Leaked Audio Recording Reveals Audible’s CEO Feels Threatened by Spotify

An leaked audio recording also leaked Audible CEO's true feelings on Spotify's move.
An leaked audio recording also leaked Audible CEO’s true feelings on Spotify’s move.

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“It’s hard to ignore what Spotify’s doing,” says Carrigan.

Audible CEO Bob Carrigan openly admitted concerns about Spotify’s entry into the audiobook market during an internal meeting, as revealed by a leaked recording. He highlighted the streaming giant’s freemium model as a formidable new challenge for the Amazon-owned audiobook company.

Spotify joined the audiobook niche last November 2023, when they made 200,000 audiobooks available for Spotify Premium users. However, they also have a 15-hour listening limit per user per month for audiobooks.

Spotify’s Challenge to Audible

A peak into Spotify's audiobook feature (From: Spotify)
A peak into Spotify’s audiobook feature (From: Spotify)

The leaked audio was a recording of a recent internal all-hands meeting at Amazon’s Audible.

Here, CEO Bob Carrigan confronted the reality of Spotify’s significant move into the audiobook market. He says Spotify’s adoption of a freemium model for audiobooks directly targets Audible’s established user base.

“A year ago, we didn’t have a subscription-based, fully included competitor that has hundreds of millions of customers. To say that that is not something that we should be paying close attention to would be business irresponsibility.” says Carrigan.

An employee further probed Carrigan. He questioned why he was spending so much time “in fear of our competition” these days instead of focusing on retaining and acquiring more customers.

Audible's CEO, Bob Carrigan weighs how Spotify has impacted the audiobook market. (From: Audible)
Audible’s CEO, Bob Carrigan weighs how Spotify has impacted the audiobook market. (From: Audible)

Carrigan responded, saying, “it’s hard to ignore what Spotify’s doing.” This is in reference to the music streaming app’s recent launch of free audiobooks for premium subscribers.

He agreed that Amazon’s motto has always been to “be customer-focused, competitor aware.” But, he also says the emergence of Spotify in its core market creates a new dynamic that cannot be ignored.

According to Carrigan, Spotify’s move was “a bit unprecedented” due to its size and scale, adding another layer to the understanding of the challenge Audible faces.

However, Carrigan assured that he only spends 10% of his efforts dwelling on the competition. He says 90% of his efforts are still focused on enhancing the customer experience and supporting content creators.

This reflects Amazon’s principle of being “customer focused, competitor aware.”

Internal Concerns Amid Market Shifts

Audible's best selling audiobooks, as found on their website. (From: Audible)
Audible’s best selling audiobooks, as found on their website. (From: Audible)

The meeting, which came in the wake of Audible laying off 5% of its workforce, wasn’t just about external competition.

Discussions also delved into the internal state of the company. They touched upon issues like employee morale and the potential impact of artificial intelligence on jobs.

These internal challenges accent the sense of urgency in responding to Spotify’s market entry even further.

The audio recording was obtained and confirmed by the team from Business Insider.

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