Spotify is tapping into the cultural zeitgeist surrounding true crime to amplify its podcast push

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Parcast — the podcast production studio Spotifyacquired in March —launched a true crime-themed ” Summer of ’69” special series on the platform, per Fast Company. Parcast is best known for developing serialized true-crime, mystery, and sci-fi shows. Business Insider Intelligence

Now, following its push toclaim top dog status in the entirety of the audio space, Spotify is pulling together more than half of the studio’s shows into a playlist to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous summer of 1969, including shows on the Vietnam War, Manson murders, and the Zodiac Killer.

Spotify is actively tapping into cultural zeitgeist surrounding true crime to amplify its podcast push this summer, which has already included numerous feature and content rollouts.

The true crime genre has experienced somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, following shows like HBO’s “The Jinx” and Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” in 2015, and This American Life’s podcast sensation “Serial” in 2014. Since then, audiencescan’t seem to getenough. Given the genre’s draw, particularly in a serialized, highly bingeable format, it’s a strong bet for Spotify to grow podcast listening on its platform.

But the curated aspect of the Parcast project also aligns with Spotify’s recent tests to improve personalization and discoverability of podcast content on its platform. In June, Spotify started testingcurated podcast playlists centered around specific themes, including comedy, true crime, and “geek culture.”

The “Summer of ’69” list could indicate that those playlist tests have gone well, and that Spotify intends to roll these out more regularly, and with a sharper focus. Spotify has also continued to iterate on features designed to enhance the podcast listening experience: The platform rolled out apersonalized playlist called “Your Daily Drive” in the US, which interweaves music and podcasts in one playlist, according to the expressed interests of users.

Spotify also issued aredesign of the platform to highlight podcasts on both the desktop and app versions, making it simpler not only to find podcasts, but to toggle between them and music listening.

By prioritizing user experience to the same degree it values high-quality content, Spotify is well-positioned to grow its share of podcast listening. Content discoverability is a major inhibitor to listenership growth. Word-of-mouth recommendations still play a key, arguably outsized,role in podcast discovery.

Meanwhile, shows proliferate: There are now an estimated700,000 active podcasts available via Apple Podcasts, per Chartable, and about2,000 to 3,000 new shows launch each month. Apple, Spotify, and other podcasting platforms have beenworking to create better podcast recommendations, which signals platforms are catching on.

Spotify has already proven its discoverability chops with its personalized playlists, like “Discover Weekly,” and its popular genre-based playlists, like “RapCaviar,” which boasts nearly 12 million followers as of today. And the platform is growing more comfortable drawing insight from its podcast data, given its recent decision totarget ads according to podcast listening habits.

To that end, we think Spotify will succeed in making relevant podcasts easier to find — its “Summer of 69” playlist is just the beginning. That said, the platform will have to maintain balance: Recommendations mean nothing without good content to surface, which means tapping cultural currents or pulling big names like theObamas will remain critical. We’re confident the platform won’t swing too far in either direction as it attempts to dominate all things audio.

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