A Quick Guide to Spotify’s Podcast Metrics

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Plus what to do with all that data.

You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into a killer podcast—now it’s time to focus on the numbers. At Spotify, we offer some key metrics that can help you determine how effectively your podcast is reaching listeners and how well you are holding their attention. Many podcasters believe that focusing on total consumption time is one of the best indicators of success. However, we’ve found that looking past that number and zeroing in on a few other important metrics is far more informative in measuring the growth and engagement of your audience.

In our series The Input, we do a deep dive into these numbers with the help of Spotify experts. But for a quick breakdown, read on for what these metrics are, what they mean, and how they can help you continue to gain followers, listeners, and, eventually, loyal fans.

Number of starts and streams

At both the podcast and episode levels, you’ll be able to see the number of starts—that’s how many people actually press play—as well as the total number of streams. A stream is calculated after a full 60 seconds have been played. Looking at this from the podcast level allows you to get a glimpse into the growth of your podcast, episode to episode. It also highlights any major spikes or dips in streams to help you better understand what type of content has resonated the most with your audience. Are there some episodes that do better than others? What can you learn from those?

Individual episode performance

Your episode performance data offers a snapshot into exactly how your audience is engaging with your podcast, second by second. You’ll see a graph that represents your audience’s retention. It includes the average time users spent listening to the episode, plus the percentage of listeners that got to the first, second, and third quartile, and those who made it all the way to the end. This allows you to track exactly when people drop out. Did you grab listeners from the beginning? Did you put an ad up that may have affected the retention rate?

Take note of any steep drops in retention and revisit that time in your audio. This may indicate a point that people are skipping through—perhaps an ad was placed there; if not, it could be a place where users simply lost interest. It’s also useful to compare the performance of each of your episodes to look for any patterns in your users’ listening habits. Does retention always drop around the same time? Why might that be?

Number of unique listeners and followers

These two metrics give you insight into your total reach, including how many unique listeners started each episode. You can also track if you’re getting more listeners as you publish more episodes. Meanwhile, your follower count indicates the number of people who click the “Follow” button on your podcast. Once someone does that, your podcast is added to their library, and the library updates when you release a new episode. While this allows you to see how many people are finding your podcast and interested enough to follow you, it doesn’t reflect how many of those people will end up actually listening to an episode.

Gender, age, and geography breakdowns

Get to know who your audience better with data that details the gender, age, and location of each registered listener. This can be helpful for figuring out appropriate content for your podcast, targeting ads, and maybe even setting up appearances or tours in countries where your podcast is particularly popular.

Gauging success

Of these key metrics, we think the first two are especially effective in gauging the growth and success of your podcast. Focusing on the number of streams over time and the retention rates for each individual episode reveals how people are truly engaging in your podcast. And if they’re already tuning in for the long haul, congrats! You’ve clearly got a hit on your hands.