How Spotify's podcast bet went wrong | Semafor

Bookmarked for later reading:

According to excerpts I’ve seen on social media, Spotify focused a $1B strategy on celebrities like Joe Rogan, the Obamas, and Harry and Meghan, and this strategy has been a failure.

For me, a chief value of podcasting is the ability to discover smaller voices—like Mac Power Users. Also, I’m on a history kick, and listening to some of the back catalog of Hardcore History, the Rest is History, and the Age of Napoleon podcast.

I supposed big money will eventually dominate podcasting, as it has done with video streaming. When that happens, hopefully the smaller voices will remain available to those of us who know how to look for them.


I am never going to listen to a Podcast which is locked away. I go to my podcast app to listen to podcasts. If I can’t get them there, I won’t listen to them.

I already have enough “inboxes” in my life, I won’t add another without a very, very good reason.


Many thanks for the podcast reccs!

I didn’t read the article yet, but my chief gripe with Podcasts in Spotify is that their app is trash for listening to them. The queue management is atrocious. It’s hard to find new episodes unless their algorithm surfaces it for you. There’s virtually no way to effectively manage what you’ve listened to from a feed vs what you haven’t.

It all comes down to them betting that they could disrupt podcasts with their “algorithm” and that’s the experiment that failed for me. Podcasts ≠ Music. If they had simply cloned Overcast, or something similar, or at least made a client that supported most of the modern podcast features you find in Apple Podcasts, I probably wouldn’t mind having it all in one app.


@geoffaire I’m with you on everything but the word “never.” In theory, I would listen to a podcast that went behind Spotify or another walled-garden app. In practice, I haven’t found a podcast I cared enough to follow into a walled garden–including at least one of my previous favorites, Heavyweight, which went exclusive to Spotify. I just stopped listening to that until someone shared an RSS feed with me. If the RSS feed goes away, I expect I’ll stop listening again.

@Medievalist Your welcome! Do you have any history podcasts to recommend?


I thought Spotify’s plan was to reduce your inboxes though.

1 Like

Absolutely this! Stopped listening to a number of bbc shows because they’ve moved them into the awful bbc sounds app.


Just for info, BBC podcasts are still available outside the BBC Sounds app, I listen to several (Newscast, Americast, Ukrainecast, In our Time, The Infinite Monkey Cage, More or Less and some occasional series) through Overcast.

Some podcasts are now ad supported for international listeners (ie anyone who doesn’t pay the BBC licence fee, which for those outside the UK is an annual fee anyone with a TV received pays to support public service broadcasting), but the adds are short, prefix of suffix the programming and do not interrupt it. Anyway, it’s quite entertaining listening to the occasional 30 second ad in Urdu or Slovak.

1 Like

Some BBC podcasts are now delayed by 28 days outside BBC Sounds. It doesn’t matter much for In Our Time, but matters more for topical comedy and sport.

According to the BBC:

Mary Hough, Head of Content Discovery for BBC Sounds says it gives licence fee payers even more value so people can discover more content.

I deliberately avoid listening to these podcasts within their app in the hope they backtrack. At least until they fix their lamentable queue management within Sounds.

1 Like

Not all of them, MoneyBox moved to be only inside the Sounds App - I have More or Less and The Martin Lewis one in overcast. Some others are also exclusives I may have listened to.

I’ve just found that I’m fine listening to out of date satirical comedy for free, so I stuck with my usual podcast app.

To be honest with you, I have an already healthy and never ending list of podcasts to listen to, the last thing I’m going to remember to do is move to a different app to pick up a different one.

I open Overcast, hit play and don’t do anything else. If my “First” playlist becomes empty, I have an “All” Playlist with many alternatives to add.

I know myself very well, it just won’t happen.

My favourite podcast ever is Heavyweight. They went Spotify exclusive a while back so I stopped listening. As others have said, if a show isn’t out in the main “podcast-verse” then I’m not going to get it. Fortunately someone created an RSS feed with the shows relatively recently so I’ve been able to catch back up. But yeah, I’m not fragmenting my podcast listening across apps, no matter how good the show.

Thinking more about it though, the fact that Spotify pulled this stunt is also a great reason not to use them.

1 Like

I only just discovered the now archived podcast (but very available on most players) The History of Rome from David Duncan. Here’s the Website:

I have not listened to Duncan’s next podcast Revolutions, which finished in December of 2022: Revolutions


That’s essentially the same way I listen to podcasts. And the episodes come in faster than I can listen to them.

I’m nitpicking on the word “never” because it’s possible that Spotify might get a podcast so great that I’d be willing to switch apps to listen to it. Possible … but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Ahem. Officially, our favorite podcast is Mac Power Users. Our second favorites are the remaining Relay FM podcasts.

We are all, however, free to choose our individual third favorites. :slight_smile:


LOL. Link must be broken. I thought I selected MPU :grin:


Having music and podcasts in the same app made for a terrible user experience. That probably doesn’t figure into the bigger question of why the whole thing hasn’t worked out, but it is why I quit listening to one of my favorite podcasts even though I already subscribed to Spotify.

1 Like

It’s much more to do with Money. The fact that when people are listening to Podcasts, they’re not listening to music and costing money in licensing. Also some people might go to Spotify to listen.

1 Like

I especially love The Infinite Monkey Cage, and also the BBC News Quiz is hilarious. And More or Less is an old favourite.

Thank goodness for the internet! I spent 16 years paying the bbc licence fee, and it was cool to be able to keep listening to my favourites when I moved back to New Zealand