Audiobooks are here to stay. This billion-dollar industry has seen double-digital revenue growth, especially for platforms like Spotify. Today, ALLi's News Editor, Dan Holloway, explores the tactics in the audiobook space, particularly looking at audio platforms like Spotify and Nextory.
Spotify claims its algorithms don’t make scams profitable.
When you go onto a website and read about a “30 second trick” you suspect you are about to enter a rabbit hole leading to a teeth whitening product or some such. But when the phrase caught my eye from the sidebar of the BBC website a couple of days ago, I was wrong. I was, instead, reminded that for all audio news has been somewhat, er, quiet of late, Spotify is very much still with us.
The 30 second trick in the headline referred to a streaming tactic content creators had been trying to use to maximise their Spotify payouts. Such tactics are, of course, a feature across all streaming content platforms. And making them ineffective is an essential part of ensuring such platforms continue to work for creators who want to create and get paid based on real audiences enjoying their creation. I remember the very first time Scribd mooted a subscription service, more than a decade ago. I pointed out that if a group of authors each joined and then simply scrolled through each others’ work, which could be junk content, they would make back far more than their subscription outlay back. I was treated as though I were the embodiment of Machiavellian cynicism (if that can be a thing). How dare I suggest people might be so nefarious!
Fast forward a decade and my “worst case” is a commonplace. Streaming farms are a regular thing. In the case of Spotify, people were setting up numerous fake accounts and then having devices stream their work on a constant loop, But Spotify now reckons its algorithms can beat those tactics. It says it pays creators not just on number of streams but on who is streaming and how. Of course, they won’t say how it does this because that would tip off the scammers.
Ultimately, streaming services, including Spotify and other audio platforms, and Kindle Unlimited, will stand or fall by their ability to defeat this kind of farming.
Nextory figures illustrative of Nordic audio drive from growth to profit
Mark Williams also has an interesting Nordic audiobook story this week. I will follow his example in crediting the original piece by Sölve Dahlgren at Boktugg. That piece is an analysis in particular of the latest figures from Nextory. But it is illustrative of a wider move in the Nordic audio scene, which at one point dominated the news as it grew into new markets.
That wider move is from a growth focus to a profit focus. There was still strong growth of 40%. But that came with losses that had reduced by well over 10%. This is a sign that the streaming industry really is coming of age. Platforms have been growing and growing. Now they are figuring out how to make money from their audiences. And, of course, keep content creators happy. Interestingly, Nextory has added e-magazines to its streaming offering, meaning it can in theory keep its subscribers happier for a larger proportion of their content consuming lives.
And if you want some interesting facts about the history of audiobooks, Quartz has a fascinating little piece this week.
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Spotify's foray into Audbiobooks as covered on the AskALLi Self-Publishing News Podcast: