Image credit: Austin Distel

It’s a gamble that Spotify investors have been waiting to pay off and it’s looking like it may be about to in 2021 and beyond.

Spotify has been a home for podcasts since late 2018 but in recent years with the rise in their popularity, the streaming service has been looking to become a podcasting powerhouse. Their first big move (and arguably most controversial) was signing an exclusive deal with The Joe Rogan Experience, a popular and often controversial show. 

The 2020s Spotify Wrapped boasted that over 1 million podcasts were launched that year via the platform and recent data from MIDiA confirmed that 42% of all podcast consumption comes from Spotify. 

It’s clear to see that Spotify’s gamble with podcasts has paid off and a recent market forecast has predicted that U.S podcast listenership will surpass Apple Podcasts for the first time this year. It’s been predicted that 28.2 million U.S users will listen to podcasts on Spotify at least monthly, compared to 28.0 million via Apple Podcasts. 

The eMarketer forecast also predicts that in the two years to follow, Spotify will widen the gap with Apple, reaching 33.1 million monthly podcast listeners by 2022. Apple is however predicted 28.5 million podcast users by 2022. By 2023, Spotify is expected to see 37.5 million monthly listeners in the U.S, compared with Apple’s still flat 28.8 million. 

The firm notes that Apple has been in a state of decline with podcast listeners since it started tracking the market back in 2018. At that point, Apple Podcasts had a 34% market share, which plummeted to 23.8% this year. 

Overall, there are likely to be 117.8 million people in the U.S who listen to podcasts on a monthly basis in 2021, a 10.1% increase year on year. Podcast listeners will also be expected to account for 53.9% of monthly digital audio listeners, surpassing 50% for the first time, according to eMarkerter.  

“By putting podcasts and music in one place, Spotify quickly became the convenient one-stop-shop for everything digital audio,” noted eMarketer forecasting analyst Peter Vahle. “Apple was the de facto destination for podcasts for a long time, but in recent years, it has not kept up with Spotify’s pace of investment and innovation in podcast content and technology. Spotify’s investments have empowered podcast creators and advertisers through its proprietary hosting, creation, and monetization tools,” he said.

Keeping the momentum up Spotify has signed several exclusives and originals but will also implement new, more interactive features such as paid podcast subscriptions, WordPress integrations, and a variety of new tools for creators.