The music streaming app Spotify was launched in India in early 2019, and has skyrocketed since. Its sales have reportedly increased by 27% percent since then, as recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020. Spotify includes a wide range of songs, podcasts and audiobooks from all over the world. This Swedish company is doing exceedingly well in India. This is because it provides free access to its services by just signing up with an email address. The premium version does cost a bit more, but it’s still quite cheap for the services it provides. Overall, its high quality streaming and audio quality and ease in accessibility on both laptops and mobiles is currently a superhit in India. Now Spotify and Storytel is making audiobooks more accessible by partnering.
Currently, very few audiobooks are available on Spotify. Renditions of a few poems, a bunch of classics in podcast form and miscellaneous collections are up for grabs on the application. However, a cohesive and complete collections of audiobooks, as on Audible, are still missing. Seeing this untapped potential, Spotify has paired up with Swedish audiobook streaming group Storytel to allow readers to access a library of audiobooks, Reuters reported. With more than 500000 audiobooks on its shelf in over 30 languages, Storytel is a giant in the audiobooks market. However, these books are accessible only by people in those specific countries. By partnering with Spotify, Storytel will undoubtedly widen its reach. Hence, this venture will be a dual-sided, symbiotic affair.
Spotify’s recently adopted policy of Open Access Platform enables creators to expand their reach. This policy will allow them to cater to Spotify and their own customers simulatneously by streaming their work on Spotify. Storytel is the first company that has really bought into this policy. It will be interesting to see how the turnover of both the companies will be affected due to this. Spotify further said that audiobooks are only the starting point. Spotify maintains that lots of content can be made available through audio, the realm of possibility is endless. It seems that the Spotify-Storytel deal will commence later in 2021, and the audiobooks will become available by linking the two accounts. Initially, this will be available in 25 countries. However, there’s no clue as to which countries will be targeted just yet.
Audiobooks have several benefits, akin to actual reading. In fact, studies show that they may even have the same benefits as reading, and in just as much amount. Foer example, they can help to calm anxiety and depression. Moreover, they can boost problem solving and analytical skills. Apart from building vocabulary, there are several linguistic benefits to audiobooks such as improvement in grammar and syntax and knowledge of literary devices. Plus, books (audiobooks included) spike imagination and increase empathy.
The added benefits of audiobooks, however, are that strain on the eyes decreases, screen time is reduced and time management is effectively achieved. The first is the drawback of physical books. Too much reading (all readers are guilty of this) can exert the eyes to a great extent. The only substitute other than audiobooks is the Kindle, or e-books. These are even worse – they cause exactly the same harm as binging shows on Netflix. Audiobooks eliminate all these cons and add a crucial benefit – you can listen to audiobooks anytime, anywhere. They’re extremely portable since they don’t exist physically and moreover, you can listen to them while doing something else. This makes audiobooks perfect for readers whose perpetual excuse is, “I’m busy.”
In spite of all this, audiobooks are not as popular in India as they are abroad, and don’t get as much recognition as physical books. The pay for audiobook narrators isn’t quite that great, because not many readers invest in it. However, Spotify has a wide user base in India, and doesn’t have many competitors. By partnering with Spotify, we expect to see a boom in consumption of audiobooks in the Indian market, not just for Storytel but also for other audiobook apps. This will also set a precedent for small scale audiobook sellers whose sales have dropped due to giants like Audible and Storytel.
All in all, Spotify, with its humungous reach of over 150 countries and with 356 million monthly listeners is sure to benefit Storytel, by enhancing Storytel’s brand popularity. Announced on May 20th already, this news, that Spotify and Storytel is making audiobooks more accessible by partnering, has made a buzz in the book community. All readers are looking forward to it. Spotify will, in turn, add a substantial amount of avid readers to its customer base which will further its popularity. Although some claim that this partnership is in response to Amazon’s announcement of increased investment in Audible and direct availability of audiobooks on this own website, it doesn’t matter to readers. This just means that audiobook collection is set to multiply manifold, and this is a great prospect for readers all over the world. This might just be what gets them through the second wave of the pandemic.
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