Music Finally Meets Podcasts

The most read post in the five years this blog has been published is this one: Why Can’t Music Be Played In Podcasts?  In fact, it comes up so often it is a “Google Zero” post, meaning it is the first item that pops up with that query. Every month hundreds of people search the internets wondering how it is possible that music can’t be played in podcasts.  With communications attorney David Oxenford, the post delves into the insanity that is music licensing and royalties, and the missed opportunity of record producers, artists and licensing agencies including BMI, ASCAP and the sort.

Enter Spotify.

Last week they took a giant step connecting the dots between podcasts and music via their Anchor podcast creation platform.  It enables podcasters to instantly and seamlessly integrate 65 million licensed songs into their shows.  So now basically anyone can do their own radio show and not fret or fear music licensing. Oh, the anarchy.

Spotify’s Anchor app now enables voice and licensed music integration

Spotify’s Anchor app now enables voice and licensed music integration

This works not just for hobbyists, and professionals but also audio journalists who up to this point played a legal game of chicken using clips of songs.  Now they can play snippets or full versions of the music they are discussing.

While mostly Spotify’s innovation is all upside, there are a few downsides.  First, it lives only inside the confines of Spotify, which means there is no RSS feed, so technically it’s not a podcast.  I’ll let other podcast purists focus on that. Importantly, only subscribers of Spotify Premium can listen to full tracks of the songs while those using the free service will hear 30 second clips.

The process seems easy enough. Sonically, the end result is a bit clunky, especially for a legacy radio person such as myself.  The voice track stops before a music track starts. Sometimes one wants more art with the voice and music integrated.  But hey, those things tend to be addressed over time.

Spotify launched a handful of titles which we found in a new category in our app labeled “Dive deep into shows with music” including “60 songs that explain the 90’s”, with The Ringer music critic Rob Harvilla and “Ten Songs That Made Me” featuring T.I. I only listened to two of the ten.  Sorry buddy.

One would expect the list of offered shows will grow rapidly as the pent up podcast flood gates are unlocked with this new marriage of on-demand spoken word and music.

For commercial radio, this is another punch in the neck. As Brad Hill, the editor of the newsletter RAIN notes, Spotify mentions radio once in the press release, but it is a big one – “Think of your favorite drive-time radio show.” I do. I fear that radio has spent years weaning themselves from the passionate musicologist DJ’s of the early days of FM radio to more voice-tracked and national shows. They also have music rights restrictions preventing the replay of on-demand audio. So if you are looking for that “deep dive” discussion about music, Spotify feels like the new new place.

This will be a hot category and one should expect other streaming services to do something similar. Pandora has taken a baby step with artists such as John Legend explaining individual songs in “My Pandora Story.”

Playing individual tracks and listening to recorded shows has been around for a long time. What Spotify has launched is a powerful new tool solving a long-time challenge and major frustration by allowing anyone to upload their inner DJ.

Music in podcasts are like PB&J – two great tastes that taste great together.

Steve Goldstein
CEO, Amplifi Media

Steve is a business and content advisor who creates value for his clients by creating actionable plans and thoughtful, targeted content.

A recognized leader in audio programming, marketing, and management, Steve has developed scores of successful radio brands around the country, nurtured and advanced local and national talent, and pioneered many podcasting and voice-first initiatives.

Prior to founding Amplifi, Steve’s sharp focus on cultural and demographic trends led to the creation of innovative radio formats and strong brands for significant broadcast companies, including NBC and ABC. He was a founding partner of Saga Communications (NASDAQ: SGA), serving as Executive Vice President and Group Program Director from the company’s formation in 1986 until 2015 when he started Amplifi Media.

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