Spotify is getting into live audio because of course it is

Alex Wilhelm
·2-min read

Shares of Spotify are up a fraction this morning after the company announced that it will acquire Betty Labs, the company behind the Locker Room, which focuses on live audio. Prior to the deal, Betty Labs had raised more than $9 million, per Crunchbase data.

Spotify is best known for its music streaming business, but has expanded into new audio formats while hunting for both a competitive edge in its core market, and methods of generating pricing leverage.

The European tech giant has spent heavily in recent years on its podcast efforts, bringing marquee shows to its platform on an exclusive basis. By making its own audio-world as differentiated as possible, Spotify may be able to charge more over time, creating future growth opportunities.

The Swedish public company was not shy in describing its goals for the Betty Labs deal, writing on its own blog that it will "evolve and expand Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans," with forthcoming content including "a range of sports, music, and cultural programming, as well as a host of interactive features that enable creators to connect with audiences in real time."

A mix of radio and Clubhouse, perhaps? TechCrunch will tinker with the tech when possible, as we have in recent weeks with Clubhouse and Twitter's equivalent product, Spaces.

Clubhouse, which helped boost the present-day audio craze to new heights, has attracted heavyweight backers and a good number of early fans. But the app has also seen its audience level off in recent weeks (AppAnnie data), perhaps leaving room in the market for Spotify or another audio incumbent to step in and steal its thunder.

Spotify has a history of entering new audio categories and taking over. As TechCrunch reported earlier this month, "Spotify’s U.S. podcast listenership will surpass Apple Podcasts for the first time this year when 28.2 million U.S. users will listen to podcasts on Spotify at least monthly, compared with 28.0 million via Apple Podcasts," per data from eMarketer.

Sure, it wasn't cheap, but Spotify wants to lead all audio categories, it appears, so its planned move into Clubhouse territory should worry current startups in the space.

If Spotify's distribution advantage of working on every platform, and having a huge install base, will work in its efforts to own a new slice of the audio world is something we'll find out this year. Until then, if you have an iOS device, you can still use Clubhouse.