The official Ongoing History podcast is now two years old. How are we doing?

On January 25, 2017, we started uploading special versions of The Ongoing History of New Music radio shows as podcasts. Frankly, we didn’t know what to expect. What would people think when they realized that the podcasts didn’t feature full songs?

Yes, it’s a licensing thing. Lemme give the backstory.

Once upon a time, we posted full Ongoing History episodes for on-demand streaming, something that proved to be very popular.

But then things got weird. Onerous tracking requirements (i.e. reporting on what songs were listened to by how many people as they enjoyed programs) made continuing the service impossible. Despite many months (years!) of trying to sort out licensing and rights issues with all the official parties, we were unable to figure things out, even though we were willing to pay for the privilege.

“Yeah, we know we’re leaving a lot of money on the table,” they said, “but figuring out your problems just aren’t something that’s a priority for us right now.”

So we pulled the shows.

Meanwhile, if you knew your way around torrent sites, you could find hundreds of full episodes available for free. I didn’t get paid. The people associated with the program didn’t get paid. Corus Entertainment, the owner of the show, didn’t get paid. And all the musicians involved in all the songs in the programs didn’t get paid.

This is how things sat for a couple of years. But then podcasting started to take off. We started exploring that option, even though there is no way under Canadian copyright law that we could easily and efficiently license the use of music.

In the end, we decided f**k it, let’s just go ahead and start posting versions of the radio shows on Apple Podcasts with all the music edited to the barest bones. The first episode went up January 25, 2017. For the record, it was episode one of an In Their Own Words series from Billy Talent.

We began by releasing one podcast per week. But then emails started coming in asking for more. So we upped that to two a week.

How have we done? Here are some stats:

  • There are about 150 episodes available. They’re all free, of course.
  • The program is consistently the #1 music podcast in Canada, according to Apple Podcasts. It’s been that way for months and monthsTotal downloads as of the evening of January 25, 2019, are 3,795,040 .
  • The most popular show is the first episode of the multi-part series on the alt-rock of the 90s. “The 90s, Part 1: Foundational Changes” has been downloaded 38,844 times followed closely by “Rock’n’Roll Myths” (38,138).
  • Most downloads have been in Canada (3,247,756), followed by the US (353,043), the UK (32,552), Australia (26,682), and German (12,025).
  • The biggest foreign city is Buffalo, followed by NYC, and London UK.
  • The program seems to be oddly popular in Shanghai.
  • Who are the 1,678 people listening in Av Zahran, Saudi Arabia? Or the five people in Palestine? Or the single person in Greenland? (Hello, whoever you are!)
  • Downloads have been noted in more than 150 countries.
  • North Korea, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone are among the few countries that have so far remained immune to the program’s charms.
  • Looking at the entirety of the last two years, 67.6% of listeners used Apple platforms to listen. Over the last several weeks, though, the number of people listening through Spotify has rocketed to about a quarter of all consumption.
  • Listeners overwhelmingly use iOS (62.7%). Android users comprise 19.2%,
  • 84.7% listen on a mobile device.

In other words, so far so good, Thank you for all your support!

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.

7 thoughts on “The official Ongoing History podcast is now two years old. How are we doing?

  • January 27, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Alan – I want to thank you for all of your efforts – I am a loooong time listener and greatly admire your genius. (Don’t be modest now). I’m one of your loyal podcast listeners – thankful for getting to hear your show; at my convenience no less). I missed it when it was gone. Keep up the good works!

  • January 27, 2019 at 11:39 am

    I think the figures justify to decisions and after all these years, I still love hearing all the really interesting fact & information. But for the love of all the Gods & Godesses of music when will someone in a position of power join the 21st century and update the laws so that we can get to hear the music too?

    • January 28, 2019 at 9:37 am

      I completely agree Martin. I remember listening to The Edge just before the podcasts started, with the notion of ‘we’ll play as much of the song as we can get away with’. The music seemed to gradually increase in length for a time, however the snippets do seem shorter now. Keep up the good work Alan.

  • January 27, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    you’re doing amazing and you make my long drives and workouts tolerable! thank you!

  • January 28, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Alan, Thank you so much for adding these shows as Podcasts to Spotify. We used to listen to your show every week it was on in Halifax, but then we moved to Hamilton and we weren’t sure where to find you anymore. Then we discovered the Podcasts, we listen to every new episode you upload. And although we would love to hear full versions of all the songs, he’s great just getting to hear you talk! Keep up the great work!

  • January 28, 2019 at 8:24 am

    You easily have one of the best podcasts I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

  • January 30, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Where did you get the idea to post them online? 😉


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