Spotify expands its push into original content with new podcasts

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Spotify is expanding its podcast selection today, with the announcement that it’s adding three new original podcast series on its service, with plans for more originals to arrive later this year. The series, which are produced in partnership with other media partners like Slate spin-off Panoply Studios, Gimlet Media, and Loudspeaker Network, aim to help further differentiate Spotify’s service from other streaming music rivals.

The company had already hosted podcasts on its platform, following its announcement back in 2015 that it would begin to include new media types, such as video clips, activity-based playlists, and audio series. It’s also no stranger to original content – a year after it detailed those content expansion plans, the company said it would also begin to develop its own original videos. Some of these video series turned out better than others, however.

Spotify also experimented with original podcasts prior to now. For example, last fall it launched “Clarify,” an audio and video series produced by Spotify, Mic, and Headcount.org, which focused on the intersection of music and civic engagement. The goal was to influence younger Spotify users to vote and become informed on key issues.

With its new original podcasts, Spotify is working with outside companies again, and the focus for the new shows is more on the music itself and the larger industry.

The first of the three announced today is “Showstopper,” live now, which is hosted by Naomi Zeichner, Editor in Chief of The Fader magazine. Produced in partnership with Panoply, Zeichner will interview music supervisors in order to offer a pop culture analysis of people’s favorite musical moments from TV. The first season of this biweekly series will cover music from shows including “Girls,” “O.C.,” “Scrubs,” “Stranger Things,” “Being Mary Jane,” and others.

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The other two shows coming soon are “Unpacked” starting March 14 and “The Chris Lighty Story” (working title) beginning in April. The former will feature co-hosts Matt FX, music supervisor for Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” and Michele Santucci of Spotify Studios, as they travel to festivals like SXSW and interview the creative types there.

The latter will document how the music industry exec Chris Lighty shaped the careers of top hip hop artists like 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown, and Puff Daddy. This podcast will be produced in partnership with Gimlet Media and Loudspeaker Network.

The move to feature more original podcasts comes at a critical time for the company as competition between streaming services is heating up. Pandora recently launched new paid subscription tiers including on-demand listening, which pushes it more solidly into Spotify’s territory, and Apple Music has been leveraging the power and install base of Apple’s iPhone platform to rapidly grow its own user base. It’s delving into original content of its own, too, as with “Carpool Karaoke.”

Meanwhile, podcasts themselves are seeing something of recurrence, thanks in part to the rise of streaming services and voice-based computing platforms, like Amazon Alexa, which make them easier to access outside of mobile devices.

Spotify won’t confirm how many other original podcasts it has planned, but the company says more originals will be announced later this year.