Spotify is quietly turning itself into a storytelling platform for artists

spotify storyline storytelling soundtrap for storytellers billie eilish

What is Spotify? For most people the answer is simple: It’s a subscription streaming music service that gives you access to millions of songs from virtually every artist on the planet. But that definition can also describe Apple Music, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and on and on.

With that in mind, Spotify is slowly but surely acquiring content and software that will evolve its platform into a home for exclusive content and rich user experiences, which it hopes will increase both engagement and loyalty. To see how this is playing out, let’s look at two recent moves Spotify has made: the test of a new feature called Storyline, and the launch of a new tool for podcasters called Soundtrap for Storytellers.

Storyline

In what appears to be a limited test for some iOS and Android users, Spotify added a feature called Storyline, its version of the stories format first popularized by Snapchat (and subsequently duplicated by several social media platforms). Storyline lets artists create their own layer of additional content that appears as a series of sliding image panels, accessible from the now playing screen. It’s not the first time Spotify has augmented the listening experience with extra info; Lyrics and Behind The Lyrics, both powered by Genius, do just that. But Storyline is the first time Spotify has directly involved the artists and their management teams in this process.

For now, Storyline is being tightly controlled according to TechCrunch, with artist contributions going through the Spotify team before appearing in the app. If the test is a success, Storyline could become the latest in a string of tools that are giving artists a greater ability to engage with their fans long after the song’s over. Pandora recently launched Pandora Stories, a tool that lets artists create playlists that intersperse music tracks with voice recordings.

Soundtrap for Storytellers

It’s no secret that Spotify has become just a little obsessed with podcasting over the last year, and it’s now doubling down on its acquisition of Gimlet Media and Anchor with the launch of a new cloud-based production tool for podcasters called Soundtrap for Storytellers. Spotify acquired the online music production company Soundtrap in 2017 and has now leveraged the technology to create a subscription model for podcasters who want a one-stop shop for creating and distributing their shows. For $15 per month, creators can collaborate with their guests and co-hosts in real time via video chat, get access to high-quality music loops, and upload their episodes directly to Spotify — a unique feature in the podcasting production world.

Given that Spotify is determined to up its podcasting catalog, we’re a bit surprised Soundtrap for Storytellers doesn’t have a free tier. On the other hand, the ability to see a transcript of the audio and use it to interactively edit the podcast itself might be exciting enough for creators to justify the price. Plus, content created within the tool can be downloaded as a high-quality audio file and distributed anywhere, not just on Spotify.

While Storyline and Soundtrap for Storytellers may not be directly related in terms of who they’re aimed at, they share a similar strategic purpose for Spotify: To make the process of creating original content or augmenting original content easier for the artist and more valuable for the audience.

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