Spotify's New Music Feature Could Limit Podcasters

It’s still a step forward, though

Key Takeaways

  • The latest update for Spotify’s Anchor podcast service makes it easy to add music to your podcast.
  • The feature removes the worries surrounding copyrighted music as Spotify covers it all in their streaming licenses.
  • Some experts worry that the feature could limit podcasts looking to grow outside the Spotify ecosystem.
Mobile phone placed on a wooden desk with podcast app in the screen.
 Daviles / Getty Images

While some worry that Spotify’s exclusive music-licensing feature will limit podcasters if they want to distribute their shows elsewhere, it does offer some great tools for podcasters looking to up the quality of their show, experts say.

Anchor just launched a new feature that lets users pull popular music (licensed by Spotify) directly into their podcast, making it even easier for podcasters to add audio without having to worry about licensing rights. Despite the promises that come with the new feature, some experts believe that it could ultimately limit budding podcasters looking to expand their podcasts' reach.

"Spotify’s new system for adding music to podcasts, while it initially sounds great, comes with some major handcuffs," said true crime and comedy podcaster Joel Lounds via email. "First, your podcast must be a Spotify exclusive show. This means that the great majority of podcast listeners will never hear it, as more than 80% of podcast listeners use another app." 

No DMCAs Here

While Lounds and others have concerns about the way that the new feature could limit a podcast’s reach by locking it to Spotify, other podcasters have taken a much brighter approach to the feature.

Sam Brake Guia, a podcast host working with digital PR company Publicize, wrote in via email, "This new feature is a great step forward for the creativity of podcast hosts and adds another interactive element to Spotify's offering. This allows podcast hosts to be more creative with the music they use because it takes away a major pain point for many podcast hosts and creators (especially smaller podcast hosts), as there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding what they can and can't use from external sources."

Licensing rights have long been a thorn in the side of content creators, with many often finding themselves in the crosshairs of copyright strikes under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) across websites like YouTube, Twitch, and other content creation hubs. It’s a big concern for many content creators, like in Twitch’s recent clamp down on the use of copyrighted content back in June and July of 2020, where many creators found themselves getting hit by claims on clips and videos from multiple years past.

By removing the worry surrounding copyright claims, Spotify and Anchor are trying to make it easier than ever to navigate the sometimes tricky field of copyright management. It’s a move in the right direction for content creators that want to have popular licensed music in their podcasts. 

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Of course, podcasters still have to take into account other limitations that come with having that kind of licensed content alongside their own. 

"Many podcasts don’t monetize their shows," said Lounds in our chat via email. "But this is yet another strike against the use of Spotify's podcast music service for podcasters who want to be able to generate income from their work." Any budding podcasters looking to create more long-term projects will probably want to steer clear of the latest Spotify podcasting feature.

When it comes to creating a podcast and including music, it all comes down to what podcasters are willing to deal with. Those who want to monetize their podcast will find themselves jumping through extra hoops to find copyright-free music and sound effects. If they don’t mind the resulting limitations, though, Anchor and Spotify’s latest podcast feature could let them easily use licensed music without having to worry about all those pesky licensing fees.