As part of its long-running effort to attract podcasters and listeners, Spotify has enabled podcast creators to access the email addresses of fans who subscribe to their programs.
Higher-ups at Spotify – which experienced a noteworthy stock-price hike yesterday after Apple relaxed its App Store “tax” – recently detailed podcast creators’ ability to view the contact information of their subscribers. For reference, the Stockholm-based platform has made more than a few substantial investments in podcasting, seemingly viewing the audio-entertainment format as a potential means of diversifying revenue, moving past music’s razor-thin margins, and achieving profitability.
Specifically, 2021 has seen Spotify ink podcasting deals with the WWE as well as Call Her Daddy host Alex Cooper (spending a reported $20 million to $60 million on the program), while 2020 brought with it a reportedly $25 million podcasting contract with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, a likely expensive deal with Michelle Obama, and, of course, a reportedly $100 million agreement for The Joe Rogan Experience.
Additionally, a reportedly $250 million buyout of The Ringer, a $235 million purchase of Megaphone, and a $230 million agreement for Gimlet Media – not to mention investments in a number of other exclusive podcasts yet – mean that Spotify looks to have dropped well over $1 billion on podcasting since 2019.
Bearing the points in mind, Spotify late last month officially opened podcast subscriptions to U.S. creators, and as initially mentioned, those who charge for their content can access and utilize subscribers’ email addresses.
“We now offer the ability for creators to download a list of contact addresses for their subscribers so they can further engage with their subscriber bases and offer even more benefits,” Spotify higher-ups relayed. It’s unclear whether privacy-minded listeners can opt out of having their contact info shared with podcast creators, or whether the point will dissuade would-be subscribers from paying for shows released by creators who they aren’t familiar with.
Though Spotify doesn’t currently take a cut of podcast-subscription revenue (excepting “payment processing fees”), the company is set to begin collecting five percent of the earnings in 2023. When this additional charge goes into effect, it’s possible that some podcasters could attempt to compensate for the corresponding income decline by marketing merchandise and non-podcast content – or assisting businesses in doing so, factoring for the unique listener demographics of the show and audience at hand.
In any event, it’ll be worth following the impact of the email-address availability in the long term, especially because Spotify’s podcast listeners continue to represent a small portion of overall users. To be sure, about a quarter of Spotify’s 365 million monthly active users (MAUs) “engaged with” – not necessarily listened to from start to finish – podcasts in Q2 2021.
It stands to reason that a much smaller percentage of MAUs than that regularly listen to podcasts in their entirety, with a smaller group yet subscribing to one or more podcasts. And as emails from podcasters (and potentially other affiliated companies or individuals) will only reach the latter fans, they could push back against the overarching policy.