//Skip to content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Spotify’s Rhea Chedid on the Future of Podcasts in the Middle East and Africa

May 23, 2024

Podcasting in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a growing, yet still developing, market. According to a 2020 report by the Arab Podcasters Association, the MENA region has over 1,000 active podcasts, with the majority being in Arabic. 

Spotify has been actively expanding its podcast offerings in the Middle East and Africa, catering to the diverse linguistic, cultural, and content preferences of listeners in these regions. 

Rhea Chedid, the Editorial Lead, Podcast Host & Producer, and Content Strategist at Spotify, shared insights into the company’s approach at the Behind the Feature Spotify workshop on 8 May held in Cairo. 

To a curious audience, Chedid explained that Spotify’s curation strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is no different from other markets. 

“We have a local team from the MENA region who are cultural experts for both music and podcasts. Our team keeps a close eye on what is happening on the ground, and makes sure that the trends we see on the streets are emulated on our platform.”

The team curates content based on both popular shows and new, emerging podcasts. 

“We look at what people are already tuning into and adding new shows for our users to discover,” Chedid said. “We receive updates every day from creators about their new shows, and we listen to a lot of podcasts ourselves to stay informed.”

Trends in podcast consumption in the MENA region have positively influenced Spotify’s strategy. Chedid stated that “We’ve noticed that listeners like to listen to long-form conversation. A You.Gov study from last year showed that the MENA markets have the highest portion of heavy podcast listeners, with Saudi Arabia leading the pack at 67 percent of adults listening to at least one hour or more of podcasts per week.”

Photo: Rhea Chedid during Spotify’s Behind the Feature workshop

Chedid also observed a strong interest in comedy, self-improvement, and storytelling podcasts. “A main part of our strategy is to support creators. We pass on the trends we observe to creators so they are equipped with information when they produce content.”

Growth of Podcasting in MENA Region 

Looking ahead, Chedid is optimistic about the growth of podcasting in the Middle East and Africa. “Podcasting is still in its early days in the region, but it’s growing at a rapid pace. We believe this medium will continue to grow with new players entering the space.”

Spotify is also committed to contributing to this growth by providing tools and resources to creators. 

“We have a platform called Spotify for Podcasters that is free and that anyone can use to upload their shows onto Spotify,” said Chedid to Egyptian Streets. 

“They can also use Spotify for Podcasters to monitor their data and interact with their audience. Spotify for Podcasters also has a learning space where creators can access articles with tips and tricks of the trade.”

Cheded further emphasized Spotify’s dedication to catering to the diverse needs of the MENA region. “Our region is broad and there is a wide range of preferences and differences,” explained Chedid. “We make sure to give each market the attention it deserves and we are able to do that thanks to our great team of cultural experts.”

Photo: Rhea Chedid with Hala Hegazi discussing a new collaboration between Spotify and NogoumFM during Spotify’s Behind the Feature workshop.

“Spotify is one platform that has a growing offering. We want to make sure that each and every user has a  complete experience discovering the content they want — whether it be music, podcast or both.”

Generally, Chedid thinks that in Egypt, the podcast movement has seen significant growth—over 100 percent  year-on-year—and “we are actively working to foster this emerging podcast market.” 

Innovative Approaches 

Highlighting Spotify’s innovation and device integration efforts, Chedid pointed out Spotify’s efforts to enhance its features. 

“We continuously evolve our features to enhance user experience based on feedback from our creators and listeners,” said Chedid. “As audio content delivery becomes increasingly intuitive and seamless, our strategy focuses on creating a frictionless experience across all devices.” 

She claimed that over the past few years, Spotify’s partnerships have expanded from about 250 to over 2,000, encompassing a wide range of devices from wearables to kitchen appliances. 

Thus, Chedid believes that “this extensive integration has been key to Spotify’s growth, with 28 percent of all new Spotify registrations in 2022 coming from these devices, up from 14 percent in 2018.” 

Chedid indicated that Spotify’s ultimate goal is to always “reduce complexity and make the platform as accessible as possible, ensuring that users can enjoy rich audio content from our creators right when and where they want it.” 

Monetization Opportunities

Podcasting monetization is an important element for many creators in the MENA region and beyond, where opportunities across social media networks can be limited. 

When it comes to podcast monetization, Chedid provided insights into the platform’s innovative approaches in the MENA market.

Chedid confidently suggested that “as we reach the midpoint of 2024, the podcast industry is undergoing a significant transformation towards a more robust creator platform. As the world’s largest podcast platform, Spotify is ideally positioned to lead this evolution, thanks to the deep insights we’ve gained across multiple markets.” 

She expressed that currently, there is an increase in video podcast content globally and a shift in both creator and user behavior.” However, Spotify focuses on developing innovative monetization strategies for creators. 

“These strategies include increasing direct listener engagement through Spotify for Podcasters creator tools such as Q&As and polls,” Chedid conveyed. 

As one of the world’s largest podcast platforms, it is clear Spotify aims to foster the burgeoning podcast industry in the MENA region by providing creators with tools, resources, and innovative monetization strategies. 

Looking ahead, Chedid remains optimistic about the rapid growth of podcasting across the Middle East and Africa, confirming that Spotify is committed to supporting this emerging audio content landscape.

Comments (2)

  1. […] post Spotify’s Rhea Chedid on the Future of Podcasts in the Middle East and Africa first appeared on Egyptian […]