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
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
- 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!