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The Era of Podcast Exclusives — What is Considered a Podcast?

By Rob Greenlee VP, Libsyn, Co-Host of NewMediaShow.com and Coming Host of Spoken Life Show with rob.greenlee at gmail com

Rob Greenlee, VP of Content and Partnerships, Libsyn

Many are saying that we are in an a time of change and we need to be open to new innovations in the podcasting industry. Is it possible some of these new ideas may change podcasting in ways that may slow or harm the medium that has had such a strong and consistant run of growth over the past 17+ years.

Podcasting was originated 17+ years ago around the idea of open distribution that gave the potential of reaching as many listeners as possible. For most of that period of time it has been assumed that to be consided a podcast by strict original definition, one must distribute via an RSS feed to many listening platforms and go to where audio listeners and back then video viewers were too.

The idea behind podcasting was to create an eco-system that is open and filled with new innovative ideas from software developers, content creators to do their craft in a way that was not limited by gatekeepers or large companies trying to control the creative process and to large degree the distribution of the results of that creative process.

Exclusives is and has been an old media construct to create control and monetization for the platform and has been less about what is best for the creator and in most cases the listening or viewing platform or network is the only beneficiary of exclusives.  See quote below.

“What I also think it means is that broadcasters, or production companies can probably be too quick in making things exclusives. Hiding them away when they aren’t significantly famous doesn’t probably generate you that much value.”

This topic of podcast exclusives has been evolving since the very early days of podcasting. Over the many years podcasting is still dominated by the RSS feed, but has more recently started to shift to the model of RSS feeds being optional. That makes one go hmm, what is going on?

In a growing number of examples more recently these exclusives have meant shutting down the use of RSS feeds and Spotify’s Anchor podcast hosting platform has made generating an RSS feed an optional ask and not a default function.

See quote below from Spotify’s Anchor platform head Michael Mignano in a post earlier this past spring of 2021. This post explained the reasons for this change are that it gives the content creator greater control over the distribution of the audio content, but this change at Anchor also has the unsaid benefit of getting Spotify exclusive shows on its platform for FREE in exchange for Free hosting as their automatic ad insertion monetization strategy never reach scale.

Greater control over which platforms ingest, publish, and monetize creators’ content
“As more and more new audio platforms emerge and look to capitalize on the growing audio space, it’s important that creators have control over which platforms are aggregating their content from the web (and in some cases, building their own businesses on top of creators’ content without their consent). Currently, when a creator launches a new podcast on most podcast creation platforms (including Anchor), the platform automatically generates an RSS feed and publishes it to the open web. This published RSS feed makes it possible for any platform or website to ingest the RSS feed, and display and even monetize the content. This can happen without explicit permission from the creator. As part of our distribution update, we will only generate an RSS feed if the creator explicitly wants one (and we’ll present clear options on how to do so at the time of publish). This will ensure that each creator can explicitly choose to publish their podcast with an RSS feed (therefore enabling any platform to ingest, display, and monetize that content) rather than it happening automatically without the creator’s consent.

If you’re already an existing Anchor creator and would like to opt out of your RSS feed being published and available to be ingested by any platform, you may reach out to us at any time to request we change your distribution settings to your liking.” 

Quote from Spotify’s Anchor platform head Michael Mignano

I do like the message and idea of giving content creators more control and we are emerging into a time when content creators or podcasters need to value there work more and limiting access to it is one approach as Spotify Anchor is driving here, but doing it through a platform like Spotify may not be the best approach for most podcasters that are looking for growing an audience and potentially monetizing. The history of Anchor is not one with a solid history of generating consistantly publishing podcast shows with growing audience, but has been a platform full of podfaded shows.

Most shows created on the Anchor platform have exploded the false perception that the podcasting market is flooded with millions of new successful podcasts. Many now feel like it is too late to get into podcasting because it is too crowded and the truth is it is just not too late.

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