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March 30, 2022

Spotify's betting big on being more than a music service

Spotify's Gustav Soderstrom on the future of audio, combining music and podcasts, and what's next for your playlists.


Spotify doesn't want to just build a better way to listen to music. (Though, yes, it does want to do that.) The company has made clear over the last couple of years that its ambitions are much bigger: Spotify has invested deeply in podcasting both for creators and consumers, it has delved into the world of audiobook, it acquired a company to build a live-audio product, and in general it wants to be the home of audio online.

If you really want to understand where Spotify is going, though, forget the music and audio industry altogether. Look at what's happening with video online. YouTube is making video searchable, discoverable and wildly lucrative; TikTok is making it social, remixable and viral. Spotify wants to do all of that, but in your headphones instead of on your screen. And that means rethinking the way the entire audio business — and tech stack — works.

Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify's chief R&D officer and chief product officer, leads a team of thousands building the future the company imagines. He joined the Source Code podcast to talk about why audio was skipped over in the evolution of technology, how Spotify is trying to balance supporting an open ecosystem with building its own stuff, and how audio changes when you treat it like software. (One thing he didn't want to talk about? Joe Rogan, and the questions the company faces about content moderation and misinformation. That's for another episode.) He also talked about Spotify's ongoing quest to figure out how to bring all that audio into a single app in a way that makes sense.

For more on the topics in this episode:

For all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.