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Spotify is killing the open podcast ecosystem (2020) (singhkays.com)
453 points by dede4metal on April 20, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 292 comments

Do Spotify actually manage to sell any significant number of subscriptions due to podcasts?

Personally when ever I hear about an interesting podcast, and it's followed by "available on Spotify/Podimo, whatever", my reaction is always: Okay, never mind then.

There are so many great podcasts on the open web. Those available on platforms like Spotify always seems to be people with existing celebrity status trying to "cash in". Those shows are rarely that interesting, and even if they are there are so many competitors.

Assuming you have an existing successful podcast, I don't get why you'd move to something like Spotify. Are you really going to make that much more money? Your share of $10 per month cannot be high. Of cause it Spotify throws a large sum at you, to effectively buy your listeners, then I see the profit motive.

No, but they could lose subscribers due to Podcasts.

See, I pay for Spotify because of their playlists. Playlists have nothing to do with podcasts. I listen to my podcasts using a different app. Yet Spotify keeps throwing its podcasts in my face. Spotify is not good at podcasts. That's why I use a different app for that. I'm getting tired of scrolling past all the podcast spam in my Spotify UI, and yet Spotify provides NO option in Settings to turn OFF their podcast advertisements/recommendations. That is annoying to me, a paying customer. So they're pushing this, and annoying me, at their own peril.

I recently gave Spotify a try for about 8 months but just switched back to Apple Music. My reason for switching back had nothing to do with podcasts, it was simply Spotify's terrible interface that makes it impossible to just browse all the music in your library. But I had also started to notice podcasts infiltrating UI that used to be only music playlists. A few times I even mistakenly clicked on a podcast thinking that it was a music playlist that sounded interesting.

I dont think Spotify cares about the 0.1% of users that bring their own MP3s. It's a shrinking market. The growth is all the people who never even heard of an EmPeaThree.

I think back when I ripped my 350+ CDs to FLAC. In retrospect, it wasn't worth it.

I didn’t even try to upload my own songs. I just want to add stuff to my library and then be able to browse everything in my library by artist and album. On the iPhone app, this is impossible, which is absolutely baffling.

The only way to get around this is to make playlists that are just different albums, which is what I do. Not a great system, and I think it has actually changed the way I listen to music for the worse

Why hold on to the concept of a library? I just pick a genre that fits my mood and let ${MUSIC_SERVICE} generate a playlist. If I don't like a song I just skip it.

I don't see any advantages of spending time and effort curating a library, which harks back to the days of physical media.

There's a couple of things I object to there, because personally I really enjoy exploring new music and the back catalogue of bands.

Some artists really put effort into developing their albums or EPs as a coherent expression. If we all were to change to experiencing music like you describe it would inevitably result in a sea change in how the art is created in the first place. Artists will look to optimize for that particular method of consumption, in much the same way we have a large focus on individual track releases now in the streaming dominated world. I feel this limits the expression of the artists in general

I think that this would lead to further stagnancy or homogeneity in the most popular genres, as the playlist generation will look to optimize for the most listeners. This would come at the expense of artists who are not already in the public's sphere of consciousness, and would deeply hurt genres which have infinitely deep pools of sub-genres and micro-scenes; the world of Heavy Metal comes to mind specifically here. I think this damages the overall health of popular music in totality.

More interestingly because music in general is an incredibly subjective experience, opinionated tastemakers can be crucial for exposing underground or breaking through artists to a larger audience. Historically people like John Peel, and more recently Anthony Fantano (TheNeedleDrop) bring new music from underground artists in a wide range of genres to people's attention. It can feel like a minor triumph when you discover a new album that just speaks to you in a style of music you have no grounding in, especially when it's recommended to you by someone you know or trust.

While you may listen to more music in the way you describe, I don't think it would invoke nearly the same level of connection that I feel now, personally I find that to be a bit bleak, and self-defeating in the long term.

Sometimes the discrete unit I am looking to listen to is the album, not just a song.

I wouldn't bring in an entire library, but one big thing I find Apple Music has over Spotify is how well your traditional library and the Apple Music library converge.

I make use of it a lot for albums and songs not available on Apple Music. AFAIK, Spotify doesn't really have an answer to this.

Nah, should have kept a What.CD acct or its successors.

Well, redacted isn't impossible to get into.

Yeah but on the flip side -- nothing beats Spotify recommendations. I've found so much new music - if you're a new artist no other platform would provide more value than Spotify for discovery. Now, if we're talking pay-the-rent value..

Youtube music has been great for music recommendations lately. I rarely use Spotify anymore even though I pay for it

Will YouTube music play on Android while you do other things? YouTube video player on Android halts audio as soon as you switch contexts but Spotify plays in the background.

I think you only get youtube music with youtube premium at which point both apps work in the background

I pay for both, and I honestly can't get over how Apple Music feels more sluggish on my Apple computer than Spotify does. It's like night and day.

When we subscribed to Spotify (I don’t use it unsubscribed, as I have difficulty with interruptions from adverts) I found the UI infuriating (an opportunity to notice what I’m feeling and then decide whether to rage or not, but that’s another topic). Trying to tap (on iPad) the options for a song other than the one playing carried the chance that this song might start playing, as the hitbox is too small. Same with Tidal. Neither have an option to increase the size of useful buttons. I don’t consider myself to be differently abled physically, but I do try to promote broader accessibility, understanding there’s a cost in time and effort.

It's even worse if you want to hear your mp3 collection. Terrible interface.

Yep I can't stand spotify's UI either, so cumbersome.

Not very related... The reason I canceled Spotify Account is because I couldn’t downvote songs in a playlist. The music suggestions for some artists were horrible, and I couldn’t opt out of them.

What's losing my interest more and more is that their music recommendations are terrible, rarely match my taste... And, uh, I wish there was an easier way for me to just browse music by category. I just want to see all the new releases under electronic music and browse through them quickly. I don't need to be spoon-fed things as part of "discover weekly".

Also, the Spotify Chromecast integration is utter shit. It has been utter shit for a while, but it seems it's just getting worse? It's laggy, it randomly pauses during my playlist for no reason. I ended up buying a bluetooth receiver to hook to my AV system so I could get reliable playback. What the fuck? Why isn't this getting fixed?

The Every Noise at Once guy also has a project where it's a raw weekly dump of all the new Spotify releases sorted by categories: https://everynoise.com/new_releases_by_genre.cgi?genre=edm&r...

That's what I use to get more in-depth than the tiny amount of new releases Spotify features in its official playlists.

What's losing my interest more and more is that their music recommendations are terrible, rarely match my taste...

The really aggravating thing is that we know they have the tech to do better. There was that demo of a 2D embedding of genre-space that actually did a pretty decent job of grouping similar-sounding songs together, but their recommendations all seem to be based off of what was popular at the same time, or what came from the same label.

E.g. when I ask for recommendations for a song like "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," I should get "Avril 14th," not "Bullet with Butterfly Wings."

I don't see the connection between Smashing Pumpkins and Aphex Twin though, what kind of genre matching do you think would enable that on your specific example?

Not nit-picking, just piqued my curiosity about how you would connect those artists.

That's exactly the problem, those songs are not in either artist's genre. The artists don't sound similar, but the songs do. By "genre" I mean the effective genre (mood/vibe, instrumentation, pacing, chord progression, etc) of the song, not the nominal genre of the artist.

I would listen to those two songs in a row and be completely satisfied by the transition.

I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan when I was young, I'm a big Aphex Twin/Richard D. James fan and I don't know if I'd ever connect those two songs on a playlist or even play them together. That might be the issue, it's too much a subjective judgment.

I've worked and interviewed for companies that do music analysis to find moods, atmospheres, similar timbres, chords and structure to mix and match automated playlists for business needs (restaurants, cafés, retail stores and so on), would like to see what kind of similarity scores they could get between the songs you mentioned.

> What's losing my interest more and more is that their music recommendations are terrible, rarely match my taste...

I found a lot of the release radar and other recommendations are spot on and I end up liking a lot of the songs it suggests.

YT Music has it all, categories, easy library listening, no podspaming, Chromecast. Spotify is like a salesman who has been drinking too much coffee.

Doesn't YouTube Music suggest music based on Youtube Video watching habits?

I think I read something about that which turned me off instantly.

It used to for me. I don't think it does at the moment.

For some reason, YouTube Music still puts music I've downvoted in the playlists it makes for me.

I've never encountered this. Sounds like an odd account specific bug.

Audible has been doing similarly recently and it’s quite frustrating.

I understand everyone’s doing it and you as a company feel entitled to a slice of whatever podcast pie.

What I don’t understand is how that can take focus when your audio player has been getting steadily worse - corrupted offline download, buggy buffering, choppy audio after jumping back 30s.

If your bread and butter - what I’m actually paying for - doesn’t work I’ll gladly save a few bucks and go to the public library.

lets not forget the awful UI for podcasts on audible. Only showing the last three episodes in the app having to go through multiple screens just to download back episodes, having to manually start the next episode instead of playing them automatically. having to subscribe to each season of the same podcast separately so if you don't already know they next is out you don't get it, the whole experience is painful enough I have pretty much given up on listening to any amazon produced podcast as it s just to much of a pain in the ass to listen to them.

Amazon Music has also started the same, even putting a banner ad for Amazon Music Podcasts in the Amazon app.

Lately, I've even been scared of listening to music other than my usual taste (e.g. a radio hit, a foreign song, song in one of those instagram videos) because their algorithm seems to amplify my "smart" playlists with anything that's different.

There should be an option to turn off simple things like that: turn off podcasts, pause learning from my music for then next 30 minutes, etc.

I always thought the advantage of standalone apps like Spotify(updated anytime) vs something like Apple Music(updated on big iOS releases) is that they can iterate faster. But seems like they are throwing more eggs in content creation basket than UX.

> There should be an option to turn off simple things like that: turn off podcasts, pause learning from my music for then next 30 minutes, etc.

They state that private listening 'may' not influence your music recommendations.


Private sessions are my solution for branching out. Still a pain, and shouldn't happen. Google Play Music did this really well and for me, even with its issues, was miles ahead of Spotify.

i instinctively turn on private mode every time i open spotify on my desktop. i really wish it worked the opposite way, have it turned off all the time and then turn it on when you want spotify to build up new recommendations for you

Podcasts have really ruined Spotify's mobile app. The worst part is that there is space for a "Podcasts" tab in the bottom bar that would have made everyone happy by clearly separating types of content.

Apple has gone a similar route recently with reducing the Activity/Fitness app to just two/three tabs, mushing all sorts of content together. I hope this doesn't become another user-hostile UI trend.

Spotify have obviously weighed the pros and cons of being actively intrusive into their user's experience in order to build brand awareness of their nascent podcast business.

Personally they keep advertising podcasts by people who I find morally or politically objectionable, which makes me quite unhappy that I cannot hide or remove their content (and podcasts as a whole) from the Home Screen.

Good point. Honestly, in Spotify I don't even want to see political content from people I agree with. Sometimes I just want to take a break from my European duty to care about US politics 24/7, but it's getting hard to do so anywhere on the internet.

I feel same way! Also paying, also using other app, because spotify podcasting misses the features I want.

Yup, I've been noticing that. Indeed, I've been preparing to cancel my subscription (backing up my "library"/playlists externally etc.), and their push into podcasts (and pushing them on me) is one of the reasons.

That is why I use YT Music. Podcasts are in a different Google realm (Google podcasts), and get no podspaming. I also find spotify too in your face in general, like an over eager salesman.

They could lose them in the other direction as well. Unlike you, I don't mind podcasts being thrown at me. However, having come to enjoy a couple of the podcasts on offer, I'm not offered a way to subscribe to the pay versions of those podcasts, so I end up subscribing directly. Unfortunately, the Spotify app doesn't provide me a way to add my private RSS feeds from those subscriptions, so I spend much less time on Spotify and question whether I need the service at all.

I doubt if spotify will ever add RSS capabilities.

Can you tell me how Spotify is with playlists of comedy albums?

I started falling asleep to comedy a couple months ago to manage poor sleep based on a generally negative attitude. It was fine on YT Music for a while, but now a lot of the community playlists are garbage, or most of the clips have been pulled (I assume some copyright issues).

I'd move to Spotify for that, and pay, if they had a catalog of decent standup comedy.

it's been a while, but I remember Pandora having pretty good comendy stations. good luck!

There's a number of comedy stations on satellite/streaming radio like SiriusXM. I'm not sure what kind of value proposition it is but it might not be too crazy depending on your budgets versus your sleep quality.

I really liked Pandora for comedy. Spotify has lots of comedy albums, but the interface is not as easy to navigate.

Do you find a significant difference between that and comedy podcasts?

I don't know of any comedy podcasts that are more like comedy albums - recommendations would be appreciated!

The podcasts I listen to from comedians is more along the lines of interviews, like WTF, or a few people spitballing on various topics. Not well formed jokes.

Sounds like the podcasts from Sanspants Radio are right up your alley. "Shut Up a Second" is spitballing on a different random topic every show, and "Plumbing the Death Star" is discussion on different pop-culture related questions such as "what if Professor X ran Hogwarts?"

Their D&D podcast is probably my favorite of the genre as well.

I did just that about a month ago. I don't give a shit about their podcasts, I'm only interested in their music, the home screen is garbage now. I moved to Qobuz (which has other problems, but it's generally fine).

Spotify is also not good as a music player. You have no real control.

They don't really need to. In fact, some early industry rumors say that are not close to recouping costs. They're instead doing the classic SV play of selling customers a dollar for 50 cents until they are addicted and then pulling the rug. They want to cripple the open market by firehosing cash until everyone else gives up, then they can do what they want.

Apple and Google are playing this game too in their own ways. Google is going to try to make podcasting more like youtube in the next few years.

Any fixed cost business will inherently have large sunk costs and will not experience net profits until you've worked your way down the cost curve. Content businesses have marginal costs that approach zero as a function of time -- of course without any operating cost of delivery. There's no need for "early industry rumors" to understand the fixed cost business of streaming.

"The Office" was paid for in full, distributed in a first-party network, then syndicated, then digitally licensed, and now back to its first-party network. The total revenue value of that decade long investment is not the same as a variable cost businesses like ecommerce, delivery services, or Moviepass.

I mean, the point still kinda stands. Spotify can throw money at podcasting until the cows go home, but if they aren't buying something for their money it's just going to waste. Podcasts on Spotify aren't all that good, and every podcast I (and everyone I know) actually listen to is accessible elsewhere.

Beware though that "available on Spotify" (idk Podimo) doesn't necessarily mean that it's exclusive there. But it's very common around here and many people use it for convenience (and the podcasts can advertise it as "look we are in this fancy mainstream app", not weird (?) RSS, while they likely offer that too). I myself used Spotify for freely available podcasts too, only recently switched to Podcast Addict for nerdy automatic download settings

I believe Spotify, unless they buy an exclusive or something, still consumes RSS feeds to make podcasts work, so most anything on Spotify is freely available.

Yes. Started a podcast that's available on Spotify, which is as straightforward as entering the RSS feed URL of your podcast. I'm surprised they don't offer free hosting for podcasts directly via their platform, given all the other investments they are making in the space.

Happy to be corrected on this but does a minute spent on Spotify listening to a podcast (that they haven't paid for) vs listening to music reduce their costs?

If so then it would make sense to establish themselves as a podcast player - with their users listening to podcasts through their app - even if they don't sell any extra subs and that alone might justify the up-front investment.

Well, an important reason for spotify to have podcasts is $$. Unlike music producers, Podcasters are not paid by play count. The ones from openweb are not paid at all by Spotify, I am not sure about the ones that have deals with Spotify directly, like Joe Rogan. Anyway, the more time users spend listening to podcasts, the less they have to pay to music producers. which means more EBITDA! And my friend, its all about EBITDA.

Wait till they start to control a significant part of public discourse. They will receive money to recommend some podcast, and bury others. The young Facebook was a great place to advertise your business. Now you have to pay for it.

> Personally when ever I hear about an interesting podcast, and it's followed by "available on Spotify/Podimo, whatever", my reaction is always: Okay, never mind then.

Every time I hear that (and I want to check it out), I do so in Pocket Casts, my fav app (first on Android, then on iOS). I know there are probably podcasts that are _only_ on Spotify, but I haven't tripped over one yet.

OT but AntennaPod is amazing, and open source. I switched from Pocket Casts and it's amazing.

AntennaPod is unfortunately quite lacking if you like to listen to "story" podcasts where you want to listen old -> new.

I've been a latecomer to the 'history of *' podcast genre. Recently been working through Revolutions. Antennapod lets you sort a podcast's episodes chronologically, reverse-chronologically, alphabetically, etc.

Yes but the auto-download feature doesn't work.

Oh I thought it was about sorting as well. Frankly, if you spend 30 seconds tapping download on the next 30 episodes every few weeks, that solves the issue?

I use Spotify at the moment (thinking of switching back to Antennapod due to Spotify being buggy as fuck) and actually hit download on every episode I want to listen to: putting them in my downloads is the easiest way to both mark them as 'to be listened to' as well as having them available whenever (though that's one of the bugs: I'll still need internet to get permission from Spotify HQ to start playing, but I won't have to load the audio stream and can turn off internet once it's playing).

Or you could just grab the files and dump them into a folder for something like smart audiobook player -- that's what I'd do for anything longer than ~6 hours in total, don't want to keep track of that stuff in my podcast player which is for, well, podcasts, not (cut-up) audio books.

You may be right on that, I have it disabled so I haven't noticed.

I binge old podcasts regularly. You can sort episodes old->new.

Podcast Addict is my favorite. Being able to keep different settings for every podcast is nice.

Pocket Casts has it for some setting, though I don't know if the settings you care about are included.

Don't underestimate it longer term. I rarely,if ever, listen to podcasts and I don't use Spotify, however Spotify is already a household brand. It's like Netflix: every time I speak to someone about a movie,or a series,the first question is whether it's on Netflix and if the answer is No,they often get disappointed.

Spotify is targeting the millions of customers that already use their app who aren't regular podcast listeners. These people will now get exposed to the podcast ecosystem through Spotify and that'll help boost subscriber retention.

As someone who uses Spotify for music, and another podcast app for podcasts, I find it annoying to scroll past podcasts to get to music. I'm skeptical that someone who has no interest in podcasts will decide that instead of putting on music they want to listen to a podcast - at least in most situations.

Spotify has 350m users, even if it's not in "most cases" there is huge potential to tap into.

This is me.

I have Spotify Premium for listening to music while I work but I started listening to podcasts while doing mindless chores like laundry or dishes.

It's convenient to just have the one app.

It probably depends on the market. In Germany a very famous podcast by TV host Jan Böhmermann https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_B%C3%B6hmermann is only available via spotify. That certainly impacts people. Maybe not for being the sole reason for being Spotify users, but relevant attention.

Other communities certainly have their relevant content.

Will offer some data points from Spotify's Investor Relations [1] that add some additional color to the anecdotes from previous comments:

- Total MAUs grew 27% Y/Y to 345 million in the quarter (...) Based on the behavior we see when users first join Spotify, we are confident that podcast usage has been a factor in the accelerated net additions.

- The strength in Ad-Supported revenue was led by our Podcast, Direct, and Ad Studio channels, with Podcast and Ad Studio both growing over 100% on a Y/Y basis. Podcast performance benefited from strong underlying demand from advertisers with a 50% increase in the number of companies spending in this channel vs. Q3

- As of Q4, we had 2.2 million podcasts on the platform (up from more than 1.9 million podcasts in Q3). Of note, 25% of our Total MAUs engaged with podcast content in Q4 (up from 22% of MAUs in Q3 2020

So the short answer is that podcasts help increase usage of the platform (and with better margins than music, probably due to copyright and leverage of artists vs. content creators)

[1] https://investors.spotify.com/financials/default.aspx

These bullets are conspicuously free of important details.

"Podcast usage has been a factor" - okay, how much? Answer: no idea.

"The strength in Ad-Supported revenue was led by our Podcast, Direct, and Ad Studio channels, with Podcast and Ad Studio both growing over 100% on a Y/Y basis" - okay, but from what starting point and how much did it contribute? Answer: not saying.

"25% of our Total MAUs engaged with podcast content" - okay, how much? Answer: not saying.

Obviously podcasts help increase metrics, but even Spotify either doesn't know or won't say, meanwhile all this discussion ignores the flip side of the coin which is how much this is all costing the company.

One podcast was saying that their show subscribers coming in from Spotify was like... 0.x% of total listeners, across several shows. This was sometime last year, things could have changed but to be honest nor everything is a multi-trillion dollar industry and Spotify spending like or is is a pretty good application of wealth redistribution from VCs to artists

Spotify's reason for getting people on podcasts is not only lock-in, every hour you listen to a podcast is an hour they don't have to pay music royalties for.

> Assuming you have an existing successful podcast, I don't get why you'd move to something like Spotify. Are you really going to make that much more money? Your share of $10 per month cannot be high.

Why would you not put it on Spotify? It costs you nothing and can only increase your audience. I’m not talking about exclusive-rights scenarios, but the majority of podcasts which are published to multiple platforms.

I think cars are reason. Spotify wants in cars. Daniel Ek has said this thing like many times now. If Spotify can corner podcast market then car companies has to do deals with Spotify and they cannot just use custom build apps or some other competitors.

I guess Spotify is paying "celebrities" to host their podcasts, even at a loss, as a way to get more people to subscribe. It is a well known game that was played by satellite radio stations a decade ago.

What do they talk about on those podcasts? I have never tried because of the feeling that it will be a fake politically correct filtered content written to not offend anyone.

I only use Spotify because the Last Podcast Network went exclusive.

Joe who?

Seriously, I think that there are a number of reasons why this won't pan out as predicted:

- There aren't really any tent-pole, must listen podcasts. They thought Joe Rogan was one but I'm hearing a lot of people have stopped listening to him on Spotify (I have).

- Spotify (and others) don't have the money to buy out the whole podcast ecosystem and many podcast makers I think would resist going Spotify exclusive.

- I like my podcast player a lot and there is no way I'm giving it up for the inferior Spotify experience.

I see podcasting as being more like YouTubing - sure there are outfits generating substantial revenue from advertising but many have more diverse revenue streams and reaching the largest audience is more important that an uplift in advertising revenue. Plus not everyone on YouTube is there for the $$$

Rogan is fine (if dumb) light entertainment to have in the background. I haven’t listened to a single episode since the move now that it’s not on YouTube anymore. Spotify is also totally awful for podcasts as the UX is for a music player. Besides Lex now fills that hole with a lot more intelligence

People also try to ignore that Spotify did exactly what everybody thought they would do - started watering down the guests and removing so-called controversial episodes.

A big part of the Rogan show charm was the fringe guests, and his audience doesnt care the least for the kind of corporate virtue signalling Spotify is eminating.

In effect, it went from offering somewhat novel things to being plain boring - like everything else you’d expect from a Spotify podcast. I dont find Rogan particularly charismatic as a host either so why listen anymore?

Exactly this. Rogan didn't always have something or somebody interesting on the podcast. But his show had teeth, and even though it didn't go out of its way to bare them, you knew they were there.

I didn't follow him to Spotify. Podcasting is a bastion of free-speech, and one of the few open ecosystems with real scale. I don't resent him taking the deal, but losing the show wasn't enough to tempt me into a gilded cage.

I've heard Joe Rogan jokingly refered to as "Oprah for middle aged white dudes".

Rogan conducted decent interviews with Roger Penrose and Oliver Stone.

It's not about Rogan, it is about the guests. His interviews are certainly less formulaic than Charlie Rose's, except when he inserts his favorite topics (just use fast forward ...).

Sounds like something Merlin Mann might say on "Do By Friday"

If only he were Oprah.

More like "Gwyneth Paltrow for bros".

Except Gwyneth and friends are emulating Rogan’s ‘model’ and applying it to the female audience. Rogan and his style of broadcasting were around for almost a decade before Goop decided to start podcasting & make a TV show. Pretty smart on their part honestly. When I saw the Netflix show, all I could think of is ‘This is JRE for women’. Even using some of the same guests, and topics Joe had already popularized.

Painfully accurate.

Eh, Rogan normalizes hate speech in ways that if you or I were to try to do would get us fired/unfriended.

I don't think that's "fine", but it's also not really topical to the submission so I'll leave it at that.

Edit: if folks want to start a discussion about this with me, let's create an email thread about it. My email is in my profile, I'll wait until three folks mention their interest before getting started, if that works. I really didn't mean to upset or try to dodge anything, I just don't think a protracted discussion about Joe Rogan will be very interesting to most people on HN.

Sounds more like you want to raise the subject but don't want anyone to challenge you on it so you'll "leave it at that."

I'm sorry, hit me up on my email in my profile if you want to discuss more! A "Is Joe Rogan a racist?" conversation is not interesting, and this place is about hosting interesting discussions.

> A "Is Joe Rogan a racist?" conversation is not interesting, and this place is about hosting interesting discussions.

Yeah... because it's a bullshit conversation that people know is false, and any attempt to try to argue otherwise would see you utterly destroyed with facts.

Rogan and Chappelle are great friends. Rogan was friends with Patrice O'Neal. He's friends with Colion Noir and has him on the show about every six - twelve months.

For a "racist", he's doing a pretty poor job.

I won't go so far as to call Rogan a racist, but it is undeniable that he platforms known racists and does little to challenge their hateful beliefs. In effect Rogan is re-platforming those rightfully cancelled from forums with even the smallest amount of decorum, allowing hateful rhetoric to spread unabated.

>Yeah... because it's a bullshit conversation that people know is false, and any attempt to try to argue otherwise would see you utterly destroyed with facts.

This is not something someone with a convincing argument says before:

>Rogan and Chappelle are great friends. Rogan was friends with Patrice O'Neal. He's friends with Colion Noir and has him on the show about every six - twelve months.

...using the same argument whites use to justify saying the N word. Racists/supremacists tend to have token black friends, typically of lesser status or means, as cover.

In the context of their relationship (comedy), Chappelle is certainly much higher status than Rogan.

That's tangential to my point and inaccurate. Rogan is worth double Chappelle while enjoying far more of the current limelight to boot. Rather, my point is that saying someone isn't racist because they're friends, at least in public, with black people is fallacious and racist itself.

Man, I'd love to discuss this with you, but I really don't think it makes for good HN content. Unlike most, I do enjoy getting "destroyed with facts". Please email me!

I think tree-style conversations were invented so that you _can_ go off topic.

Can you give me an example of something Joe Rogan has said that you think a tech employer would fire an employee for? (Seriously asking, I don't listen to Rogan.)

Yeah I really wish there is a way to see the engagement with JRE on spotify ... on youtube it was immediately available (views count / comments / likes dislikes) ... in a sense youtube provided the end user with the content, a way to evaluate it (analytics) and ability to have a community around it (comment section).

Spotify doesn't offer any of those.. I too was a daily JRE listener and not anymore, but the good news is that I feel like I upgraded by choosing more specialized podcasts based on my interests.

Yeah, youtube was my preferred way to consume JRE. I'm not one to put on a podcast in the background, because I don't like having something I find interesting going on while I'm trying to do other stuff that requires thought, and if it's not interesting why would I put it on?

Having the interesting moments distilled into two to three 10-15 minute clips was ideal, and if I found the conversation really interesting I might try to watch the whole show for that day.

... I was under the impression they had stopped doing that, but I just checked and there are a lot of clips showing on PowerfulJRE, so maybe they just screwed up their recommendation rating? I just know that when they went to spotify I stopped getting them recommended to me, but there's been a few the last couple weeks now.

Joe Rogan will occasionally have guests that attract people who wouldn't otherwise be interested in common JRE topics. In my case, it was podcasts with Billy Corgan and Shirley Manson (of Smashing Pumpkins and Garbage, respectively).

I enjoyed those episodes a lot, plus a few he has with comedians I find funny. But it wasn't enough to make me subscribe. I doubt there is any podcast that I consider indispensable enough to subscribe.

I have a few I've considered indispensable that have shifted over time. Reply All is consistently good (but I'm a couple months behind at this point, less podcast time). Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is a treat when it comes out, but that's like every 4-6 months usually. This is only a test from tested.com is good, and even though it's weekly it's topical enough I can skip a week or two and not feel like I need to go back and listen. My most recent favorite is Brad & Will Made a Tech Pod, which perfectly encapsulates that feeling I used to get when I sat down with a good friend and we started talking about/ranting about some interesting thing one of us did a deep dive on recently.

Not that you actually asked. ;)

> My most recent favorite is Brad & Will Made a Tech Pod, which perfectly encapsulates that feeling I used to get when I sat down with a good friend and we started talking about/ranting about some interesting thing one of us did a deep dive on recently.

You might enjoy Grumpy Old Geeks. I’ve been listening to the show for a couple of years. I recommend checking them out.

spoiler alert: reply all is unfortunately dead

Well, that's sad. :/

The only podcasts I listen religiously are the intelligence by the economist and revolutions by Mike Duncan. I can listen to the intelligence via the economist app and Revolutions is ending this year (and I get it through the standard podcast app on iOS.)

The Intelligence is available as a regular old podcast feed too - all Economist podcasts are.

The Economist's iOS app means I have started listening to their podcast many many many times without wanting to. Particularly irritated when browsing in bed next to a sleeping wife.

I don't follow Joe Rogan or really very many podcasts, and the ones I do are fairly topical. I'm not going to go relisten to old episodes the same way I would rewatch The Office. It really shifts the focus to creators and away from the IP. I don't think that's really a set in stone thing though, it's just the nature of the type of audio content that's popular right now.

I'll admit I'm a podcast novice, but what player are you using and what does it offer beyond Spotify? I find, download, and play podcasts through Spotify without issues, and the few features I need (speed adjustment, offline access, and show notes/links) are all available on Spotify.

If there is a better way to listen, I'd love to hear about it.

I use PocketCasts (on iOS) and I'm happy enough to pay for a subscription (extra benefits are marginal though).

It's less about features, I think, and more about the overall experience. It's probably quite personal too, but in no particular order:

- Smoother and more responsive UI

- Less cluttered and more dense UI eg visual overview of all my subscriptions

- Silence trimming

- Sharing from a given place in a podcast

I do use Spotify for music though so I'm not completely anti the Spotify experience. In fairness to the Spotify designers I do think that they have a more difficult job in integrating podcasts into an app that is mainly a music player.

Another user of PocketCasts (Android and Windows).

In addition to the above, I make use of

- podcast specific auto download, retention, and playback settings

- clean Android Auto integration. When I switch from Pandora to PocketCasts, it's quite clear what is happening. It intelligently handles pausing/resuming playback while notifications are playing. Even rewinding a little if it's been a bit since you listened.

- Progress sync, so I can pickup where I was on different versions of the app. (Desktop/Web/Android)

- Fast refresh of feeds. Your phone asks their server for the status rather than calling each server individually. This was a bigger issue back in the day.

I use it on Android and also quite happy with it after years of use.

I use Pocket Casts. I just like it a lot, and I don't want to switch because it does everything I need. Spotify seems like it wouldn't be as configurable, but I haven't even felt the need to check.

Plus, I don't like a monoculture.

>I just like it a lot, and I don't want to switch because it does everything I need. Spotify seems like it wouldn't be as configurable

Maybe I'm missing out on part of the experience. What else is there to do with a podcast other than download/stream and listen?

- Thanks for all the tips. I don't listen to a ton of podcasts but I'll give it a shot.

Not the parent commenter, but there's a lot of features I like out of Pocket Casts that Spotify doesn't do as well.

- Queuing/auto-queuing to a next-up playlist (with features like add to start or add to end)

- Faster playback (e.g. listening at 2x speed)

- Alerts when new episodes drop to a given feed

It's very configurable and works well.

Also, I just dislike having to abandon my music queue when I listen to a podcast on Spotify. It's nice to have music playing at home, pause it, go for a walk listening to a podcast, finish the walk, then resume the same song/playlist at home.

Favoriting episodes, bookmarks, auto-queues, prioritizing podcasts, downloading episodes for archival purposes, playback history, list of all episodes in progress, stripping empty audio, crazy amount of configurability, and an interface that isn't terrible. I'm sure there are a bunch of other features I'm forgetting.

I've tried Spotify. It's not a podcast player. It's an audio player with none of the conveniences of a modern podcast player. If all you want to do is listen to podcasts, I'm sure it's fine, but it's not in any way sufficient for my needs. At this point, Podcast Addict is the only app out there that I can stand to use.

Some apps also have the ability to compress silent gaps in audio which can save a lot of time over time. It may not work if you’re listening to things that need ‘comedic timing’ but otherwise it’s entirely seamless.

I’ve been using Apple’s app recently and its the one thing I quite miss.

Well, why are we not coding on laptops from 1994?

The user interface can be wildly different.

Pocket casts changed recently but oh how I lived the old ui. Spotify had nothing on it.

Haven't had a reason to download Spotify since even though I haven't liked all the changes in the new pocket casts.

I believe (though I'm not sure) that AntennaPod is closer to the old Pocket Casts UI (but not as polished):


Your snarky response isn't helpful. You've only said "it's different" and dismissed Spotify while also not giving any reasons why you dislike it.

I don't dislike it. I'm happy with my podcast player and don't want two of them since I want to keep using the one with the interface I like.

Other things than the pure content matter. It's not irrelevant.

Playback speed, how many episodes to download on each podcast (some I listen to often, some rarely), what do with them when done, when to go to the next episode automatically, there's a lot. And I want these configurable per-podcast.

I tweeted at the Pocketcasts team to recommend adding a feature that I would find useful (I think it was excluding "the" from alphabetised list of podcasts since it made titles clump together under "T"). They responded quickly and implemented it pretty soon afterwards. I was impressed.

I love the web player interface (although have found problems using a VPN) but the Android app has been a bit tricky to use, having to navigate to filters to find episodes I've downloaded.

Chapter support is a nice feature when it's available. There are some podcasts that I listen to straight through. I skip around others.

Don't know about the competition, but PocketCasts has a lot of options in the share feature I use. Share podcast, share episode, share episode at this point. I'll often times send a share text saying "listen to the next 3 minutes".

Also configurable speed controls + skipping whitespace + easier to skip ads (Spotify podcasts break out the ads into their own streams so you can't skip them all in one go, though you can skip them individually).

You're not missing out on anything. The Pocket Casts UI is impenetrable and I can never remember how to tell which podcasts are downloaded, which I've listened to, etc. There's some overlap with the "archive" feature that is unintuitive.

Other nice features I haven’t seen mentioned

- sort by most liked - save clips

I would love to support Pocket Casts, but I don't want to pay another subscription (Pocket Casts plus appears to be $1/mo). Do you know if there's any way to just pay $12 for Plus forever or something like that? Or another podcast app that has that kind of one-time purchase?

I use Overcast (https://overcast.fm/) which I believe has a one-time purchase fee to remove ads. It also has pretty nice features such as audio boost and silence trimming.

Is there a feature you want out of the paid subscription, or do you just want to support them? The subscription goes towards enabling features which have an ongoing cost (sync of files and listening state across devices so you can listen on desktop where you left off on mobile). I don't think they want to offer a one time fee for what is an indefinite period of cost.

AFAIK most features other than that are still fully supported in the free version of the app without ads though. So if you don't want any of those features, they're probably better supported by you recommending them to others than giving them a few dollars.

Yeah, I mostly just wanted to toss them a few bucks since they've created an app that I really love. That's a good point, though -- I've recommended Pocket Casts to a lot of folks at this point, and pushed several off of listening to podcasts on Spotify so I'm doing my part to contribute in small ways.

I use Podbean coupled with Pocket Casts. They do everything I need. These apps are really useful.

Also, there are only so many things that you expect from a Podcast app-

- Does not have ads. (Some banner ads are okay) - Offers download in external storage - Has bookmarking capabilities - Offers all the titles I listen to - Saves data associated with an email address

There. Simple. Don't want anything more.

Overcast. It has a “smart speed” feature that cuts out breaks and pauses in a way that’s almost unnoticeable but will save/gain you hundreds of hours. And audio clip sharing and great leveling in addition to privacy features.


There’s numerous small developers out there putting in much more care than Spotify.

Also a huge fan of Overcast. I just looked and it's saved me an extra "211 hours beyond speed adjustments alone".

Spotify still doesn't allow the user to add an RSS feed in the app, right? Until they support that it makes no sense to use as my main podcast app because the (admittedly few) podcasts I listen to are mostly either too behind the times to be on Spotify or I pay for their Patreon and need to be able to use the subscriber feed. I use AntennaPod on Android and the built-in Podcasts app on iOS.

Castro on iOS. It uses an inbox triage model that lets me subscribe to a lot of podcasts and keep up with what they’re doing, without cluttering my queue or inducing decision fatigue. It has more granular (per-podcast) controls for smart speed, silence skipping, voice leveling, skipping intros and automatic triage than Spotify. It also lets me upload custom audio and subscribe to custom/private feeds. Support for scripting listening and feed management with iOS shortcuts is above a useful threshold.

Prior to Castro, I used Overcast and Pocket Casts, which have similar features.

I’m sure Spotify is the future but these third party clients are great for heavy listeners who want more control.

I've been using iCatcher on ios for years now. It has all the things you mention but also a nice set of sorting logic to choose from as well as other per-podcast options like prioritization and number of episodes to download/display etc.

Lex Fridman's podcast is much better if you want something more intellectual.

I stopped listening to rogan after spotify but he did a series of JRE MMA including one with GSP, those made me listen to spotify.

This post is essentially a funding pitch for Spotify. I talks a lot about they are going to try and kill the open podcast ecosystem but no evidence that they are making any progress. The podcast ecosystem is very different from other media markets-- it started open, it grew up open, and people are actually willing to directly pay content producers either for bonus content, to avoid ad reads, or just to keep the train chugging along. I immediately unsub from any podcast where there is some jarring dynamic ad insertion. I've watch all of the once great Gimlet podcasts wither, and some die since their acquisition.

Yea there is a market for the low-est common denominator stuff like low-brow true crime stuff and the joe rogans, but I don't see those as competition, either for sponsors or ears to the healthy, robust, mature open podcast ecosystem.

>to avoid ad reads

Even without paying for podcasts, ad reads in podcasts are pretty much the most consumer-friendly form of advertising on the internet. There's no privacy invasion. The ads are pretty well targeted because podcast producers generally know and try to respect their audiences. And they can even be pretty funny and entertaining when hosts can stray a bit off-script.

> There's no privacy invasion

Slight but worrying privacy invasion. Podcasts are increasingly inserting targeted ads based on download analytics. Just the other day, I was listening to a British podcast that advertised for a local company in Seattle, where my IP address tells them I'm from.

The extent to which a podcast can target users has been somewhat limited until now. But if you use Spotify, they know what content you're listening to, and your exact listening behavior, as well as who you are. There's no doubt in my mind that they pay attention to that data internally, and very little doubt that they'll move to expose more and more of it to advertisers.

Plus you can always skip them with a couple of button presses.

I can see a future where podcasts move to a walled garden (Spotify) and the fast forward button gets disabled during ads.

The Spotify® ads are not part of the episode, it launches a new file basically and you get a new seek bar that says 30 seconds total rather than it being part of the audio stream that you downloaded. I was frankly surprised it let me seek to the end, but yeah that's not gonna last long.

Also, I'm a premium member and I got ads on a podcast (from one of the ones they own themselves no less!). Fuck that shit. Unsubscribed from that podcast and will also from any others when I hear they're now "exclusive". I don't need more ads for products that I already paid for in my life. I also keep considering reverting to the pirate bay and a €13 128GB sd card, since the player is rather buggy and I can see in my firewall that the app tries to report who-knows-what to Facebook and other advertisers (again, as a premium member...), but it's not Spotify that would hurt the most from that so I feel like there isn't really a point.

haha, yeah like dvds. i then imagine a world with pirate directories you subscribe to with the current podcast players

To add to your point, the only time I've ever consciously bought something from an ad was through a podcast, and I've done it several times now.

Have you been listening to Harmontown or That Happens? The hosts literally do small improv bits for every ad.

What Spotify is trying to do is called a roll-up. This is a well tread business tactic favored by aspiring monopolists and the strategy is simple: acquire most of the distribution in the space, then jack up the price. (In the podcast world, "distribution" equates to "listeners" and price equates to "Spotify's subscription and ad revenue.")

The harm caused to both consumers and producers by a roll-up is well-documented. The legality is questionable but US regulators have been asleep on the job for decades.

Fortunately Americans are starting to wake up.

Matt Stoller did a piece on this last year: https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/will-spotify-ruin-podcast...

The key word here is "trying" - still open whether they will succeed.

Agree that they should be stopped though, if it looks like they are succeeding.

That's not what a rollup is.

A rollup is where you merge businesses doing functionally similar things, gaining economies of scale on costs. Its most often used for geographically distributed family businesses, such as Dentists. Dentists all need a lot of back office support, marketing, and sales functions. Having a rollup with a dozen Dental offices allows you to centralize all the insurance claim handling, direct marketing and put them under a single brand you can advertise on more mass market media.

You are correct that where rollups are used in regulated industries that limit entrants such as radio, they lead to oligopolies. If you own most of the radio stations in a single city you not only get the rollup cost benefits, you can also increase your prices for advertising.

But this is a direct effect of the market limitations that would occur either way, even if owners weren't allowed to reduce costs by buying stations in the same city to combine back office and operations, they would still do it to get oligarchic pricing power. And if you try to rollup most of the Dentist offices in a single city to raise prices you can only succeed temporarily, because it's a free market and your higher prices will attract lots of new entrants.

Of course the other criticisms of rollups is they reduce diversity of offerings. In the case of radio it leads to homogenization of station playlists. Which is exactly what the BBC does in Britain, so I don't see the issue. Especially since radio is being gutted by the internet anyways.

So this is what Apple did with the app store.

Applications used to be distributed everywhere, but Apple tightly controlled the platform and crippled the web browser. They even prevented Flash and other runtimes so they would be the only way to get native control on the device.

They "rolled up" computing.

What scummy behavior.

Not exactly. Podcasts were openly available as downloadable, RSS-friendly MP3 files for a long time. Apple required iOS apps to be distributed through the app store. Before that, there were no iOS apps to speak of.

Web pages are the iOS equivalent to open podcasts. iOS didn't stop those from working, although it did limit support for PWAs, which arrived years after the App Store. Even then, I can use apps like Uber without the App Store: m.uber.com.

Not all companies will try to create a web experience that's 1:1 with the mobile app, but it's not something iOS prevents.

This is true, though I would argue that there is a difference between creating a new platform where you have full control and trying to hostile takeover an existing open platform. On one hand you can at least give Apple credit that they're trying to maintain some level of quality on the platform they created and expand their margins through software purchases (since the margins on hardware aren't that high or flexible), whereas Spotify isn't creating anything -- they're just trying to make a platform that already exists shittier.

Arguments that revolve on Flash being a benefit instead of the mobile power wasting security nightmare it actually was, always fail right there.

It's still good to call out they are a bad actor in the podcast ecosystem. They can't compete on software, so they try to buy content and make it exclusive. There is no benefit to the user to their activities.

If what they have done to the Joe Rogan Experience is any indication, they will fail at this endeavor. How they have handled it is so bad that it can only be explained by incompetence.

Over six months after switching to Spotify, when I venture back in to try to listen to an episode, it'll randomly stop playing for no apparent reason. It'll jump to another episode for no apparent reason. It'll pause playing and then resume anywhere from 5-30 seconds later. And why they insist on displaying total playing time as "mm:ss" instead of "hh:mm:ss" is beyond me.

I stopped listening to Rogan when he fell off my preferred PodCast app, and I am a Paying Spotify Premium user but I do not use Spotify for PodCasts because I like to keep my PodCasts and Music Separate

The strangest thing about Spotify for me is that I pay for Premium as well but that doesn't save me from Joe Rogan's own commercials he inserts into his spotify podcasts. They're skippable by simply moving the seek bar to the end but why if I'm paying for Premium are they even there? They're not baked into the podcast itself but rather the player pauses the playback of the podcast and cues up multiple 120(!) second ads.

They're also a royal PITA to skip in my car because the spotify app on iPhone and PC are both awful but the mobile app is awful squared.

I have Spotify Premium and hear no ads on JRE.

Well that's odd, I get hit by multiple (3-4) 60-120 second ads about 2-3 times per podcast.

I also resent being tracked especially when I am a paying customer.

I don’t like Spotify’s player or their process for restricted access podcasts. “Free” isn’t free when it requires a special app.

Podcasts using RSS was genius and a great “protocol” for distributing content that fit into the original web idea of information available anywhere.

I hope Spotify loses and regular podcasts stick and thrive. I’m more worried about people like NPR requiring their own app x 1000.

I'm pretty sure that Spotify's API allows access to podcasts outside the official app. I'm already using software that can stream Spotify content to local devices that don't support Spotify. Creating an RSS feed is only an implementation detail.

And I wouldn't discount the publishing and distribution part of making a podcast content available. Without Spotify or a similar platform, the burden of putting content online, making it discoverable and getting audience analytics falls on the creators. I'm pretty sure that most creators would be pretty disinterested in spending time on these tasks.

No, I don’t think so. The api [0] only returns metadata and Spotify urls that are played in their player. There’s no way I can find to get the actual audio file or audio stream on binary format.

Of course it also requires a Spotify dev account so that’s limiting too.

I’m discounting the publishing and distribution part because we have examples of podcasts that moved from regular to Spotify (eg, JRE) and the content didn’t change at all.

Podcasts are pretty awesome as the distribution costs are low and are pretty similar whether your distributing via Spotify or your own CDN.

With regular you get discoverability via Apple and many others so that’s bigger than Spotify.

This is a “solved” problem in that creators have been easily doing this for 10 years. The technical aspects are minimal and completely abstracted through many services available that are dollars per month.

[0] https://developer.spotify.com/documentation/web-api/referenc...

Disagree on this, like discord, third party apps are frowned upon. There is no youtube-dl for spotify (not a good one at least) so while I do agree that creators should not be burdened by the distribution aspect, spotify is ultimately vendor lock-in. while with itunes you can easily fetch the rss feed of their podcasts, such a thing is not possible with spotify.

> I'm pretty sure that Spotify's API allows access to podcasts outside the official app.

I wouldn't be too sure about this. I know its API (or at least some parts of it) are only available to premium users, because they can't serve ads via third-party integrations.

I don't know if there's an exception for podcasts, but I wouldn't be surprised if your option is either the app or paying to not use the official app.

I don't really consider these things "podcasts" anymore.

There are a couple (imo, "real") podcasts I subscribe to and pay for, but I pay the creators directly and they generally self-host the files.

Any other business model is just a network-exclusive TV or radio show, not a podcast.

I agree; they shouldn't be called podcasts if they don't conform to RSS and don't work in standard podcast apps.

They're time-shifted audio shows sure, but not podcasts.

Oh, I seriously thought your reply would be that they should not be called podcasts [1] since that's more of an iPod thing. Or at least with the same modus operandi of downloading files (published from iTunes or RSS or whatever) to listen to later. But then, maybe I'm just too old.

Or maybe podcasts have just evolved again, and now it's reincarnation is into streaming platforms and clubhouse rooms.

[1] This is where the word was invented, according to the Wikipedia: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2004/feb/12/broadcasting.d...

Yep, I was going to say that it was actually Apple Music / Podcasts that killed podcasts, because that was the first site I saw podcast creators exclusively link to versus an aggregator or RSS feed. It marked the turning of the tide, where it even started to be considered acceptable not to have an RSS feed.

To be fair, this effect was limited at the time to "podcasts" released by relatively wealthy people mostly in New York, among whom not using Apple products was basically unheard of. Spotify seems to be taking this mainstream, but I think the problem started before they got into the podcast business.

> Any other business model is just a network-exclusive TV or radio show, not a podcast.

That's where the money is. Spotify isn't a tech company, it's a radio station that exists to sell subscriptions plus ads.

I wish radio stations in my country played music that I like. Perhaps then I'd ever have listened to one. Not to mention that you can't pick what a broadcast radio plays. Aside from that they can both play audio, it seems rather incomparable to me...

Spotify also made podcast ads as terrible as TV/radio.

I was never bothered by podcast ads since it was coming straight from the podcaster. E.g. Tim Ferriss - for the most part I trusted he actually supported the products. Comedians, the ad reads are often pretty funny

Spotify instead interrupts the podcast whenever they want with "HEY! <radio ad voice selling a product>"

Yeah, it's really awful. Many podcasts I choose to listen to because the hosts have soothing voices and there isn't any annoying yelling, but when Spotify inserts the ads in there, it absolutely ruins the experience since the ads are so jarring when compared to the podcast itself.

I loved spotify for music suggestions and playlists, but are finding it highly annoying lately for the podcasts it keeps trying to push at me taking up prime real-estate in the app. Like for example if I open it now the second row is a whole list of podcast about "Get Educated about Voter Suppression". All that stuff sucks for you guys but I am Canadian and don't want to listen to 5 podcasts about American voting.

I only listen to podcasts on my iphone and already have a nice feed in the podcast app, I am good. I haven't even listened to more then 3 hours of podcasts in the last year since I am not on transit every day with covid/work from home.

This is exactly why the co-inventor of podcasting, Adam Curry, launched the "Podcasting 2.0" initiative last year:


I also like his "value for value" model:


I can't believe I didn't notice right away that this "article" is a native ad for Spotify. Ugh.

Meanwhile, the open podcast ecosystem keeps getting better instead of dying off like Spotify and Apple wish it would. [Podcast Index] and the Podcasting 2.0 ecosystem around it is helping keep podcasting free and open.

* https://podcastindex.org

Can't quite say that I found it to be casting Spotify in a positive light, which seems odd if you think it's an ad.

Is it really? Is there evidence of this? (Honestly asking, I'm curious about the prevalence of native advertising and astroturfing.)

From their about page, the author appears to work for Oracle and has a similar article praising an Apple product that I remember doing big numbers here at HN when it came out.

Wonder how the removal and censorship of podcasts will affect content makers:


I think calling this censorship is like saying Applebee's censors beer because they stock Bud Lite over Old Rasputin.

Spotify is the owner of the content and pulled those episodes for the same reason all mass marketed content gravitates to the bland and benign - bland and benign is easier to sell to a large mass of people.

Joe Rogan was free (not just free, well compensated) as an indy and could have kept his lucrative gig, but spotify dumped a truck load of money in his lawn and he decided he'd rather have that. They even told him up front they were going to remove episodes, and the contract made it clear they could keep going. It's not really censorship when the creator decided to pull episodes to make their content more appealing to a mass audience of people in order to make more money.

> Joe Rogan was free (not just free, well compensated) as an indy and could have kept his lucrative gig, but spotify dumped a truck load of money in his lawn and he decided he'd rather have that.

I mean obviously we can't know for sure without access to his finances, but I remember seeing some estimates that he could've earned the amount of money Spotify gave to him in like two years or so.

So his choice was money upfront or earning it via traditional means in a couple of years. In my view, he made the wrong choice.

I'm faced with a similar dilemma right now (but with losing money instead of gaining it) by investing in a NAS that would pay off in a little over two years by downscaling the servers I'm renting.

> In my view, he made the wrong choice.

I agree, but it's his choice to make. Money in the hand today is better than tomorrow.

As a very casual JRE listener, he's completely gone from my radar since he moved to Spotify. Reminds me a lot of when Stern went to satellite. The show lost its widespread relevance almost overnight. And when the show loses relevance, it becomes harder to get the best guests and it becomes a slow downward spiral to bland/repetitive.

The real issue is the audience care about those historical conversations. The Alex Jones podcast was probably the most hilarious JRE episode full stop. I'm not going to get outraged but I don't care to watch as many episodes as I did.

Podcasts may literally be the last major content category on the internet that is still open/inter-operable/syndicated. (remember when we thought RSS and Atom were really going to go far?).

Maybe not for long.

It was open until people realized that they could make significant money off of it. Then the walls started going up.

It was open until people realized they couldn't make any significant money off it that way

Patreon is (currently) the counterweight keeping Spotify from sucking up a critical mass of the high quality podcasts. If Patreon were to fold for some reason, you might see a lot of professional podcasters heading under Spotify's wing just out of necessity.

JRE RSS for any podcast player...


Many thanks to Tim Dorr for creating this, works for any Spotify podcast...


While this is a really cool project, personally I think we should just let any Spotify-exclusive podcast die instead of feeding the beast. I absolutely hate that my Spotify Premium music subscription dollars are being funneled into exclusive podcasts and attempts to force podcasts down my throat via recommendations all over the app.

Thanks! I did enjoy the occasional JRE podcast before he sold out to Spotify. This way I can keep an eye on the feed in case he has some interesting folks on.

I guess I don't know the right podcasts, but in my opinion, most of them are lazy marketing efforts by large corporations. I don't want to listen to native ads. And this is basically everything Spotify seems to suggest to me in the podcast section.

I fled Soundcloud because they couldn't get their shit together, it seems Spotify won't be competing forever as well. Their app has random stutters on modern hardware, and is cluttered with podcast stuff. All I want is music.

I liked JRE, but even as a Spotify user, I don't listen to him anymore.

>I liked JRE, but even as a Spotify user, I don't listen to him anymore.

I used this long podcasts to fall asleep to but had to stop now with spotify. I cast it to a google home mini and set the volume to pretty low, so I just can hear what they say pretty much, but at a random point spotify stops it and plays an ad at volume level 9000+ and doesn't resume play. How bad isn't that? Oh and Joe is getting less likeable lately... not sure if we should blame spotify for throwing all that money on him or what...

> Joe is getting less likeable lately...

Agreed - he always had a noticeable tilt on issues but lately it seems to be all about scoring sick dunks on SJW's. I was also surprised how little prep he apparently does before podcasts. During the latest Elon Musk episode he learned on-air that the reusable rockets land propulsively (as opposed to using parachutes or otherwise). It's odd to have possibly the richest man in the world on for 3 multi-hour podcasts and not know the most basic facts about their accomplishments.

Haha yes! How could he not have seen the ring of fire video and still be Elons number one fan???

Could we confirm parallel universes now? Because the one Joe lives in is different. Think he lost touch. Also noticed him being more of a dick lately, the "I'm a nice person"-Joe is off in yet another universe doing something else...

> lately it seems to be all about scoring sick dunks on SJW's

I'm surprised you'd say that considering that Spotify has banned controversial episodes with Stefan Molyneux, Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, David Seaman (the pizza gate guy not the footballer), etc.

I'm not sure he'll be able to have them on now. He did have Alex Jones again, but it was more fact checked than the previous episodes.

I'd say he's less conspiratorial now.

>I liked JRE, but even as a Spotify user, I don't listen to him anymore.

Same. I don't know why that is though. Perhaps because he sold out open podcasting? Especially as he has had Adam Curry on a couple of times. But then I defy anyone to turn down such a payday (I wouldn't).

Perhaps it's the abandoning of a very large community (YT comments). That doesn't affect me personally but I know it affects others.

A subconscious sour taste somewhat?

Couple reasons for me:

Mainly, when I'm looking for something to listen to, I go to my podcast app. There's a list of latest episodes. I browse and pick one. JRE never appears on that list, so out of sight, out of mind.

But also, his show has taken a nosedive in quality in the last 6 months. Feels like discussions are always (a) COVID mask rules are dumb (or maybe they're not?, depends on the guest), (b) The Comedy Cellar was hella tight back in the day, (c) Texas is awesome, California is basically a dystopian hellhole.

None of those points bother me that much. Whatever. But when they're recycled ad nauseam on every episode, it's just boring.

So now I just don't bother. I have the Spotify app. But it's not something I think about for podcasting.

Wonder if the pandemic, combined with moving to another state, has impacted his ability to find new guests or guests with new stories to tell. IIRC, he has lots of hunters on his show, right? But if the world is more or less locked down, those hunters aren't going off to interesting places and coming back with stories to tell. Same for any other activity that requires travel. The fallback are the types of shows you mentioned. And being in a new state means creating a new network of contacts, which will take time and is slowed by the pandemic regardless of how loose Texas might be in their restrictions.

> There's a list of latest episodes. I browse and pick one. JRE never appears on that list, so out of sight, out of mind.

That’s a good point.

How about montonony and repetition?

There are > 1000 episodes of JRE, each 1-3 hours long. An enormous amount of repetition results from this. I have watched less than 50 episodes and I know I have to FFWD when Rogan starts talking about divorce laws in California, using the same example of one unnamed friend who lost everything to his ex-wife.

Podcasts with other comedians are unlistenable due to the constant navel-gazing about The Comedy Store and cancel culture.

> Podcasts with other comedians are unlistenable due to the constant navel-gazing about The Comedy Store and cancel culture.

Yup. One notable exception to this is Bill Burr. I'll listen to any of those because Bill doesn't put up with it.

Yes, I have noticed that as well. But Bill Burr is a significantly higher profile guest than the usual comedians whose careers revolve around the LA/Southern Calif area.

> How about montonony and repetition?

Fair point. Although I would add that recording thousands of hours of your own conversations would result in much monotony and repetition.

> I liked JRE, but even as a Spotify user, I don't listen to him anymore.

I'm not a spotify user and I will not move over to it for JRE.

I'm more of a youtube user who found JRE interesting when it was on that platform.

But that's just Google controlling your content rather than Spotify. Not really open either way.

Not sure what you mean by "cluttered with podcast stuff". I'm a happy Spotify user and I'm barely aware that the podcast stuff exists.

It's gotten worse recently. The second row on my home screen are now dedicated to "Spotify original & exclusive shows" (when it used to be your weekly recommendation channels). There's another 2-3 rows dedicated to podcasts as you keep going down.

For reference, I don't listen to podcasts in Spotify.

Maybe we are in different A/B groups but for me the podcasts are now in row 3 minimum, sometimes in the second row on home screen. So at times I see them.

Fair enough. I never linger on the home screen and head straight to playlist/liked music, so I suppose it's not something that's ever jumped out at me.

Podcasts are a symbol of the open web for me. They're free by and large, and largely not controlled by a walled garden platform. I can choose any number of apps to consume them. It's sad to see some big ones moving away from this model.

Just on Spotify specifically, it's a terrible client for podcasts. It feels like they've just bolted the feature onto the wrong product.

They might have a better chance if their podcast experience had even one competent engineer working on it. I truly don't know how they managed to flub it so bad. By far the worst podcast player/manager around!

The people running the company now might be primarily media people rather than tech people. In such situations, there's a tendency to highly value media ("It's what we sell to customers!") and undervalue the infrastructure that makes selling that media possible. Spotify's public fights between management and employees can't be good for recruitment either. If you're an engineer trying to decide between two jobs that are similar in compensation but one has been in the press for labor unrest and the other hasn't, you're probably going to go with the less controversial employer.

RSS (Rich Site Summary)? Wasn't it Real Simple Syndication?

Meanwhile I guess apple stopped accepting new podcasts into their database and people are spreading rumors of a new paid podcasts+ subscription model launching today. Which I hope falls flat. Podcasts should be free and accessible to anyone.

Announced: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/20/apple-unveils-podcast-subs...

Press Release: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/04/apple-leads-the-next-...


>Starting in May, listeners in more than 170 countries and regions can sign up for premium subscriptions that include a variety of benefits curated by creators, such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.

>Fifteen years ago, Apple took podcasts mainstream, offering creators a premier, _open platform_ to inform, entertain, and inspire hundreds of millions of listeners around the world,” said Eddy Cue

Interesting that the "open platform" part is no longer needed.

So now Apple gets 15-30% of the payment to podcasters? Pass

Well its not really. There are a lot of places to get podcasts from now, but there wasn't then.

Perhaps, but on the other hand, if someone like Joe Rogan had a paid for subscription plan where you were paying him directly, instead of being forced into a membership with Spotify, would that in a sense be more open, in that you are able to vote directly with your cash who you are listening to?

Of course, if its an apple product, in a sense you are tied in to their system, but if it's successful, other paid for podcast variants could appear and then Joe Rogan can syndicate it to numerous vendors which have a pay-wall.

I believe paying someone directly for an exclusive podcast makes more sense than paying to be on a platform. The whole idea of a podcast is for it to be accessible on any device using any player of their choice, and spotify does not fit that idea. I'm not saying my mindset is the "correct" one but how I feel.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and there are some premium ones where you pay to get access, but once you pay, the way you access them is basically the same as all other podcasts. Hiding the actual podcast behind a certain protocol is what I raise an eyebrow to.

Also, this is my opinion only, spotify is terrible at podcasts from a usability standpoint.

>if someone like Joe Rogan had a paid for subscription plan where you were paying him directly, instead of being forced into a membership with Spotify, would that in a sense be more open

Yes, because podcasts were previously open on numerous fronts. Any person can create a podcast that can be listened to be any person on any device. That is three points of openness. Adding a price on only restrict one of those points, the "listened to by any person". It still wouldn't stop any person's ability to create them or any device's ability to play them. Spotify (and presumably Apple) restricts both those points of openness too.

Interestingly Apple just launched paid subscriptions in Apple Podcasts: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/04/apple-leads-the-next-...

We've seen this time and again where walled gardens provide a solid experience and end up winning consumer trust. How do the champions of FOSS battle this? I don't know, but I'm on board when someone figures it out.

> How do the champions of FOSS battle this?

"Podcasting 2.0" https://podcastindex.org/

Media has never been FOSS. Radio stations do not play artists by random lottery, they play whoever paid up to get played.

> How do the champions of FOSS battle this?

That's not easy. The problem is infrastructure and that costs money. Apps[0] that use distributed architectures, with rare exceptions, still just aren't non-nerd friendly.

[0] In general, not podcast specific.

I mostly use Spotify for their music discovery. Podcast discovery is still really bad. Youtube is probably the place I find most podcasts.

If Spotify wants to dominate podcasts, they need great, hyper-personal podcast discovery.

I like Spotify for music. But i hate it for other content. I like overcast for podcasts. It’s not just ui, i like having separate channels separate. I wouldn’t want my movie in Spotify either.

They also integrated it in the dumbest way ever. You have to click music on the bottom and then move your finger all the way to the top of the screen to click podcasts, then wait for the animation, and then finally you can click on downloads, wait for that to load (requires internet for some reason), and select what you want to play.

Antennapod made me lose track of things (too many views if I remember correctly, been a few years) and had UX issues of its own, but I'm seriously considering switching back. I've unsubscribed from anything that's Spotify exclusive because I hate walled gardens (I'm happy to pay Spotify a cut to listen to and pay artists, but not if then nobody else who doesn't have Spotify can't listen to those artists, too) so that's not what's keeping me in anyhow.

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