Four months after ending his exclusive Spotify deal, Joe Budden is bringing his podcast to Patreon and has been made an adviser to the company, taking on the title head of creator equity. Like many other podcasters on Patreon, his show will be available freely on most podcasting platforms — with the notable exception of Spotify — and paying supporters will have access to additional perks. Both his show, The Joe Budden Podcast, and his network, The Joe Budden Network, will be supported through the same Patreon page with the same subscription cost.
Subscribers can pay between $5 and $25 a month for bonus content, a private Discord, and exclusive tour deals. Budden tells The Verge he and his team will also gate new shows as exclusives for Patreon subscribers, with them possibly being released more widely after a certain amount of time.
The message from this move is clear: although many podcasters are committing to exclusive deals, Budden doesn’t see them as the future of podcasting.
“That is so prehistoric,” he says, explaining that when he signed his Spotify deal three years ago, he and Spotify both wanted to see if exclusive deals could work. He says he proved the model, along with the potential of his audience, but didn’t want Spotify to use his fans and reach to prove the platform’s own worth and make money.
“For many years, the record labels and the system that I come from tricked us into thinking they were doing us a favor by capitalizing off our talent and basically loaning us money, and that’s been the standard the entire time,” Budden says, adding that he already knows how that system worked out for creators.
When Budden announced his split from the tech company, he said Spotify was “pillaging” his audience and only cared about how his show contributed to Spotify overall, not about his actual podcast.
Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, says Budden is on a standard Patreon plan, where the company takes a cut of his subscription revenue, but having him as an adviser sets him apart from other creators and emphasizes the company’s interest in hearing from him directly.
“This is about tech companies paying creators the minimum amount that they can get away with instead of paying creators what they’re actually worth,” Conte says. “Creators are uploading gold to these platforms — billions of hours of energy, and enthusiasm, and passion, and creativity, and storytelling, and excitement — all the stuff that we love to read, and listen to, and watch, and see and hear, and creators are getting paid fractions of what they’re actually worth. And not only that, they’re disconnected from their audiences. They don’t own the relationship with their audience. They don’t get data. They don’t get to run their own business. They get locked out of their business.”
Budden’s not the only one to have spoken out about how Spotify treats creators. The hosts of The Nod, which became a Spotify-owned show after the company acquired Gimlet Media, spoke out in June about their issues with show ownership. The hosts, Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, say they built their show and audience but owned none of it.
“At the end of the day, investing in someone’s talent isn’t the same as having the talent yourself,” Luse told The Verge. “It’s very strange that [Spotify and Gimlet] are the only people who can claim ownership over [The Nod and its segments].”
Still, Spotify has continued to sign deals with big-name talent, including Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian West, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry. It’s also continued to encourage small creators to try podcasting through its creation software, Anchor. Patreon is setting itself up as the antithesis to exclusives — a place where podcasters can reward their most loyal fans while also benefiting from the freedom to do whatever they want with their show.