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Spotify to buy Ohio audiobooks firm, expanding audio ambitions

The Spotify app on an iPad in 2018.
“It is Spotify’s ambition to be the destination for all things audio both for listeners and creators,” Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s Chief Research & Development Officer, said in a statement.
(Patrick Semansky/AP)

Spotify on Thursday said it will buy Ohio-based audiobooks distribution company Findaway as the Swedish streaming service continues to expand its audio offerings beyond music and podcasts.

“It is Spotify’s ambition to be the destination for all things audio both for listeners and creators,” Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s chief research & development officer, said in a statement. “The acquisition of Findaway will accelerate Spotify’s presence in the audiobook space and will help us more quickly meet that ambition.”

Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, were not disclosed.

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Spotify gained a global following first as a music streaming service, but in recent years it has made significant investments into becoming a podcast company. In 2019, it purchased New York podcast production company Gimlet Media for around $230 million, and since then has also acquired L.A.-based podcast businesses Parcast and the Ringer. In March, it purchased the company behind live audio app Locker Room.

Spotify has worked on nearly two dozen original or exclusive podcasts with social media influencers over the past year, as it aims to grow its reach in podcasting.

There is overlap between the audience for podcasts and audiobooks. Podcast listeners tend to stream more audiobooks than non-podcast listeners, and when engaging in longer activities like plane flights they prefer audiobooks over podcasts, according to an Adobe Analytics report released in 2019.

Founded in 2004, Solon, Ohio-based Findaway provides technology that helps authors distribute and produce their audiobooks. It also sells preloaded audiobook players.

“We look forward to combining our leading technology tools and world-class team with the reach of Spotify’s platform to provide an enhanced audio experience for creators, publishers and listeners around the world,” Findaway founder and CEO Mitch Kroll said in a statement.

Kroll will continue to lead Findaway and report to Spotify’s head of audiobooks, Nir Zicherman.

Findaway will add to Spotify’s efforts in the audiobooks space and help grow Spotify’s audience of more than 381 million monthly active users.

In May, Spotify entered into a partnership that would allow audiobook service Storytel customers to link their accounts together so they could listen to more than 500,000 audiobooks through Storytel on Spotify’s app. Storytel said that the option would be available later this year.

Audible will add six scripted comedy podcasts through 2022, a 19% increase from its current titles in that category.

By scaling up its investment in audiobooks, Spotify will be competing against larger players in the space such as Amazon-owned Audible.

Audible told the Los Angeles Times this week it plans to add six new scripted comedy podcasts through 2022, a 19% increase in titles in that category, with programs voiced by prominent actors including Fred Armisen and Kim Cattrall.


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