Initially there’s the novelty of Spotify buying Gimlet, the podcast publisher which got its start with an agonizingly earnest podcast which revealed everything about business and people. Then there’s the reward: Finally the content people are getting a share of the titanic money gusher. But then the picture expands quite a bit.
The play looks just like every other big platform in recent memory. Spotify doesn’t want to be at the mercy of music publishers, clearly it’s unaffordable. They want their own content and think they can monetize it. Maybe they’re ahead of everyone else in realizing that people aren’t as into listening to music any longer. Maybe, just maybe people really do want to listen to short form spoken word instead of grooving. Or maybe they know that they can get more of us listening to the podcasts that they produce even if we’re into music because they own the platform that will put all those podcasts right in front of our noses day in, day out. Whatever the case, they know that if they own the content, they don’t have to pay royalties.
This all goes to prove that you can’t be a platform or a publisher any longer. You have to be both. Here’s the short list:
- Netflix goes from being a platform for DVDs to a platform for digital streaming to the biggest producer of content.
- Amazon follows suit.
- Apple is trying something similar albeit in a disjointed manner.
- Disney is building its own platform.
- Sports leagues are doing something similar.
- And everyone else seems hell bent on doing something similar.
Pity the movie studios who were stripped of their distribution platforms decades ago in order to avoid this sort of monopoly play. For now it’s good for customers, prices are low, the diversity of media is amazing, the quality is mind blowing. If you had told all those starving film students making indy films on their credit cards in the 80’s and 90’s that thirty years hence there would be competition from all corners for all of their ideas, they would have made a sardonic independent movie on their credit cards about that idea.
Next question: Is owning the content enough or do they have to induce people to use their platform as well?