Spotify is About to Know Way More About You than You Think

By: Amalya Teitelbaum  |  March 22, 2021

By Amalya Teitelbaum, Business Editor & Social Media Manager

According to the Statista Research Department: “As of the third quarter of 2020, Spotify had 144 million premium subscribers worldwide, up from 113 million in the corresponding quarter of 2019. Spotify’s subscriber base has increased dramatically in the last few years and has more than doubled since early 2017.” Basically, everyone and their goldfish’s babysitter uses Spotify. When people are walking down the street, sitting on the subway, or driving in the car, they are unanimously united by the buds in their ears. 

It is already a pretty fair guess that Spotify knows a lot about you. This is seen just by looking at any Spotify user’s main screen and seeing five customized daily mix playlists, a “Discover Weekly” playlist, and many recommended playlists along with so much more. Spotify knows listeners’ names, billing information, where they live, their age, what music they like, the other shows they enjoy, who they’re friends with on Spotify, what devices they use, and plenty of other data. While this is less than the knowledge Google or Facebook has about you, it is still very sufficient. However, this knowledge is about to expand exponentially.

Lydia Polgreem, Spotify’s managing director, stated in an interview, “Our goal is to get people into the habit of listening to content on Spotify that’s not music.” Spotify is now working to use “Daily Drive,” Spotify’s recommendation service, to promote podcasts using their algorithm. This algorithm will be used to filter what you do and don’t like based on your previous listening habits and history. This is even more personal than music recommendations since those are just based on the artists you listen to. Spotify can then use your podcast history to estimate what fields you are interested in and even your job. 

But that is not all that Spotify is doing. Spotify wants to dominate the podcast network. In November 2020 Spotify bought Megaphone, a podcast hosting company that also sells and inserts ads for millions of dollars. Back in January 2020, Spotify said that it would begin inserting ads into its shows in real-time based on what it knows about its users, like where they’re located, what type of device they use, and their age, similarly to how the broader web operates. Spotify already automates dynamic ad insertion on the music side of its business, but it is now expanding and improving that tech for podcasts. This new technology is called Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI). Because Spotify bought Megaphone, SAI will now be offered to shows outside of Spotify’s network, for a price of course. In order for shows to reach Spotify’s millions of subscribers, they will have to pay Spotify to do so, therefore increasing Spotify’s domination over the podcast market. If this continues, who knows how many more subscribers Spotify will gain.