Three months back, reports indicated that Spotify was preparing to allow paid subscribers to listen to several audiobooks per month at no additional charge. Now, the platform’s reportedly poised to debut the offering – with up to 20 hours of monthly audiobook access for each eligible user.
This and other noteworthy details about the service’s audiobook plans just recently entered the media spotlight in a Wall Street Journal report. For background, Spotify first tested the audiobook waters in January of 2021 by releasing celebrity-read versions of nine public-domain classics.
(Given the subsequent advent of artificial intelligence, which Apple promptly used to narrate a sizable collection of audiobooks, humans’ long-term role in the space is unclear.)
Then, November of 2021 saw Spotify drop a staggering €140 million on audiobook company Findaway, going on to make audiobooks available to stateside users in September of 2022 before expanding the product into different markets thereafter. Said audiobooks have been purchaseable on a per-title basis, with a $25.90 price tag for Dave Grohl’s The Storyteller and a $20.90 charge for Rick Ross’ Hurricanes, for instance.
The diversification-minded company hasn’t publicly identified the precise number of audiobooks sold on-platform during the last 12 or so months. But logic suggests that fans may be hesitant to shell out what’s equivalent to multiple months of premium in order to enjoy a single audiobook that can in any event be accessed for free via library apps like Libby.
Enter Spotify’s initially mentioned complimentary audiobook access for subscribers, who will reportedly have the chance to enjoy “up to 20 hours of audiobooks a month at no additional cost.”
The Stockholm-headquartered business has been coordinating “with some of the largest publishers in the U.S.” on the pilot, which is expected to run for “a limited time,” per the Journal. Execs reportedly anticipate that the program will encompass a “broad” selection of titles, though the exact works involved haven’t yet been finalized.
Meanwhile, a rollout is being teed up for English-speaking nations including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia, and Spotify has reportedly discussed a variety of compensation models for the arrangement. One of these models would simply pay the appropriate rightsholders based upon actual listening time, anonymous sources have relayed.
Beyond audiobooks, it’ll be worth following Spotify’s efforts to turn a profit, potentially with the long-rumored arrival of a more expensive tier equipped with HiFi.
Higher-ups are further looking to improve their company’s performance in other non-music areas as well – especially podcasting, which reportedly delivered an over $40 million loss last quarter. Amid an adjacent push to rein in costs, 2023 has also seen Spotify axe Heardle and sell Soundtrap back to its founders.