Last week, Spotify unveiled a new feature that enables podcasters to add songs to their shows. This overcomes a major hurdle that podcasters have endured for years: music licensing issues which prevented them from legally including music in their shows. The practical upshot of this feature is that anybody (at least, anybody in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland) can now become a radio DJ, essentially narrating their own mixtape and publishing it for public consumption.
While I offered a hack that enabled people to do this with Spotify's playlisting feature over a year ago, it was a clunky process. The new feature, on the other hand, couldn't be simpler. Here's a demonstration of how it works:
The service includes a number of slick features, including the ability to drag-and-drop voicemail messages left by fans and the ability to quickly add music beds to the breaks. Spotify also enables content creators to monetize their shows by including advertisements. Perhaps the only thing an aspiring DJ can't do is hit the posts.
Once the “show” (an episode of the podcast) is published, Spotify Premium subscribers will be able to hear it with full songs, while non-subscribers will only hear 30-second snippets. Podcasts with music can't legally be distributed to other destinations such as Apple Podcasts, so they will exclusive to Spotify. This is a smart move on Spotify's part: as more and more show creators share their shows with fans, it will provide an incentive for people to upgrade to the premium service, bringing in more revenue.
Ultimately, this service will create more competition for commercial radio. On a national level, musical artists, celebrities, and other influencers can now compete with radio stations. On a local level, music critics, club owners, musicians, and others could also create their own radio shows. Inevitably, these local influencers will do this, so radio stations may want to approach them about partnering for on-demand Spotify shows now before they figure it out on their own. In any event, radio stations will definitely want to play with this new feature, even if they're not willing to promote outright on their airwaves, so they understand the possibilities.
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