Spotify is making some changes to its app that will make it more accessible to people with visual and auditory impairments. Perhaps most notably, the app will begin automatically transcribing certain shows in the next few weeks before eventually enabling transcription “across all podcasts on Spotify.”
Transcriptions will allow people hard of hearing to consume a podcast by reading along as they listen, though Spotify says users can read the transcripts with or without audio. Users who just want to find a specific section in a podcast will be able to tap any section in the text and skip to that point in the audio.
The Verge earlier reported on the updates.
Accessibility — Along with transcriptions, Spotify is making changes to the app’s button colors, text formatting, and size, with the goal of incorporating more contrast that will make it help people with low vision navigate the app. iOS users can further customize the text size through their settings.
These types of changes are important because they help people with disabilities use the internet just like anybody else. All too often, accessibility isn’t factored into account when developing new apps and websites because the developers themselves may not have such disabilities and don’t even consider them.
The transcriptions in particular can also just be useful for anyone who might want to refer to a specific part of a podcast later, or perhaps because they want to skim through it because they don’t have the time to listen to their vast library of subscriptions. Podcasts are a fairly captive medium — unless you’re paying full attention, it can be easy to fall behind in an episode and lose track of what’s being discussed.
Podcast opportunity — Podcasting is the next major frontier for Spotify, which has invested hundreds of millions in a land grab effort to become the biggest player in the burgeoning space. The hope for Spotify is that it can make big bucks selling advertising against all the new shows that are flooding the market and increase its revenue as growth in music subscriptions slows. More of your listening time means more dollars. Doubly so if Spotify owns the content and doesn’t have to license it from anyone.
In the first quarter of 2021, Spotify saw huge growth in ad sales, with podcast listening hitting an all-time high. It also launched podcast subscriptions, from which it will eventually take a cut of sales.