Will Spotify, which started selling courses, become the next “NetEase Cloud”?

Yesterday, the music streaming platform Spotify announced that it will "sell lessons" to users in the UK. UK users can now take four types of courses on Spotify: music production, creative development, learning business and healthy living.

The courses come from edtech companies including BBC Maestro, PlayVirtuoso, Skillshare and Themitific, and both free and subscribed users can take two lessons of each course for free before deciding whether to purchase.

Currently, the "Selling Lessons" function is only being tested in the UK. It is currently unknown whether it will be permanent and rolled out to more regions. However, this is a further expansion of Spotify's content provision. This music application seems to be moving into videos. .

Spotify is more than just music

However, before launching video content, Spotify was actually no longer a pure music streaming platform.

Spotify began providing podcast content as early as 2015, and in 2018 announced an investment of $500 million to develop podcasts.

In September 2022, Spotify began rolling out audiobook functionality to US users. In a related announcement, Spotify stated that it would "be the home for all the audio you love."

At this time, Spotify has integrated three major audio contents, including music, podcasts, and audiobooks. It is indeed becoming the "home of all audio contents," and users welcome this. In 2021, the number of monthly active users of Spotify's podcast function surpassed Apple Podcasts, and many podcast creators have joined the Spotify lineup to provide exclusive content.

But Spotify has never been content with just being the home for all things audio. As early as 2015, a "Video Capsule" function was launched along with audio podcasts, providing streaming video content such as news and comedy. However, this feature did not receive much response and is no longer available in the latest Spotify App.

After five years of providing audio podcast content, Spotify launched "video podcast" content. Spotify said that video podcasts are an "addition" to audio podcasts, and users can seamlessly switch between video and audio. However, those who can provide video podcast content are mainly top podcast producers.

In the past month, Spotify has accelerated its deployment of video content. This month, Spotify announced a test of music videos. The content and regions provided are relatively limited, while Apple Music has integrated MV content as early as 2018.

MVs and video podcasts can be regarded as "additional" content to Spotify's main music and audio podcasts. Generally speaking, Spotify still focuses on the three major audio content sections of music, podcasts, and audiobooks, but the newly launched "Video Course" content is The new content section outside the three major audio content sections is all-video content that Spotify has never been involved in before.

It can be said that Spotify is no longer so committed to the "audio first" strategy proposed in 2019.

This road to Spotify “seems familiar”

In the news about "Spotify selling courses", some netizens said that if Spotify continues to engage in such "mess", it will switch to Apple Music, which is more purely focused on music.

However, comparing Apple Music's purity to Spotify's "unification" is still a bit bullying. Apple Music can only focus on providing music content. The main reason is that whether it is audio books or podcast content, Apple has dedicated podcast and iBooks applications to provide it.

And if Spotify launches a new application to test new content, it means giving up 600 million Spotify users around the world. Much of the success of Spotify's podcasts can be attributed to the decision to launch directly to Spotify's then-current 60 million users.

However, Spotify's increasingly "bloated" content line inevitably reminds people of the domestic "NetEase Cloud Music". Due to its late start and limited music copyrights, NetEase Cloud Music has taken the "pan-entertainment content" route since version 4.0, and has continued to add functions and content, and finally became a music, radio, social, short video, and karaoke room. A large platform that integrates other functions into one has been criticized by users as "bloated".

Interestingly, NetEase Cloud Music launched a "new revision" at the beginning of this year, overhauling the UI and refocusing on the music itself, which is actually a return to the "vertical field."

Spotify explained the reason why they launched online course content: Half of Spotify premium subscribers have used educational or self-help educational themed podcasts, and more and more people come to Spotify with the intention of learning.

Simply making music cannot support this huge streaming platform. In 2023, Spotify lost 532 million euros for the whole year and has not yet achieved full-year profitability in 18 years. At the end of last year, Spotify announced 17% of its layoffs and cut investment in its podcast business. Throughout the year, Spotify paid a whopping $9 billion in royalties to the music industry. In 2024, Spotify announced that it would no longer pay for songs with less than 1,000 plays per year.

Therefore, for Spotify, expanding its business scope and attracting more customers have become ways to further generate revenue in addition to cutting costs.

Currently, the videos on Spotify are relatively complete podcasts, MVs and course content, so it is difficult to say whether Spotify will make efforts in the field of short videos in the future, but Spotify is very sensitive to visual content and current trending platform models. Spotify released a new UI in March last year, which displays artist photos and album playlist covers on a large area, and then displays music and podcast content in a vertical scrolling manner. The Verge commented that this new UI is "a bit like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube." .

Therefore, the music business may no longer be the core of Spotify. Spotify announced its upcoming lossless streaming service Spotify HiFi in March 2021, which is a "more advanced" subscription service and may improve Spotify's criticized poor sound quality. Then today, 3 years later, this feature has still not been launched, while Apple Music, the rival company, announced the lossless sound quality and Dolby sound effects function after Spotify, and launched it to all existing subscribers in June, and it does not require the like Spotify HiFi envisions that costing extra.

Although Spotify has successively launched music functions such as AI DJ in the past two years, it has continued to expand its video content rather than focusing on improving existing audio content and quality, which has still disappointed many users. A BGR editor who uses Spotify expressed his strong sentiment:

This company is completely lost

Maybe one day in the future, Spotify will also make an announcement saying that they will "return to music", but this is likely to be after they can make a profit.

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