In a joint statement Friday, the two unions said the layoffs represented about 30% of their members. “These aren’t small cuts, they are massive restructurings,” the Gimlet and Parcast unions said. Some Spotify employees were given as little as an hour to close out their work, according to the unions. The statement does not allege that the company violated the terms of its agreements with the unions.
“Yesterday, Spotify chose to create chaos instead of treating employees with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said the Gimlet and Parcast unions, both of which are affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East. “The fact that Spotify chose to handle these cuts in this way shows their disregard for both their employees and their audiences.”
Spotify declined to comment about the show cancellations and the layoffs.
On Thursday, the company informed the teams working on 11 shows that the programs were being wound down. About 5% of Spotify’s total podcast headcount was affected, with staff members either laid off or reassigned, according to a company source.
According to the Gimlet and Parcast unions, the staffers were told their shows were getting axed because of low listenership numbers. However, the unions alleged, “decisions Spotify leadership made directly contributed to these low numbers,” by making the Gimlet and Parcast shows exclusive to Spotify after the studios were acquired in 2019 — which, they claimed, resulted in some losing up to three-fourths of their audiences. In addition, the unions asserted, the shows “languished without marketing support” and “teams were not given clear audience goals to meet.”
The shows being canceled are: from Gimlet, “How to Save a Planet,” “Crime Show” and “Every Little Thing”; and from Parcast, “Medical Murders,” “Female Criminals,” “Crimes of Passion,” “Dictators,” “Mythology,” “Haunted Places,” “Urban Legends” and “Horoscope Today.” Some of the shows will continue to be produced for the next month or so, and “Horoscope Today” is set to end in Q2 2023.
Also Thursday, Spotify announced two new managing directors for the studios: NPR veteran Nicole Beemsterboer will lead Gimlet and Liliana Kim, formerly general manager of APM Studios, will head up Parcast.