Joe Rogan's Podcast Goes Exclusively Corporate. Will The Rest of the Podcasting Industry Follow?
Is there a place for independent podcasters in the future?
Joe Rogan's popular and controversial podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, is now exclusively on Spotify as of today, December 1, 2020.
His show has already caused friction among Spotify employees, with reports alleging a recent episode with Alex Jones was taken down manually by an employee because of political disagreements.
However, no definitive proof an employee removing the episode has been reported publicly. Spotify and Rogan himself have stated it was a technical issue as to why the show was removed and then later reuploaded.
Fans of his podcast have been upset the show is becoming Spotify exclusive, and they don't understand why he would pull the show off of Apple Podcasts and other podcasting apps.
Well, I can give you 100 million reasons why Rogan put his podcast exclusively on Spotify. I would be willing to make my podcast exclusive to Spotify for a few thousand dollars per year or maybe even less!
Joking aside (unless Spotify is really interested, then call me), the trend of making top name podcasts exclusive to one platform is not surprising but also concerning.
If you are a company in today's modern media environment, you have to find ways to make your app or streaming service stand out from the rest. That's why Netflix is paying top dollar to be the exclusive streaming home of shows like Seinfeld and investing billions of dollars per year producing content like Stranger Things. If Seinfeld was available everywhere, like music is, why would anyone watch on Netflix when they could just watch the show on HBO Max? Or stream the series on Amazon Prime? Or even watch on a free TV app like Pluto TV?
If you are in the streaming business, especially as a music app, you have to find ways to offer consumers something they cannot find anywhere else. From a business perspective, it makes total sense to sign a deal with Rogan or pay Michelle Obama to host a podcast available only on Spotify.
However, it seems podcasting is becoming more corporate and more consolidated like the rest of the media. Traditional radio companies and podcast companies are buying popular podcast production companies out, making it more difficult for smaller companies and independent show producers to compete.
This situation was almost predictable as podcasting continues to grow in popularity. It was only a matter of time before corporate America realized the potential millions of dollars in revenue that could be earned from podcasting and would want a piece of the pie.
If you're a traditional radio company wanting to dip your toe in the digital waters as advertising dollars shift from AM/FM radio to digital media, podcasting is a great option.
My concern with podcasting becoming more corporate is how it will impact listeners? When you only have a handful of companies producing the largest shows, the content can become very cookie-cutter and sound very similar.
This has occurred in radio for decades. Can you really tell one country radio station from another? How about movies? How many times can the world be in a pickle that The Avengers need to handle?
Yes, Marvel movies are super popular but after a while, doesn't it all seem kinda similar? Disney seems to only make Marvel and Star Wars movies now. Wouldn't you like to see more creativity? See Disney or another film company take a risk and make a different movie?
Maybe it's just me because these movies make billions, and so does radio, but I just hope podcasting doesn't become an industry where only the corporate shows survive.
There are currently 1.6 million podcasts available on the Apple Podcasts app, which means there are many independent shows produced in the U.S. and around the world.
Hopefully, podcasting will continue to offer a balance between the professional, corporate produced shows and still have room for independent producers the way YouTube does.
Another issue with podcasts going corporate is freedom of speech and editorial independence issues. As Rogan is already seeing, once you go corporate, you lose a little bit of your freedom to do whatever you want on your show.
I don't agree with all of Rogan's viewpoints or his guests. However, I hope podcasting remains a medium where there is freedom of speech for all and opportunity for all to find an audience in the years ahead.
While I'm not opposed to corporations investing in the podcasting space because they can do things for the industry that independent producers can't, I hope podcasting doesn't become cookie-cutter, and we're left with a situation where all podcasts sound the same and are the podcast equivalent of bro-country. Or worse, Nickelback!
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