Is Spotify the future of podcasts?

Spotify on smartphone

Updated on December 10, 2021

News came recently that standup comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan has made an exclusive deal with Spotify, worth $100 million. The popular streaming music service will become the exclusive home for Rogan’s podcast, which (as of this writing) ranks #2 on iTunes’ top podcasts.

I’m unfamiliar with Rogan, though Wikipedia says he was the guy who hosted shock-value 2000s reality show “Fear Factor.” However, I’m more concerned about the future for podcasts. Spotify’s purchase is part of its recent aggressive moves into the podcast space, as part of an ongoing effort to monetize podcasting.

Spotify’s podcast advantages

As The Verge notes, Spotify’s current podcast features include:

  • Allowing creators to make their own podcasts, plus view listener statistics.
  • Podcast access for both free and paid tier users. However, even paid tier customers will get podcast-specific ads inserted. Speaking of which…
  • Advertising inserted into podcasts automatically.
  • Podcast-specific playlists generated via algorithms or by users, similar to Spotify’s music playlists.
  • Some video podcast support (to try to lure YouTube video creators?).

All of this offers a complete podcast experience for both creators and users, without needing to use another platform or third-party software.

Spotify can also offer targeted advertising; instead of a generic ad for Casper mattresses or Squarespace, I’d get one based on what I listen to. Say, an ad for a horror- or LGBTQ-oriented podcast because I like “Welcome to Nightvale.”

Downsides of Spotify

iMac and podcast microphone
Photo by Ronaldo Ferreira (Flickr / CC BY)

The downside of Spotify as a major podcast force might be seeing podcasting go the same route as much of the traditional “open web”: moving from an open platform to a “walled garden.”

Podcasts are traditionally an open standard; they’re just MP3 files tied to an RSS feed, which any RSS-compatible software (podcast players, RSS readers, etc.) can access. Thus, anyone can make a podcast, and listen to it on anything that plays MP3s. A move to Spotify means needing to use Spotify’s player, plus tolerate its commercials. Spotify also doesn’t support adding one’s own RSS feeds (versus iTunes or other podcast players), so you’re stuck with whatever podcasts it carries.

Much of the internet’s already shifted to proprietary platforms. For example, Facebook alone has replaced things like blogging, messaging, email, etc. for the average person. Thus, it’d be a shame to see podcasts go down the same path.

In my case, I tried listening to podcasts on Spotify. However, Spotify didn’t carry all of my favorite podcasts, so I kept a secondary player on hand. Eventually, I gave up on Spotify for podcasts, though I still use it for music. For podcasts, I currently use iTunes. It lets me copy files to my MP3 player, which I use at work; my job blocks most Internet access, and doesn’t allow us to use our smartphones at our desks. If I were limited to Spotify for podcasts, I’d be out of luck.

What do you use for listening to (or creating) podcasts?

Image by tomasi from Pixabay

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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