Spotify to Acquire Parcast in Podcast Push

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek - H - 2018

The podcast studio focuses on stories about true crimes, cults and unsolved mysteries.

Spotify is adding to its podcasting portfolio. 

The music streamer has purchased podcast studio Parcast as part of its expansion into the audio storytelling space. The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, comes a little more than a month after Spotify signaled its podcast ambitions with the acquisitions of Gimlet Media and Anchor for a combined nearly $340 million. 

With the three-year-old Parcast, Spotify adds a creative team with expertise in the true crime, cult and mystery stories that develop loyal audiences. The Los Angeles-based company currently has 18 series — including Serial Killers, Unsolved Murders and Female Criminals — with some 20 new shows expected to launch later this year. Its first scripted series, Mind's Eye, debuted in December.

"The addition of Parcast to our growing roster of podcast content will advance our goal of becoming the world's leading audio platform," said Spotify content chief Dawn Ostroff. "Crime and mystery podcasts are a top genre for our users and Parcast has had significant success creating hit series while building a loyal and growing fan base. We're excited to welcome the Parcast team to Spotify and we look forward to supercharging their growth." 

Much like Gimlet and Anchor, Parcast and its team of 20-plus employees is expected to continue to operate independently. The company will now be able to tap into Spotify's global audience of 207 million users and the robust advertising platform it has built. 

"In three years, we have created a production house that has grown exponentially and hit a chord with mystery and true-crime fans, especially women, across all 50 states and around the world," said Parcast founder and CEO Max Cutler. "We are proud to join the world’s most popular audio subscription streaming service and gain access to one of the largest audiences around the world. Alongside Spotify, our ability to scale, grow and amplify the unique and tailored brand of content we create is full of fantastic possibilities." 

Spotify head of studios Courtney Holt says he first got to know Cutler and the Parcast team during the regular course of doing business with the company. "We were seeing Parcast growing within our own platform," Holt explains. "We knew they were popular but when I started to se the growth that they were achieving, I was like, 'I really want to get to know them.'"

Holt adds that he became impressed by Parcast's production model, which allows the company to produce a high volume of shows that keep feeding the insatiable thirst for true crime stories. "They've captured core genres," he says. "When you want to listen to shows about serial killers or cults, they've found a way to grab an incredible share. And by the way, pay it off. They have built high-integrity content [at a] large volume and frequency." Los Angeles-based Parcast also adds a West Coast presence to Spotify's growing podcast portfolio. 

Holt's work to bring Parcast and Gimlet under the Spotify umbrella is part of a larger push by the company into other forms of audio entertainment.  After a decade focusing on Spotify's music streaming service, CEO Daniel Ek has laid out a plan for the company's future that includes an expansion into audio programming. In a blog post shared at the time of the Gimlet and Anchor acquisitions, Ek noted that Spotify has become the second-biggest podcasting platform in just under two years and that his goal was to become "the world's number one audio platform." He also hinted at the time that the company was prepared to make additional purchases in the space, revealing that the it planned to spend as much as $500 million on acquisitions during 2019. 

The Parcast acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter. 

March 26, 4:40 p.m. Updated to include an interview with Spotify head of studios Courtney Holt.