Podcasting is a great concept. You can distribute your podcast on multiple platforms and provide one or more RSS feeds. With these RSS feeds you can use any number of podcasting apps. There is very healthy competition amongst these apps. So much so that there is always room for a new app that serves a particular niche of podcast listeners better. I have purchased and donated to many of these apps over the years, supporting both solo developers and small teams that have no goal other than to improve the way you listen to and discover podcasts.
In a world of machine-learning social feed algorithms and a cloud of questionable staff-picked content, RSS puts you in control of seeing what you want to see. Raw and unfiltered. Sorted by most recent to oldest. Nothing is hidden. Not one company is—or should be—in control of what app you use or which feeds you can add.
Companies trying to become “the” podcasting app is not new. See Stitcher, a mostly failed app that nobody enjoys using but managed to gain promotion from most podcasts. They have a noble goal of helping podcasters earn more, poisoned by the idea of centralization. They never had the kind of dough to pen the kinds of deals that Spotify is currently making. They would if they could. Additionally, see Google’s own ‘Podcasts’ app. They haven’t done anything too nefarious so far other than making the discoverability of non-mainstream podcasts difficult.
It is unlikely that these exclusives will slow down. We may even see other large companies follow suit. Spotify has decided that forming multi-million dollar deals is a more effective strategy than creating an app that provides better features to the podcast listener.
When a JRE listener visits Spotify, they will think “Hey, since I’m already here to listen to Joe, I might as well switch over and subscribe to my other podcasts here”. This is how they will gain market share.
Perhaps, if Spotify became the ‘place’ for podcasts, where most listeners are attracted to it because their favorite creators are there exclusively , this would encourage more creators, specifically new creators, to start their podcasts there (and only post there) for the benefit of a large user-base, a hands-free ad system (similar to YouTube’s Adsense) and ease of uploading.
This could have long-term consequences. See how most YouTube creators publish exclusively to YouTube. This has led to massive content discoverability issues as we all rely on the YouTube search and recommendation algorithm to find new videos and channels. Specifically in politics, all independent and small to medium sized media sources on every side of the political spectrum have been pushed back unfairly in favor of massive news organizations that you may or may not have trust in.