Let’s talk more about the possibility of including music in podcasts

I had an interesting conversation this week with someone deeply involved with the music industry about the possibility of podcasters being able to use proper songs in their episodes. We both agree that something needs to be done–too much money is being left on the table–but the technical aspects of tracking songs in podcasts are formidable.

I wish there was a legal and proper way to include full songs in my Ongoing History podcast, but no such mechanism exists. And building one that works for everyone will be very, very difficult.

Billboard just published this story about the issue.

“In the past few years, podcasting has grown from a cottage industry into big business, with 93 million listeners and $479 million in yearly advertising revenue in the United States, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Producers have become more sophisticated about licensing music — and more willing to pay for it. But clearing rights, for both recordings and the underlying compositions, can be complicated and expensive.”

“In most cases, using music in a podcast is more like obtaining a synch license for video than making individual songs available online. Producers need permission from the owners of the recording and the owners of the underlying composition — which is especially complicated if a song contains elements of another composition, as in a sample. ‘If a song incorporates a sample of another song, then the number of rights holders basically doubles,’ says Hrishikesh Hirway, creator and host of 5-year-old podcast Song Exploder. ‘We might not know, necessarily, how to get in touch with those people, or maybe you’re dealing with an estate. That can get really tricky. Sometimes the burden of clearing a song proves to be too much.'”

Hopeless? Not entirely. Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Let’s talk more about the possibility of including music in podcasts

  • September 13, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Definitely encouraging, here’s hoping sound exchange can pull something off.

    It’s interesting the article at times appears to be trying to spin it that podcasts are stealing music deliberately. And then turns around and points out for many of them, there is no legal way to get music. Interesting article, but felt a bit topsy turvy.


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