Ready to spin some virtual records? Spotify wants to turn its listeners into their own DIY radio-style DJs.
Today, the company is launching what it says has been among Spotify users’ most-requested features: a way to add any of the service’s 60 million-plus tracks to a spoken-word audio show (i.e., a podcast).
“We really feel like this is going to be another tool for creators to unlock their passion for storytelling,” said Liz Gateley, Spotify’s head of network programming.
One way to think about Spotify’s new feature: It’s like an enhanced music playlist that lets the creator add interstitial commentary between the songs. Shows in this new format will play as a combination of music tracks and talk segments, with music tracks playing as a stream that compensates artists as any other stream does on Spotify. Listeners can interact with the music in each episode much as they would in a playlist (e.g., with the ability to directly like, save, and see more information about a track without having to leave the episode page or search for it manually).
The feature is free to use, available through Anchor, the roll-your-own-podcast company Spotify acquired last year. The creation tool is available now for Anchor users in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland; the shows with music will be available to Spotify users worldwide. The company is calling the feature a “test,” and Gateley says Spotify will continue to iterate the feature before launching it broadly.
Gateley anticipates that the feature will be used by artists themselves to promote their latest work or their catalog. She also expects music companies will use the tool in the same way. “We have talked with the labels about this, and we are excited about they are going to do with it,” she said.
The bigger play is to give Spotify’s user base a new way to highlight songs on the platform to boost engagement and listening hours. As of the end of June, Spotify reported 299 million total users, including 138 million premium subscribers, across 92 markets.
“It empowers music lovers with something to say about their favorite music — to make that perfect show while benefiting the artists,” said Gateley.
In addition, users who create podcast shows with music tracks are eligible to run a host-read ad (however, the show must include at least 10 minutes of talk content), through Anchor’s sponsorships program.
To promote the shows-with-songs feature, Spotify is launching seven original shows that employ the new format. The initial slate, which will not include any ads, is “a thought-starter for creators,” Gateley said. Here’s a rundown:
- “Halleloo Happy Hour with DJ Shangela”: Host Shangela (“A Star Is Born,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race”) presents a weekly happy-hour playlist — featuring games, guests and tea.
- “Murder Ballads”: Explores the history and folklore behind some of America’s most mysterious and violent songs.
- “60 Songs That Explain the ’90s”: The Ringer music critic Rob Harvilla curates and explores iconic songs that define the decade.
- “Our Love Song”: Every week a couple shares the soundtrack that defines their love story.
- “Conspiracy Theories: Music Edition”: A deeper look at some of the most fascinating theories and rumors about famous artists and the music biz.
- “Rock This with Allison Hagendorf”: Weekly show celebrating all things rock and alternative culture, featuring guest interviews.
- “10 Songs That Made Me”: An artist or celebrity creates a storytelling playlist of 10 songs that mark meaningful moments in their lives, providing personal insights into each song choice.
Here’s how the Anchor app lets you build a show with songs:
Watch the announcement trailer for Spotify’s new shows-with-songs feature: