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Spotify’s promise to worried Gimlet fans: We won’t “disrupt” podcast magic

Spotify’s promise to worried Gimlet fans: We won’t “disrupt” podcast magic
[Photo: courtesy of Spotify]

Spotify’s $200-plus million acquisition of Gimlet Media and podcast app Anchor made headlines as the streaming giant elbowed its way into the podcasting industry. While podcast creators and rival networks reeled at the money being thrown around, fans of Gimlet’s shows like Reply All, The Nod, Heavyweight, Startup, and newcomer Conviction had a few questions. Well, one main question: What would happen to Gimlet’s shows now that Spotify acquired them?

Yesterday at the Hot Pod Summit at On-Air Festival, Gimlet cofounder Matt Lieber cleared things up. “Gimlet is continuing; we’re continuing the work, continuing to make shows that are going to be distributed widely, and that brand is going to continue with our new boss organization,” he told Hot Pod’s Nick Quah. “Everything is continuing as it was.”

To be extra clear, Lieber said, “If you listen to Reply All, and you listen on Apple Podcasts, you can continue to listen to Reply All on Apple Podcasts. The shows that are out there now are going to continue to be available everywhere.”

As for new shows, that’s still a work in progress. “We’re going to continue to experiment,” Lieber said, noting that the deal is still new and details are still being worked out. “We don’t have a master plan, and we didn’t come here to reveal a master plan about how all this is going to work, but I think our goals are to get more people listening to podcasts, and to get more people [listening] to podcasts on Spotify. We’re going to figure out how that works.”

Courtney Holt, the global head of Spotify Studios, agreed that they are still experimenting to see what works for consumers and what works for Spotify, but didn’t want to “disadvantage users to prove a point,” which is good news for anyone who hasn’t ponied up for Spotify’s streaming services yet. While Holt threw around terms like “functional exclusivity” and “effective value,” he made it clear that “the goal is not to disrupt what these guys [Gimlet] are doing today. I have a great deal of respect for the way they produce the content, distribute it, and also for the fans that are out there that are maybe on different services today.”

For its part, Spotify seems to be into podcasting for the long haul. It made its first push into podcasts in 2017, but aside from a few notable original series, including Amy Schumer’s 3 Girls, rapper Joe Budden’s podcast, and Jemele Hill’s upcoming Unbothered, it hadn’t cracked the listenership or options of, say, Apple Podcasts. By acquiring Gimlet, Spotify was able to up its podcasting options and buy a podcasting creative force. For now at least, it doesn’t seem to be at the expense of Gimlet’s fans, which is definitely good news.

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