For several years now, visiting the YouTube homepage or opening the directory in just about any podcast client was an exercise in Spot Joe Rogan’s Face. His podcast is wildly popular for reasons that escape me; all fourteen hundred episodes are on YouTube, too, where they rack up millions of views.
Anyway, Spotify must have gotten as tired of seeing Rogan’s face on every platform because it has bought exclusive rights to his podcast. Ashley Carman, the Verge:
The show will become available on Spotify globally starting on September 1st, and it’ll become an exclusive sometime after that point. Listeners won’t have to pay to access the episodes, but they will have to become Spotify users. Spotify said in a press release that Rogan retains creative control over his show. It didn’t disclose how much it spent on the deal. The company will also work with an ad agency to jointly sell ads against the program. Rogan said last year his show reached about 190 million downloads a month.
This is a massive get for Spotify, which has made podcasting a core focus. It acquired Gimlet Media, Anchor, and Parcast last year, to start, and then signed more Spotify-exclusive deals. It’s working with the Obamas’ production company exclusively and committed to deals with other big names, like Joe Budden and Amy Schumer, and acquired The Ringer.
Exclusivity plays by podcast platforms — Apple reportedly included — are a predictable but concerning development. I don’t think it is necessary for podcasts to be free, but it is important that they do not become part of a siloed system. As much as websites should be browser agnostic and purchased music should be able to be played anywhere,1 podcasts should also work with any client.