Spotify is making a major push into the audiobook sector, adding more than 150,000 titles to its premium subscription plans.
The streaming company announced details at an event at its New York headquarters today headlined by CEO Daniel Ek. The UK and Australia are the initial territories with audiobooks, and other parts of the world will soon follow, including the U.S. this winter.
“This is a big step in the evolution of Spotify,” Ek said. Recalling the founding of the company in 2006, he added, “the world looked very different than it does now.” The music industry at the time was in turmoil, beset by piracy and facing an existential crisis as legacy revenues plunged. After it had made a successful entry into the music business, Ek said, Spotify then moved to podcasting in 2018, finding that podcast listeners also listened to a lot of music and vice versa, creating a virtuous cycle.
Ther audiobooks effort will give Spotify Premium subscribers access to 15 hours of audiobook listening each month, with additional 10-hour re-ups available for stand-alone purchase.
Audiobooks can be downloaded for offline listening, with features enabling automatic bookmarking and ways to track monthly listening.
As with the music and podcast sectors, audiobooks “has one big, dominant player,” Ek said, alluding to Amazon.
The introduction of audiobooks “gives great flexibility to our business, which will help revenue and then profit,” Ek said.
“All major publishers” are on board for the initiative, Ek said.
The event in New York was also to include an author panel discussion and musical performances by Joy Oladokun and Alicia Keys.
MORE to come …