Spotify announced it has acquired the live audio app Locker Room, which could allow its popular podcast hosts, like Joe Rogan, to host realtime conversations with guests and listeners along with the on-demand Joe Rogan Experience podcast episodes. Rogan signed a deal with the streaming company in 2020 to publish the JRE on its platform exclusively after previously posting the episodes on YouTube, Apple Podcasts and elsewhere.
According to a press release from Spotify, the company acquired Betty Labs, the creator of Locker Room, which is “a live audio app that’s changing the way insiders and fans talk about sports.” The app has been compared to another live audio app, Clubhouse. Spotify wrote in its release, “This acquisition builds on our work to create the ‘future formats of audio’ and will accelerate Spotify’s entry into the live audio space.”
Spotify’s chief research and development officer, Gustav Söderström, said in a statement, “Creators and fans have been asking for live formats on Spotify, and we’re excited that soon, we’ll make them available to hundreds of millions of listeners and millions of creators on our platform. The world already turns to us for music, podcasts, and other unique audio experiences, and this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today.”
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Spotify Says the New Live Audio Feature Will Allow Creators Like Rogan to ‘Connect With Audiences in Real Time’
Spotify added in its press release, “In the coming months, Spotify will evolve and expand Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans. Through this new live experience, Spotify will offer a range of sports, music, and cultural programming, as well as a host of interactive features that enable creators to connect with audiences in real time. We’ll give professional athletes, writers, musicians, songwriters, podcasters, and other global voices opportunities to host real-time discussions, debates, ask me anything (AMA) sessions, and more.”
According to NBC News, “Spotify will also use its machine-learning technology to organize the live audio experience and cater programming to users based on their interests, potentially giving it an edge over Clubhouse and other competitors. It is also likely to lean on its exclusive podcasting talent which includes Joe Rogan, Bill Simmons and Prince Harry and Megan, Duchess of Sussex.”
NBC News added, “For Spotify, a company that has already invested hundreds of millions in exclusive podcasting content, social audio also means podcasters like Rogan and Simmons could now broadcast in real time, rather than on delay, while musicians might one day be able to broadcast their concerts or other recordings live to listeners.”
The news led many on Twitter to mockingly say that Spotify has “invented radio,” after NBC reported Rogan and others would use the platform for live broadcasts. Musically wrote, “It is true that hailing ‘live audio broadcasts’ as a big disruption is silly. However, the point about Clubhouse (and Locker Room) is that it’s not just one-way broadcasting: it’s two-way and interactive: members of the audience can join in. That’s not a revolution – radio has its phone-ins and plenty of DJs using texts and tweets to connect in their audiences – but it can be a step on, with the right features and good moderation.”
Howard Akumiah, the founder and CEO of Betty Labs, said in a statement, “We are excited to join forces with Spotify and contribute to building the future of audio—we’ll invest more in our product, open the experience to Spotify’s audience, diversify our content offerings, and continue expanding the community we’ve built. With Spotify, we’ll continue to offer the best home for sports fans and use the lessons we’ve learned along the way to create the ultimate destination for live conversation around music and culture.”
Rogan Has Faced Backlash From Some Fans After His Move to Spotify
Rogan listeners might not be quick to adapt to any new changes that come from Spotify. The popular podcaster and longtime UFC commentator has seen some backlash in the months since he left YouTube and moved exclusively to Spotify. Fans have accused him of allowing Spotify to censor him and choose his guests, an accusation he denies, other than a few older episodes that were not moved over to Spotify.
Rogan said in February on his podcast about the move to Spotify, “They don’t give a f*** man. They haven’t given me a hard time at all.” He added, “The big test was having Alex Jones on. A lot of people were like ‘They’re telling Joe Rogan what he can do and what he can’t do’ and I was like, ‘they’re not. They’re not. And let’s show you.’ Alex Jones and Tim Dillon was like one of my favorite podcasts I’ve done.”
Rogan has also faced backlash from some Spotify employees. He said on his podcast, “one of the things that happened with Spotify, with like some of their staff, they thought I was transphobic or thought I was a bad person. I saw one of their staff say I was a shock jock. I’m not even remotely like that.”
Rogan added, “It’s an open-minded company They treat their employees very well. They let them have discussions about things. And I don’t know what these discussions are like. I don’t know what happens, I really don’t. But, in terms of them silencing me, zero. There’s been nothing.”