After announcing its pivot to podcasts, Spotify appears to have kind of a wonky idea for how to get you to listen to them.
Spotify is testing a playlist feature that will shuffle podcasts in with its algorithmically-generated music recommendations, the Verge reported Wednesday. The Verge’s Dan Seifert said this playlist is intended for listening during morning commutes, but it evidently has some kinks to work out if it plans to see a wider rollout down the line.
Seifert, who shared screengrabs of the test on Twitter, said that all the podcasts he saw were in a foreign language, leading the Verge to suspect that the test was surfaced to Seifert by accident but is being tested in another region. It could also mean that Spotify’s algorithms are just failing the way that algorithms often do.
Spotify appears to have a new (?) algorithmic playlist for morning commutes that mixes news podcasts and music, but all the podcasts are in a foreign language? pic.twitter.com/8HZyq6Ji3J
– dan seifert (@dcseifert) May 1, 2019
The company did not immediately return a request for comment about the feature, but a Spotify spokesperson told the Verge in a statement that it’s “always testing new products and experiences, but have no further news to share at this time.”
That the streaming app is tinkering with ways to better surface its growing selection of podcasts makes sense. Spotify acquired a tonne of podcast real estate with its purchases of Gimlet, Parcast, and Anchor, and it has big plans to continue expanding its offerings in that arena.
The company said last year that it’s “focused on fuelling the discovery of stories, culture, and communities through audio-driven experiences,” and it views podcasts as “integral part” of that goal. It’s willing to spend for it, too. In its Q4 report in February, Spotify said that it’s planning to spend $400 million to $500 million (£302m to £380m) this year on podcast acquisitions.
“Growing podcast listening on Spotify is an important strategy for driving top of funnel growth, increased user engagement, lower churn, faster revenue growth, and higher margins,” the company said. “We intend to lean into this strategy in 2019, both to acquire exclusive content and to increase investment in the production of content in-house.”
The question remains, however, whether anyone actually wants this. I know that in the morning I’m either feeling a podcast or music, but never both. To shuffle them in together feels a little chaotic and disruptive to whatever experience you’re trying to have on your way into work – usually a zen one, as opposed to one that can’t decide what station to listen to.
That said, however, a version of this could work. A Discover Weekly-type situation specifically for podcasts related to your interests could work. I can only speak for myself here, but I for one would be super down for that.
Featured image: Richard Drew (AP)