On Friday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) took the next step to expand its original podcast offerings, launching The Zane Lowe Interview Series, featuring the company's global creative director in conversations with some of entertainment's leading artists. Iconic musical guests include Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, and Hayley Williams.  

This latest offering is the first time Apple has focused solely on the entertainment industry for its original programming, and comes just as Lady Gaga prepares to release her sixth studio album, Chromatica. The series of podcasts will allow artists to talk "about their lives and the stories behind their songs," where "the biggest stars open up in these candid, in-depth conversations." 

A woman wearing sunglasses and headphones connected to her smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

About 37% of U.S. adults listen to podcasts each month, according to Edison Research, giving Apple a vested interest in the space. Apple has long been the No. 1 platform for podcast consumption, running the table for the past 15 years. In fact, the "pod" in podcast comes from Apple's original music player, the iPod. The tech giant remains the leader with 43% of unique devices and 61% of unique downloads according to podcast measurement company Chartable. 

In recent years, however, Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) has been investing heavily in podcasts, trying to wrest control from Apple. Spotify acquired numerous podcast networks -- including Gimlet and Anchor -- last year,  and has succeeded in closing the gap, leading some to conclude that Apple will have to up its game to retain the lead.

Apple received a patent back in 2015 for its targeted ad technology, and launched Podcast Analytics in 2018, allowing the company to maximize the ad revenue it generates from advertising on the podcasts.