‘Joe Rogan Experience’ Podcast Will Be Exclusive to Spotify

Todd Spangler, reporting for Variety:

“The Joe Rogan Experience,” one of podcasting’s longest-running and most popular shows, will be launching on Spotify exclusively this year. The Rogan-hosted comedy talk-show series will debut on Spotify on Sept. 1, 2020, on a nonexclusive basis — before becoming exclusive to the platform later in 2020 under the multiyear licensing deal. With Rogan, Spotify has landed one of the podcasting biz’s whales. It currently ranks as the No. 2 most popular show on Apple Podcasts (after Barstool Sports’ “Call Her Daddy”), per Podcast Insights.

Exclusive means that come January, you’ll only be able to listen to his show in Spotify. That’s a bit of a gamble, insofar as up until now, his show hasn’t been available at all on Spotify — Spotify’s terms are such that it makes no sense for any show to allow Spotify to play it unless Spotify is paying the show. But if Howard Stern’s fans followed him to Sirius satellite radio — which at the time he made the move required not just a subscription to the service, but dedicated hardware to receive the satellite transmission and an extra subscription specifically for Stern’s show — it seems like a sure bet that most of Rogan’s fans will follow him to Spotify, where all they really need to do is download an app that a lot of them probably already have installed anyway.

(Personally, my second favorite podcast is The Bill Simmons Podcast, and during the NFL season it’s probably my very favorite. But if it went Spotify exclusive (Spotify bought Simmons’s The Ringer website and podcast network a few months ago), I’d probably stop listening. But I’m an outlier.)

A source familiar with the deal said Rogan became sold on Spotify’s ability to build his audience worldwide, after initially resisting distributing the podcast on the platform because he saw it as primarily a music service.

More power to Rogan for what’s surely a massive deal, but does anyone believe that what sold Rogan on Spotify was anything other than money?

“The podcast is moving to @spotify!” he wrote on Instagram. “It will remain FREE, and it will be the exact same show. It’s just a licensing deal, so Spotify won’t have any creative control over the show. They want me to just continue doing it the way I’m doing it right now.”

It’s interesting to me, as someone with (to put it mildly) rather strong feelings on the advantages of publishing on the open internet, that Rogan sees moving to one exclusive app, with invasive tracking, as not exerting any sort of “creative control over the show”. I’m not trying to be coy, I know what he means — the content of the show will remain as-is, with no influence from Spotify. (So they say.) But I’m a big believer in Marshall McLuhan’s axiom: “The medium is the message.” Open podcasts and Spotify podcasts are similar, for sure, but they are not the same medium.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020