On May 20th, 2015, Spotify announced a whole slew of new beta features including Now, Running, Video, and…. podcasts.
I had subscribed to Spotify more than a year ago and to be honest I hated it. I felt the syncing of my owned library into their system and down to my mobile devices was cumbersome at best (it still is), and while I fully understand that listeners are moving in droves to streaming platforms, not every platform has every song. When it’s a song they don’t have rights to stream, I still would love to hit a buy button.
But I digress.
Libsyn, my employer, and a partner with Spotify. We have many podcasts that were added to the podcast directory for the beta launch. I’ve seen the beta, and I have some thoughts.
I love the running feature. I’ve heard some out there call it a gimmick. Be that as it may, it’s still awesome. It doesn’t pick up my steps per minute at a walking pace, and I usually start with a few minutes of walking before I pick up a jog. But, no matter how long I walk, when I eventually start running, it knows… instantly… and calculates my pace. It tells me my pace, and then kicks up a playlist.
I’m extremely picky about my running playlists. When I say I run, it’s more like I jog… barely… and thanks to winter and some other unforeseen events I hadn’t run since last fall, so I’m using a walk-run program called Couch to 5K. That means I’m out of shape, I get tired fast, and I really need that music to keep me pumped up! Hence, I didn’t think this new Spotify feature would do me any justice.
WRONG! I’ve never kept such a steady pace while running, ever. And, I’ve yet to hear anything I really didn’t like. Even when that happens, the double tap on my headphones button works like a charm, moving onto the next song without a hitch. The playlist automatically fades one song into the next, and does a pretty good job of keeping the beat in the same place while doing so. All in all, I’m very impressed, and have continued to use Spotify Running for my runs… exclusively… since the announcement.
The Spotify Now feature is kinda neat, it tries to figure out what time of day it is, what day of the week it is, and what I’m likely doing at that time (like, I’m at work in the middle of an afternoon lull and in need of a pick me up, or I’m on my commute into the office, etc). It’s, well, neat. I’m not honestly as enthralled with it as I am with Spotify Running, and I certainly haven’t used it as much.
Spotify + Podcasts
Will this really be worth it for podcasters? In my opinion, we will have to really wait and see what the stats end up showing. I do see this as a growth opportunity for podcasters, any platform of Spotify’s size that opens up to podcasters has the potential to be great for podcasters.
Let’s look at what’s in the podcast directory.
As with most podcast directories, there is a list of featured shows, and a breakdown of audio or video. Browsing the directory is pretty simple, and standard. You can browse by featured, audio or video, and by genre breakdown.
Each show contains it’s list of episodes, you can add a show to your library so that new episodes are automatically included in your local device’s library, and show notes are visible for those who provide them.
Here is where my biggest annoyances are. First, show notes are not picking up
formatting. Producers often spend a lot of time and put a lot of effort into formatting their show notes with source links, phone numbers (handy when listening on mobile devices), and even just paragraphs and spaces to make it easier to read. Spotify currently isn’t showing any of that formatting. Bummer.
Onto my next pet peeve, Spotify doesn’t provide any functionality for controlling download behavior. I can’t, for example, tell Spotify to always download and only keep the newest 3 episodes, or the newest 5 episodes, and so forth. This is a pretty standard feature nearly every podcatcher offers. Keep in mind that they are totally new to the podcasting world, and they do seem quite dedicated to the cause (they have a team dedicated to the cause). Also remember that they are not a podcatcher first, and that this is all still very beta. I can only imagine these are things that they plan to fix or implement down the road.
Another note worth making, they pull show artwork, but they do not pull episode artwork. If you use custom artwork for each individual episode, don’t expect that to appear in Spotify… yet (at the time of writing this, anyway).
Here’s the good. It works, well! I have several shows I’ve subscribed exclusively through Spotify to, and I’ve made it a point to listen using Spotify in my car, in my headphones, and I’ve had zero problems. It always picks up where I’ve left off, I always have access to new content from shows I’ve ‘followed’ (subscribed to), it just works. I think if they continue to improve on the app and grow the directory (which they obviously have plans to do), then I see no reason why listeners wouldn’t listen to podcasts in Spotify, and it will be nice to have everything in one place.
I am now again a subscriber to Spotify and happily participating in their beta. I’m excited about where the inclusion of podcasts (audio and video) is headed, I LOVE the running feature, curation has gotten much better.
If you want to learn more, Elsie Escobar and I talk it up on the topic and show off the BETA version of the app:
Have you tried it yet? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on the new Spotify.