If you’ve ever wished podcast episodes were easier to navigate through, Spotify is working on a new format that does just that. Starting today, the company is testing shows that are organized like playlists. Instead of one track that plays for each episode, they’ll be divided up as a combination of music and spoken segments. There’s no fancy name for the format, but Spotify is making it available to all Anchor users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland — even during the beta phase.
Anchor is an all-in-one production suite for podcasts. Acquired by Spotify in 2019, the company had already built a simple app that allows creators of all skill levels to record, distribute and monetize podcasts from any device. It’s also free. Since then, Anchor has introduced new features like the ability to convert video calls into episodes. In tandem with Spotify, it also tested a “create podcast” button inside the main streaming app. Now Anchor and Spotify will allow you to add any song from the service’s library as part of your show.
The simplified, drag-and-drop-style interface does have its limitations, but that’s kind of the point with Anchor. With the new podcast format, creators can search for songs and add them to any episode of a show. Of course, they can easily reorder the tracks and recorded segments as needed. And most importantly, they can pull in any pop hit without having to worry about potential copyright issues. Once published, you as a listener can interact with the songs just like any other music on Spotify. You can like, save and access detailed info about each track — all without having to leave a show’s page or manually search for it the old fashioned way. To see the episode organized as a playlist, all you have to do is tap on one from the show page or hit the player bar at the bottom of the screen after you’ve started one. You can then hop around the different segments and songs, saving them to your own library and playlists if you find something you like. Premium subscribers will hear full tracks during episodes of the shows, but free users will only get a 30-second preview.
For music artists, Spotify says any streams accrued through this show format will be compensated just like normal. They’ll count the same as if a listener had searched for an artist or come across their music on a music-only playlist. And to be clear, there’s no editing going on here by creators. Using this tool, if a podcaster adds a song to a show, it shows up as a full track. There’s no 10- or 15-second clips that highlight a specific line or guitar riff. There aren’t many editing tools available in Anchor anyway.
To kick off the podcast-as-playlist format, Spotify is debuting seven original shows that use it. As you might expect, they’re all music focused. For example, Murder Ballads examines the history and stories behind mysterious and violent tunes, Our Love Song has couples tell their romance stories and 10 Songs That Made Me features an artist or celebrity who complied a collection of tracks that have deep personal meaning. These shows will be exclusive to Spotify since they use the service’s music library for the bulk of their content.
Spotify says listeners have been saying “for years” that they wanted a better way to save music from their favorite podcasts. This certainly accomplishes that, plus it organizes segments in a way that’s easy to navigate and familiar: the playlist. And anyone can make a show that uses this new format in Anchor. So if you’ve been thinking about creating your own version of Song Exploder or Dissect as a deep dive on an artist, album, song or genre, the list of excuses for not doing so just got a lot shorter.