I hope that we'll hear the full story eventually and, of course, that this will prove to be a move for the better.
I would predict they keep doing 'Startup' as-is with its focus on other companies, and launch 'Acquisition' (or whatever) as an exclusive with excerpts of it in 'Startup'.
It's curious this article doesn't even mention iTunes; as far as I know, that's the undisputed champion of podcast discovery and distribution, isn't it? Can podcasts afford to leave it to become Spotify exclusives?
I really hope this fails though. One of the great things about podcasts is the open RSS based ecosystem. I think current listeners might be reluctant to move away from that. What scares me is that new listeners could come to spotify and not realize it is weird for podcasts.
The only real issue RSS has is that ads have to be baked in. Sadly I don't know if we could have an open system with personalized ads.
Who wants personalized ads? When you watch the Superbowl, or flip through a People magazine, or look around the terminal while waiting for the train - does the lack of personalized ads seem like a problem?
I can't think of anything that personalized ads have ever made better.
The average content producer (like every one who isn't already popular) doesn't get to flick a switch between "general ads" and "personalized ads".
They get to choose between no ads (because they are too small to attract private ads) and the ability to make money. Look at Adsense or Youtube.
For example, 90%+ of Youtube creators couldn't negotiate an ad deal like Leo Laporte because they are too small. Generalized ad services like Adsense/Youtube create income for the 90%, and personalization boosts that income allowing more people to produce more content.
Me, too. I hope so for two reasons:
1. I want to use my app of choice for listening to pods. I hated the Spotify app when I had a family plan with them.
2. I stopped my family plan because of their horrible, terrible, infuriating support. I was able to simply demonstrate a bug that they've know about for a year, that could be fixed with 5 lines of Java, and they gave me the runaround for days, completely wasting my time. The problem was this: when you reboot Android 9 and have your music on an SD card, it loses track of the SD card because the service starts while Android is checking the SD card, and the Spotify service can't see the SD card then, so it assumes it's gone and switches you to internal storage. Since I had 1500 songs downloaded to my SD card, it then starts to download those 1500 songs again, to my internal storage, which it fills up and causes problems for my phone.
I vow to never pay Spotify another cent.
I’ve had a similar problem on my old phone (running 4.4 Kit Kat). It doesn’t even need to reboot to lose track of the SD card. It happens randomly (seems more likely when the phone is charging) and it’s infuriating when it does – but it’s seldom enough that I’ve learned to live with it. Fair play for making an attempt to get the bug fixed. In my case, I figured Spotify probably wouldn’t support such an old OS.
They've already figured out how to do this. I download the Waypoint podcast (which is part of the Vice Media family) via old-school RSS feed, and the most recent episode I downloaded had a pre-roll ad which specifically called out the city that I live in.
I'm not a fan of podcasts getting personalized ads. I'm disappointed about Anchor being acquired here because they've introduced a way for smaller podcasters to get ads for their podcasts (that they can read themselves!) without going the personalized route.
Plus, of course, dynamic ad lengths completely break the ability to share timestamps for podcasts -- no "you should really listen to the bit starting at 17:52"...
> Meanwhile Apple, which does have the users thanks to the dominance of the iOS Podcast app,  has shown little inclination of being that centralized player. I wrote about the company’s opportunities in the space two years ago , but despite the shift in strategy to services  nothing has changed.
 > iTunes is very important to podcasting, but it is only a directory of podcasts that are hosted elsewhere; that means it is not a means to collect user data
I think you might be an Apple user who doesn't realize that the majority of all device users don't own Apple devices, so for Apple to be the champion of anything (except profit per user) is a bit of a mathematical impossibility.
The power and reach of the default install of Apple Podcasts is hard to ignore. (which I don't believe most Android phones have).
It's not a mathematical impossibility because, as far as I know, podcast listeners are still quite a small number. Plus, you forgot iPod owners (I know a few Android users who carry an iPod when exercising).
I also wouldn’t underestimate the possibility that there is some correlation between enjoying the podcast format and Appple products. This American Life, as the prototypical podcast, is really what happens if you leave Jony Ive in a locked room with only a microphone and a dwindling supply of coffee.
I run a site for us university students and it's roughly a 90%/10% split for ios/android.
Basically you're ignoring conditional probability.
the good thing about podcasts is that they seem significantly more diversified. On my podcast app I listen to many podcasts that have only a thousand subscribers or so and don't really rely on a lot of funding.
I have a hard time imagining that any of those is going to be sucked into some exclusive deal with spotify.
There's a lot more space for quality content that isn't commercialised in the podcast space, because lots of podcasting isn't a main source of income for the producer.
It is my opinion that Audio is going to be a huge opportunity for lots of Startups, I feel it is underserved. I really do feel that the AirPods have been game changing in making audio consumption far easier. In some ways they are the new iPod for Apple, they cost about the same as the iPod used to and I’m almost certain at some point Apple will add storage to them and we will be able to take them with us without our phone. I believe they are expected to sell 75 million units through this year, those are no small numbers and presents a huge opportunity for audio startups.
The other thing about Audio is that there is so much more potential than just music or podcast. Since Audio is obviously one of those things you can consume on the go, while doing other things, like exercising or commuting and you can consume it for so much more than just entertainment but to stay informed or to learn. In some ways audio is far superior to video in our modern fast paced world.
As a little self promotion, this is exactly why I decided to create an app that uses some open machine learning models to read articles to you, I believe folks on the go will benefit immensely by staying informed and learning new things. You can check it out at https://articulu.com
Sometimes I think top 40 radio has less ads than the Techmeme Ride Home. I haven't crunched any numbers to see.
This article is basically saying that Spotify wants to do to the podcast scene what AdSense did to "the internet", what Google did to YouTube, and what major record labels did to hip-hop. To me, that might mean, among other things: higher production-value (read: higher cost-of-entry), SEO-y tactics by content producers and publishers, all of which leads to a general homogenization of content.
In general, thus far, the primary focus of most producers has been on content and community (think early Yahoo, NPR, Mos Def) -- not on monetization. If this industry grows an order of magnitude beyond the current $300m, it's easy to imagine that the prospect of money will be a powerful incentive to narrow the scope of content.
It's a trade-off, for sure, but from some points of view such a move could definitely be seen as a decline. Ending a golden age, if you will.
There was a lot of backlash and, especially, no shortage of gamers willing to tell you that game modding should be a labor of love and a voluntary charity. It's a pretty easy claim when one is benefitting without any skin in the game.
I'm getting hints of that all over again in these comments, but you have a pretty reasonable explanation of the trade-offs.
Though since since so few people do it, I like to take the side that more content producers able to make more money at any size creates an explosion of content that everyone benefits from. For example, I'd mark the Golden Age of the internet on the period where Adsense reigned rather than what came before.
I do hate exclusives though... I still have not played bloodbourne or demon souls because of that crap
Plex is pulling the same approach with podcasts and 'web TV', and it's annoying the hell out of users that would rather see increased time and money invested in core features. I don't want to see the same happen to Spotify.
Spotify doesn't seem to suffer from any similar issues. It appears I can reach the music I'd like in the same number of straight-forward clicks as before podcast-related features were introduced.
And now they're planning to take away something consumers have. I have little doubt that they'll succeed in turning what is currently an open ecosystem where users have choice into a closed system of fiefdoms like video streaming is increasingly becoming.
Spotify is a bad podcast app. In no particular order:
* There seems to be an inconsistent restriction in the number of episodes you can see. Daily podcasts suffer particularly from this.
* I need three gestures just to get to podcasts on their app, and then more to start digging into genres.
* Available podcasts seem to be curated - the selection is very small.
* There are no ratings
* There is no way to see what's trending, or it is non-obvious
* Downloading is locked behind a paywall, which is a big deal for a medium where individual episodes can be several hundred megabytes
* Subscribing is an afterthought. Three interactions to see what's new in a podcast I'm subscribed to.
In summation: terrible discoverability, slim selection, cumbersome ui, and basic features missing or locked behind a paywall.
I, for one, do not welcome our new overlords.
Over the last 18 months it has become a bad music app too. Two years ago it only took one or two clicks to load your music and your downloaded music remained.. downloaded.
Nowadays you have to fight through several screens of "promotional feeds" to get to your playlists which will then be half empty because the downloaded songs have been removed.
They're clearly being driven as a new music marketing service by their record company overlords.
Also Spotify will start pushing its podcasts more in app since as per the article there are better profits available - so expect it be slower and require more clicks to open the app and just play your music avoiding promotions for exclusive podcast content.
I just assumed that they had some metric indicating that not many people used it...
And especially German podcasts found a way to send them money without paying fees like patreon or paypal does so that even small amounts like $1 make sense.
> BIC + IBAN is often the cheapest way to transfer money internationally and is now free of charge* in much of Europe under EU/EEA directive 2560/2001. BIC + IBAN international bank transfers are faster, more efficient, and low-cost as they are sent directly through the SWIFT interbank network without using intermediary banks (who deduct charges or fees for their service). IBAN will be progressively introduced in most OECD countries to allow Straight Through Processing of cross border payments.
Of course that runs the risk of creating (podcast-centric) competitors to Spotify. But such a counter intuitive strategy never hurt Amazon.
Personally I’m highly skeptical this is going to move the needle on revenue for them in the long run and more than anything feels more like a desperation play than a smart business strategy.
Going back just one year the main bull case made by Scott Galloway was that Spotify would eventually own video on mobile. Clearly that’s not going to happen now that it’s apparent that space is going to be carved up between YouTube and Facebook. I think Spotify is eventually going to be acquired by a much larger company making a push into services after its market cap has been cut significantly.
This is old news. They have up to 3x now in my iOS app.
Just like TV/movies Podcasts won't remain 100% channel agnostic.
This is the world I want to live in:
You can listen to Recode Media wherever you get your podcasts — including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Overcast.
Worth grabbing in case they go away.