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Spotify launches new multimedia format, adding pictures, video and text

Tim Maytom

Spotify has unveiled a new multimedia format, Spotlight, that enables content creators to introduce a visual layer to their streamed audio, complementing podcasts, audiobooks, news and other audio with photos, video and text that appears as they move through each episode.

Spotify will launch the format with content from a wide variety of partners, including BuzzFeed News, Genius, Gimlet Media, Lenny Letter, Cheddar, Refinery29, Minefield Girl and Crooked Media, as well as using the format to augment its own orginal series such as Rise, Secret Genius, Spotify Singles and the new Viva Latino podcast.

"We are excited to launch Spotlight, a new format that merges great storytelling, news, information and opinion with visual elements all delivered in playlist form across a number of content categories," said Courtney William Holt, head of studios and video at Spotify. "Playlists play an important role in the daily lives of our users, bringing them closer to the creators they love."

The format is currently only available in the US, but will roll out to additional markets in the near future. Spotlight content will appear within relevant individual playlists for the content providers, with additional series launching in the next few months. Even within the launch titles, programming spans categories including news, pop culture, sports, politics and music. Spotify has not revealed whether or not advertising will be incorporated into Spotlight, or if any additional ad formats will be made available to brands as a result.

"We're excited to see partners like Spotify investing in podcasting to enhance the audience's experience of our storytelling," said Matt Lieber, co-founder and president of Gimlet Media. "Everything at Gimlet begins with audio, and with Spotlight, through new visual expressions of shows, we hope to reach new listeners in fresh and original ways."

"It feels like a generation ago that MTV News delivered the latest to a whole generation of music fans, but it's not hard to imagine BuzzFeed News and Spotify doing the same in 2018," said Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News. "We're incredibly excited to bring together our award-winning audio team, world-class journalism, and Spotify's massive, dynamic platform to get listeners up to speed every morning. I can't wait to see this project get off the ground next week and grow along with the future of news."