We Shouldn't Call Michelle Obama's (And Joe Rogan's) Proprietary Exclusive Audio From Spotify A 'Podcast' Any More
from the spotify-exclusive-audio dept
In early 2019, after Spotify announced the purchase of podcast studio Gimlet Media, we worried that it signaled an end to the open world of podcasting. Part of what made podcasting so special is that, like the early parts of the internet, it was wide open. Anyone could make their own podcast, and just host it somewhere with an RSS feed and then anyone could listen to it via any podcast app or service they wanted. But Spotify is a mostly closed platform.
Our fears solidified a lot two months ago when Joe Rogan moved to Spotify (under a rumored $200 million deal), such that his insanely popular podcast will only be heard via Spotify going forward. As we said then, the world loses a lot when podcasts go into private silos (even if the podcasts are available for free). We start moving away from an open system that anyone can use, and which democratizes the creation and distribution of content, to much more of a traditional gatekeeper-run broadcast model. And that’s unfortunate, even if it’s understandable.
And now we have Michelle Obama announcing “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” which is exclusive to Spotify. Frankly, we should not call it a podcast any more when it’s not actually available for anyone to listen to on their own podcast apps. This is Spotify exclusive audio. That’s not a podcast.
I understand why we got here and why everyone involved did this. For Spotify, it will boost usage (as will the Rogan deal) of their app and once people start using it to listen to those exclusive podcasts, a lot of people will probably shift over and do all their podcast listening via Spotify as well. And I’m sure that, as with Rogan, Spotify is paying a lot to Michelle Obama to do this. And, of course, I’m sure the production value will be great.
But, still, it’s worth noting that this move to silo’d, locked up content is disappointing and a shame, as it’s yet another nail in the coffin for the promise of the truly open internet.
Open systems allow for more participation, more inclusiveness. Closed systems, by their very nature, create gatekeepers and exclusivity. That may be good in the short term for certain business interests, but it’s bad in the long term for the public and speech interests. Spotify may very well be successful with this strategy, but the least we can do is stop confusing the closed, exclusive, gatekeepered system with the open, inclusive ecosystem.