Warner Bros. Discovery Partners with Spotify for Podcast Distribution and Monetization

Warner Bros. Discovery is partnering with music streaming platform Spotify for a new podcast distribution and monetization partnership across the legacy entertainment company’s portfolio of brands.

Spotify’s enterprise podcast platform, Megaphone, will host and distribute Warner Bros. Discovery’s slate of audio shows. Additionally, the music platform will serve as one of WBD’s podcast monetization partners via the Spotify Audience Network.

WBD’s podcasts include CNN’s All There Is With Anderson Cooper, CNN’s Chasing Life With Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s The Assignment With Audie Cornish, HBO’s The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon, HBO’s Succession Podcast, TCM’s The Plot Thickens, and WBD Sports’ The Steam Room, among others.

Podcasts from HBO, Max, CNN, CNN en Español, Bleacher Report, WBD Sports, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies Network, and truTV will be hosted and distributed via Megaphone. Over the past 12 months, advertiser participation has grown more than 45% while opted-in publishers have increased more than 70%, according to the companies.

Spotify Music Subscription Streaming Service Announces First U.S. Price Hike

Spotify, the largest music subscription streaming service with more than 200 million members worldwide, is raising its monthly fee in the U.S. for the first time.

The publicly-traded Swedish-based service is upping the monthly price by $1, with the “premium single” user access now costing $10.99 monthly, followed by $14.99 for “premium duo,” $16.99 for “premium family,” and $5.99 for “premium student.”

In a blog post, co-founder/CEO Daniel Ek said the market landscape, including artist demands for higher royalties, has “evolved,” creating additional operating costs.

“So that we can keep innovating, we are changing our prices across a number of markets around the world,” Ek wrote. “These updates will help us continue to deliver value to fans and artists on our platform.”

The price hike follows similar moves by Spotify competitors, including Apple Music, YouTube Music and Amazon Music, which are all now priced comparably.

Spotify, which reports second-quarter (ended June 30) fiscal results tomorrow (July 25), added 5 million new subs in the first quarter (ended March 31), to up its global sub base to 210 million.

Streaming Music Service Spotify Begins Selling Audiobooks

Spotify, the world’s largest streaming music service, Sept. 20 began offering more than 300,000 audiobook titles to its users to purchase.

The Stockholm-based platform with 182 million subscribers and 422 million monthly users worldwide, said users in the U.S. have access to a brand-new user interface that’s geared specifically for listening to audiobooks and fits alongside the music and podcasts links.

“We’ve been saying for a while now that our ambition is to be the complete package for everyone’s listening needs,” Nir Zicherman, VP, global head of audiobooks and gated content at Spotify, said in a media interview.

While audiobooks represent just a 6% to 7% share of the wider book market, the category, like podcasts, is growing by 20% year over year, according to Zicherman, who believes the platform can help introduce audiobooks to an audience of consumers who may never have tried them otherwise.

Major audiobook competitors include Amazon, Apple and Google.

“We see a substantial untapped market,” he said.

Audiobooks will show up with a lock icon on the play button, signaling that they need to be purchased in order to listen. Spotify app users will be able to purchase them on a Web page and the book will be automatically saved in their library and available to listen to whenever they want.

Listeners can download content for offline listening, and the automatic bookmarking feature saves their place so they can pick up where they left off. Speed control is also included, with a variety of options to speed up or slow down the pace. And for listeners who want to share their opinion after listening to a book, there’s a rating feature, which will display the aggregate rating of the book on social media platforms.

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“The offering available today in the U.S. is just the first iteration of audiobooks on Spotify,” Zicherman said. “We’ll learn a lot through this launch and leverage those learnings as we enhance the experience with new features, plan for launches in additional markets, and innovate on the format to benefit listeners, authors and publishers.”

Launched in 2006, Spotify posted a €39 million ($38.8 million) loss on revenue of €9.66 billion ($9.63 billion) in 2021, the latter up 22% increase from the previous-year period. The company has never posted a fiscal profit.

Hulu Continues to Offer Discounted College Student Pricing

With college back in session, Hulu is once again offering students access to its ad-supported subscription streaming video plan for $1.99 a month, down more than 70% from the normal $6.99 fee for streaming with limited ads.

The special pricing, which is valid only for students currently enrolled in graduate or advanced degree programs at Title IV accredited colleges or universities in the United States. For existing subscribers, only those billed directly by Hulu are eligible.

While Hulu’s price beats special college student pricing offers from Paramount+ ($3.75 compared to $4.99 for the standard fee), Apple TV+ and Apple Music ($5.99), and YouTube Premium ($6.99), few college student offers top Spotify’s music/video bundle.

The streaming music giant offers students access to Spotify Premium, Paramount’s Showtime Anytime and Hulu for $4.99 a month — two-thirds less than the standard monthly $14.99 bundle price.

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Amazon offers college students free six-month access to Prime Video, which includes access to Prime shipping and Amazon Photo. Amazon Music is not included. After the free period, the monthly fee is $7.49 — about 50% off the standard $14.99 monthly charge.

Netflix, Spotify Partner for Audio-Streaming ‘Hub’

Netflix and Spotify have partnered for the launch of the “Netflix Hub” on the music subscription streaming platform. Free (ad-supported) and premium (no ads) Spotify subs in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland, and India can now access Netflix content playlists, soundtracks and podcasts.

Spotify ended the most recent fiscal period with 179 million subscribers worldwide. Netflix ended the period with 213.5 million subs.

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Within the hub, users have access to official playlists for Netflix TV shows, including “La Casa de Papel” (Money Heist), “Bridgerton” and “On My Block,” as well as the official soundtrack for shows like “Squid Game,” “Bruised” and “Bebop.” Netflix-related podcasts include: “Okay, Now Listen,” “Netflix Is A Daily Joke,” “10/10” and “The Crown: The Official Podcast.”

Spotify is launching the Hub around Netflix’s new action Western film The Harder They Fall. Users can access the behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the movie’s soundtrack, led by Jay-Z, and the album’s audio liners from featured artists Kid Cudi, Koffee and Ms. Lauryn Hill. Listeners can access the Spotify features through Canvas, Storylines and playlist Clips.

Spotify Lifts Q2 Global Users 22% to 365 Million — Below Company Projections

Music streaming service Spotify July 28 disclosed it generated 365 million total global monthly users in the second quarter, ended June 30. That compared with 299 million MAUs in the previous-year period.

The user growth fell below company projections despite adding 9 million MAUs from the first quarter.

“COVID-19 continued to weigh on our performance in several markets, and, in some instances, we paused marketing campaigns due to the severity of the pandemic,” Daniel Ek, founder/CEO, and Paul Vogel, chief financial officer, wrote in the shareholder letter.

The said a user sign-up issue associated with a global third party platform created “unexpected intake friction,” which also impacted MAU growth.

“This issue has since been resolved,” they wrote.

Olivia Rodrigo’s album SOUR set the record for biggest streaming debut for any album on Spotify this year, with more than 63 million global first-day streams.

Revenue topped $2.7 billion, up 19.5% from $2.3 billion in the previous-year period. Net loss narrowed to $23.6 million compared with a net loss of $420 million a year ago.

Spotify Launches on Comcast’s Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex

Comcast June 22 announced that Spotify is now available to stream on cloud-based Xfinity platform, affording subscribers the ability to listen to the audio streaming service’s 50 million music tracks and podcasts directly on the TV.

Broadband-based Xfinity Flex subs can access Spotify with their Xfinity Voice Remote. Spotify will begin rolling out to X1 subs today over the Internet, and be available to all subs in the coming days, alongside all of the live, on demand, and streaming content.

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Comcast said it has seen double-digit growth in streaming music consumption this year versus the same time last year. Spotify is seeing the same trends from their end — the increase in working from home is showing that more users are now streaming music on their TVs.

“Music streaming on Xfinity X1 and Flex is at an all-time high and … alongside the growing catalog of entertainment already available on these platforms, adds even more great value to their Xfinity service,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

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New Spotify subs will be able to create an account directly on the device and immediately have access to the free, ad-supported version of the service. Spotify joins other music and listening streaming services already available on X1 and Flex, including Pandora, Amazon Music, Radio.com, iHeartRadio, XITE, NPR One, Music Choice, Stingray Music and Baeble.

Futuresource: Music Streaming Declines in COVID-19 World

With the exception of vinyl records, subscription streaming music services remain the number one growth driver in the global music market, accounting for more than 70% of spending on music last year, according to Futuresource Consulting.

Yet, as measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 begin to reshape the lives of consumers, music streaming is experiencing a temporary decline, with consumption down from 15% to 20%.

“We may have expected to see an uptake in the use of streaming music services, as people become confined in their homes,” market analyst Alexandre Jornod said in a statement. “This is linked to consumers adjusting to new confinement rules, which have removed key music listening situations like the daily commute, as well as office and gym time.”

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Futuresource says that as families spend more time at home together, music consumption is becoming a shared activity. Before the pandemic people were using separate accounts to play different music, now smart speakers are likely to be used with a single account used to play music in the household.

The London-based firm said there is also competition from gaming, movie and TV show streaming. These activities require a higher level of attention and tend to be favored when some extra time is freed up as a result of routines being interrupted.

“Once consumers become accustomed to the situation and establish new routines, we expect streaming music to get back to levels similar to before the crisis,” Jornod said. “Home listening will dominate, with a shift in the music types and genres as consumers seek out lean-back mood playlists as opposed to searching for specific songs or artists.”

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Meanwhile, Futuresource said Spotify and Apple account for more than 60% of combined global subscriptions. Spotify remains No.1 globally, with Apple No. 1 in the United States. Amazon Music’s multiple streaming plans cater to a wide audience, although its subscriptions are closely linked to Echo smart speaker geographies, which skew heavily towards the U.S. and U.K., according to Futuresource.

The research firm contends Google-owned YouTube Music has the potential to become a key player thanks to its established YouTube audience. Smaller players like Deezer, Tidal and Napster are focusing instead on strategies such as targeting local markets, serving niche audiences or B2B operations.

“Streaming music subscriptions also benefit from markets where physical media has been historically strong and they are now transitioning to streaming,” Jornod said, alluding to Germany, Japan and France, which he said are experiencing accelerated adoption — unlike maturing markets in North America.

“Watch out for a rise in podcasts beginning to exert its influence, as well as enhanced listening experiences such as Hi-Res audio, Dolby Atmos Music and Sony 360 Reality Audio,” Jornod said.

RIAA: Recorded Music Sales Up 13% to $11.1 Billion in 2019

When streaming is your friend, the fiscal outlook never looked better. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) disclosed that sales of recorded music in the United States grew 13% to $11.1 billion.

About 80% of that revenue came from subscription streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music and Apple Music, among others. Indeed, the RIAA said streaming revenue alone ($8.8 billion) topped the entire U.S. recorded-music market from just two years ago. Music consumers streamed more than 1.5 trillion songs in 2019.

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Meanwhile, vinyl records continue their comeback, generating a 19% increase in sales — the largest revenue for the format since 1988 Overall, packaged music sales dipped 1% to $1.15 billion — largely due to a 12% decline in music CD sales.

Notably, digital music download sales dropped 18% to $856 million, marking the first time since 2006 that revenue fell below $1 billion.

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“Music is by far the biggest draw to tech platforms, gaining views and listens that generate enormous revenues for distributors,” Mitch Glazier, CEO of RIAA, said in a statement. Music companies have driven a fourth consecutive year of double digit growth and continued to build a digital-driven industry with a focus on the future.”


Spotify Music Streaming Service Tops 100 Million Subs; Ups Fiscal Loss

SpotifyTechnology S.A. April 29 announced its branded music subscription streaming service reached 100 million paid subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31.

That beat the previous-year period with 75.5 million paid subs. It also nearly doubled Apple Music with 50 million subs.

Average monthly users grew 26% to 217 million (which includes free ad-supported music users), slightly lower than the company’s 215-220 million guidance range.

“Outperformance was driven by a better promotion plan in the U.S. and Canada,” founder/CEO Daniel Ek and CFO Barry McCarthy said in a statement, alluding to a 23% price reduction ($12.99 to $9.99 monthly) for the “Spotify Premium + Hulu” promotion in the U.S.

McCarthy was Netflix’s CFO from 1999 to 2010.

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Spotify launched India in late February expanding its global market footprint to 79 countries. More than 1 million users signed up for Spotify in the first week in India. The company now has more than 2 million users in India.

Regardless, the streaming service reported an operating loss of €47 million ($52.4 million) on revenue of €1.5 billion ($1.67 billion), which was up 33% from revenue of  €1.1 billion ($1.22 billion) last year.

 The service, along with Pandora, Google and Amazon Prime Music, remains embroiled in a royalty dispute with songwriters.

Last month, the Register of the Copyright Office approved upping songwriters’ royalties from music streaming services from 10.5% to 15.1%  through 2022.

It was biggest rate increase granted in CRB history, according to the National Music Publishers’ Association.

Spotify & Co. are appealing the hike, claiming it “harms music licensees and copyright owners,” among other issues. Apple Music is not appealing the ruling.