Spotify is introducing comments to its podcasts. Are music tracks next?


In its 18 years of existence, Spotify hasn’t had a comments section to go with its music tracks. That sets it apart from other music platforms, such as SoundCloud, YouTube and TikTok (if you consider TikTok a music platform).

Now that’s about to change – at least when it comes to podcasts hosted on Spotify.

The streaming service announced on Tuesday (July 9) that it has begun to roll out the ability to post comments on podcasts, a move it says is key to podcasters’ ability to develop deeper relationships with their audiences.

That’s on top of a new Spotify for Podcasters app that enables podcasters to manage their shows – including managing their presence on Spotify, checking stats, and interacting with audiences – from mobile devices.

“Podcasts have historically been a one-sided format and, while we’ve offered other interactivity features like Polls and Q&A for some time, people have told us they want more ways to connect directly,” Spotify VP of Podcast Product Maya Prohovnik said in an interview on the Spotify blog.

To back up its assertion that audiences want more interactivity, Spotify offered up some statistics: More than 9 million unique listeners have interacted with a podcast Q&A or poll just this year, and Q&A responses and votes from listeners are up 80% year-on-year.

Prohovnik stressed that interactivity means greater audience loyalty.

“We’ve found that listeners who interact with a show are four times more likely to return to that show within 30 days,” she said. “They also listen to twice as many hours per month on average than those who don’t. So there is really something special – and something tangible – in enabling this connection.”

With comments coming to Spotify’s podcasts, a natural question to ask is: Will the same happen with music tracks on Spotify?

Spotify dropped a hint that it may be considering just that: Prohovnik noted in her interview that comments “have been a long-requested feature from both podcasters and Spotify listeners.” As in music listeners…?

If Spotify did launch comments on music, the move wouldn’t necessarily be revolutionary; after all, those who listen to music on YouTube, SoundCloud or Genius can already comment on tracks.

“We’ve found that listeners who interact with a show are four times more likely to return to that show within 30 days.”

Maya Prohovnik, Spotify

The idea of turning music consumption into an online social event is a particularly large priority at China’s music streaming services, which have arguably taken the lead in innovating the social side of music consumption.

Streaming services owned by Tencent Music Entertainment offer a “Listen Together” feature that allows multiple users to listen to the same music at the same time, in effect creating a virtual listening party.

In an interview last year with MBW, Vivian Wei, Vice President of Copyrights at Tencent competitor NetEase Cloud Music, made a compelling case for comments.

“[Users] read the comments while listening to the songs,” she said. “A lot of artists are very smart. They grab this opportunity and they respond in the comment section. They interact and communicate with their fans. It makes it very easy for them to build up a fan base.”

So the case for a comments section – from both the perspective of the streaming service and the artists – is there.

But before Spotify can make a decision on whether or not to open up its music library to commenters, it will have to answer one somewhat tough question: Do we really want the Kendrick Lamar-Drake feud coming to our platform?Music Business Worldwide

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