This week streaming service Spotify announced it had signed podcaster Joe Rogan on a multi-year licensing deal thought to be worth $100 million. Rogan’s self-titled show—downloaded 190m times last month—is one of the world’s most popular pods. Its sale cements Spotify’s intention to become the world’s foremost destination for podcasts, an industry whose advertising is estimated to top $1bn next year.
Rogan’s move is the cherry on top of a massive cake of investment for Spotify, which set the podcasting world ablaze last year by snapping up production hubs Gimlet Media and Anchor for $340m. Early this year it purchased Bill Simmons’ sports platform The Ringer for $200m, ahead of an April 2020 IPO that valued Spotify at $26.6bn.
The Rogan deal, therefore, is both a statement of intent—it’s by far the biggest purchase of a podcast to date—and representative of Spotify’s win-at-all-costs attitude towards pods. Apple, its biggest competitor, currently has 60% market share. Spotify has 10%.
TikTok founder ByteDance is trialing its own streaming service, Resso. That may well have sped up Spotify’s spending plans.
It is also a chance for Spotify to own and run content – something that might scare the record labels it houses on its platform. The world’s four leading labels currently command 87% of all Spotify’s music. By signing creators itself, Spotify may be hallmarking a new, more aggressive era of content acquisition.
Spotify already has 130m premium users. Around 286m use it each month. Rogan’s move should ensure more users, and help Spotify command bigger ad revenues. It is unsurprising that during a pandemic, with more of us streaming music and podcasts than ever before, Spotify makes its move. That it is spending so much—and in so many directions—should make the Swedish firm one of 2020’s hottest stories.