Spotify Exclusives And The Podcast Community

Spotify is once more in the headlines for taking a podcast away from the podcasting community and locking it up as an exclusive to its platform. This month it’s ‘Heavyweight, but it won’t be the last.

What does this strategy of expansion by exclusivity mean for the podcasting community – a community that has been built on the idea of open standard, open distribution, and the portability of your own subscriptions?

You can find podcasts from the internet inside Spotify and podcasters can submit their feeds to Spotify, but what can’t be found inside Spotify is a way to take the podcast details out of Spotify and into another client. There is no publicly available RSS feed to copy and paste, no way to generate an XML file for all your shows, and no one-touch ‘move my subscriptions elsewhere’ option.

These exclusive deals to bring a podcast into Spotify’s directory remove the podcast from the community and transform it into a corporate interest. Podcasting as a whole has a very long tail. Unfortunately that means that Spotify’s strategy of obtaining highly-rated shows and making them exclusives has a significant impact on the community when you consider how many listener minutes are being locked away, rather than the number of shows.

Spotify is not alone in gathering exclusives but it is the biggest player in this market. Exclusive shows bring listeners to Spotify’s client app, keep them in the app where Spotify can serve them advertising, and to direct them to more of Spotify’s content under its control.

Spotify’s love of podcasting should not be mistaken for a love of the podcasting community. It’s about becoming the dominant platform for audio to benefit its shareholders, not those who love creating podcasts.