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Music may be losing out due to the growth of spoken-word audio


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It would be wrong to generalise that ‘labels’ are unhappy with Spotify’s push into podcasts. It’s true that some executives do view the strategy with suspicion, as a development that will cannibalise both music-listening and royalties paid to rightsholders. But others accept Spotify’s argument that expanding the range of audio on its service will boost its subscriptions business, which in turn will be good for labels. There’s no monolithic view, but it is fair to say that the growth of podcasts on Spotify, Pandora and other platforms is being monitored closely.

new report from NPR and Edison Research may release a few more cats among the pigeons in that regard. Based on a survey of more than 4,000 American adults, it suggests that the growth of ‘spoken-word audio’ (a category wider than just podcasts) *is* having an impact on music listening. Specifically, it claims that in 2014, 80% of audio listening in the US was music, and 20% spoken-word. In 2019, those percentages are, respectively, 76% and 24%. There’s more data on spoken-word audio in the report, including the claim that 16 million more Americans are listening to it now than were five years ago.

Stuart Dredge

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