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Spotify debuts ‘Spotlight’ format for podcasts, audiobooks and news


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Spotify’s latest announcement focuses less on music, and more on the other kinds of audio content available on the streaming service: podcasts, audiobooks and news.

The company is launching a new ‘multimedia format’ called Spotlight, which will show photos, video and text as people listen to spoken-word content.

BuzzFeed News, Cheddar, Genius and Refinery29 are among the launch partners, along with Crooked Media, Lenny Letter, Gimlet Media, The Minefield Girl and Uninterrupted. Some of Spotify’s own shows, like Secret Genius and Viva Latino, will also be getting the Spotlight treatment.

Spotify’s head of studios and video Courtney Holt, formerly of Maker Studios (and before that, Myspace Music) described Spotlight as “a new format that merges great storytelling, news, information and opinion with visual elements all delivered in playlist form across a number of content categories”.

For now, it’s only available in the US, with Spotify saying it plans to roll Spotlight out to other countries “in the near future”.

Spotify has struggled to get traction with non-music content on its service in the past: whether licensing in online-video shows or creating its own shows and podcasts, there hasn’t been much evidence that they have reached a large percentage of its 140 million active listeners.

However, the new format fits in with Spotify’s exploration of visual media to accompany its audio streams. Other examples of that include its integration of video into some of its big in-house playlists and its current tests of looping videos as song artwork.

One side-effect of getting people to spend more time looking at Spotify’s app rather than just listening to it may be more opportunities for (more lucrative?) visual advertising on the service’s free tier, although as yet there is no evidence of new ad units being offered to capitalise.

Stuart Dredge

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