Spotify dissolves its founding podcast studio and fires part of the team. An affected employee recounts The edge that Studio 4, or Spotify Studios as it was referenced externally, consisted of 10-15 employees and produced shows like Dissect and Chapo: Kingpin on trial. Spotify called the affected employees on Friday and said their last days would be January 21. They will receive a severance package of two months. Some employees have been reassigned while others have been fired and pointed to the Spotify job board. Studio head Gina Delvac was also fired.
Spotify declined to comment. In a memo to Spotify staff obtained by The edgeHowever, Julie McNamara, head of studios and video in the United States, acknowledged the layoffs and said closing the studio would allow the company “to move faster and make more meaningful progress and facilitate more effective collaboration within our organization”.
For a company sharing news of its podcasting efforts almost everywhere it can, Studio 4 has rarely, if ever, appeared in the press. (I’ve only documented one public use of it.) However, Studio 4 Is it that sometimes appear in income reports like Spotify Studios. It was the first podcasting studio created by Spotify and comprised of all employees who worked on podcasting prior to the company’s major network acquisitions. Additional employees were later hired, but the initial group helped prove the podcasting business model and listener interest with shows like Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls 1 Keith, says a former employee who asked not to be identified due to ongoing work in the industry.
The team eventually completed Spotify’s internal studio offerings, including its three acquired networks: Parcast, Gimlet and The Ringer. The Studio 4 name is literal, as it is Spotify’s fourth studio. It’s also, as one Spotify employee told me, “insulting” to the people who work there, given that it has no brand identity or mission statement. They say it often functioned more like a “garbage drawer” for projects that didn’t find a place in the other three networks.
“When you have Studio 4, it’s like, ‘Well, if all these boxes are already checked by all these other studios, then where does this really take us’, and so I felt like that there was no clear mandate of what Studio 4 was supposed to do,” says the affected employee.
Although the studio did not have its own clear initiatives, its content covered music and artists as well as celebrity deals and content hosted by influencers.
“A lot of Spotify Studios’ successes were never really expressed because management was always on the move,” the former employee said, noting that Liz Gately used to run the studio but was then mixture in a new role. Delvac took over, and in September Mc Namara was hired to oversee the team. Courtney Holt, vice president of global podcasting, previously held the position. (Above Holt and McNamara is Dawn Ostroff, head of content and advertising.)
“I’ve never heard anyone mention Studio 4 by name or point to any of the work or shows we’ve done as something to celebrate,” the affected employee said. “We’re intentionally being ignored in explanations of metrics, growth, listening, and all that stuff.”
“When you go through a year of this…where you’re behind the scenes, and you’re creating things, and it just doesn’t get the love or the shine that other studios get, I think it causes a lot legit thoughts that go through your head, like ‘Hey, what does the upper echelon of Spotify’s leadership community think of the studio, what we’re doing, and how easily could they sweep it under the rug,’ what they ended up doing,” adds the former employee.
The team recently produced shows like Nosy Neighbors, we said what we said, and Dope Labs. The former employee says that a show, wind of change, was produced by the studio, but was later handed over to Gimlet to oversee the next release as part of the Pineapple Street Studios partnership – Welcome to your fantasy. They say successes have been given.
Since Studio 4’s inception, Spotify has spent millions not only buying new studios and networks, but also securing high-profile deals with big names in podcasting like Joe Rogan, Alex Cooper of call her daddy, and Dax Shepard of Expert Armchair. It has also focused heavily on its advertising technology with the acquisition of hosting company Megaphone, which was the centerpiece of most of the company’s ads last year. However, Spotify hasn’t shared numbers on how its acquired entities are doing.
Although Spotify claims there have never been so many podcasts on its platform, an August Business Intern report said Gimlet itself has struggled to grow within the tech company due to “unclear strategy” and “internal tensions”. It had the lowest number of the four studios by hours consumed in the leaked metrics for September 2020. Meanwhile, a Edge The report revealed that Spotify’s licensed exclusives, Joe Rogan’s show in particular, may have lost a significant portion of its audience during the move to the platform.
At this time, Spotify has not specified how partner programs will be produced in the future and what will happen to shows currently in production. the Dissect team caught on Twitter after this story was published, however, to say that the show will continue to be produced with Spotify. Original programming will obviously continue across all three networks Spotify bought, but the shutdown of Studio 4 shows that Spotify has been unable to create a fully independent production team from scratch.
When asked what the studio’s biggest show was or what people should know, the concerned employee couldn’t name one.
Correction on January 11, 8:59 a.m. ET: This article previously stated that Julie McNamara worked under Courtney Holt. It was incorrect. Holt previously only held McNamara’s position, and he now leads a separate team.
Update from January 11 at 11:42: This article has been updated to include a comment from Dissect on the status of his show.
Correction on January 11, 11:42 a.m. ET: This article previously reported that Studio 4 had been working on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Spotify holiday special; it was incorrect. The company claims that only Gimlet worked on this program. We regret the error.