Spotify Shuts Down Live Audio App Signaling A Shift In User Interest
Spotify’s decision to shut down its live audio app, Spotify Live, has raised questions about the future of the format. The music streaming service was one of many platforms to jump on the live audio trend after Clubhouse took the world by storm during the pandemic. However, Facebook, Reddit, and now Spotify have all struggled to sustain the format. The question remains: Does live audio have a lifeline?
Spotify’s Trials and Errors in Live Audio
As part of its major push into audio, Spotify acquired Betty Labs, the creator of sports-focused live audio app Locker Room, for more than $60 million in 2021. The company rebranded Locker Room as Spotify Greenroom and then as Spotify Live, bringing on well-known podcast hosts to build appeal. While these investments propelled Spotify to become one of the top podcast platforms, it is now implementing layoffs and podcast show cancellations amid the economic downturn. With Spotify Live’s measly 670,000 downloads, it is unsurprising to see Spotify shut it down.
Although live audio may not be a viable standalone product, it still holds significant value as a feature within a larger platform. While Spotify Live is no longer available as a separate app, the company plans to incorporate live audio into its platform where it can be used to facilitate artist-fan interactions, such as hosting listening parties. This approach makes sense because it addresses an existing need and provides live audio users with a sense of community and shared experience.
Live Audio Needs a Purpose: Integrating Conversations Around Content
Live audio makes more sense as a feature than a standalone product because people need something to talk about. During the lockdown, throwing people into a virtual room and hoping for a conversation to materialize worked. But now, live audio products have a better chance at success if they help create channels for conversations that are already happening around content.
Amazon Amp and Twitter Spaces are two music-focused live audio platforms that could be successful because they give users something to gather around. Amazon Amp is a music-focused live audio app that empowers users to be DJs. On the app, all kinds of users, from fans to successful artists like Lil Yachty, host DJ sets where they talk about the music and take call-ins from listeners, allowing for a new form of content creation that puts music at the center. Amazon could also leverage this app in the listening party space to compete with Spotify’s offering. However, this app could benefit from being integrated into Amazon Music, similar to TIDAL’s launch of its own live DJing feature. It is also competing with niche but already-established platforms like live radio and music streaming service Stationhead, which raised $12 million last year in funding.
Twitter Spaces, on the other hand, can host a variety of conversations ranging from news to entertainment that can be hosted by company executives or regular Twitter users. This fits naturally on an app that is already focused on sharing thoughts and having conversations, allowing users to expand beyond just 140 characters. This allows for a whole variety of creators beyond just music to host spaces for their followers. Moreover, it is seamlessly integrated into Twitter’s platform, and users can set calendar reminders for upcoming spaces, helping make live audio more discoverable.
The Future of Live Audio: Music-Focused Platforms
Unlike broader platforms such as Spotify and Reddit, which have struggled to find a foothold in the live audio space, music-focused platforms like Amazon Amp and Stationhead may have a better chance to succeed. The key to success in live audio is providing a clear and compelling purpose, and for music-focused platforms, that purpose is evident: to create a space where fans and artists can come together to discuss and share their love of music. By offering a centralized platform for conversations and content, these music-focused live audio platforms have the potential to transform the way we experience music.
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