Spotify audiobooks are here, and they have some serious positive implications for the music industry if Spotify chooses to integrate them. Four months ago CEO Daniel Ek outlined Spotify’s intentions to double down on audiobooks during Spotify’s Investor’s Day, and at least in the United States that day has finally come.
While this is certainly interesting from an author and investor point of view, i’m more interested in the implications this will have on the music industry going forward.
How Spotify Audiobooks work
Audiobooks on Spotify work very much like Audible. There is a list of audiobooks which you can listen to a sample, read the description and decide if you want to buy it or not. Audiobooks are charged directly to the card you have on file and are available for use on both desktop and mobile.
Chapters are broken up into individual audio files, similar to a playlist or an album. You can also save paid or unpaid audiobooks to your library to listen to later, or remind yourself you’re interested in it. Overall it feels pretty smooth, despite the fact purchasing audiobooks is not fully integrated into the mobile app yet.
The Potential for music
There are dozens of ways Spotify could integrate this into music on the platform as well. Here are just a few of the ideas I have:
- Specific songs available for sale, but not available for streaming
- Entire exclusive albums available for purchase
- Behind the scenes audio or video content for an album or project
- Alternative mixes or instrumental versions of songs available for purchase
- The ability to lock certain music behind a monthly subscription payment
Imagine if your favorite artist drops a brand new 12 song album, but that album contains 2 locked audio files you can purchase for $1 each. Additionally the band adds a 1-hour commentary where they go through the entire album talking about specific moments during the writing / recording process, and make that available for $9.99. Lastly, imagine if you could get all that locked content and more included if you joined the artist’s membership for $7.99 per month.
Fans can more easily access exclusive content on the platform they’re already listening on. Artists can make more money. Spotify can charge a 15% commission on all transactions that happen on the platform, so they also make a ton of money. Its a win-win-win.
Locked content isn’t fundamentally new, it’s just new for Spotify. One of the fundamental problems with promoting your music on Spotify is your ability to effectively monetize your fans or further engage with them. Spotify is dominating the streaming industry right now so artists are pretty much required to have a solid presence on the platform though.
Having locked content makes it even more beneficial for artists to focus on Spotify, and it would make it easier for the platform to compete with YouTube going forward. Artists can already sell memberships, take donations and easily sell products to their audience on YouTube, but Spotify is behind. They’ve added donations and an integration with Shopify, but it’s a far cry from how easy it is on YouTube.
My perfect vision of Spotify would allow me to specify a membership tier system (like Patreon), be able to sell locked audio / video files on the platform, be able to post video content on a social media-like feed in my bio section, and have an easy way for fans to join my mailing list. This would be a huge step towards that vision.
If you’re wondering how you can get more people to hear your music on Spotify’s Discover Weekly, I figured out how many streams you need to get on it. Check that out here: https://musicgrowthmachine.com/how-many-streams-for-spotifys-discover-weekly/
If you want to learn more about Spotify audiobooks, check out these resources below: