Podcasts vs songs

It is fun to compare some aspects in which podcasts and songs are different:

  1. A podcast you usually listen once. A song you can hear one, ten or infinite times.
  2. A podcast is a long form content, and it makes sense to listen from beginning (maybe skip commercials at start) and go thru the end or not. People can listen albums in order, but mostly don’t. 
  3. I don’t think anyone listen to podcasts on “background” while reading, working etc., so they are more dependent of appropriate contexts (commuting, walking, doing house chores etc.) while music is more “malleable”.
  4. You cannot dance to a podcast! You should not use a podcast to fall sleep I guess. It makes less sense to listen a podcast in group, 
  5. Podcast serve as entertainment or news but music “is poetry for the senses”.
  6. It is ok to say that you can choose a podcast easily based on genre, content, podcaster track record etc. Music is deeper and more personal. Every listener can react differently to the same song and the response can be shaped by many factors. Horace Dediu nails it:

But all the cynicism around music is tone deaf to the sheer emotion that music can create. Music touches people like nothing else. I’ve seen young and old cry and burst with joy listening to music. For its low bandwidth, music delivers enormous emotional bandwidth. It always has and always will. It’s not obsolete and will never be. Music imprints itself in hearts and remains there for a lifetime.

All this to say that podcasts are a more objective product than music, perhaps easier to market and monetise (and invest millions in exchange of exclusives).

One practical, and amusing, implication of the difference between podcasts and songs in the Spotify app, in the way it keep the playing of podcasts organised, and the playing of playlists not:

  1. A podcast has its own page, with a long descriptive paragraph. 
  2. The podcast author is clearly identified.
  3. The audio files (“episodes”) are clearly sorted. You can filter only unplayed episodes or see all.
  4. The app automatically saves the exact point where you stopped listening each episode and this information is synchronised across the user’s all devices. When you pick up the podcast on another device, it resumes from that exact point.

None of this is available for playlists, or other groupings of music. For example , the “eighties” could be our ‘podcast of songs’ example:

  1. No way to create a page with a clear name, theme or descriptive paragraph 
  2. No author clearly dentifrice
  3. No way to sort different playlists (one for every genre/year?) and filter unplayed ones.
  4. No way to resume listening where you previously stopped.

Playlists have no home, no author, the most brief descriptions, no direct link to related lists. Also no permanence.: a podcast episode is probably always the same. A playlist can be changed at any moment and there is no direct way of knowing what has changed or when it will change again.

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