Spotify buys L.A. start-up behind live audio app Locker Room
Spotify on Tuesday said it has acquired L.A.-based start-up Betty Labs, the creator of a live audio app called Locker Room.
The streaming giant said it plans to expand Locker Room from an app where sports fans and insiders can listen or participate in conversations to discuss sports games, to one that also incorporates musicians, podcasters and other cultural programming in the coming months. Spotify aims to offer real-time discussions, ask-me-anything sessions and debates on the app.
“The world already turns to us for music, podcasts and other unique audio experiences, and this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today,” said Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s chief research and development officer, in a statement.
Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content officer, says she plans on making hundreds of original podcast series next year as part of a strategy to expand the streaming platform’s podcast offerings. The company aims to have 20% of the listening on its service be non-music.
Spotify, the Swedish company known for its flagship app that streams music and podcasts, declined to disclose the terms of the deal. A person familiar with the acquisition said the transaction was worth tens of millions of dollars.
Locker Room, launched in October, has roughly 19,000 installs worldwide, according to San Francisco-based mobile research firm Sensor Tower. The app has seen its installs steadily increase, with 8,000 installs so far in March, up from 5,000 in February, Sensor Tower said.
Locker Room adds to Spotify’s growing portfolio of audio companies, as it continues to expand into podcasting. Spotify has made several large podcast-related acquisitions over the years, including New York-based Gimlet Media and L.A.-based The Ringer.
The Betty Labs acquisition helps Spotify better compete against companies such as Clubhouse, an audio-only app that is popular among music artists to connect with fans.
Hip-hop stars, executives and creatives flocked to the invite-only audio chat app Clubhouse, giving it instant cache and, ultimately, a $1-billion valuation.
“We are excited to join forces with Spotify and continue building the future of audio — we’ll invest more in our product, open the experience to Spotify’s audience, diversify our content offerings, and continue expanding the community we’ve built,” said Howard Akumiah, Betty Labs’ CEO.
His company’s 15 employees are expected to join Spotify.
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