Spotify acquires audio app Locker Room to challenge Clubhouse
Spotify has taken another major step into live audio programming by acquiring Betty Labs, the company behind the social audio app Locker Room.
Locker Room, which launched last October, is sports-focused and a rapid success story for sports fans looking for places to chat and watch games together during the pandemic.
But Spotify plans to expand the service in the coming months by also offering music and cultural programming. and feature ask-me-anything interviews and discussions in real-time with musicians, songwriters, sportspeople and celebs.
Under a rebranded name, it would be a new avenue for musicians to premiere an album, host a Q&A session, plug new merchandise or possibly do a live set.
“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,” Spotify chief research and development officer Gustav Söderström said.
“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.”
Spotify is chasing the new live voice-based platforms, particularly the invite-only social app Clubhouse, which has been installed 15.6 million around the world since launching in March 2020 when the pandemic began, according to mobile app analytics company Sensor Tower.
With a skew to hip hop fans, it allows people to chat, tell stories and develop ideas, and is a favourite of celebs and execs including Drake, Oprah, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock and Ashton Kutcher.
Locker Room has been installed 19,000 times and grew 60% between February and March.
The platform will have interactive features for creators to connect with audiences in real-time.
Spotify describes Betty Labs, a tech company cashed up with support from venture capitalists, as a “forward-leaning team of developers, engineers, product thinkers, and sports fans focused on creating groundbreaking live experiences”.
“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,” Betty Labs founder and CEO Howard Akumiah said.
“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.”
While Spotify has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost its podcast range, tech companies expanding into audio content include the Amazon acquired podcast network Wondery, while Facebook is also reportedly planning to build a live audio feature.