Spotify expands into the audiobooks market by partnering with Storytel

Spotify is further expanding into audiobooks — but not in the way you may think. The company today announced a new partnership with audiobooks platform Storytel, which will allow existing Storytel subscribers to connect their account through Spotify to access their audiobooks within Spotify’s app. The partnership is the first notable example of what’s possible with Spotify’s recently introduced Open Access Platform (OAP), which aims to give creators and publishers a way to extend their reach.

The company briefly spoke about its plans for Open Access Platform during its press event, Stream On, earlier this year, where it also detailed plans for paid podcast subscriptions, Spotify HiFi and other new features. The Open Access Platform gives a publisher or creator a new way to deliver their content to their existing subscriber base by allowing their customers to stream the content through Spotify. Storytel is the first major publisher to adopt OAP, thought Ben Thompson of Stratechery did say that he’s also using the platform.

The technology supports using the creator or publisher’s existing login system and allows them to maintain direct control over their relationship with listeners. For example, a paid podcast could use the system to stream to existing subscribers. In Storytel’s case, however, the company offers audiobook content, not podcasts.

“We want everyone to have access to great stories, and today Storytel offers more than 500,000 audiobooks on a global basis across 25 markets,” said Jonas Tellander, Storytel founder and CEO, in the company’s announcement. “Partnering with Spotify make amazing audiobook experiences and exciting authorships easier than ever to access for our customers, while we will also be tapping into the opportunity of reaching new audiences who are on Spotify today, but have not yet experienced the magic of audiobooks,” he added.

A competitor to Audible, Storytel offers audiobooks in a variety of languages, including some in English, for a fixed monthly price (around $20/mo, but varies by market). Its unlimited library access may make it a better deal for people who listen to more than one audiobook per month. Typically, Storytel customers would stream via the mobile app for iOS or Android.

The company has 1.6 million subscribers, per a Reuters report. Spotify, meanwhile, has 356 million users, including 158 million subscribers across 178 markets.

The integration itself will go live later in 2021, allowing Storytel customers to sign into their accounts then stream through Spotify by linking their accounts. Spotify doesn’t have plans to market to users to sign up for a Storytel subscription from its app at this time, but at the point of account linking, users could be directed to sign up instead of log in, if need be.

Spotify had dabbled in audiobooks before Storytel. In January this year, for example, it began testing the format with a handful of classics, like “Frankenstein,” “Jane Eyre,” “Persuasion” and others, narrated by celebs. It had also previously offered the first “Harry Potter” book with chapters narrated by stars like Daniel Radcliffe, David Beckham and Dakota Fanning.

More partners for the Open Access Platform will be introduced this summer, Spotify says.