The case for using the Spotify podcast player on your website

After months of testing the results are in favor of an embedded Spotify podcast player instead of whichever one you are using now.

Dávid Tvrdoň
Feb 6 · 5 min read
Spotify logo in different colors.

Before you say you have your favorite podcast player for embeding into the website, hear me out. I have been running a few tests and the results are promising.

Spotify is growing fast in the podcast realm

Several publishers (e.g. Czech radio, see chart below), podcast companies (see this Voxnest blog on Apple vs. Spotify) and event analysts (recent Morgan Stanley report) say that Spotify has surpassed Apple Podcasts in 2019 as no. 1 podcasting platform.

I will not get into that debate, in short, let's say I disagree, and also you can read better takes from other people on this matter here, here or here.

Let me just say podcast listening on Spotify has been growing really really fast, which even the company acknowledges in recent Q4 earning results. Meaning you get more and more people listening to podcasts via the streaming service.

Number of downloads of the podcasts of Czech Radio. (Adam Javůrek)

Spotify is a global consumer brand

OK, let’s say you are hosting your podcast on Anchor, Libsyn, Megaphone, Spreaker, Buzzsprout or any other podcast host. Do you know what they have in common? They have very low brand recognition among audiences.

On the other hand, Spotify is a global consumer brand, which boasts more than 271 million monthly active users, with 124 million of them actually being paying customers. No other podcast platform except Apple Podcasts has that, I mean even those iOS users are using a free application.

My point, with your website/blog/article you are reaching new audiences and what are the chances of them having a Podbean app, Castbox, TuneIn, Stitcher, Megaphone… I could go on.

Well, compared to Spotify, the chances are worse. So why not go with the embed player which has the higher name recognition, the one users can recognise and simply opt-in to listen in the Spotify app on their phones?

Because Europe has more Android users

Consider this — iPhone users have Apple Music and Apple Podcasts as default choices. Whether you want to listen to music or a podcast, there it is, no need to go hunt for a perfect app.

Android on the other hand has no default podcast app choice that is visible on the screen once you start your Android phone. Yes, there is a default app (Google podcasts), but for whatever reason it is hidden within the Assitant app, you still have to somehow get it to appear on the screen and let me just say one word — friction. It creates friction.

You want to have as little friction as possible especially with a product that is still being introduced to larger manistream audiences. At least over here in Europe.

35% of those 271 million Spotify users (~95 mil.) are in Europe and based on the total population of the continent and smartphone penetration you get roughly to a datapoint where every fifth mobile user in Europe actively uses Spotify. I say you won't get a better chance at the moment with any other podcast embed player.

How many iOS users are the in Europe? Less than Android users, that's for sure.

Experiments show podcast growth on Spotify

As a semi-competent reseracher I had a test group of podcasts and a control group. The result was evident. Listening on Spotify has grown for each podcast, but the ones where we used the embedded Spotify podcast player had a bigger growth.

Actually all metrics were up — streams, follower and listener counts.

The web traffic for the 'experimental podcasts' has not changes and the stats show less listening via the website. If we compare this with the uptick in follower and listener counts, the logical conclusion (for lack of other data to prove the hypothesis) is this:

Podcast experiment with different players.

The catch

The only way at the moment to produce an embed code for a podcast is by using a Spotify desktop app 🤦‍♂️

It's not a perfect plan

I will be the first to admit that this is not a perfect plan with super hard data behind the “research”. Though it's enough to keep experimenting or maybe start if you are still reading and thinking about it.

There are a few “ifs” to consider.

What if Spotify one day decides to discontinue podcasting or shuts down the embedded podcast player? Well, that can happen with any one of the embedded players you are using at the moment.

But what if I want to use a multiplayer, Spotify does not have one like that? This is tricky. There is not a multi-episode embedded player option where the new episodes appear automatically. But! You can create a podcast playlist and then just embed it as if a single episode (here's how to). The catch is that you have to keep it manually up to date, if you want new episodes to appear in it. A bit messy, I know.

What if Apple Podcasts one day introduces a way to embed their player? In that case I will the first to say that you should switch and use the one from Apple for obvious reasons — much less friction (a default podcasting app) and much bigger global user base (+1 billion).

Ok, but, what if I want to schedule my episode and also the publishing of the episode on the web? Tough luck I guess, the podcast episode won't appear on Spotify unless it is public, so no scheduling.

[Tip: At SME.sk we use a Podbean embedded player to schedule and then exchange it for Spotify. Yeah, extra step but worth it, I think.]


Conclusion

In the end it is really up to you, if you think your audience comes to you via different channels and it is just not worth the hustle. Nonetheless I encourage you to try this experiment and maybe you will grow your podcast by a small percentage. And after all, isn't it all about baby steps?

And hey, if you are not convinced by a small European outlet's experimentation, maybe check out some of the bigger publishers, who are starting to use the embedded Spotify podcast player as well.

The Impact podcast by Vox.com

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Dávid Tvrdoň

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Journalist / newsletter writer /podcast producer / product manager for online news @denniksme • 📩 I have a weekly newsletter: https://fwiw.substack.com/welcome

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