Joe Rogan, one of biggest podcasters out there, is going to be exclusively on Spotify starting next year. This is a huge get for Spotify, who is trying to become a bigger player in the podcast space.
Spotify is making a move to be more like Netflix in a lot of ways. With music licensing costs rising proportionate to their user growth, Spotify is still bleeding cash despite being a leader in the streaming music space. However, if they can start pushing users toward original content, insert their own ads into those podcasts and skim some off of that, they have another revenue stream that isn’t tied to licensing content. Additionally, it might give them an even larger user base to sell ads against. Good for Spotify! However, I worry about what it means for the future of podcasting.
If Spotify is successful, what does this mean for a further splintering of the market? Is the podcast world moving to a place where you’ll need 3-5 different apps just to listen to the shows you want? Even if they remain ad-supported and won’t require yet another monthly subscription, that’s just a lot for most people to deal with.
Not to be melodramatic about it, but this feels like we’re entering a new phase where “independent” podcasting is at risk. I think that the good news for me personally is that most of the shows I listen to aren’t candidates to get tempted by Spotify’s siren song any time soon and seem to take pride in being niche, indie shows. That said, once the ad money starts to dry up and all go to one place, it will indirectly affect the shows I listen to as well. Will some of the larger sponsors pour their money into Spotify’s ad platform or continue to pay for ad reads by the hosts? It’s yet to be seen, but marketing folks love their metrics.
The best thing you can do right now? Be sure to support the open, decentralized podcasting world by using apps like Overcast, Pocket Casts, Castro and even Apple’s Podcast app.