I keep my ear to the ground in the world of podcasts because I’m a huge wannabe podcaster and at one point I was making a podcasting service.

Fun story time; if it hadn’t been for a previous employer that shall remain nameless I’d have been in the running to release one of the first hosts with dynamic ad insertion. Probably for the best really, gone off the idea these days. Point is I realise the hypocrisy involved in being concerned about embracing and extending..

Anyway enough of my dead dreams, Spotify is supposedly in talks of buying up Gimlet Media (Producers of Reply All and StartUp, among others) for a couple hundred mil. That in itself isn’t bad, infact good for them. But it does throw a bit of concern as to what’s Spotify’s game plan here? I was already a little weary when they started adding podcasts to their service.. but then they opened up to everyone and all seemed good in the world again.

The weirdness though is that they don’t just act as a regular podcast client. They grab your feed and the media within and host it on their own servers, making it a pain in the arse to track stats because now you have to log in to Spotify’s podcast dashboard to see them as well as your podcast host of choice. Not the end of the world, but not amazing. It could make a paranoid person wonder what they need the files under local control for but as with all things internet in 2019 I imagine it’s going to be ad related. The red flags are starting to raise of a possible embrace, extend, extinguish situation forming though.

For anyone unfamiliar, it was something Microsoft used to do when it moved into a new tech arena

  • Embrace: Development of software substantially compatible with a competing product, or implementing a public standard.
  • Extend: Addition and promotion of features not supported by the competing product or part of the standard, creating interoperability problems for customers who try to use the ‘simple’ standard.
  • Extinguish: When extensions become a de facto standard because of their dominant market share, they marginalize competitors that do not or cannot support the new extensions.

Source: Embrace, extend, and extinguish from Wikipedia

We’ve seen embrace in that they’ve allowed podcasters into their system.

We will, I’m sure, see extend in the coming year(s) – they’re not paying a cool $200 mil for a podcasting company just to say they own a handful of successful podcasts.

Extinguish I can’t put my thumb on yet. The obvious and easiest would be for them to hoover up all the big podcasts then lock everyone else out once they’ve got the lion’s share of the listeners. Similar to their music domination you can get music outside of Spotify but honestly it’s one of the easiest platforms to use for music consumption - personally I’ve not listened to music outside of Spotify in years.

Why does this concern me? Honestly it doesn’t really. I’ve got a couple of very small fry podcasts in the game but we wont be affected by anything Spotify’s doing other than we’ll probably be booted out of the system if they wall it off.

I just really enjoy the podcasting medium as it is and don’t want it dismantled for some company to fill its coffers a little more. For a lack of a better word I’m just nervous they’ll change the game too much and it wont be the open media format anymore.

What’s your game, Spotify?