Behind the scenes of podcast curation with Spotify Podcast Editorial – News – Spotify For Podcasters

Learn how the Spotify team selects the podcasts they feature and what creators can do to be considered.

Of all the podcasts in the world, why do some appear when you search for podcasts on Spotify? How do these featured podcasts land that prime real estate, and what can creators do to get their podcasts there? If you have your own podcast, we guess these are burning questions.

The process is not arbitrary. In fact, the Spotify Podcast editorial team put a lot of thought into it. They’re the arbiters of the curated podcasts you see on Spotify, and the ones who spend most of their time listening to and scheduling podcasts on the app.

We went straight to the source to ask how a creator can get the attention of the Spotify Podcast editorial team. Brianne O’Brien, Deontay Morris and Isabella Way are there to demystify the curatorial process. They shared their retention goals and deciding factors with us, along with tips to inspire your own podcast strategy.

The 101 on podcasts curated by Spotify

There’s a lot of value for creators included in the editorially curated podcast homepage, news page, community destinations, and podcast playlists, primarily the opportunity to capture a lot more fans.

A team of expert podcast curators, including programmers and editors, develops the featured pages and selects the shows and episodes that appear on them. The team breaks down Spotify’s huge catalog of podcasts into manageable pieces based on the audience, community, or genre they align with.

The Podcast homepage is the first page users see when they click “Podcasts” on the home screen of the Spotify app. So it is important for users who are looking for new shows to listen. This page features the editor’s picks of the best episodes of the moment and the most trending categories.

Community destinations bring together shows and episodes that fit major themes and audiences. Some of them include The Roster for sports and gaming podcasts, theLINER for music podcasts, The Dinner Table for black culture and history podcasts, and PRESENTE for Latinx community podcasts.

Way, who is the podcast programming manager, manages the utility landing pages with the programming operations team. These promote and support podcast discovery and include new podcast releases, only on Spotify, Listen If You’re Watching, and Creator Space. Unlike our community destinations, which talk about users’ identities and lingering interests like true crime, music and astrology, our utility destinations help users stay up to date on the latest podcast releases, Spotify exclusives , video podcasts, current TV/movie conversations and more.

The team also creates editorial podcast playlists, launching in 2020 with flagship playlists like Top Podcasts of the Month and Crime Scene, a selection of true crime podcasts.

The purpose of the podcast editorial team’s curation

It can be overwhelming for listeners to sift through the millions of podcasts on Spotify. That’s the predicament Community Destinations, Collections, and Playlists solve and why there’s a whole team dedicated to the cause. Above all, curated podcasts are about discovering and connecting listeners with podcasts they’ll love.

“Our goal is to find the best podcasts in all genres and formats and for all identities. We want to help listeners navigate the world through learning, connection, and community, and we do that through various curations with different audience segments in mind,” says O’Brien, Editorial Manager from the podcast.

These curated resources are as much for new podcast listeners as they are for fanatics with insatiable podcast appetites. “We know that while podcasts aren’t new to us, there are still quite a few people looking for their first or second podcast to love. So we try to leverage important cultural moments and social conversations to bring as many people into the podcast funnel as possible,” says Morris, editorial community manager for the podcast.

Morris touts the impact podcasts can have on people’s lives and how playlists make these empowering stories more accessible. “Listeners improved their mental health, became better parents, became better citizens and bought a house, to name a few examples, thanks to the podcasts they heard. We focus on those unique and awe-inspiring stories that inspire countless people to action. And our retention strategy keeps that front and center so that the Spotify app always has the human touch to keep our listeners engaged and coming back,” he says.

How the selection process works

As you can imagine, the podcast editorial team is made up of voracious podcast consumers. “Listening and learning are constants in our work,” says O’Brien. The team has a variety of sources and methods for finding podcasts to consider, including creator pitches, podcasting email newsletters, social media, networks and studios they follow, recommendations from their content partnerships team, word of mouth and research around the Spotify app itself.

Morris says the driving mission during their research is to listen to a wide range of shows and elevate marginalized creators. He estimates that “every editor spends about 20 hours a week listening to podcasts. Over a year, that’s almost a thousand hours of podcast listening!

O’Brien says that while their curatorial criteria are open-ended, in general they look for “creators and storytellers who have the ability to move listeners both large and small.” But they have some specific qualities they look for in the podcasts they choose to feature. Not all will apply to all podcasts, depending on genre or audience, but these are some of the factors considered by the editorial team. Podcasters: beware.

  • Hang on and give us a reason to keep listening
  • Both educating and entertaining us (e.g. storytelling, investigative journalism, etc.)
  • Authenticity and inclusiveness
  • Enlighten or challenge us through captivating conversation
  • Consistency between theme and production value
  • Filled with twists and unexpected surprises (e.g. true crime, documentary)
  • Leads to personality and/or having amazing chemistry with the host (e.g. interview-oriented shows)
  • Well researched and including a range of voices (e.g. news and politics, science, history)
  • Provides a frictionless listening experience
  • Experimental format (e.g. fiction, music, comedy)

The team also takes audio quality into consideration, but that shouldn’t put off creators who don’t have the most advanced or sophisticated setups. As Way says, “It doesn’t have to be a full professional studio, but the production value doesn’t have to detract from the listening.”

Check out some of the podcast recording equipment and accessories plus additional podcast microphones and audio gear to get your studio set up for success.

How Creators Can Get Noticed by the Spotify Podcast Editorial Team

Beyond producing content that meets the editorial team’s criteria, there are some additional steps creators can take to make an impression.

Along with storytelling skills and creating quality, compelling content, Morris says marketing and promotion will give creators that extra edge. “Social media is a great way to get your message out, not just to us, but to the world, mentioning @SpotifyPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram and @Spotify on TikTok.”

He also recommends making sure the way you title your episodes is consistent and spending time on your episode descriptions. Present the most important and interesting parts of your show in a succinct way that will capture listeners’ interests.

Also, a podcast editorial submission form is coming soon. With this new development, creators will have the ability to submit their podcasts directly to the editorial team for review. It will be an important tool for creators to show up at Spotify Podcast Editorial and join the amazing shows featured on curated playlists. Stay tuned for updates!

Creators are always considered

If your podcast hasn’t been featured on a community destination or curated playlist yet, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot more opportunities. Way says, “A lot of our curation is thematic, so if your podcast isn’t suitable for something right now, it can fit into a later collection or curation.”

The Spotify Podcast editorial team is constantly revisiting podcasts, old and new. They know more than anyone that creators starting out will develop their skills, find their audience, and increasingly define their niche as they go.

“We meticulously keep track of every podcast we hear and check. Podcasters are humans who grow and perfect their craft over time, so we definitely revisit shows all the time,” Morris says.

Guest-curated podcast playlists provide another entry point for being featured in Spotify’s podcast spaces. These guests, identified by the Spotify Podcast editorial team, bring more diverse tastes and recommendations from artists, influencers, activists and other trusted actors. So when listeners see a playlist of someone they’re a fan or admire, they can check what podcasts those people are on.

Morris says guest curations are an important part of amplifying podcast creators. These respected personalities can reach the same communities and audiences that creators want to attract.

In 2021 there were over 50 guest selections, and there are plans to do even more in 2022. Some of Morris’ favorite playlists include Teenager Therapy, Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. and Stacey Abrams .

Creators are lucky to be surrounded by an incredible source of inspiration on Spotify: other talented creators. All they have to do is watch the creators featured in Community Destinations and the all-new Creator Space, a purpose-built hub. The Creator’s Space offers curated shows and episodes that fall into three different, regularly updated categories: Independent Podcast Picks, How to Make a Podcast, and Featured Video Podcasts.

Use these spaces to imagine where your podcast might fit in and work towards that goal of one day being featured yourself. The Podcast editorial team is always listening and attentive.