“The bet we’re making with the whole company is that audio is now software,” Spotify’s chief R&D officer Gustav Söderström told me yesterday. “And once it’s software, it’s going to start moving faster.”
Things really are changing at Spotify. The company made a slew of announcements yesterday: More automatic playlists, more dynamic ad tools, a HiFi version of the service, paid subscriptions for podcasters, a podcast starring Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen that missed a huge opportunity to be called “Rad Dads,” and a bunch more.
One thing that isn’t changing: Spotify’s love for podcasts. And a big to-do on its list is trying to figure out how to solve podcast discovery. Its machine-listening tech has been transcribing and summarizing every podcast episode on the platform, to make them searchable but also to make it easier to understand them.
Spotify still wants to be a good citizen of the audio world, Söderström said, making podcasts available outside the platform and giving its tools to anyone. But he’s really excited about what’s possible when the industry gets off open-but-old standards like MP3s and RSS. “You can see it already,” he said. “We’re adding formats, like you can add feedback and Q&A. We think audio is just going to start evolving like crazy again, because it’s now just software.”