People are listening to 3 million hours of white noise a day.
A peculiar type of podcast has found a huge footing on Spotify, amounting to what the platform says totals tens of millions of dollars in lost profit: entire episodes of white noise, seemingly aimed at listeners who are asleep.
And Spotify recently got wind — if you will — of the trend. According to an internal document obtained by Bloomberg, white noise and ambient podcasts are adding up to a stunning 3 million daily consumption hours on the music platform — leading Spotify to wonder if there's a way to direct listeners in a more profitable direction.
The problem is that white noise isn't very profitable. Spotify makes the most money by pushing customers to its paid music subscriptions, an important revenue stream for a company that relies on razor-thin margins.
And the pressure is on, with its ratio of paid-to-free listeners in free fall, according to the company's Q1 earning report.
Once Spotify started spending time making sense of the data, it concluded that shifting users away from white noise programming could net the company an additional $38 million in profit, according to document obtained by Bloomberg.
"The proposal in question did not come to fruition — we continue to have white noise podcasts on our platform," a spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, users have noticed how some of their white noise podcasts have mysteriously vanished. One white noise podcaster also told Bloomberg that some of his episodes have disappeared without warning.
Apart from a flood of white noise, Spotify has also been dealing with a tsunami of AI-generated music, sometimes with bots artificially inflating its listener count.
White noise has already stirred considerable controversy in the music industry. Execs at major record labels have complained that tracks by reputable artists are being assigned the same value as those uploading just noise.
"It can’t be that an Ed Sheeran stream is worth exactly the same as a stream of rain falling on the roof," Warner Music Group CEO, Robert Kyncl told Music Business Worldwide earlier this year.
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