What’s at Stake in Spotify’s Counterfeit Podcast Problem


PodMov Daily: Monday, August 24

Episode 270: Your Monday Mix

What's at Stake in Spotify's Counterfeit Podcast Problem

As Podnews pointed out last week, Anchor has a major counterfeit-podcast problem. Max Willens of Digiday takes a closer look into its scope. These misleading carbon copies are stealing recognition (and revenue) from creators. What is Spotify, which acquired Anchor in 2019, doing to shut down the practice?

Anchor-hosted copycats, “in many cases with nearly identical metadata and cover art,” crop up on every major platform. “On Anchor’s own app, the problem is even worse, with the namesake show rarely appearing at the top of results,” Willens says. To find Serial, a user has to “scroll past nearly a dozen fake shows.”

After a barrage of creator and publisher complaints, Spotify took down the copies. However, Willens’ sources say the company “has given podcasters no indication that they have resources or technology in place to keep this from becoming a game of whack-a-mole.” IP infringement moles tend to be adaptable.

Tom Webster: Mixed Feeds and Tricky Podcast Downloads

Serial published its last new episode in the fall of 2018. How did it rise 48 spots in Podtrac’s ranker from June to July? Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research, says that the larger answer has “broad ramifications on podcast programming, audience development, and a potentially sinister side of ‘the download.’”

Larger podcast networks are stepping beyond cross-promotion into “actual cross-programming,” Webster explains. The new miniseries Nice White Parents, released à la carte by Serial and the New York Times, was also added to Serial’s feed. It’s a perfectly legitimate strategy, but one that's obscuring show-specific downloads.

“As networks begin to put more and more things into their feeds, there is a whole new dimension in play.” Giant networks in particular make Webster question “how many [proper downloads] are actually listens to that show, and how many are promos, trailers, and even episodes of entirely different shows.” 

Mark your calendars, new podcasters: The 28-Day Challenge returns in September! Join dozens of other participants in our online community to build skills and launch with confidence. Register by next Monday, August 31, to get that show idea started.

We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are.

Here's what else is going on:

  • Radio stars: According to Bradley Chambers of 9to5Mac, “Spotify isn’t trying to take over podcasting, but rather become the YouTube of audio.” Chambers’ compelling argument explores the differences between free shows, the open podcast market, and paid podcasts.
  • Wider lens: Deante Bryan, a grad of Swarthmore College, started the podcast Slightly Educated to break a cycle he knows well. Guests including athletes, artists, and political scientists dispel stereotypes of the ‘smart Black kid,’ especially at majority-white institutions.
  • Autumn glow: PodTales 2020 will be online, over the first three weekends in November. In 2019 it became the first podcasting festival in the country devoted exclusively to imaginative audio storytelling. Applications for the Podcast Showcase close September 18th.
  • Instant lunch: If you want to host your podcast live, which platforms earn top marks? The Podcast Host has updated its recommendations. Hosting choice aside, “it's important to learn the ropes first, and also to build that core audience that's going to actually turn up.”

Don't miss an episode of The Daily

Share With a Friend

About the Author


Join the Movement