I suppose I can't not talk about the Spotify thing, can I? This isn't a news show, nor is it an opinion show. However, this is a perspective show. And, not surprisingly, I do have a perspective on the Spotify-Neil Young-Joe Rogan spat. A few of them, actually.
Now first off, if you've no idea what spat I'm speaking of, then bravo to you for avoiding the news I've been unable to escape. Nothing I'm about to say will make much sense without a primmer and it's too multifaceted for me to recap. However, Podnews has an excellent primmer on Spotify's Rogan problem posted just today that will get you caught up. Read that if you need it, then read on.
Second off, I need to make a qualifying statement: I firmly believe your decision is your decision. As with any Podcast Pontifications episode, I'm not here to tell you what to think. But I am here to give you things to think about. Remember that as you keep reading.
For The "I'm A Podcaster And I'm Very Angry About Spotify" Camp
I get it. You're angry. Spotify is not only profiting off of what Rogan is saying, but Spotify is actually paying him to say those things. That doesn't leave a lot of gray area, I understand.
Still, I'd suggest, before you take any action, you consider the impact your actions will have on Spotify. A corporation that, like all for-profit corporations, really is only in it for the money.
Will removing your show from Spotify's directory of podcasts cause a financial impact on Spotify? To be blunt, will they even know you left?
If you currently pay a Spotify-owned company to host your media files (they own more than Anchor) and switch to a different host, that will have a financial impact on Spotify. Albeit a small one.
If you're using any of Spotify's monetization options, like providing premium content to paying subscribers or using their ad server to programmatically insert paid spots in your episodes, then there's another financial impact. However, can you easily unplug? Or are you under some form of contract that will take some undoing?
If the podcast(s) you make are Spotify-exclusive, you have a lot more powerful levers to pull. But only if you can pull them. If you signed an exclusive deal, you'll probably find it more than a little inconvenient to get out of the deal that looked sweet back then.
Won't Someone Think Of The Listeners?
Before you take any action, regardless of which of those situations above describes you and your current relationship to Spotify, take some time to think about the impact your actions will have on your listeners.
Pulling a show from Spotify's app and directory means that some people today and in the future will not be able to listen to your show on their preferred listening app. Yes, you may be able to mitigate some of that loss with a heartfelt plea to your listeners to ask them to switch to a different listening app. But you're not in control of that. They, like you, get to make their own decisions. And it's very likely that some of them will not have the same strength as your convictions.
"I'm Not even Mad, Bro."
Not every podcaster is pissed off about this. Some even are in the pro-Spotify camp. If either describes you, I'll repeat what I said earlier. I'm not telling you what to think. Your decision is your decision. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." This is that put in practice.
Also, this situation is very fluid. It's evolving by the day (or faster), and I'm reticent to predict any sort of outcome or how this looks when the dust settles. If the dust settles. There are too many things in flux.
And it's not just podcasters and musicians deciding to yank their content. It's investors watching the stock price. It's paying subscribers looking at other options. It's actions from competing services attracting those people. It's the monetized audience paying for the ad-supported—not free—services changing listening habits.
Nothing lasts forever. You should probably at the very least prepare for a world where Spotify blinks. If they do, I doubt it'll have massive repercussions across podcasting. But I don't know that for sure. It's possible that all this is a precursor to something larger that becomes too much to bear and they cut their losses.
I'm not predicting that outcome. I'm not saying it's likely. But it is a potentiality. And I think all serious podcasters should at least be aware of potential outcomes and prepared to act when things happen.
So do what you're going to do. My only request is that you do so with your eyes wide open. Choose wisely.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.