Spotify has struck a deal to make the indie The Last Podcast on the Left an exclusive to its lineup starting in 2020. The weekly show pairs co-host and producer Ben Kissel, researcher Marcus Parks, and comedian and actor Henry Zebrowski. The show covers “dark subjects” such as serial killings, cults, hauntings and horror.
“This is a very exciting piece of news for us,” Zebrowski announced on Twitter. “Over the next couple of months we will begin a partnership with Spotify who have showed us we have the same goals in taking podcasts seriously.” The eight-year old podcast, which has been funded by a mix of advertising and Patreon donations, will remain owned by Kissel, Parks and Zebrowski. “We will be posting on all feeds for a while, also the show remains free,” said Zebrowski. “They do not own our network but are going to support us in expanding the shows we make, which means more staff, higher quality podcasts and more content.”
Kissel backed that up and said the show will still seek donations from listeners. “The content will not change at all nor will our Patreon be affected. This opportunity is going allow us to give you even more sweet content in 2020 with new shows,” he told fans on Twitter. They’ve also been able to leverage their podcast success into live tour performances and a spin-off show on the Adult Swim website.
But the move to become a Spotify exclusive is spooking some of the show’s listener base. Among the comments sent via Twitter to Zebrowski: “Don’t you guys always talk about corporations being evil?” and “I love your show, but not prepared to mess around with different apps for different podcasts. Think it's a bad move to be honest.” To which Zebrowski countered, “I’ve worked for far worse corporations doin TV. Spotify is an app company with no parents that make bombs or sh*t. It’s just an app!”
Kissel added, “We’re also very happy to distance ourselves from the corrupt overlords at Apple and iTunes.” He also dismissed criticism about how little streaming services like Spotify pay artists in royalties. “Spotify pays the record labels and the record labels are supposed to pay their artists. Now of course in late stage capitalism those corrupt labels don’t pay the artists but that’s why Spotify is going the podcast route.”
After quickly building its podcast business by acquiring companies that specialize in creative, like Gimlet Media and Parcast, Spotify in recent months has shifted its focus to picking up individual shows. It has announced production deals to create exclusive shows with The Ringer and Vice News, among other partners.