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Will Spotify Ruin Podcasting? (mattstoller.substack.com)
491 points by chottocharaii 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 367 comments





Article is definitely worth a read.

> From 2014 to 2020, Spotify bought 15 companies, companies that build everything from data analytics to music and audio production tools to audio ad tools to licensing platforms, and podcasting networks.

> Spotify is directly mimicking Google and Facebook, and attempting to roll up power over digital audio markets the way Google and Facebook did over the internet. It has already done so in music.

As it exists today, the podcasting ecosystem is a very open system, with publicly accessible feeds and the ability to use any app/player.

I'm very afraid that if Spotify keeps this up, it's going to lead to a very fragmented system similar to the film/TV streaming industry (Netflix, Prime, Apple TV, et al.) which would require you to install proprietary apps and pay for multiple subscriptions to listen to stuff. Likely several different apps for different shows and companies.

Unfortunately, it appears that Spotify is motivated by increased profits and getting a market monopoly to completely destroy the open system that we have today, which will also make it undoubtedly harder for newcomers to enter the industry.

Right now Spotify complains about how Apple apps have an unfair advantage on Apple's platform, but they're doing the same thing. Spotify podcasts have an unfair advantage on Spotify's platform. I don't believe the platform should also be a content creator. This is really shitty of Spotify to do.


Spotify isn’t doing anything to podcasts. An audio program that doesn’t publish an RSS feed that I can subscribe to in my podcast player of choice isn’t a podcast. It’s also not something I’m going to waste my time listening to.

As far as Apple, Apple’s podcast directory and app are the very definition of “open”. Apple just indexes publicly available submitted RSS feeds. When you subscribe from Apple’s podcast app, the app itself polls the publishers RSS feed and plays directly from the publisher’s servers.

You can also subscribe to a podcast directly from the app using the url to the podcast - it doesn’t have to be in Apple’s directory.

Apple even offers a public API of the podcast directory that can be used by anyone on any platform.


Spotify is trying to replace podcasts with the thing that isn't a podcast. You can decide not to listen to things that aren't podcasts, but if Spotify is successful, that may mean that podcasts you currently enjoy are no longer available in a medium you're willing to consume. That's the worry here.

I've already seen this start happening with Parcast. Since being purchased by Spotify, they're using their existing podcasts to advertise other "podcasts" that are only available streaming on Spotify. I'm guessing the ones I listen to now will eventually go away into the Spotify walled garden.


The podcasts I enjoy the most I can 99% guarantee that they will not go to Spotify:

The Talk Show - the most popular (and profitable AFAIK) Apple related podcast. The chance of Gruber going Spotify only are basically 0.

Accidental Tech Podcast - seeing that one of the cohosts (Marco Arment) actually developed one of the most popular podcast apps for iOS, I don’t think he is going to make a podcast that can’t be listened to on his own app.

Under The Radar - another podcast by Marco Arment.

Exponent - Ben Thompson of Stratechery. He doesn’t directly monetize his podcast. He has a very successful paid newsletter. He wouldn’t want to put his podcast out of reach of the most people.

Manager Tools/Career Tools - the only ads they do on their podcasts are for their own products.

Some developer focused podcasts

Various NPR podcasts.

Etc.

All the podcasts I listen to have a vested interests in reaching the broadest audience possible.


> The podcasts I enjoy the most [...] All the podcasts I listen to

Emphasis on "I". You are not everyone, and so you don't control all the demand, and so you don't control the direction that the market moves in. Though it's not self-evident that we're headed towards podcast centralization, I think it's a legitimate concern here.

Social networks like Facebook ate a decent part of the open internet's cake in the 2000s because the centralized services were easier to set up and user for the end users (compared to the RSS and SMTP hacks).

I think that's what is going to matter here: If Spotify does a significantly better job than plain RSS, then they're going to be "the" place to listen to podcasts, and can start building a closed ecosystem and then use their monopoly to rent seek. And like in the social networks case, I don't think it's going to be that hard to improve on plain RSS. Some podcasting apps already have comments, user ratings, etc. and I definitely find this sort of thing useful.

Maybe the path of least resistance in these sorts of situations is always some degree of centralization, but I obviously hope the tide starts going back out at some point - preferably complete decentralization, rather than just federated protocols. I think it's a bit like how native apps can move faster (in terms of new APIs and stuff), and the web slowly follows along, waiting for certain things to be "proven" before standardizing them. I think the web wins in the long run, but native apps end up being the "exploratory" instrument in our search algorithm.


Well, seeing that almost every stat shows that the majority of podcasts listeners are iOS users. (https://musicoomph.com/podcast-statistics/) - 54% iOS users - what are the chances that Spotify can become overwhelming on Apple’s platforms? If you want to be a mass market success and reach the largest, most affluent audience, you can’t be a Spotify exclusive.

How many of the top 50 podcast do you suppose would be willing to give up their broader market to be Spotify only?


What is the problem with using Spotify on iOS and listening your exclusive Spotify podcasts?

No problem, but Spotify is rapidly losing market share to Apple Music and people are not likely to download another app just to listen to an not-podcast. You will lose a large portion of your audience if you can’t be found in the default podcast app not all of the third party apps that use Apple’s public API.

If you were creating a website, how much would Microsoft have to pay you to be exclusively discovered with Bing and not be found with Google?


>Well, seeing that almost every stat shows that the majority of podcasts listeners are iOS users. (https://musicoomph.com/podcast-statistics/) - 54% iOS users

How would they even measure this? What share of those is Spotify users?


When you retrieve the RSS feed for the podcast, your client sends its name in the header just like a browser.

Spotify is at 10%

https://a16z.com/2019/05/23/podcast-ecosystem-investing-2019...


Spotify "caches" episodes so it's clout tends to not be actively reflected in such numbers.[1] I don't know how much but I can assure you it's way higher than 10%

https://www.reddit.com/r/podcasting/comments/9ytna1/does_spo...


If that’s the case, it doesn’t help podcasters. Podcasters get paid based on number of listeners. If the podcaster can’t count Spotify users, they are not as valuable to podcasters.

However, Overcast also caches RSS feeds but it does send the number of subscribers for a feed in the header of the GET request. It also doesn’t cache the actual audio.


Once you put your podcast onto Spotify they give you better info on your listeners and subscribers and number of listens (at least the ones listening on Spotify). You don't lack any data.

We've refused to put any of our 8 podcasts on Spotify for various reasons. One of the reasons is that they will accept money from paying customers and from ad co's for non-paying listeners, but simply want our content for free. Ummm... no thanks.


Additionally, Spotify has older podcasts ‘marked’ on where the audio ads go, and will serve an updated audio ad within the podcast, even though the episode may be several years old.

Could this be Spotify’s version of AdWords for audio?


You can already get dynamically inserted ads with podcasts without going exclusively Spotify. https://marketingland.com/your-quick-start-guide-to-podcast-...

iOS user here that is a longtime Spotify subscriber. By all other accounts I’m fully bought into the Apple ecosystem but After multiple free or cheap multi month trials on Apple Music I’m still not sold.

Most podcasters that are made an offer that they can’t refuse, probably won’t refuse.


Well, seeing that Apple Music doesn’t host podcasts and there is a separate podcast app with all your other podcast, how does Apple Music play into it?

Would you take your website off the web and host your content exclusively as a Facebook page?


You go where consumers are. I mean there are plenty of businesses that don't have their own web page, but do have a facebook page. Not only is it free, but it is easier to set up. Plus you know that is where all your consumers spend all their time. So if I were a small podcast and knew I could reach the most audience on Spotify that is where I would be.

Spotify only has about 10% of consumers and now if you go exclusively to Spotify, you aren’t reachable by the most popular podcast apps.

Spotify works fine on iOS, so going Spotify only doesn't "lock out" iOS users. There's a paywall, sure, but that's no different to on Android.

If the most affluent audience is iOS users, then Spotify probably sees this as critical to success on iOS because it gives them something that people can't get from Apple Music.

How many of the top 50 podcast do you suppose would be willing to give up their broader market to be Spotify only?

It's interesting: exclusive deals haven't worked well in the music industry because artists make most money outside the platform in concerts etc, and exclusive deals eats into that. OTOH, media plays (eg streamers, TV shows) make most of their money directly from the show and so exclusive deals make sense.

I think many of the top 50 podcasts are exclusively advertising supported, and so they will be tempted by an exclusive deal.


Would you go to a special browser to read not-web pages?

We know that the top Apple related podcasters charge between $5500-$6500 a spot for three to four ads per episode. How much do you think the top more general podcast like Stuff You Should Know charge?

Do you think they would stop publishing podcast that can be found not only when people click on the Podcast app that comes preinstalled with all iOS devices, but can also be found on other podcast apps that use Apple’s public API to its podcast directory?


Based in reports that Spotify is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on podcasts each year, I'd guess $100k an episode isn't that crazy.

It may even be cheap - Howard Stern's deal is reported to be $90m/year (and that is exclusive to one publisher).


Spotify isn’t that profitable, what happens when the easy debt money dries up?

Spotify is profitable, and they can adjust profit/growth by adjusting marketing spend.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2...


I assume that the hope is that by that point they are a monopoly/oligopoly and can make money.

It doesn’t matter if the hosts can no longer book advertisers. Many of those hosts used to use The Deck ad network on their websites. It died because Facebook took all the ad revenue.

Do you have an actual argument? Because all you have been saying is basically "it won't affect me so it's not a problem."

As much as I want that to be the case, "A television broadcast that doesn't come in free over the airwaves isn't a broadcast show" type sentiments didn't stop cable, and while cable started with a nicer, often ad-free offering, the advantages faded as it grew, balkanization of channel offerings eventually came, etc. Operating a local television station in the US today now requires collaboration with these companies, and they have little incentive to work effectively with smaller local players. They can get nationally syndicated shows through their originating networks, and only really need to bow to local interests at all for highly localized things like news (and even that's dying rapidly).

These open spaces and preferred arrangements have to be defended or they will die.


Cable TV started as a way for people in mountainous areas to get signal to their sets ... not as an ad-free alternative to broadcast TV. At the time, over-the-air networks were received by the cable TV companies and sent down the wires (coaxial cable), so the reality is that the subscribers were paying for free television when they couldn't receive the signal directly at their location.

That was definitely the case for early cable, but at the point where it was receiving wide adoption one of the main selling points for non-isolated customers was premium cable-only channels, which at the time were generally ad-free or very sparse with adverts. Broadcast channels always had adverts, but those weren't the selling point for wide adoption.

That hasn’t changed. The same “premium only” content without ads is still ad free. Early cable channels like TBS always had ads.

A lot of specialty and news content that used to be ad-free or relatively low-ad-content isn't anymore, but this also isn't really relevant to my point and I never said that cable used to be ad-free, but rather that there used to be a more prominent attraction to it due to some ad-free content offerings.

That ad free content still exists - HBO and similar channels. The same content that was originally ad free.

But now, we are actually in a golden age of having ad free content for TV.

Of course you have Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. But you also have Hulu’s ad free tier that offers content from NBC, ABC, and the Fox networks without ads and you have CBS All Access. You can also get ad free content from AMC.

Someone has to pay for the content. If you are willing to pay for ad free video, there are plenty of options.


> HBO and similar channels.

All four of them?

And Hulu's fake ad-free tier is pretty ridiculous.


Sounds like only 3 shows currently show ads on the ad-free tier: https://help.hulu.com/s/article/hulu-no-ads?language=en_US

Is that not the case?


It being a small number of shows doesn't stop it from being ridiculous.

Why do I have a feeling that you probably don’t watch any of those three shows and if so, it’s probably only Agents of Sheild?

I can't criticize Hulu if I don't have it?

you are complaining about three shows out of the literally hundreds if not thousands of episodes of TV shows that it has.

And probably knowing the demographics of HN, you wouldn’t be that interested in Greys Anatomy.


Something doesn't have to affect me personally to be ridiculous.

So would it be better for them to take those three shows off Hulu to keep things “pure”?

HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, STARZ on regular TV plus plenty of ad free streaming alternatives.

What ads do you see on Hulu’s ad free tier? The extra on demand content you get is from Hulu Live.


Cable was never an ad free alternative. That’s a popular meme.

A large number of premium, cable-exclusive channels were at one point. Broadcast channels weren't, but that wasn't a disadvantage, and those premium channels brought a lot to the table.

https://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/26/arts/will-cable-tv-be-inv...


Those few premium channels that you paid extra for on top of your regular cable build were ad free and still are.

Some of them are, especially movie-related ones, but special interest and news channels generally run ads now. This also isn't really relevant to my point and I never said that cable used to be ad-free, but rather that there used to be a more prominent attraction to it due to some ad-free content offerings.

I remember when cable first came to my city. They marketed it heavily as being an ad-free alternative to broadcast TV. That was not a myth.

Cable TV was first created to deliver broadcast TV. Where do you think all of the content came from? Second run syndication of broadcast TV supported by advertising and premium channels that you paid extra for. It wasn’t until maybe 15 years ago that cable channels started producing their own non reality content.

> Spotify isn’t doing anything to podcasts. An audio program that doesn’t publish an RSS feed that I can subscribe to in my podcast player of choice isn’t a podcast.

You are grossly underestimating the threat. The majority of people don't even know what an RSS feed is, and a lot of users are already listening exclusively through Spotify. For them, those are the "podcasts". The change is already ongoing, and Spotify will not stop until staying out of its platform will no longer be an option for podcast producers. They will swallow up the whole ecosystem if they don't get stopped, just like Facebook did with the publishing industry.


Lots of users == 10%.

And there is a difference between people listening to standard podcasts through Spotify where Spotify just caches RSS feeds and audio (where you can still get pretty good stats from what I’ve heard.) and going Spotify only.

In the former case, Spotify is just another podcatcher.


Independent blogs still exist, too. Just like actual podcasts (rss feed to podcast player) will still exist even if Spotify takes over. But I can tell you as somebody deeply involved in podcasting that we get requests to put our content on Spotify because that's the only app many people use for listening to things (whether music or whatever). We're talking about dedicated fans of our shows that took the time to let us know that they stopped listening because of the transition that took place unintentionally in their personal life to being Spotify-only.

This is exactly what happened when FB took over content distribution. People didn't necessarily like it, even as they adopted it because of the convenience.


Putting your podcast on Spotify is completely different than putting your podcast exclusively on Spotify. The former is like creating AMP pages for Google.

Agreed. And very few blogs or news orgs were ever exclusively on FB, but look what happened. After enough were on there, you had to be on there to get any of your content viewed, because your subscribers stopped being subscribers to you and your blog and started being subscribers to FB, and FB became an intermediary between you and your readers. (That, by the way is not just another RSS reader. And Spotify is not just another podcatcher.) Thus, FB had all the control, and once they had consolidated control, they began to turn the screws, refusing to show your content to people who had followed you on their platform, unless you paid up.

Why could they do this? Was it because you were exclusively on their platform? No. It was because your readers were exclusively on their platform. And that is what Spotify is already accomplishing. Slowly but surely, more and more people are using Spotify for all of their listening needs.


Do you see a likely scenario where Spotify will be even 50% of podcast listeners when they are the default app on the dominant platform for listening to podcast and Apple’s podcast directory is the Google of podcasts. It’s used by third parties via a free API.

What I think is more likely is Apple and/or Google responding to Spotify making this aggressive move by doing something similar, which will put the nail in the coffin. And it's worth noting that Netflix wasn't default either, but look at the impact it had.

Netflix made itself the default. Everything that has an internet connection could stream Netflix. The AppleTV had Netflix early on and the Roku comes with a default Netflix button.

I really wish you were right. But you're not.

> Spotify isn’t doing anything to podcasts. An audio program that doesn’t publish an RSS feed that I can subscribe to in my podcast player of choice

This seems like the kind of thing that can flip very suddenly.

For Spotify users, who are already used to streaming everything, listening to podcasts through Spotify might offer a fair amount of convenience. For podcasters looking to monetize, Spotify can offer something special: The ability to get paid for your work directly, without having to deal with hawking mail order razor blades, which I imagine can feel degrading to some creators, or take on the extra work of maintaining an attractive set of Patreon incentives. It might be that the only missing ingredient is a critical mass of Spotify users to give the first few podcasters reason to feel confident taking the plunge.

Maybe they don't even need to get anyone to jump in feet first. I could see a more prolific podcaster such as Aaron Mahnke perhaps being willing to give it a shot with one of his projects. But a few initial successes might be all it takes to kick off a chain reaction. Sort of like how, at the party we were hosting last night, it seemed like people were settling in for the night, but, once the first person left, our house was empty within 20 minutes.


If a publisher decides to stop offering audio through RSS because it's easier to monetize it through Spotify's streaming ads insertion, where does that leave you?

Adblocking will start.

See my previous comment. All of the podcasts I listen to have either been very successful at monetizing via their own ad sales for years, are very Apple centric, very developer centric, or use podcasts to advertise their own products.

Good for you in that case, but this sounds like the Nazi Germany when party after party was outlawed until the only remaining parties were the supporters of Hitler's agenda. A radical example, but this is what reminds me the current situation and your attitude.

>but this sounds like the Nazi Germany

Godwin is alive and well.


> An audio program that doesn’t publish an RSS feed that I can subscribe to in my podcast player of choice isn’t a podcast.

I think the risk is that Spotify can throw a big bundle of money to a podcast that is currently listed on a feed, and bring them into a walled garden where the only way to hear them is on Spotify.


Have you seen Spotify’s financials? They are a public company now, they can’t get round after round of VC money and have make believe valuations.

>An audio program that doesn’t publish an RSS feed that I can subscribe to in my podcast player of choice isn’t a podcast.

For now. But we've seen this game before. When a critical mass switches to a closed ecosystem, you're either going to be forced to move with the herd (because most of your podcasts will move and new podcasts will start-up exclusively within the walled garden), or you'll be left behind.


Yet three of the podcasts I mentioned have survived for well over a decade.

If you target a high income demographic. It’s a lot easier to get direct response advertisers selling either expensive items or subscription based products where the lifetime value of the customer is high.

Back in the day people said the definition of a podcast was two guys talking about tech sponsored by SquareSpace.


>Yet three of the podcasts I mentioned have survived for well over a decade.

That's because podcasts are still part of an open ecosystem. I think the current system works very well and I don't want it to change, but I can see a walled-garden arise and lock the majority of content away behind proprietary podcast clients (much as video content is locked inside the YouTube garden).


How much of that is because delivering video is expensive. Most analyst think that Youtube is still not profitable.

> Spotify isn’t doing anything to podcasts. An audio program that doesn’t publish an RSS feed that I can subscribe to in my podcast player of choice isn’t a podcast.

Well that's just bad faith use of semantics.

Spotify bought companies that produces podcasts. As of now you can still enjoy said podcasts outside of Spotify, using your preferred player but if they decide to force you to use their software will those programs suddenly stop being called podcasts?


Spotify bought a company that created money losing over produced shows where the most successful podcasts are just the opposite.

One of the most successful podcast over the past decade is “Stuff You Should Know”. The hosts go out of their way not to talk about the subject before hand to make the show seem more organic.

Would you call something that couldn’t be viewed in a browser a “web page”?

If you told me I should listen to this great podcast. I’m going to search on Overcast (which uses Apple’s podcast directory API), if it’s not there, it doesn’t exist. I can’t put it in my playlist, control it from my Watch app etc.


Spotify kinda sucks. And has since they got their first taste of success. I was living in Sweden when they launched and signed up. It was great then. And for a couple of years. Then some new investors came in and it went this direction, just extract value by all means possible, winner take all, destroy, destroy, destroy. Except for themselves. Thanks Silicon Valley vampires, you ruin pretty much everything you touch

I use Spotify every day and think it’s a good product. Why do you think it sucks? I’m genuinely curious.

For me, the fact that artists get paid so little of what I would pay Spotify ruins it.

There are various numbers floating around the internet and they are are all in the range of fractions of a cent per play, which is a weird metric to begin with. At $0.00473 per play [0], an artist needs ~100k plays to earn 500 bucks. Then has to be divided up between the label, songwriters, musicians, producers and whoever else was involved in the project.

Compare this to me buying their album on Bandcamp, where anyone can sell their work and keep 85% to 90% of the money [1]. I get to have lossless files on disk forever + streaming while Bandcamp lasts, and the artist gets more money, more control over the distribution and an (opt-in at buy) email list to update their fanbase.

Clearly the era of musicians that are not pop stars earning decent money by selling audio is over, but this is one of the things I like to spend a little more time and money on.

[0]: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/12/25/streaming-music-...

[1]: https://bandcamp.com/pricing


See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22288645 - if the correct number is $0.00473 that's close to half of Spotify's revenue for streaming that in the first place.

For Bandcamp it’s at least 85% based on the fact that their cut is 15 to 10%. Less than half looks pretty bad in comparison I would say.

The _only thing_ Spotify is doing here is distribution. That is some brutal split if you ask me. The only thing holding them back from converting their user numbers into a more silly-level profit margin, like a proper Silicon Valley SaaS, is the power of a handful of major record labels, which in turn hold the artists by the balls.

As in most online industries nowadays, the ones doing the real work get the smallest piece of the pie. The best course of action for them would be to decentralize, which is entirely possible, but deep pockets need to kickstart that process and there is zero incentive for them to do that.


Distribution is "real work". Artists can publish under their own label, but finding and reaching an audience is hard work.

The fact that it's half of Spotify's revenue isn't a justification, it's essentially an admission that the whole model was never a particularly viable one for recording artists.

It also has to be viable for the users paying for it, or they'll go back to taping it off the radio.

Of all the threats mentioned in this thread, this one sounds the least dangerous

I've never bought an album in my life. I like Spotify. Millions do. People want to pay for choice, not pay to commit to a single album.

A big difference is that they reach a lot more plays since there are platforms like Spotify, compared to when you had to buy the album.

nonw of this makes Spotify a bad product.

Not the original poster, but for me it's the amount of music that disappears from their service.

I used to have a big list of DJ sets. Not random bootlegs or anything, but ones that were released on CD in relatively big name series- global underground, Renaissance, etc. Slowly they began to disappear and now they're just gone and they've been removed from the lists they were on. No warning of any sort.

Just feels like we're going backwards for some of this stuff.


I don't think spotify sucks, I don't plan on switching to it for podcasts, but my biggest gripe at the moment is there is no way to just see a simple list of all the artist's songs on the android app. You have to tediously click into each album and it's common that each album will have one song, or only 3 of 10 songs from the actual album, and many albums will actually be multiple duplicates of different "single releases". Very tedious when I just want to peruse a new artist. My car and bluetooth headset's "next song" feature doesn't goto the next album.

This is probably my biggest gripe as well. I’d like to play all songs ranked by plays. Otherwise I don’t have too many issues with it.

> there is no way to just see a simple list of all the artist's songs on the android app

You mean all the artist's songs in your library? You just go into Artists and choose it, you get the list of saved songs.


I don't like it for podcasts because:

a.) It doesn't have all the podcasts I listen to

b.) It's obvious the ads on Spotify aren't the same ads that are in the normal RSS-feed version of the same podcast, which feels very skeevy to me. I have no idea of the business arrangement but it doesn't feel like I'm supporting the podcaster when I listen to them over spotify.


Lots of podcasts already serve different afs to different listeners. That’s old tech.

Really? How does that work with RSS feeds?

Upon receiving the HTTP request from a podcast client, render a new version of the MP3 file with an up-to-date advert inserted. This version can be cached for a pre-specified period and then replaced later. You can't really get any tracking information to do dynamically targeted ads from the request, but for a podcast this doesn't matter much, as the hosts are typically aware enough of their listener demographic.

Dynamic Ad Insertion. The file server guesses your location/demographic based on the user agent and ip address and then splices ads into the mp3 as it is sent to you.

Re: point b do you have an example of this? Is this a Spotify owned podcast producer?

My main issue with Spotify is there is no zombie apocalypse backup.

What I mean is, if the zombie apocalypse happened, and you were lucky enough to have solar power to keep your devices going, it wouldn't matter because you would loose access to your favorite songs.

There are a lot of folks who's only music source is Spotify.

I just hope for their sake, there is never a zombie apocalypse ;)


I started to use their free client to sample music after getting totally sick of youtube advertising. If I like something I get an actual copy of the music. It blows my mind that people would just keep music on the cloud.

Apps backed by the cloud still have a local download option (including Spotify) that does the job for the brief moments you don't have internet.

I realized that needing every song I'd ever want to listen to on my local disk was just a form of digital hoarding. I backed up hundreds of gigabytes of my music, deleted it from my computer, and realized I never cared enough to restore it despite years of collecting and organizing it.


The download option wouldn’t work in a zombie apocalypse because if you don’t connect to the Internet for a few weeks the song stops working on Spotify. I know this because I’ve tried it.

In other words with no active Spotify service even downloaded songs simply stop working.

I was even thinking of writing an open letter to Spotify to allow the user to choose 10 zombie apocalypse tracks that would Always keep working no matter what.


Also I have about 4K songs on Spotify. When I downloaded them, I still had issues listening to all of them on the tube because Spotify seems to check whether you still can listen to them separately for every song.

I'd just like a feature to download a list of my library. Not the audio itself, it's not mine, but the selection I made. Then if Spotify has any problem (loses data, shutdowns suddenly, whatever) I have a backup of my data.

That only works as long as the artist keeps their music on Spotify. I've run into situations where an artist has pulled a release from Spotify, and the downloads disappear once I get internet connectivity again and Spotify re-syncs the licensing.

Definitely - there's an option in the settings to show unplayable tracks. There's tens, maybe a hundred songs I used to be able to listen to that I now can't (through Spotify)

Bonus question: what about when this happens to a Spotify-exclusive track?


I know I have some non-mainstream and oddball stuff that isn't on Apple Music so I want to be sure I hold onto that.

But, otherwise, I started to organize/curate my collection which I've largely not done anything to speak of with for literally years. (And which is messed up in various ways.) And I sort of came to the conclusion that it didn't really matter that much at this point.


Same here. Spotify for me is a legal way to sample all the music that's out there. If I'm listening to a song or album repeatedly then I buy the album, and the artist earns more from a digital download than if I only listened on Spotify. (Though I often listen on Spotify out of convenience, so they get the revenue from both.)

Same. Spotify or Google Play Music to do discovery, then Bandcamp or direct-from-artist for the artists you like.

I do the same, except I tend to buy vinyl records if they're available rather than downloads.

My exercise playlist alone would cost around $600 AUD to purchase, and half of that would be lossy formats.

I go far enough back that I've always had enough of a physical music collection (although much of the vinyl that had never been upgraded to CDs was replicated on Napster) that I still feel like I want to own anything I really care about.

That said, I'm honestly not sure I'd take the same path were I starting from zero.


In a zombie apocalypse, I would worry more about physical safety and staying alive.

I generally like it enough for music although it's a bit too dumbed down for me. But for browsing podcasts and seeing which ones have new episodes and getting information I still very much prefer Podcast Addict.

Also I don't want my play queue to mix podcasts and music. When I want to listen to podcasts I continue playing in my podcast app and when I want some background noise I pause it and play my music in Spotify. Spotify's GUI is too simple and dumbed down for me and I prefer an app to do one thing.


I used Soundcloud on a daily basis, and I really like the discovery and constant new music available there. A lot of the artists I follow keep moving to Spotify, or releasing there first, and I've tried re-setting up on Spotify, but it's been very frustrating so far.

My biggest gripe with Spotify is that I don't want to be forced to use their player. I wish they had some kind of API to let other players access the music streams and metadata. (I know I know piracy, but the analog hole exists, and anything on Spotify is already easily pirateable).

They actually do have an API: https://developer.spotify.com/documentation/web-api/ - you don't have direct access to the music streams, but you do have access to all the metadata, the various metrics used to generate "radio" etc and the capability to remotely control a Spotify player; so it's perfectly possible to write your own UI / playlist manager / whatever and just treat their player as a dumb part of your audio playback stack.

_IF_ you have a browser available to run the audio playback part of your player. Additionally, their queue API extremely basic. So in reality you are limited to making a pretty UI. It's not great.

One example:

On Android, I bought an SD card (because my internal storage was too small to host my downloaded library, for offline listening on airplanes). I found that when I rebooted, every single time, it would redownload all 11G of my downloaded songs.

Turns out, the Spotify service starts before the SD is attached and their program has a bug. I sent them the Stackoverflow link to delay the service. Support wasn't interested in helping me.

My fix was to get a phone with larger internal storage.


The only good thing it has is its recommendation algorithm and the convenience of having all the available music in one place.

Uploading your own music sucks (unreleased tracks get blocked for some reason), tags are messy (there is no standard, the labels do whatever they want), you can't customize your listening experience at all (no replay gain, dynamic playlists, custom tags or equalization) and obviously not owning your collection (which admittedly is irrelevant for most people).


Having "all the music" is a pretty important feature though.

But yeah, you are renting the music from them so you have to give it back the way you found it. I don't really consider spotify a music player of the same sort as winamp or foobar2000, it's much more like radio where you have agency over the playlist rather than a local executable to manage and play your local files.

It would be interesting if they provided some a way to get an audio stream you can then further process for replay gain and other stuff, though honestly fiddling with all that stuff seems like busy work.


"All the music" -- or having "a lot of music I listen to" is very important factor and somehow Spotify seems to be doing this right at least contents from Japan.

Library available to outside of Japan is significantly larger on Spotify compared to everyone else. It looks like some tracks are blocked outside of Japan, but compared to other services, this phenomenon is a lot less, actually magnitude less common compared to, say, Google's offering. (Haven't really done extensive research for Apple but doing a quick search, it's not very promising...)

I don't know what making this different, but as far as this relatively small segment of music, certainly Spotify's doing this right.


Yeah, the main accomplishment of Spotify is doubtlessly legal: to concentrate so much of the reproduction rights into a single company can't have been easy.

Actually, this convincing the big players to centralise is the real value Spotify provides, and this picture of them being a technology company could be viewed as smoke to obscure that they are basically an IP management company (though I expect the music industry is well aware of this and made contracts that reflect this).


https://github.com/jwallet/spy-spotify

Classic interception attack


I'm curious about their claim to have "no loss in sound quality", when they say they're recording Spotify's playback and saving as mp3. I'd expect double compression that way (the original compressed audio from spotify, compressed again to mp3). Are they somehow reading the actual file as Spotify plays it rather than the audio, and saving that?

They say "Spytify records the same quality that Spotify outputs" but that implies a loss in quality if it's recording an mp3 and re-saving it as a new mp3. There's no lossless option in Spotify.


Spotify streams Vorbis format, so it's definitely doing lossy->lossy if it's saving mp3 files.

Those are the two biggest features of Spotify lol.

Thats like saying the only thing McDonald's french fries have going for them is that they taste good and are cheap.


Their recommendation algorithm? really? I find it to be the worst I've encountered. It constantly just keeps shoveling the same few songs I've liked once over and over.

This has not been my experience. Have you used Spotify a long time so that it has had time to get to know you? My Discover Weekly is uncanny in its ability to find me music I love. I tried going to Apple Music and came running back due to how good that is on Spotify.

I have been using Spotify regularly since 2008 and the recommendation algorithms work pretty poorly for me. For me the only reason to use Spotify is that it gives me access to almost all music I am interested in, and does it in one place.

Not the original poster, but I have been using Spotify for about 3 or so years fairly heavily (free version, not premium), and it still fails to update Discovery Weekly a good 90%+ of the time. The only time I get it to update is when I listen to a wildly different genre (Death metal to K-Pop, for example) and then wait about a month for it to figure out I listened to something different. Only then does it start showing new stuff. Searching around Google, this seems to be a somewhat common issue.

Daily Mix or Discover Weekly? Daily Mix seems to be tailored to give you a bunch of roughly genre separated playlists of stuff you already listen to, whereas Discover Weekly seems to be the "play new stuff that I might like" one.

It also might be that you haven't liked/listened enough for it to be useful yet.


Same -- that and it pushes new releases by the same artists -- which for someone reasonably engaged is kind of redundant.

OTOH when I used google play for a few months, they managed to recommend a new to me band that was based in roughly the same area and playing the type of music I listened to.

So at least for that type of music, they were a lot better than anything I've ever got in multiple years of using spotify


Maybe I'm biased because I don't use recommendation algorithms often, but on the rare occasion that I have to use Spotify it always surprises me how long it keeps me entertained before I have to skip a track. Depending on how you view / listen to music that might be a bad thing though.

My personal beef is that both mobile and desktops apps are slow and song upload really really sucks

For me it just doesn't do what I hoped. Most revenue on the platform goes to large labels, not the individual artist.

Solutions like patreon would be favourable, since Spotify just condenses the most generic content.


Since the large labels are the ones representing the artists, paying the artists, and negotiating with Spotify, how could Spotify unilaterally change that? The artists need to start their own labels, form co-operatives or something, and cut the huge corporations out. Then they could funnel more of the profits to individual performers and songwriters, if they'd like. But as long as they rely on big labels, of course they're going to have their lunch money taken.

They might not be able to and I don't make them responsible for the market situation, but it just isn't an interesting platform for me to use in its current form.

You can't even copy the title of a song in the desktop client.

It's a buffet that's just barely good enough for customers that it feels like it can replace a record collection with The Cloud, and all for a low low price!

As one might imagine, though, that low low price means something is getting squeezed. Some of the answer vs past models is in exchanging fixed acquisition and distribution costs for fractional marginal costs. But some of the answer is also in squeezing artists (and/or less powerful owners), both in the appalling fractional revenue compared to other models and in how it's distributed. The result shows up in either stuff getting pulled from the catalog, or never added, or.... never made because the artist that would have made it is doing something else in order to make up for the revenue that might have come from a system that actually assigns value to recordings.

But don't forget -- they'll also squeeze you too! Oh, sure, they know that price increases are a risk, but what risk is in there collecting as much of that sweet sweet data trail and harnessing it to sell you to others?


No, the original people in spotify are the people behind this push into podcasts (see last season of the gimlet podcast Startup). It started from when they saw how german use of spotify exploded as publishers put audiobooks on spotify.

I hate it too, but I can't completely fault them. Companies need to be profitable, and the pricing race to the bottom means they can hardly increase individual pricing, which in turn force them to exploit other directions.

>force them to exploit other directions

So if recreational heroin had never been made illegal, pharmaceutical companies would today be "forced" to sell it?

Some things simply should not be allowed to be profitable, and it is not up to for-profit companies to decide what is and what isn't. It's up to society as a whole, though government, to decide what is allowed to be bought and sold. Personal data should be in the category of "not legal to buy and sell".


> So if recreational heroin had never been made illegal, pharmaceutical companies would today be "forced" to sell it?

If one company does start to sell it, its competitors will probably be "forced" to sell it too.

> Some things simply should not be allowed to be profitable, and it is not up to for-profit companies to decide what is and what isn't. It's up to society as a whole, though government, to decide what is allowed to be bought and sold. Personal data should be in the category of "not legal to buy and sell".

Agree


that and Tencent...

Capitalism will eat itself

I fear the same things you’ve listed, but it’s important to remember that the podcasters themselves will choose these proprietary systems and we can’t let them escape blame if they do.

Podcasting is currently as open as anything can possibly be and it would take a conscious choice from a podcaster to stop listing things in open formats.

It’s important to remember one of the biggest benefits podcasting offers – at least imho – hobbyists who just want to make a show about their favorite interest. Almost every podcaster does it as a sideGigFunProject.

And just like anything, we see it time and time again, the real damage will come when a critical mass decides they need to do it full time and make millions. A conscious choice to move away from a passion project.

That move is what has consistently shifted open projects into walled gardens, time and time again. It very much so harms the hobbyist in the interest of “the professional.”.

This is what the previous gen-Xers call “selling out” and I think they were correct that you lose something in this transition.


Till somebody acquires Spotify, the question is who will? Easily could see Microsoft doing so.

Me personally, I wont be buying into Spotify, I tried it years back (2008 ~ or the early days) and it didn't convince me. The All Music Access option that Google has is the best option for paid music so far.

Anybody making their podcasts exclusive to a platform will have to produce really enticing content or I will not go out of my way to add a new subscription to Spotify. I have my doubts I ever will join Spotify just because of a particular podcast.


I think it's free to access podcasts on Spotify, you don't need a subscription.

IIRC Spotify tried to buy Marco Arment's podcasting app.

Edit: It's called Overcast.

Edit 2: I think I read that on Twitter... but I can't find the tweet anymore.


> Edit: ...

> Edit 2: ...

Why not just inline your edits instead of acting like people are tracking the revision history of your 12-minute-old comment? I guarantee nobody will notice or call you out.


If I load the page after he posts the original comment and respond pointing out that the podcasting app is called overcast, an inline comment makes me look bad while the edit makes it clear that there was a context in which my response made sense.

You are right, it's just an old habit.

It's a reasonable habit by people who value transparency. It's not a matter of whether or not people care.

Keep doing it, screw the people who can somehow find umbrage at such a non-issue.


Plenty of people do it, myself included. Don't change your habits just based on one cranky old bugger.

Yeah the fragmenting has started, more and more spotify exclusive podcasts/ podcast episodes are making their way onto the platform.

I recently listened an episode to ELT (Every Little Thing, a gimlet podcast) where they embedded a survey into spotify. Seems like an omen for things to come.

My major qualm in the short term is that the spotify app doesn't do a good job separating music and podcasts.


Can you clarify the last part? My Spotify app has two tabs at the top of libraries "Music" and "Podcasts". The home page is a bit less discrete, but still usually has the word "Podcast" in the subheaders.

I actually really like their daily drive auto-generated playlist, it is a combination of podcasts and music (And for a 1hr+ commute I have time to take in both long and short-form media).


Its on the home page and I cant block it

I enjoy an occasional gimlet but how can someone produce a whole podcast about one cocktail?

gimlet is a company acquired by spotify that makes many podcasts, although it would be boring if there was a podcast about one cocktail

> Right now Spotify complains about how Apple apps have an unfair advantage on Apple's platform, but they're doing the same thing.

They're not doing the same thing. From the article:

> I’ve heard there are some issues with how Apple deals with ratings, but so far, Apple operates as a benevolent despot, largely not collecting data and not privileging its own content.

Also worth noting: Apple distributes Podcasts using RSS, and has kept the ecosystem open for decades. They only provide a platform for distribution and discovery. Spotify, on the other side, wants to seize the whole ecosystem and lock it up in its walled garden. Let us not compare the two.


You missed my point. I was referring to this: https://newsroom.spotify.com/2019-03-13/consumers-and-innova...

Spotify is doing with podcasts the same thing that they complain about Apple doing with apps.


Oh I see, now it makes sense. Thanks for clarifying.

podcast of always been open. TV and movies have always run on licensing. They are very different things, business speaking and I don’t agree with the comparison. of all the podcast I’ve listen to 0 operate on any kind of exclusivity. While I'm sure Spotify would love to have that kind of power I just don't see that happening because the precedence isn't there

I am curious about the market fragmenting into "Premium Products" and the "Community Offerings", similar to how some content producers made the leap to Netflix/HBO/streaming services, while others wallow in YouTube

They have to do the same thing because Apple will otherwise eat their lunch. It looks like platforms have to monopolize and then engage in rent-seeking to thrive, or even survive, in this industry. That's everyone's playbook now.

This is the toxic excuse every MBA uses to justify their immoral decisions. "If I don't do it, somebody else will"

Every time you say that shit, you choose to accelerate the decay of society. A flower will die in the autumn... does that justify you stomping through the garden in May?

It's especially ridiculous in the context of podcasts because Apple- a company that understands the principle better than most, has failed to destroy the podcast market for 20 years and counting.


> does that justify you stomping through the garden in May?

MBA: Is it something we can monetize? It might be worth considering.

> It's especially ridiculous in the context of podcasts because Apple- a company that understands the principle better than most, has failed to destroy the podcast market for 20 years and counting.

I don't understand this part though. I haven't gotten the sense that they ever tried to monopolize or destroy the podcast market. Hell, from what I can tell, they've enabled it to thrive as an open marketplace in a way that Spotify certainly isn't interested in.


Yeah, Spotify is already conveniently integrated to a lot of cars, smart TV:s and A/V receivers.

If Spotify can figure out how to make podcasters real money and save them from begging for donos/Patreon/subs on every episode, it's going to make big waves in the space.

Spotify annoys us, being used to free and open things on the hobbyist's dime, but as we smugly advise on HN when it's convenient for us: sometimes you need to shake up the business model. That's what Spotify might be able to pull off for podcasters.

Not sure it will ruin anything, though. The people who prefer to beg for donations in their podcast episodes are always free to do it. Our unwillingness to support content creators is what ruins things and puts everything behind an explicit paywall.


Spotify managed to make musicians abismimal returns, why would it work any differently for podcasts?

Podcasters make abysmal returns today. If Spotify can pay them more than they make today while offering listeners an ad-free experience, that seems like a win-win-win.

I don't really think that's true. If you have a popular podcast like ATP, based on their ad rates, they're pulling in well into the six figures, for each host. Obviously that took years and years of work and an existing reputation, but it's not impossible.

I'll definitely emphasize the "if" in "if Spotify can pay them more" - I don't know what share of podcasts, if any, could be monetized more effectively through a paid subscription platform like Spotify than through ads. ATP is about the last podcast I'd expect to be in that boat because their subscribers are such high-value advertising targets, so I don't think they're representative.

For a generic or small following podcast, this could be a game changer. For the established or top 10 podcasts in a genre, it won't sway them from being on as many platforms as possible while directing listeners to their merch/patreon/etc.

Spotify going into podcasts will be like uber in the early 2010s, it'll make a handful of people decent returns while they burn through their cash hoping for dominance. If they achieve dominance they'll start the squeeze, if they don't they'll just dump the market.

What makes you say ad-free? Not even paying customers get ad-free podcasts on Spotify.

Wishful thinking, mostly. But Spotify seems like the most likely path to non-ad-based monetization of the “bottom 90%” of podcasts, despite the fact that Spotify isn’t currently going down that path.

I'd pay a higher subscription price if Spotify could get me my podcasts without ads.

Most podcasts do ad reads in the show, and that's usually how they make their money.

And which is not something Spotify will change. Did you read the article? It goes into detail about that, the only thing that would probably change here is that the ads won't be read by podcasters anymore but inserted by Spotify ad-tech. They can't pay podcasters without getting a lot more money than they get from current subscriptions, they are still loosing money on their music subscription service. That's the entire point of their podcast pivot. Make more money. They have no money to hand out to podcasters. Podcasts won't be ad-free on Spotify, no matter if you're paying or not.

It's been a huge benefit to consumers though. I can listen to more music than I can think of, and the price of it is almost nothing.

Stealing music is also GREAT from the consumer perspective, and the artist makes approximately as much money as they do from a Spotify stream.

Yes, but with the rise of streaming, artists have changed where they get their revenue from. Gig tickets feel far more expensive now, but this way people are able to legally listen to and discover SO much more music.

Spotify pays more per listen than radio or YouTube.

That still sounds like a bad model for paying artists. If I sign up for Spotify and only listen to a few artists I'm fond of, those artists get next to nothing of my subscription fees. Instead I'm subsidizing the payouts to artists like Drake. Who I have nothing against, I'm just not listening to his work.

I'm pretty sure Spotify does pay artists a fraction of the subscription revenue, based on the number of listens relative to other artists.

That’s the problem. The subscription fees should go towards what one listens not average over all artists or some other kind of formula spotify came up with. This could be like micropayemnts and i think would change the dynamics quite a bit

I've always wondered why it isn't done like this. It doesn't seem like it would make a difference to Spotify. Is it the record label forcing the current model?

Exactly. People complain how little it pays but forget that they're just a drop in the stream of how much people are listening to.

The best case to expect is an average Spotify user listens to about 500 songs a month (25 hours) and has an ARPU of about $5 (https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/31/spotify-108-million/). There cannot possibly be more than $0.01 (1c) per play available to pay the artists. Spotify paying out 37% of that actually looks pretty good.

That's as high as the users will go, it seems; the equilibrium point against piracy or other music services.


Do they actually pay per listen? I thought they used one of those bullshit, gameable-by-default algorithms of your song streamed relative to all music streamed on the platform.

And a third Tidal and a fraction of album sales. They are the worst-paying of the major music streaming services.

Tidal, the one that was having financial troubles right?

And who buys albums nowadays? I made some digital download purchases, but now they don't make much sense.

Smaller artists get paid less on Spotify but bigger artists get paid more (not sure about the details)


I buy albums, at concerts and online, and I tend to prefer artists who can actually put together a whole album of music worth listening to. I have little patience for Spotify's exploitative pricing model.

> They are the worst-paying of the major music streaming services.

Per play, yes, not in total. But they compensate by getting artists a lot more plays than others.


But significantly less than CD sales used to.

> Spotify managed to make musicians abismimal returns

I think that's very subjective. Spotify pays musicians the equivalent of what a user would actually pay the musician, which is basically nothing. We are to blame. As OP said:

> Our unwillingness to support content creators is what ruins things and puts everything behind an explicit paywall.

That's 100% true with most users. It has to be a very small % of users that will actually go out and purchase music that doesn't exist on Spotify for free/apart of their subscription. At the end of the day, the users just don't want to support content creators. Spotify isn't to blame for that.


> Spotify managed to make musicians abismimal returns, why would it work any differently for podcasts?

There needs to be some reason for podcasts to move from where they are currently to Spotify. That reason is generally more listeners, more money or both.


I can't imagine my favorite podcasts taking spotify revenue seriously unless spotify also moves in on patreon.

> The people who prefer to beg for donations in their podcast episodes are always free to do it.

As opposed to what, an advertiser like Casper or Harry’s begging for your purchase?


I don't have to make a living as a musician or podcaster, so can't comment on that perspective. What I do know is that greed changes things. If someone convinces you that you need to make "real money" from something you used to enjoy doing for free, it affects the content you produce. Sure the production quality may improve a lot, but is the music or story better than it was before?

Will spotify provide this value by standardizing on some extension of RSS that will make add personalization better, and provide optional usage reporting?

OR, will spotify provide this value by throwing out the open standard of RSS and providing a closed system they fully control?

A benevolent player could take the first route, working with RSS to do better adds in podcasting without destroying the eco-system. They'd leave some money on the table for themselves, because they'd actively choose not to get a monopoly. But it would undoubtedly be better for everyone else.


It's funny how split podcast genres are. Some shows require huge budgets, travel, audio design, and months of research, and then they fare worse than 3 funny white dudes talking extemporaneously every week. It's also baffling how much money got pumped into companies like Gimlet without a revenue strategy beyond Casper mattresses and the other typical ads.

Altogether, I think people who enjoy the long-form productions should be excited by this additional attention, but anyone who has been listening to off-the-cuff shows (like me) will have to get used to the shifting ecosystem. Hopefully content creators can adapt to the shift towards "Quality over quantity"

I'd like to hope everyone gets a paycheck equal to their worth in the new world of podcasting, but I'm more realistic than that...


ad revenue seems to be good for some podcasts. of course it won't work for very small ones, but I think that once you reach ~10k downloads/episode you can start selling ads

I don't mind having my content behind a paywall. What will suck is not being able to download them in advance and listen anywhere, and being forced to use the Spotify player rather than selecting the one that best suits me from a large set of players with different feature sets.

Lol, brah, you don’t scale by giving away money!

“Unwillingness to support content creators”

We are under absolutely NO obligation to support them. They like to talk. We may or may not like to listen. They are the digital equivalent of HAM radio operators, and Spotify is acting like worse than a leech on a free and open system.


This "steadfast denial that we live in a society" thing is getting pretty old.

> They are the digital equivalent of HAM radio operators

That is really overlooking a lot of time, effort, and money that many people and companies put into their podcasts. A lot of the best journalism and story telling in the world is in podcast form right now. That won't be the case for very long if the creators can't monetize their work.


Are you asserting that HAM radio operators do not put a lot of time, effort, and money into HAM radio?

Do HAM radio operators write scripts, pay people to appear, generally...put on entertainment? I’m genuinely asking. I thought HAM radio was mostly chatting, or occasionally broadcasting useful info during a disaster.

Also: note that restricting entertainment to that which is provided for free is a big restriction.


>They are the digital equivalent of HAM radio operators

this isn't really accurate any more. A lot of podcasts these days, in particular, the ones Spotify seems to pick up, are professionally produced audio dramas or documentaries that come with significant cost.

Look at some of the more popular ones like Homecoming with Oscar Isaac, Blackout with Rami Malek or Carrier with Cynthia Erivo, those guys and the teams behind it don't work for free.


Even seemingly low-budget podcasts take a lot of work to put together. I used to do a 30-minute weekly tech news podcast with a friend. For that, I spent several hours each week clipping news stories, then another couple of hours picking the best ones to cover, reading more about them and taking notes for the podcast.

After the podcast was over, it took about an hour or two to listen through carefully and edit the podcast down to something pleasant to listen to, removing the crosstalk, pauses, weird noises, and things I wish we hadn't said.

People who care more about their podcasts and have longer podcasts spend much more time researching and editing. That time has a lot of cost, especially for people with demanding jobs and families.


Even the most selfish "podcasts should be free for me!" person should be able to understand that they also benefit selfishly when people can make a living making the content they prefer instead of hoping a hobbyist has free time to do it. But this isn't always so.

Imagine all the books that never would have been written if we seriously thought free Reddit r/writingprompts fiction should be good enough for anyone. "Fiction should stay open and free!"


No one is suggesting that you're obliged to pay for the media you consume. You just have to understand that podcasters aren't obliged to provide free media.

Producing podcasts costs money. If listeners aren't paying for the costs, someone else has to. If the podcaster can't afford to pay these costs, they'll end up going to someone like Spotify rather than bankrupting themselves for our entertainment.


And podcast creators have no obligation to not sell themselves to Spotify...

Spotify is thinking like Netflix... They are in the business of taking your attention, and spoken word audio is a more cost effective means of doing that.

Look at all of the money made in the 90s Premier Radio Networks, Westwood One, etc. They aggregated content ranging from conservative babble to psychology shows to Art Bell and did very well. Podcasts could be a similar phenomenon as radio dies out.

Eventually AM and FM radio will be auctioned off to cellular carriers, and networks like Spotify will take over. The current podcast ecosystem only exists due to the benevolent dictatorship of Apple. That can go poof any day.


One of my favourite podcasts is moving to become spotify exclusive. It is hard to put the betrayal I felt into words, when they first announced it.

I know it is a little silly and they probably do what is (in the short term) the best financial decision for them, but I already accepted that this is it and I won't listen to them anymore.

If you go exclusive to any plattform you never do it for your fans, but essentially against them. They might have a podcatcher they listen to you on they used for years, which they now should change because you want to limit the plattforms you are on.

The german podcast scene gladly seems to be quite resistant against these kind of things and they say they earn more through direct donations than spotify and/or audible is able to give them anyways.

Why would you voluntarily give up that freedom? And why is it so often US podcasters who do it first (they are also much more plastered with ads)?


A typical independent podcast with small-medium viewership really struggles to monetize.

It’s great if things in the German podcast scene are different than rest of the world, enabling German podcasts to make more from donations than Spotify.

But if that’s not the case elsewhere, can you really blame the podcasters? Let’s say you decide to bake specialty cookies and give them away while relying on donations. Months in, you realize the donations aren’t really covering your expenses and effort. Then someone comes along and offers you a multiple of your donations for an exclusive, enabling you to make a decent wage.

I guess you could say “you’re doing it against your cookie-loving fans”. But I could just as easily argue “your original fans didn’t help you get fair comp, so you found another set of fans/arrangement to get fair comp”


Yes of course you could argue that. But they never asked for donations, they never asked their fans for the amount of money they need to do the thing they do.

The US values free speech very much, yet for some reason you will have a hard time to find any podcast who isn't dependend on or tied to some coporate interest (and be it the Nord VPN thing they are selling).

I am btw. willing to throw money their way, as I do with other podcasts. But the option wasn't there to begin with.


Most people don't want the hassle of running subscriptions. It's not as simple as putting a Patreon or PayPal link online - as soon as people become paying customers they start demanding things. It takes a lot of the joy out of being creative and turns it in to a job.

Having one sponsor like Spotify means you get paid but also retain a lot of freedom and distance from the audience. If I was a podcaster I'd much rather take that route, even if I lost some listeners.


> The US values free speech very much, yet for some reason you will have a hard time to find any podcast who isn't dependend on or tied to some coporate interest (and be it the Nord VPN thing they are selling).

I'm not sure I understand the "yet" here. Freedom of speech protects the ability to say things but has few implications on the incentives for saying things. It seems to frequently be cited as a variety of different things that are tangentially related to public discourse. Anyway, I'd hardly expect people in the 18th century to come up with a comprehensive framework for protecting against media outlets depending on corporate interests to monetize, if that's your concern.


I guess the point was that for a people that react very strongly to even the slightest hints of decreasing individual freedom, it's kind of ironic to have so many podcasts financed by corporate interests, which decreases their constitutional right to freely express their opinions on whatever subject.

For the podcasts I listen to, at least, they don't ever seem to feel constrained by their advertisers. At worst they seem bored by them; they don't particularly want to advertise underwear and mattresses. But generally, the advertisers are trying to reach a market that shares an interest with the people who make the podcast, and it just seems unlikely that they're ever being paid off to promote or avoid topics that they wouldn't naturally gravitate to (or from).

Perhaps that's because I'm selecting content with little political or controversial content. But even there, I suspect that people who do want that content will find that the advertisers who want them are the ones who naturally appeal to them anyway.

Consumerism in general is always insidious, but that's hardly limited to podcasting. There are a lot of paradoxes associated with being wealthy enough to be in an advertiser's demographic, and yet still be vulnerable to wanting something to make you happy.


I also do pay for podcasts, some via patreon and paypal but if I can find the IBAN I rather pay directly every month. I'm not paying much but (about 1 EUR / month / podcast) but I do it consistently.

The same thing happens when TV shows get sold or actors/hosts get contracts on other networks. I used to like the Colbert Report, but when he took over the late show I could never watch it because CBS wasn't on Hulu or any other streaming platforms. Recently I got Youtube TV, and I still can't watch anything on Comedy Central since Viacom won't put anything there or on Hulu.

The TV world is so fragmented these days, almost nobody will have access to every show on every network and streaming platform. Similarly in music even, not many people have Spotify and Apple Music and Tidal to have access to all the exclusive music. The openness of the podcast world is pretty great, but I won't be surprised if it goes the same way with more and more exclusives.

The flip side, though, is there's more really good TV content these days than ever before, it's just expensive (& annoying) to access it all.


My experience exactly with Last Podcast on the Left, which is just now going Spotify exclusive. The frustrating part is how many fans defend such an anti-listener action.

I'm aggravated by this too. Having donated by Patreon but listened via Overcast, I feel a bit offended to be told "thanks for all the money, we're going over here to be free but behind a wall". I won't be installing Spotify, the convenience of a single app is not something I'll give up. My loss and not theirs, sure. But galling, a bit, that the $58k/month Patreon income[0] plus whatever they get from ads, touring, merch etc isn't enough for them to keep it out in the open :/

[0] https://www.patreon.com/lastpodcastontheleft


It's a risk they'll take. Look at what happened to ninja and shroud when they switched to mixer from twitch. They are probably down 70%+ on their viewers (based on me checking in infrequently) and mixer isn't even walled off. It is incredibly hard to wall off something in this age of plentiful entertainment and maintain the viewers you once had.

Twitch really could use some competition, but I thought their self-promotion was a bit dishonest. They tried to portrait themselves as the underdog. True, compared to twitch perhaps, but they are still owned by Microsoft. And on the topic on content discrimination you probably wouldn't want that as a viewr.

I pay for a Spotify premium family membership, and I used to listen to LPotL through Spotify. I switched to another podcast app a few weeks ago when Spotify started making noise about inserting targeted ads into podcasts, and I'll drop LPotL once they go exclusive. The absolute last thing I want is Spotify exerting Facebook-like control over audio.

Well it is voices they trust who tell them it's allright. And if tou had spotify installed anyways you might convince yourself it isn't such a big deal.

From the perspective of the podcaster the question is: what kind of fans will they loose with such a move, and what kind will they gain in return?


Also money.

Fewer, or different fans, but a funded show may be worth a lot more than more / great fans and an unfunded show.


I think it's also because Markus always wanted to have a music Podcast, and I think Spotify will help with the licensing/integration for that?

If any of the dozens podcasts I listen to moved to Spotify I’d stop listening to them pronto.

I don’t know, but there aren’t many podcasts I’d switch platforms for. I’d much sooner find other podcasts.

And the thing is: you don't even need a plattform. A podcast could be as easy as a feed pointing to the latest compressed audio file of yours.

The most expensive thing in podcasting is the gear and your time.


That's kind of like I do it [1], I only have a RSS file and the mp3 uploaded to the server. I send that RSS link to that one iTunes service so it indexes the RSS file so that all the podcast apps which use their API for their search can find my podcast and subscribe to the RSS file on my server and download the mp3's from my server.

For the gear, I went fairly cheap, I got a Zoom H5 [2], which is super small, light and portable and two lavalier mics, one for me and one for the person I interview.

I then upload the two WAV files to Auphonic [3] and they add the jingles to it, clean up the sound, normalize it and let me download the mono mp3 which is really small but good quality, which I then upload to my server.

The whole workflow is surprisingly easy and fast. The most time I spend on finding people to talk to and trying to arrange a meeting at a specific time and place.

[1] https://jeena.net/pods.rss [2] https://zoom-na.com/products/field-video-recording/field-rec... [3] https://auphonic.com/


When I rebooted my podcast last year, Auphonic was a great discovery. It does a lot of cleanup and leveling with zero effort that, in some cases, could take hours of work previously if the volume levels varied a lot for whatever reason.

It's still good to get a decent quality recording. But seeing all the people who do video and broadcasts from trade show floors and the like got me to a point where I don't sweat it if I don't have pristine near-studio conditions. As long as I get interesting guests, 20-25 minutes of conversation IMO comes out pretty well without a huge amount of work.


Would you mind sharing the URL to your podcast? I like to listen to the smaller ones instead of what everybody seems to listen to.


Your time is very expensive. A good podcast is a full-time job. Some can be pulled off as a hobby, but most of my favorite podcasters are either full-timers. For a living wage in the US, that's perhaps $30-$40,000 a year... which is a lot of mattresses and underwear to hawk, or a lot of donations to cajole. Which requires even more time spent managing that, tipping it further to being a full-time job.

Indeed - its not really a podcast anymore.

> The german podcast scene gladly seems to be quite resistant against these kind of things and they say they earn more through direct donations than spotify and/or audible is able to give them anyways.

Fest & Flauschig?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fest_%26_Flauschig


Gemischtes Hack, for another example. In fact, the only podcasts that came to mind for me here were German!

I support a few English-language podcasts on Patreon and that model seems to work quite well for them. Meanwhile, I rely on fan-supplied RSS feeds to keep up with F&F and GH :)


I'd be interested to see their listener numbers after they switched to spotify (and rebranded). Unfortunately it's hard to get any meaningful statistics in the podcast world except for downloads.

I was a regular listener of Sanft & Sorgfältig back in the days and stopped after their switch to spotify because it was just inconvenient to use compared to overcast. I'd probably do the same with other podcasts I regularly consume.


Well, they seem to be pretty popular as they just got another day to air. They also get a live even every year.

I get it through a Telegram group where someone rips the casts ;)


Would you mind saying which podcast it is? Trying to track the ones moving in a Google Sheet which I will share.

The entire Last Podcast Network is going Spotify Exclusive. Last Podcast on the Left, Wizard and the Bruiser, the Story Must Be Told, Page 7, The Brighter Side, others I haven't listened to. They are somehow taking their entire back catalog with them as well.

The Besties is now Spotify exclusive. It's my favorite video game podcast.

The fact that half of its hosts are Justin and Griffin McElroy makes me worried the whole McElroy family of podcasts might flip eventually.


Why not link to the sheet already?

I've been dreading that. I am a voracious consumer of podcasts (over 20 hours per week). I donate via Patreon and other tipping platforms, considerably more than I spend on Netflix, but I'm well aware that this is almost certainly not enough.

I'd be happy to funnel that money through Spotify, but I suspect there won't be enough to fund the truly jaw-dropping array of content that I've been getting for free for years. And I'd miss my existing podcast app (Pocket Casts), which I'm a very comfortable with.

I'll be very sad if my favorite podcasts decide to jump to Spotify, discover there's no money there either, and drop out.


if the choice is between them not existing vs selling out, do you still blame them? at least there's an avenue to consume their content

> Why would you voluntarily give up that freedom?

i don't even need a word to answer that: $.


I tried to search for a list of Spotify exclusive podcasts and it's nearly impossible to find. I'm not even sure if I'd notice if a podcast I listen to became a Spotify exclusive.

I agree if you’re already using Spotify to listen to podcasts. But if you’re not, you’d definitely notice a move to Spotify Exclusive because you’d need to have two podcast apps.

Plus your experience would degrade substantially, since before, you could have a music play queue for times you want to listen to music, and a podcast play queue for times you want to listen to podcasts. Now you'd have to manually push things in and out of a single play queue.

Why do people actually do that?


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