I Can’t Hear You: Spotify and Audiobooks

Spotify recently rolled out audiobooks. The initial rollout was quiet and underwhelming. Let’s dive into where audiobooks go from here.

The Problem

The problem is that Spotify has excelled as a company because they made things easier. Streaming was easier than buying music, so it won. Spotify is a streaming audio company.

The first iteration of audiobooks isn’t anything close to streaming. It’s a bit of a process and expensive. You can’t buy on the app (thanks Apple), so you request via an email, then get a link with the purchase price, enter your address and then your payment information. To play a song, you click a button. It’s wildly different, the audiobooks experience vs music/podcast experience.

Calling an Audible

If Spotify wants to beat Audible, they need to improve on the Audible process. Right now, the process is worse. Yet, it’s clear from Spotify commentary that this is just the start.

And we think there are similar opportunities in audiobooks and other places where we can really innovate and create something that is different. I mean, you have basically one player who’s controlled the entire market. It stifles innovation, it stifles change. And so we think there’s lots of ways we can add audiobooks into Spotify and create an environment that is very different than people have had in the past.

Paul Vogel – Spotify CFO

It’s clear to me that audiobooks won’t be a quick process. This really isn’t that different from podcasts though. Spotify is three years into podcasts and they still are a drag on financials.

I don’t know quite what the iterations will be for Spotify, but I do see some of the stepping stones Spotify is laying right now. From the Findaway acquisition to continuing to build out an audio advertising business, Spotify is acquiring the puzzle pieces needed to win. This is how the Spotify Machine works… constant iteration.

Keepin’ It Real

I don’t want to just be a homer. The audiobook rollout from Spotify is meh. If this is what Spotify envisions as audiobook innovation, it’s a massive disappointment. I’ll be closely watching how Spotify innovates on audiobooks. The major thing I’ll be watching for is how easy it becomes to listen to audiobooks. Right now it’s waaaay too complicated. Easy is the way.

Author: fatbabyfunds