spotify audiences. Still, the two apps will remain separate.
“But who knows, maybe we’ll integrate some of these features, or all of these features in the future,” Söderström says. Spotify will also experiment with different monetization features, he says. Some chats might be free to tune into, for example, while others are paid.
Of course, live audio from the app will then become a direct funnel to Spotify’s podcasting ecosystem. Söderström says people already record their Spaces and Clubhouse chats and upload them as MP3 files to Anchor, Spotify’s podcast creation and hosting software. “We might want to make that more seamless,” he says. It’s easy to imagine the company allowing people to natively record their chats and tap a button to distribute them directly to Spotify.
Broadly, audio content has become wildly popular in the tech space as the biggest names in the space look to invest in prerecorded podcast content as well as live audio. Amazon acquired podcast network Wondery last year, for example, while Clubhouse and Spaces launched last year, too. Facebook is even reportedly looking to build a live audio feature. Spotify, although it’s mostly focused on podcasting, is showing that companies can have access to both worlds: live audio recording can grow its podcasting catalog and simultaneously promote the streamable music that lives on its app. It doesn’t need to limit itself to just one format.
Correction 3/30, 9:14 AM ET: This story initially stated that Locker Room would temporarily be taken down from the App Store after Spotify’s acquisition. That is incorrect. It will stay live but eventually rebrand under a new name.