Spotify, Wizarding World bring Harry Potter to digital audio
Daniel Radcliffe, David Beckham and Dakota Fanning are among a handful of celebrities who will be reading various chapters of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone” exclusively on Spotify.
The timing doesn’t hurt, as family-themed content has grown 19 percent in 2020, partially fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest figures from Podtrac.
“The collection of free initiatives is designed to help bring the magic of Harry Potter to children, parents and carers in lockdown,” Spotify said in a statement. “The Harry Potter At Home project is an initiative developed at short notice by Wizarding World Digital and J.K. Rowling’s agents The Blair Partnership, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Both free and paid Spotify listeners will have access to the programming. Radcliffe will kick off the series of readings with chapter one: “The Boy Who Lived.” The other 16 chapters will be released between now and the summer, Spotify says. Stephen Fry, Claudia Kim, Noma Dumezweni and Eddie Redmayne are among the cast of narrators slated to read chapters from the book.
Last week, Spotify reported first quarter revenue of $1.8 billion, up 22 percent year over year. It’s ad-supported tier grew 32 percent to 163 million, while ad revenue was also up 17 percent to $148 million, the company said.
The move also hints at the streaming giant's efforts to invade all things digital audio. Although it offers music and podcasts, it also has spoken entertainment—an area that’s been dominated historically by companies like Audible. Music streaming rivals Pandora and iHeartMedia do not offer audiobooks. Audiobooks generated nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2018, up 25 percent year over year, according to the latest figures from the Audio Publishers Association.