Spotify shakes the literary world by gifting US premium members free monthly audiobook allowances in a surprise play for listening share beyond tunes or podcasts. The streaming juggernaut now lets bookworm subscribers redeem up to 15 hours of narrated works at no added cost starting November 3rd.
The giveaway thrusts Spotify into an audiobook industry boom that analysts predict will double near term. And the all-you-can-hear buffet for existing customers could convert print holdouts while boxed services scramble to retaliate.
Early selections unsurprisingly showcase bestselling mainstays like celeb memoirs commanding mass familiarity. But Spotify’s vast reach also holds power to surface undiscovered voices and indies drowned out by staunch competition on niche storytelling platforms.
Indeed Tantor Media and Simon & Schuster groups involved signal a pragmatic balancing act catering to both pop culture and literary sensibilities from the outset. For Spotify must tables stakes in curation and variety out the gate before audiobooks shift from mere perk to essential driver of retention and growth.
The play also stokes nerves across self-contained audio book apps wondering whether Spotify histories of dominating markets otherwise fragmented repeat themselves again. After all the streamer managed to crush podcasting insurgents like Stitcher or Pandora by turning free trials into walled off exclusivity.
So wary publishers face quandaries: shun Spotify and risk irrelevance if its listening club swallows the general public, or sign over catalogues despite misgivings over long run rights and revenue control. Either way the opening salvo promises immense disruption with indie authors caught in the crossfire.
For consumers though, more choice and savings mean everything provided the model integrity holds. So let’s enjoy audiobook inclusion as value added dessert for now absent worrying whether it becomes Spotify’s main course down the road.