Get more people to listen to podcasts – Spotify has invested heavily in podcasting, but the share of total listening hours going to podcasts instead of music is still relatively low. Spotify hasn't released exact numbers, but Edison Research shows that podcasts now account for 6% of total listening time in the U.S, up from 2% in 2014.
Lydia Polgreen, head of content at Gimlet Media, which Spotify purchased in 2019, told Vox's Recode that it wants to develop the "'60 Minutes' for audio," a weekly news show that becomes "appointment-listening" for many Americans. Gimlet has already seen success with "The Get Up," a morning show combining news and music pulled from Spotify's recommendation algorithms, resembling a traditional drive-time commute show.
As product manager Kay Singh pointed out on his blog, the number of monthly active users (MAUs) on Spotify engaging with podcasts on some level is increasing, though it's still only about one out of every five subscribers.
An increase in listeners may take care of itself if Americans go back to working in offices in 2021. Listenership decreased substantially in March 2020 as Americans cocooned themselves at home in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. (After all, many Americans working from home can listen to music as they work, but podcasts require a level of focus that only a solitary commute can provide.) Podcast listening bounced back as the pandemic wore on, but they could get an even bigger bump and help close the podcast-to-music gap if workers go back to offices next year.