Spotify appears to be toying with the idea of launching a subscription package for its podcast content where users would pay a monthly fee to listen to original shows or exclusive episodes. Not to be confused with its existing ad-less paid tier, Spotify Premium—nope, this would be a separate subscription fee solely for podcasts.
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Given that the company’s shelled out more than $600 million over the years to beef up its podcast repertoire, it’s no surprise that now its execs are looking to slap a paywall on it. Gross, sure, especially since listening to podcasts is currently free (with ads, if you don’t have Premium). But not surprising.
As Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein shared on Twitter this week, Spotify recently pushed out a survey to select users through its mobile app to gauge opinions on several potential subscription formats ranging from $3 to $8 per month. The cheapest plan would feature “access to exclusive interviews and episodes only available to subscribers,” but still include ads. The most expensive plan would ditch the ads and give subscribers early access to some content as well as “access to high quality original content.” And, of course, the cost of any of these packages doesn’t appear to include access to Spotify’s premium music subscription service, which presumably would still be an additional $10 per month.
It should be noted that Spotify’s only putting out feelers with this survey, so none of this is set in stone. A company spokesperson clarified as much in a statement to the Verge:
“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of surveys in an effort to improve our user experience. Some of those end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as important learnings. We have no further news to share on future plans at this time.”
It’s true, companies poll users all the time about potential changes they’ve got cooking up. There’s no guarantee that the specific plans listed in the survey will come to fruition, but rolling out any kind of dedicated subscription package would make sense considering Spotify’s aggressive push into the podcast sphere. In the last two years, the company’s thrown down beaucoup bucks to scoop up several major podcast producers, including the Ringer (nearly $200 million), the Joe Rogan Experience ($100 million), as well as the Gimlet and Anchor networks (roughly $340 million).
Man, this is all ringing eerily similar to the streaming wars, except it’s somehow even more frustrating. If I’m already paying Spotify one subscription fee, why would I need to fork over another just for podcasts? Would video podcasts even be included in that (the survey makes zero mention of them), or would that be yet another fee? I get that Spotify’s looking to earn its money back after sinking millions of dollars, but it also made more than $2 billion in revenue in the last quarter alone, so forgive me if my sympathy is flatlining.