Spotify’s Attempt at Colonizing Podcasts Is Faltering

Max Tani, Semafor:

[…] In January, Spotify pushed out [chief content officer Dawn] Ostroff and canceled nearly a dozen shows at its highest-profile podcast investment, the studio Gimlet. Podcasting was a “big drag on our business in 2022,” the company’s chief revenue officer said earlier this month.

“In hindsight, I probably got a little carried away and overinvested relative to the uncertainty we saw shaping up in the market,” [Spotify CEO Daniel] Ek said on an earnings call in January. “So we are shifting to focus on tightening our spend and becoming more efficient.”

Many of Ostroff’s expensive investments appear to have been in courting celebrities, some of which simply did not pan out. But that is not the only factor: Spotify’s desire to own and silo popular podcasts is struggling, too. For example, Tani reports that Gimlet Media, which has seen several cancelled shows, was in financial trouble before Spotify bought it in 2019 — though many of its internal problems were only exposed after the acquisition. It may not have lasted this long without its parent company. Still, after Spotify bought so many exclusives, they get put on the same balance sheet and compared, which subjects them all to cost-cutting measures.