I feel like the company has been a bastion of keeping podcasts as a medium relatively open all these years. Now, douchebags are dismantling yet another pinnacle of creating and sharing on the web.
Since the iTunes Store gained a podcast section, people have been free to publish shows there and everywhere else. The podcast platform has RSS feeds built into the foundation, which means we have been able to listen with just about any tool we want, or even create our own.
But recently, a bunch of closed, opportunistic, and VC-backed platforms like Luminary and Spotify started attacking the medium. Luminary came out swinging with high-profile exclusive podcasts, then republishing shows they don’t own and without permission. Spotify launched podcast support a while ago, then this week bought exclusive rights to one of the largest podcasts in the world.
Today, Apple is rumored to toss its hat into the exclusive ring. I don’t necessarily blame it—podcasts have been a major, if arguably underutilized, section of the iTunes Store. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they were a not insignificant catalyst for a number of music, video, and more recently, subscription sales.
With new competitors picking apart the podcast publishing industry, I imagine Apple’s hand is largely being forced. I do hope for the best, and that plenty of podcasts can survive and thrive on their own on the open web.
But as with any corporate incursion into democratized creativity, I worry.