Business

Spotify buys Locker Room app's maker Betty Labs in live audio push

Spotify will "evolve and expand" Locker Room to offer sports, music, and cultural programming as well as live discussions with professional athletes, musicians and other personalities

The Spotify logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 3, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
  • Spotify did not disclose the cost of the acquisition;
  • Spotify has also been making a push into podcasting, and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost its podcast range and debuted a podcast advertising marketplace.

Spotify said on Tuesday it has purchased Betty Labs, the company behind sports-focused social audio app Locker Room, to accelerate its move into live audio.

New voice-based platforms, including invite-only social app Clubhouse, have seen rapid growth in recent months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Locker Room, launched in October 2020, became a popular spot for sports fans to chat and hold watch parties.

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The music-streaming service said in the coming months it would “evolve and expand” Locker Room to offer sports, music, and cultural programming as well as live discussions with professional athletes, musicians and other personalities.

“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,” said Gustav Söderström, Chief Research & Development Officer at Spotify.

Spotify did not disclose the cost of the acquisition. Betty Labs was initially backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and later by GV, Alphabet‘s venture capital arm, and Precursor Ventures. Last October, Betty Labs raised $9.3 million in seed funding led by GV.

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“We are excited to join forces with Spotify and continue 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,” said Betty Labs founder and CEO Howard Akumiah.

Spotify has also been making a push into podcasting, and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost its podcast range and debuted a podcast advertising marketplace. Spotify’s podcasts are a great deal in Latin America, as showed La República. Colombia is the third country worldwide that produces the most content for podcasts. It is also third globally that most listen to podcasts, followed by Argentina and Brazil. Javier Piñol, Head Spotify Studios in Latin America, told La República that the region has more than doubled growth for Spotify in 2020. According to him, Spotify has launched more than 80 podcasts in 2020, which represented a year-on-year growth of more than 75%.

LABS also sought Spotify for a comment regarding how Betty Labs will affect its operations in Latin America but so far had no response.

Screenshots shared by a Twitter user last week showed Spotify was surveying some users about how often they used Clubhouse. Twitter is also testing a live audio app Spaces, which it plans to publicly launch by April, and Facebook Inc is reportedly dabbling with its own live audio offering.

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