The news that Neil Young is leaving Spotify for Joe Rogan’s podcast didn’t affect me at all. Until I started thinking about the implications for the future.
Here’s the short version of the story: Joe Rogan brings in a variety of guests, and those guests sometimes say things that are factually incorrect, and Rogan doesn’t always shut them up. Young gave his record label (and the big green streaming machine) an ultimatum after noticing that a group of doctors had petitioned Spotify: Either Rogan’s podcast goes or my music goes.
Spotify, which had reportedly invested more than $100 million in its deal to make The Joe Rogan Experience an exclusive service, did not side with Young.
And then Joni Mitchell, other music rights holders started to remove their music, and I realized it was time to delete the Spotify app from my phone. And surprisingly, it has nothing to do with Joe Rogan himself, the views expressed in his podcast, or Neil Young’s music either.
Spotify’s new problem is all about trust
Spotify is probably currently doing everything it can to make sure no one else leaves its service, whether because of Joe Rogan’s views or anything else. At the end of the day, the function of a streaming music service is to make all music available You want. It’s the implicit promise on which Spotify and its clones were founded.
And right now, Spotify reminds me a lot of YouTube TV. While YouTube TV, a live TV streaming service, is one of the best cable TV alternatives, it suffered from content and platform issues during 2021.
Whether it was the whole YouTube TV debacle on Roku or how it almost lost NBCUniversal-owned channels and actually Disney-owned channels for part of a weekend, YouTube TV felt like a car whose engine doesn’t always start right. It felt like I was logging into work looking for the latest YouTube TV drama to cover, like I was a TMZ reporter looking for news about Pete Davidson’s latest breakup or partner.
And at this point, staying with Spotify feels like rolling the dice on a daily basis. And sure, I could go If the music of an artist I care about is disappearing, but I don’t want to wait because the more time I spend just on Spotify, the more I invest in building playlists that I can’t just copy and paste into Apple Music ( my other preferred service). At least Spotify has made its content policies publicly available.
Oh, and because I have two more reasons to prefer Apple Music.
I just want music and Apple Music respects that
Sure, Spotify has its highly shareable wrapped recaps at the end of the year. And I really wish Apple would just copy the homework a little better next time, but the Apple Music app is better for me in one important way: it doesn’t have podcasts.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love podcasts. I’ve even written about some of my favorites in our list of best podcasts. At the same time, though? I already use one of the best podcast apps, Overcast, which is much cleaner and more elegant and comprehensive than Spotify’s attempts to push podcasts.
I get it, Spotify. You care a lot about podcasts and you know people love them. But as I tweeted Previously I don’t want a podcast app in my music app. Forcing this integration wastes entire sections of an already cluttered user interface.
Hey @Spotify – I will never want to listen to podcasts on your app. Not only are you bad at it, but @OvercastFM is so much better. Let’s disable podcasts on your home screen.20. January 2022
Apple knows better from its iTunes days and has split podcasts (and TV and movies) into their own separate app (which is fine for most, but not my favorite). That means the Apple Music app is only for music, which is the experience I want.
Spotify still won’t let me bring my own music either
Then there’s the "one more thing". The feature that makes Apple Music something I paid for, even when playing around with Spotify (all other things being equal, Wrapped is still cooler than Apple’s own annual review).
The big Apple Music feature I still love is iCloud Music Library, a cloud storage service that integrates your own MP3s into your Apple Music account. In a time when not even all music is licensed to streaming services, Apple’s option to upload your own stuff to listen to anywhere makes a big difference.
That is, a warning from friends: Back up your originals. A friend told me Apple Music once replaced their copies with other versions and replaced a studio release with a live album. Personally, this has never happened to me, and I just checked to make sure that the Fiona Apple album I mention below doesn’t have this problem.
There aren’t many unlicensed albums that I put on often – Girl Talk’s "All Day," Frank Ocean’s "Nostalgia, Ultra," and the leaked version of Fiona Apple’s "Extraordinary Machines" are the first that come to mind – but Spotfiy doesn’t have any of those albums. And as a collector, I take comfort in knowing that I’m not just holding on to the music we all "rent" as part of our monthly tithe.
And in the end, it’s all about the music. Not the podcasts, not the drama. But when I pay for a service for music, I want that music to be a priority.