White noise podcast creators on Spotify are making serious money, and the audio streaming service was reportedly not happy about it and tried to cut them off. According to Bloomberg, it has viewed an internal document revealing that podcasts with white noise content, such as the sounds of waves, vacuums and whirring fans, accounted for a total of 3 million consumption hours on the platform every single day. That was made possible by Spotify's algorithm inadvertently pushing these types of content to its listeners as part of its efforts to become the go-to app for podcasts.
Previously, Bloomberg reported that white noise podcasters were making as much as $18,000 a month. A lot of creators on the platform, not just those broadcasting white noise, use Spotify's free hosting software Anchor to publish their shows. Spotify purchased Anchor back in 2019, and in addition to helping creators make and distribute their podcasts, it can also monetize their content.
While white noise podcasts turned out to be a hit with listeners, they apparently don't make Spotify as much money as other types of programming. The company reportedly considered removing them altogether and preventing future uploads in the category. Plus, it thought of altering its algorithm to recommend "comparable programming" that's more economical for Spotify. Doing all those would raise the company's annual gross profit by $38 million. The news organization didn't say if Spotify elaborated on what it meant by "comparable programming" in the internal document, but they could be other types of content meant to induce and improve sleep, as well as to help calm anxiety, which is what white noise is typically used for.
A thread on the Spotify subreddit posted a couple of months ago show multiple users complaining that the white noise podcasts they listen to had disappeared. Bloomberg also talked to a creator who said their content had vanished for a few weeks before being reinstated. Spotify didn't confirm whether it temporarily pulled white noise podcasts from its service, but it told the news organization that ultimately, "[t]he proposal in question did not come to fruition" and that it continues "to have white noise podcasts on [its] platform."