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Dear Spotify, ditch the podcast spam or I’m leaving you for Apple Music

The Spotify app has gone from showing listeners what they love, to ramming podcasts down their throats. The podcast spam has to stop, says a grumpy Chris Smith.

I’ve been a Spotify Premium subscriber since the upstart streaming company began offering them. More than a decade, we’ve been married for. In that time it’s mostly been tenner I spend every month. If times were tough, I’ve always thought it’d be one of the last luxuries I’d cut out.

However, the streaming service had been testing my patience of late and I’m wondering whether this partnership is going to work long term. Namely, due to its insistence of flooding the app with podcasts and constantly recommending them to me, in prominent positions. Whether it’s directly beneath my recently played items, or elsewhere throughout the app, I’m tired of it.

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Like this Friday morning, for example. Entering the home stretch before the weekend I just wanted to listen to some music from my music app. I didn’t want to be promoted to “educate yourself about voter suppression” when I’m just looking for a bit of pop punk to energise my morning a little bit.

As worthy a talking point voter suppression is, most of us get plenty of that from the hellscape that is Twitter. If I wanted to be preached at, I’d click the trending section of Twitter. I’d rather not be subjected to it my music app, if it’s all the same with you Spotify.

It’s the same deal every time I plug my phone in with Apple CarPlay with Spotify shoving podcasts in my face on the home screen. I’m actually driving here, lads, don’t make me look too hard for some music to listen to.

Just recently it feels like Spotify has gone from feeling like it’s an app designed to show me what I like, to showing me what Spotify wants me to see. And I must say it’s fostering some real resentment. It once felt that, thanks to some spectacularly good algorithms and years and years of leveraging my listening history, Spotify knows what I’ll like before I do. The daily mixes,  Release Radar and Discover Weekly playlists are just fantastic music discovery tools.

I’m not quite at the point where Apple Music and the hassle of transferring all of my playlists seems attractive, but I’m not far off. At least Apple has the decency to keep podcasts within their own app.

I understand Spotify’s keenness to become a podcast hub. The format is exploding once again and Spotify wants a slice of that gigantic pie. It’s hefty investment in exclusive podcasts with Joe Rogan, the Obamas and Bruce Springsteen, among many others, isn’t going to pay for itself. Spotify needs the 155 million people who pay for ad-free music to listen to podcast ads.

But this is an app I pay for to access music on demand without any barriers. Why can’t they abrasively push this content in the direction of the freeloaders who don’t think music is a commodity that should be paid for, and leave me out of it? At least give me the choice to hide podcasts from the app!

The company bends over backwards to throw as many Premium benefits in the direction of Spotify Free users as often as possible. Let them deal with the podcast spam, not me, one of your paying customers.

As much as I’ve loved Spotify for all this time, the streaming era hasn’t been exceptionally kind to the smaller artists. Spotify pays between $.003 and $.005 per stream and, by the time everyone’s cut has been taken out, smaller artists don’t see much in return. We’ve all seen those royalty cheques, artists sardonically post on social media.

It doesn’t sit well with me. I believe music is a commodity that should be paid for. I try to offset this by buying vinyl versions of my favourite albums and going to shows when they’re allowed. I have enough band t-shirts to hand them out to a sold out crowd at Wembley Stadium.

Apple’s recent admission that it pays double per stream that is hardly going to change the lives of the bands I follow, but it is better. Food for thought for everyone when considering the switch.

I want my music app to be a music app, not an all-encompassing audio app. My money will go to the company that provides that experience.

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