The podcasting phenomenon is one we’ve already covered before, bringing up local greats you should all check out (including the soon to be departed Sadza In The Morning), but now it’s reaching new levels of cultural and commercial relevance as last week it was announced that Spotify would be paying up to 100 million for the Joe Rogan experience, the popular and slightly controversial podcast of the titular Joe Rogan. It’s a big move for the podcasting world, and one which could change a lot about how we listen to our favorite shows as the video below shows:
Now if that didn’t give you the full scoop (or you just didn’t watch it) the basic gist is that Rogan’s podcast will become a Spotify exclusive marking another in a round of pivotal acquisitions for the company that reach almost $400 million in value. This is due to Spotify essentially aiming to make themselves a definitive platform for podcasts, having millions of small independent podcasts due to the creation platform Anchor (which they also own) and big exclusives like Rogan. This is all to create a monopoly in podcasting that neither Google or Apple have tried to have and apps like Stitcher seemingly don’t have the resources to pursue, and the main reason Spotify wants to be such a monopoly is the same one Facebook and Google track as much as they can about you: ads. Advertising is essentially the most lucrative form of revenue on the web, more so than even directly selling, and Facebook have Google have built empires in online advertising that Spotify wants to corner with podcasting. This is why the company has even created a dynamic ad insertion engine that essentially targets the right ad for you at the right time rather than some prerecorded ads that probably won’t even be relevant if you listen to a podcast episode months later from it’s release. It’s all part of this huge podcast resurgence and why podcasts have been becoming so popular to begin with (as the video at the bottom will show) , but it’s also marking a change in podcasting as a whole which a lot of people might not be okay with.
Podcasting began essentially as a form of internet radio shows, then became a fun content-creator specific activity which worked well in isolation or as an addition to an established property (just like the Zimbabwean Perspectivecast). But part of the more liberal content-creator side of podcasting might not be so pleased with what Spotify is doing here, drawing lines in the sand and essentially forcing users and podcasters to eventually at some point chose between Spotify and other podcast platforms when it comes to where they’ll distribute or listen to the podcasts they love. Spotify is essentially pulling what’s classically an Apple move of controlling the whole distribution or supply chain (having a podcast creation platform, an app for streaming podcasts and music and now even a video podcasts feature meant to take on YouTube) and making it seem like everywhere else will be the wild west, but this might also trigger some more dramatic moves from Apple or Google to try and keep a few podcasts as exclusives of their own , which doesn’t help anyone when you think about it. No one wants to have 3+ podcast apps just so they can listen to what they want and smaller podcasters don’t want to be tied down to a single platform when growth is one of the biggest factors for them. Hence this is a shift that may be coming which no one will want. We just have to see how everyone else will react to Spotify’s drastic moves in the coming months.