Spotify has been busy of late, dropping all manner of new features (mostly to do with artificial intelligence) but there’s a good old-fashioned freebie waiting in the wings as well. Well, ‘freebie’ is a relative term since it’s reserved for those who already give the music streaming service money every month.
The key word here is ‘audiobooks’. Spotify is looking to increase the number of users on the platform who consume audiobooks and the way to do that is to give them a little free access to whet their appetites. If they like what they hear, users can buy more hours (rather than more books) for a set sum.
Soon, subscribers in the UK and Australia will have access to up to fifteen hours of audiobook streaming a month. That is, depending on the length of your book, either three to four short ones (The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by Carlo M. Cipolla is done in less than an hour) or one long one. Maybe one and a bit. At 126 hours, you’re not going to get through The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon in a single month, that’s for sure. Spotify is hoping that you’ll wind up paying for something like that.
If you run out of hours for the month, it’ll be possible to purchase more hours, rather than the book itself. At the moment it’ll cost about R210 for an additional ten hours in a month. That’s around what you’ll pay for the average audiobook, though something like Ed Gibbon’s saga will set you back almost eight hundred bucks ($40).
It’s quite a change from Amazon and Audible’s approach, which is to give subscribers a single free (and whole) audiobook each month. That’s great… if you’re sure you’re going to enjoy what you’re listening to. Pick a dud, though, and you’re out of luck until the next month. Having a set number of hours removes that risk but it also means you might not get to finish your tome until the next batch of hours comes around. Unless you pay for it, obviously.
Subscriber access will expand to the United States shortly after the UK and Oz finish acting as a testing ground, with other markets following later.