Spotify Is Growing the Pie

New listeners aren’t coming from the same old places

By Luke Riley, Data Analyst

Regardless of whether you think of Spotify’s recent acquisitions of Gimlet Media and Anchor are brilliant or bone-headed, great for the industry or a sign of the podcast apocalypse, there’s another, unreported way in which the music giant is starting to make a big difference in our little industry.

Panoply hosts thousands of podcasts on our Megaphone platform. These shows are then downloaded by users through various apps like Apple Podcasts, Overcast, and many others including Spotify. Over the past year, since Spotify began offering large numbers of podcasts in its app, the company has increasingly been steering its listeners toward spoken word shows. Our data show the effort has been paying off, and not (or not just) by stealing market share from other apps. Spotify actually seems to be growing the podcast audience, making gains in areas of the U.S. that have been slower to adopt podcasting.

To discover this, we looked at download rates for 21 large-volume shows available in Spotify as well as more established apps for a period ranging from June 2018 to January 2019.

Side-by-side comparison of downloads per capita vs. downloads from Spotify (Jun 2018 — Jan 2019)

The graphic shows two different maps. “Downloads from Spotify” shows what percentage of downloads came through the app in each state. For instance, in Nevada, 9.9% of downloads of these shows happened on Spotify. The other map looks at the total downloads of these same shows on all apps divided by the 2019 population of these states.

Animated GIF: downloads per capita vs. downloads from Spotify (Jun 2018 — Jan 2019)

Two trends really jump out:

First, while podcast listening in general is most popular in the far west and northeast, Spotify registers strongly in the middle of the country.

Second, because Spotify is stronger in states with less listening overall, the app is likely helping new listeners discover podcasting. This is big. Everyone in podcasting talks about the need to introduce new listeners to the medium; our research shows Spotify is an effective tool for doing just that.