UK and Australia: Spotify Opens ‘Audiobooks in Premium’

In News by Porter Anderson

Rolling out its new audiobook-listening offer to subscribers in two markets, Spotify effectively mounts a new challenge to Audible.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek appears in a streamed invitational news conference, October 3, announcing the opening of the company’s 15-hours-per-month audiobooks offer to existing subscribers. Image: Getty Images for Spotify, Noam Galai

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Subscribers Get 15 Listening Hours Monthly
Following up on its 2022 announcement, Spotify today (October 3) has announced the opening in Australia and the United Kingdom on Wednesday (October 4) of its premium audiobook offer.

The move is said by the company to make available at least 150,000 audiobooks as part of Spotify Premium subscriptions.

An individual premium account is allowed 15 hours of audiobook listening monthly, making available “as many titles as [customers] want [to listen to] within that monthly allocation.” In addition to individual-account members, the plan managers for Spotify’s family and “duo” accounts are also to receive 15 hours of audiobook listening monthly.

If a customer exceeds the 15-hour limit, she or he can buy 10 more hours of listening for $10.99.

Premium customers in the United States are to receive this offer “later this year,” and it’s assumed that the parameters of the offer will be the same—most immediately, of course, presenting a challenge to Audible, which still allocates a single audiobook credit per month per customer for just under US$15. As Anne Steele notes in her article for the Wall Street Journal, Spotify has made agreements with the Big Five and many independent publishers.

Image: Spotify

Publishing Perspectives understands that Spotify has worked with publishers to address the hesitancy some have had to go into subscription programs.

At least one of the majors—Penguin Random House—reportedly is making the point that the arrangement with Spotify does not provide for unlimited access to its content through a subscription, making it a more palatable option for the publisher. This is a distinction that we are asking PRH to confirm with us, and we will update accordingly.

Spotify’s Prices Were Raised in July

As Spotify positions its audiobook move, the bigger picture of being all things audio to all people with ears is the company’s key. The rollout of the audiobooks offer considerably widens the content availability for an existing subscription base.

Of course, many existing subscribers may not want audiobook access, and it would be interesting to know the estimates of audiobook interest on which Spotify is calculating its  move.

Using an invitation to a selected group of news people (this reporter among them) to announce the plan today, the company fielded its CEO, Daniel Ek, on a stage set the rather inelegant graphics of which indicated that the selection of audiobooks to be offered on the plan will include fantasy, science-fiction, history, YA, memoir, history, true crime, and—of course—romance.

As some of our readers will recall, Spotify raised its prices for the premium subscription in late July in what the Washington Post’s Niha Masih reported was around 50 international markets including the United Kingdom as well as many nations of Europe, Thailand, and Singapore.

It was at that time that an individual account in the States went up to US$10.99. At the time this was announced, as Masih reports, Elk said that he felt the rate hike would be accepted because, “We’re delivering a lot of value for our customers.” Presumably the expansion of the subscription to include audiobooks is part of the value to which he was referring.

At the streamed press event announcing Spotify’s UK and Australia opening of the premium audiobook subscription offer. Image: Getty Images for Spotify, Bryan Bedder

A programming note: At Frankfurt, our Publishing Perspectives Forum includes an Audio Mini-Conference on the afternoon of October 19. 

This sequence of events will open with a keynote video from audiobook reader Dion Graham (2 p.m.) and Erin Cox’s moderation of “The Evolving Audio Marketplace” (2:15 p.m.) with Bookwire’s Spanish markets general manager Mariana Féged and Podium publisher Victoria Gerken

And in partnership with Guest of Honor Slovenia, we’ll present “Does Size Really Matter? Audio and Small Markets” at 3 p.m. on Frankfurt Thursday, October 19, with:

At 3:40 p.m. the audio program features Matthew Gain, senior vice-president and head of Audible Europe as well as managing director of Germany’s Audible GmbH.

The Audio Mini-Conference concludes at 4 p.m. with an Audio Networking Reception presented by Bookwire.

More on the Forum and its programming is here, with speakers being added as we confirm them and programming descriptions being developed as they’re ready.

And more from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on subscriptions is here, and more on digital publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.