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Spotify Is Looking to Acquire Podcast Startup Gimlet Media

Music streaming service Spotify is in talks to acquire Gimlet Media, the startup behind popular podcasts like “Crimetown” and “Reply All,” according to reports from multiple outlets including Recode and the Wall Street Journal. An acquisition would help Spotify with its podcast strategy, and open up a path to generate revenue that doesn’t rely on paying labels for music licenses.

Recode reported Friday afternoon that Spotify may pay as much as $200 million for Gimlet, which previously raised some $70 million in funding. Spotify declined to comment when contacted by Variety.

Spotify has for some time looked to podcasts as a way to keep subscribers engaged, and branch out to content that comes with a bigger profit margin that the music it licenses from record labels.

Part of this strategy has been to carry third-party podcasts on its platform: Back in October, Spotify launched a new feature that promises podcasters distribution as well as analytics if they syndicate their shows to the company’s audience.

Beyond that, Spotify has also been investing into the production of original podcast programming. The company began a first push into podcast originals in early 2017, which included the launch of a show produced by Gimlet Media.

Gimlet Media was launched in 2014 by Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, two public radio veterans who previously worked on shows like “This American Life,” “Planet Money” and “The Takeaway.” Lieber told Variety back in 2017 that their goal was to build “the HBO for audio.”

Spotify isn’t the only streaming service looking to augment music with podcast programming. Competitor Pandora has not only invested into its own originals, but also built out a dedicated recommendation system the company calls the “podcast genome project.”

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