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Spotify reportedly has a $38 million white noise problem

Spotify reportedly has a $38 million white noise problem


Bloomberg reports Spotify considered banning new uploads of white noise podcasts after realizing how much its algorithm promoted them.

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Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge

Spotify is spending a lot of money on podcasts that don’t actually involve any talking. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which states the company could increase its annual gross profit by a whopping $38 million if it steers users away from so-called white noise podcasts.

These kinds of podcasts play various types of relaxing sounds on a loop — like static, crashing waves, or rain — and they’re more popular than you may think. One of the reasons for their popularity is that Spotify has been unwittingly pushing them in front of users thanks to its “algorithmic push for ‘talk’ content (versus music),” according to Bloomberg.

The creators behind these “podcasts” make money off the ads that play during its episodes. Last year, a report from Bloomberg suggested that white noise podcasters could rake in $18,000 per month from the ads placed by Spotify; now it reports based on internal documents that white noise podcasts made up 3 million daily consumption hours on Spotify as of January 2023.

When Spotify noticed it was sending users toward white noise podcasts, the platform reportedly considered taking these shows out of its talk feeds, banning future uploads, and nudging users toward other kinds of content. However, this plan never panned out. “The proposal in question did not come to fruition — we continue to have white noise podcasts on our platform,” a Spotify spokesperson tells Bloomberg. The company didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

Although Spotify says white noise podcasts are safe on the platform, things could change. As reported by Bloomberg, some white noise podcasters have noticed their episodes suspiciously disappearing from the platform.

Correction August 18th 10:25AM ET: An earlier version of this story said white noise podcasters could make $18,000 per year. It’s actually $18,000 per month. We regret the error.