Spotify tests placing podcast episodes alongside music recommendations

By Ashley Carman

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Spotify is spending millions to become a major player in podcasting, and today we got a look at how it might begin promoting shows: by placing suggested episodes into algorithmically generated playlists. A test seen by The Verge shows several short podcast episodes placed alongside personalized music suggestions in a playlist meant for the drive to work. Spotify doesn’t have a widely available podcast recommendation tool or offer curated podcast playlists right now, so this appears to be a look at what’s to come.

This year, Spotify plans to spend $500 million on acquisitions related to the podcast industry, and so far, it’s bought podcast networks Gimlet Media and Parcast, as well as podcaster-oriented creation and hosting platform Anchor. Not much has changed yet, but the company’s hinted at what it plans to do with these entities: it wants to build out ad products, crack podcast discovery, and amass a collection of quality, Spotify-exclusive shows. Today’s test might be one of the first public steps in that journey.

The playlist test was served to my colleague here at The Verge, Dan Seifert. It’s called Your Daily Drive, and it features curated music that fits his interests. Alongside those songs were short news podcasts, seemingly all in Portuguese, which Dan doesn’t speak. The podcasts weren’t made by Spotify.

In a comment to The Verge, a Spotify spokesperson said: “We’re always testing new products and experiences, but have no further news to share at this time.”

It seems like Spotify might have been running a test in a Portuguese-speaking country, and maybe accidentally served the shows to Dan, which involved subscribing him to a playlist he’d never previously seen.

An algorithmic playlist that cycles through music and podcast recommendations is a product I’d expect to see Spotify debut. Given the success of its Discover Weekly playlist, a similar feature, but with podcasts included, would make sense and potentially expose more of its 100 million subscribers to the podcasting world.