In the music industry, arguments over creators and ownership tend to focus on master recordings and publishing rights: how musicians can retain them from the start, or get them back later in their careers. Interestingly, there’s a similar debate starting in the podcasting industry.
As The Verge explains, it’s not just about the rights, but also about access to ‘the feed’ – the RSS feed through which a podcast is distributed, with access required to upload new episodes. Many podcasts are very personal to their creators, but if they were employees at a production studio when they came up with them and launched the shows, they belong to the company.
This isn’t illegal or even particularly unusual in the creative industries, but podcast creators are beginning to criticise it, especially for shows that have been cancelled by a studio – and this next bit does feel harsh – with no way for creators to continue them independently.
Spotify is being pulled in to the argument too, courtesy of a show called ‘The Nod’ made for its Gimlet Media subsidiary. This Twitter thread from co-creator Brittany Luse sets out her feelings.
“Networks and publishers like @Gimletmedia / @SpotifyUSA and @BuzzFeed want to own ALL of a show’s IP from the jump. If your platform isn’t big enough to push back on that, tough luck. Ours wasn’t. We took the deal. When Spotify bought Gimlet last year, The Nod became theirs,” she wrote.
Luse also made the point that The Nod – like another podcast, Another Round, currently subject to debate about whether its creators can relaunch it after its cancellation by its studio – is an example of a show made by Black creators, who feel that their investment in terms of creativity and energy is not respected by an industry that is dominated by white executives.
As we said, none of this is illegal, but the discussion and criticism of it may well have an impact on some of those early-stage negotiations around new shows, and nudge the dial a little more towards creators.