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Spotify to Acquire Audiobook Platform Findaway

Billboard logo Billboard 11/12/2021 Colin Stutz

Spotify will acquire the audiobook distribution company Findaway as the audio giant seeks to scale its catalog and creator tools in a similar fashion to its podcast offerings, the company said on Thursday.

Findaway has both a full-service and self-service audiobook production platform for authors, narrators and publishers. The self-service option connects independent authors to narrators and provides access to global distribution, while top publishers like HarperCollins and Hachette have used the full-service platform for audiobooks.

The acquisition, pending regulatory approval, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It is Spotify’s ambition to be the destination for all things audio both for listeners and creators,” Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s chief research and development officer, said in a statement. “The acquisition of Findaway will accelerate Spotify’s presence in the audiobook space and will help us more quickly meet that ambition.”

Findaway will still be led by founder and CEO Mitch Kroll and remain headquartered in Ohio. Kroll will report to Spotify’s head of audiobooks, Nir Zicherman.

“Together with Spotify we have the opportunity to innovate and democratize the audiobook ecosystem,” Kroll said. “We founded Findaway with the recognition of the power of the spoken word through audiobooks and the unique opportunity to empower storytellers and connect them with listeners. We look forward to combining our leading technology tools and world-class team with the reach of Spotify’s platform to provide an enhanced audio experience for creators, publishers and listeners around the world.”

Spotify first tested out its literary offering in January this year with a collection of nine exclusive audiobook recordings, as The Hollywood Reporterfirst reported. The recordings included celebrity narrations of literary classics, such as Cynthia Erivo reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion; Forest Whitaker reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave; Hilary Swank narrating Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; David Dobrik reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; and Audra McDonald reading Jean Toomer’s Cane.

The Stockholm-based audio company, led by CEO Daniel Ek, has made a concerted effort in the past years to boost its non-music audio presence, most notably in the podcast space. Since 2019, Spotify has gone on an acquisition spree, picking up podcast companies like Gimlet Media and Anchor, the podcast advertising platform Megaphone and the live audio developer Betty Labs. The audio giant also acquired Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, adding dozens of popular sports and pop-culture podcasts to Spotify’s library, and has made splashy deals with talent like Barack and Michelle Obama, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Joe Rogan, Dax Shepard and Call Her Daddy host Alex Cooper.

The Findaway acquisition thus marks Spotify’s first major acquisition in the audiobook space as it competes with other giants like Amazon’s Audible.

“We’re excited to combine Findaway’s team, best in class technology platform, and robust audiobook catalog, with Spotify’s expertise to revolutionize the audiobook space as we did with music and podcasts,” Söderström said.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter

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