Could Spotify’s locked audiobook model be a new way for artists to make money on its platform?

MBW Reacts is a series of short comments from the MBW team. They are our ‘quick response’ – through a music biz lens – to major entertainment news.


Spotify has finally launched Audiobooks on its platform.

The format’s addition this week, currently only in the US, comes four months after CEO Daniel Eck outlined SPOT’s intent on audiobooks during a speech at Spotify’s Investor Day.

SPOT highlighted the opportunity in the audiobook market at its Investor Day, noting at the time that it is “expected to grow from $3.3 billion to $15 billion by 2027”.

Spotify made its intention to take the likes of Amazon’s Audible even more clear in June, when it closed its acquisition of digital audiobook distribution company Findway.

Starting this week, Spotify listeners in the US will be able to buy and listen to more than 300,000 audiobook titles on the platform.

US users will see audiobooks as a section in their curated recommendations for music and podcasts, as well as in their library, in search, and on Home.

One of the most interesting aspects of audiobooks launched on the platform is that access to this content will not be included as part of a user’s Spotify subscription.

Spotify says they’ll be displayed with a lock icon over the play button, and they’ll have to be purchased individually in order to listen.

Users will need to purchase those gated audiobooks through the web page, and when they return to Spotify, the book will be automatically saved to their library.


The concept of a locked play button, which can be unlocked through an additional purchase, got us thinking. Can this model be applied to artist content on Spotify?

In diversifying its content offering with music and podcasts as well as another audio format, Spotify may have unlocked a new way for artists to make more money from their fans on its platform.

Let’s say, for example, an artist had a bonus track and they wanted to charge extra for it. What if that artist and their team had access to a feature in Spotify for Artists that lets them put a lock icon on that track, making it accessible only to fans making additional purchases?

If Spotify ever entered this space, it could be applied to bonus behind-the-scenes podcasts, deluxe edition albums, or even exclusive music videos.

Spotify offers other ways for artists to generate income on its platform in addition to royalties from streams, such as its fan support feature, formerly called Artist Fundraiser Pick. This launched During the lockdown when the actors could not run the show.

In May, Spotify said that more than 200,000 artists had an artist fundraising pickup link at the top of their profiles, with about 90% of those artists using that feature to directly collect fans’ monetary support.

Artists can also manage and sell merchants on their profiles through Spotify’s Shopify PartnershipsAnd Spotify also introduced its new . began selling concert tickets directly to fans through ‘Spotify Tickets’ site.

But allowing artists to lock down individual pieces of audio content and charge a fee for access to it could be a new way for Spotify to generate potentially significant additional revenue from superfans to artists.


It’s worth noting here, that last month, streaming and discovery service Audiomack rolled out its new ‘Premier Access’ feature, which gives artists early access to music that hasn’t yet been officially released to their biggest fans. Enables rewards.

To unlock that access on Audiomack, fans have to become a ‘pro’ of an artist.

‘Supporters’ is a feature that Audiomac launched late last year in collaboration with partners such as Warner Music Group. It allows fans on the platform to contribute financially directly to the songs and albums of their favorite artists.

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