Back in May, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek generated an avalanche of media attention when he announced that Spotify would be feeding a vast amount of premium nonmusic content into the streaming music service, including news and entertainment video clips, podcasts and audio news. More than six months later, hardly anybody has used these new features, and a number of users are starting to complain.
@Spotify where's my update with podcasts? Only been like 3 months since it was announced!?!?
— Andy Trimberger (@Atrimberger) August 3, 2015
“This is the feature I’ve been waitng [sic] for and have kept my account active,” a user with the account name hhugel wrote on Spotify’s community boards. “This will be my last month though if Shows are not available near my renew date.”
A Spotify representative said the new features are still being tested in the United States, the U.K., Germany and Sweden, declining to offer a timeline for rollout. That deviates slightly from a message sent out in August, when one of the company’s community moderators told customers that podcasts would begin rolling out to mobile devices "over the coming weeks."
At the time, Ek's announcement was seen as momentous, not just because the world’s most recognizable streaming music service was deviating from its core offering, but because it was doing so with buy-in from some of the largest media companies in the world, including Viacom, the Walt Disney Co. and Vice. "This is the next generation of Spotify," Ek said.
With all those partners on board, it’s perfectly understandable that the streaming music giant would want to ensure that a new feature works properly before sending it out to its 75 million monthly active users. But it’s taken longer for Spotify to add podcasts than it took Facebook to switch users over to Timeline.
In the meantime, Spotify's competitors have marched into audio and video on their own. Tidal has rolled out one original comedy series and announced plans for an original drama that will be available in January. Apple Music, which many regard as Spotify's primary competition despite a wide gap between their subscriber bases, encroached on Spotify’s news programming turf by integrating ESPN and NPR streams into the radio section of Apple Music. Even Pandora, which exists in a different category of streaming, made some waves in the podcasting space when it became the exclusive streaming home of "Serial."
Over that same stretch, Spotify has hardly sat around twiddling its thumbs. It's delivered most of the other things it promised in May, including the popular features Spotify Running and a growing list of context-specific playlists. This month, it unveiled Spotify Party, a feature which allows users to adjust the intensity and tempo of songs that are grouped into context-specific, beat-matched clusters.