I’m usually critical of Spotify, as I was yesterday, but I’m also happy to give credit when it’s due. Utilizing the company’s 2019 purchase of Anchor and its podcast-creation tools, Spotify now allows users to create podcast-like audio programs around the streaming music available on the platform. I say “podcast-like” because these aren’t what we know as podcasts — these aren’t stand-alone shows that play outside of the Spotify ecosystem, nor can one talk over the music or only include music snippets. The new feature, accessible through the Anchor app, allows users to insert their own audio content — assumed, in most cases, to be spoken commentary or conversations — within their shows (i.e., playlists). In other words, you can create a ‘podcast-like’ playlist that contains your song selections with the sound of you chatting about the songs in-between. These playlists are published to Spotify as a ‘show.’
I’ve spoken about the frustrating issues with licensing music for podcasts before. Those problems persist for podcasts, but Spotify’s work-around is a smart option for those who don’t mind their content getting locked to the platform. The pre-existing music licenses already in place with Spotify apply since users are merely adding music to ‘playlists.’ Technically and legally, it’s nothing new for the platform.
This tool opens up many possibilities for music-oriented programs such as Song Exploder-style dissections or celebrity ‘desert island disc’ spotlights. Anchor’s feature has launched with some interesting examples of it in action, such as this program on murder ballads and The Ringer-associated 60 Songs That Explain The ’90s.
Of course, artists will have no control over where their songs appear, so thick skins are necessary for the inevitable ‘These Songs Suck’ shows. Spotify may also have to deal with commentary of its platform, as I’d like to see the tool used to highlight and explain ‘fake artists‘ and other efforts by labels and production studios that exploit the streamer for quick bucks.
Here’s a Twitter thread where Anchor co-founder Michael Mignano announces and describes the new tool: