Spotify is getting into the emerging live audio business with the acquisition of sports talk app Locker Room and its creator Betty Labs, the streaming giant announced on Tuesday (March 30).
In the coming months, Spotify plans to expand Locker Room into an “enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans,” according to a company blog post, offering sports, music and cultural programming as well as interactive features for creators to connect with audiences in real-time. The company — which shared plans to build the “future formats of audio” at its first-ever Stream On event last month — says it will give professional athletes, writers, musicians, songwriters and other creators the opportunity to host live discussions, ask me anything sessions and more.
“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 Spotify chief research and development officer Gustav Söderström. “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.”
Betty Labs is a technology company focused on interactive live sports experiences that was initially backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and more recently by GV and Precursor Ventures. It launched Locker Room, where sports fans and celebrities can spontaneously discuss sports news and watch games together, in October 2020. Locker Room has seen approximately 19,000 global installs since its launch and 60% month-over-month growth between February and March, according to mobile app analytics company Sensor Tower. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.
“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,” said Betty Labs founder/CEO Howard Akumiah. “With Spotify, 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.”
Spotify, which by now prioritizes podcasting just as much as music (if not more), enters a heated playing field for live audio. Leading the field is invitation-only audio chat app Clubhouse, which launched during the pandemic last March and has since attracted music artists and executives, especially in hip-hop. Clubhouse has reached approximately 15.6 million installs globally, according to Sensor Tower.
Earlier this year, Twitter began beta testing its competitor, Spaces, with plans to open the feature up to the public next month. So far, it has hosted chats with celebrities like Nick Jonas and NCT, as well as host the official CBS x Grammys virtual after party hosted by DJ D-Nice. Facebook is said to be building a Clubhouse rival as well.