Kardashian Factor Inflates Spotify Stock High

Kardashian Factor Inflates Spotify Stock High
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It’s not like we didn’t know the stock market has a soft spot for the Kardashians.

Think back to February 2018, when a single tweet from Kylie Jenner panning Snapchat’s redesign managed to erase $1.3 billion in Snap stock. Look down on this tawdry family circus if you must, but do not question their considerable influence.

But even the Kardashian brand power has its limits. Spotify investors may not have realized that Thursday when a pair of announcements of exclusive podcast deals for Kim Kardashian and DC Comics fueled a 15% jump to the stock, which closed at a record $229 per share, and continued to climb to new highs Friday (Spotify stock has been soaring all year, up 60% year to date).

It’s hard not to read this increase as an overreaction that incorrectly values what these deals mean for Spotify, particularly the Kardashian one, which got its own pre-announcement showcase in The Wall Street Journal.

Spotify deserves a lot of credit for the aggressiveness with which it has pursued the podcast space over the past year, inking a range of deals that very well could see the company take over the dominant position in this market from Apple, which may come to regret not having taken its Scandinavian rival more seriously.

But what this Kardashian pact brings to Spotify’s podcast push is easy to overestimate. It makes for a nice, buzzy headline to have a boldfaced name in a growing slate of original audio content. But examine the details of this deal (putting aside cost, which went undisclosed) and you see it’s not the kind of thing that should propel a stock to a record high.

Yes, the Kardashians have amassed a massive, devoted following across social media and reality TV; they’re one of the biggest success stories in pop-culture brand-building of the 21st century.

But the Spotify podcast, which Kim Kardashian will co-host and co-produce, is concerned with prison reform. It’s an off-brand extension of the more tabloid and titillating themes she has made a name for herself on from Instagram to the E! cable channel. The notion that she is going to bring even a fraction of her following to this kind of podcast is highly questionable. If investors think this is going to be the kind of “hit” programming Spotify needs to advance its podcast efforts, they are sadly mistaken.

It’s commendable Kardashian lends her star power to such worthy subject matter, an issue she has long championed and helped elevate its place in the national conversation. But her Spotify deal is less a needle-mover for the platform than it is an exercise in a long-term image pivot for Kardashian, who seems to be trying to recast herself in a more substantive mold than the sexy selfies on which she has built her reputation.

If Spotify evolves into the podcast powerhouse it’s aiming to be, don’t be surprised if the Kardashian deal ends up a footnote compared to infinitely more important moves CEO Daniel Ek has made to lock up original audio content, from landing the exclusive services of Joe Rogan to the acquisition of production companies including Gimlet and The Ringer.

Even the DC Comics pact, which will deliver fanboy-favorite characters for scripted podcast content, could have bigger implications, though it’s unclear how IP like this even translates to audio.

Kardashian can prove naysayers wrong one way: With the success of crime stories as podcast content, this project can succeed if it has the quality that elevates the best in this very crowded genre. If she manages to score in that regard, she certainly deserves the last laugh.