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Mar 30, 2021

Spotify acquires Locker Room owner in first live-audio push

The logo for Spotify is displayed on a smartphone in an arranged photograph taken in Little Falls, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Spotify has invested hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring podcast studios such as Gimlet Media and the Ringer, hoping to attract new users and advertisers to what has been a music app. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

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Spotify Technology SA has acquired Betty Labs Inc., the creator of Locker Room, moving into live audio with an app that lets sports fans and experts chat in real time.

Spotify will operate Locker Room as a separate business, rather than integrate it into its namesake app, according to a statement Tuesday. It will rename the service and broaden its offerings beyond sports. The price wasn’t disclosed.

Live audio is now booming on the internet, thanks to Discord, an app for gamers, and Clubhouse, which is backed by a couple of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capitalists. Twitter Inc. has rolled outs its own competitor, Spaces, while Facebook Inc. is also reported to be working on a clone.

Sweden-based Spotify is already the leading audio app in the world, but thus far has been devoted to on-demand music, podcasts and audiobooks.

The company will seek to merge what makes Clubhouse popular -- spontaneous conversations about a TV show or the politics of the day -- with what many of those apps lack: a place to archive conversations for later consumption. Spotify will let users post live audio streams as on-demand podcasts for access through its own app.

“Interactivity and live is something our creators have been asking us for,” said Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify’s head of research and development. “A conversation between a few people, that has turned out to be a much more interesting live format.”

As part of Spotify, Locker Room will expand into programming about music and culture, giving the musicians and podcasters who already use the flagship music service a place to test live audio instead of using a rival service. Soderstrom will oversee the integration of the Locker Room team.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.