Spotify Done Eff'd Up Big Time
In a way that will require a lot of damage control
In 2019 I wrote an article about Spotify potentially profit sharing with Podcasters, it was a long complicated theory but ultimately: Spotify could really win if they found a way to make monetization so simple that podcasters didn’t have to do anything to monetize.
Well, today it seems they did that… but not in the way that I hoped.
I like giving people the benefit of the doubt, so I’m framing this as an unintentional screw up, and I’m hoping it is because if it isn’t I believe Spotify will see a mass exodus of podcasters before the end of this upcoming week.
It seems as though Spotify has accidentally listed Wild Turkey as a sponsor on every podcast on Spotify (or, at least, every podcast whose creator I could get ahold of). See below:
To make matters worse, it’s also appearing on sobriety podcasts, specifically on sobriety from alcohol podcasts, like below:
This is clearly a mistake, many someones are certainly going to lose their job over something this bad in the optics department. And I don’t just mean placing a booze ad on a sobriety podcast - and that’s bad for two reasons:
That it makes the HOST look like they made a deal with the devil
The other reasons it’s bad is:
It looks as though Spotify is rolling this out without a profit sharing scheme to go with it to the benefit of podcasters.
It looks as though Spotify is rolling this out without an opt-out option or, at least, if not opt-out, then at least ad category exclusion… like alcohol.
The main reason I think this is a mistake: First, I can’t imagine the cost to Wild Turkey’s brand when every sobriety podcast on Spotify collectively loses their shit. You can’t just roll out a booze ad indiscriminately - is this appearing on Children’s shows too? Not as far as I could tell. Thank goodness for that. Secondly, how could Wild Turkey possibly justify the cost of such a broad campaign? “Hey, I want an ad on EVERY PODCAST YOU HAVE.” That seems like something you wouldn’t do; it also sounds hella expensive.
Even though I believe it’s a mistake, and even though I believe, in the end, we’ll see Spotify turn this into a positive by sharing profits for display ads with creators, it’s going to turn all their critics rabid, and it’s going to hurt their image at a time they really don’t need their image hurt.
Anyway, we’ll see how Spotify responds because if they don’t know about it already, they’ll certainly know about it soon.
This may be limited to the United States only (I haven’t tested outside the US), it also requires the latest update to be seen, and lastly: it may not be for ALL users.
Some of my friends, Branden Ushio of Fandom, and Greg of Indie Drop-in (and others), are really pessimistic on this. They think the rollout is probably a screw up, but the direction is as dark as it can be: display ads for corporate profit and no revenue sharing system to cut podcasters in.
They both make compelling arguments, but I’m still willing to go against the grain and believe that Spotify has a heart. I may end up looking like a fool for that, but it’s genuinely how I feel, and I hope I’m right.
Imagine if Spotify cleaned up the placement of the advertisement so it was less like a sponsor and more like an ad (because it’s very suspect that it suggests the show itself is sponsored by Wild Turkey), and allowed you to exclude ad categories, and then gave 100% of each conversion to the podcasters. They’d still make money from the placement, but you’d make money on the sales if there were any. You’d get 0% of the placement value but you’d get 100% of conversions… more like an affiliate arrangement.
In any event, the minimum is making sure alcohol ads don’t show up on sobriety podcasts 😅