Five months after yanking his blockbuster shows from Spotify amid a dispute over compensation, podcasting powerhouse Joe Budden is partnering with another subscription platform that’s promising artists more leverage.
His signature The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal and The Joe Budden Network will now be hosted on Patreon, the company announced Wednesday (Feb. 3). Budden will also take on the title of Patreon’s head of creative equity, a new advisory role that will have him focused on making sure creators on the platform have an equal seat at the table.
The podcast industry has seen a number of major shows shift platforms in recent years, kicked off by The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal locking into an exclusive pact with Spotify in 2018. Spotify — which committed to spending $500 million in 2019 to build up its podcasting division — inked exclusive deals with Barack and Michelle Obama, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Joe Rogan, sending its share price up 8% on the day it was announced. Apple launched a podcast with Oprah’s Book Club in September, with talks of future paid podcast subscription services circling both companies. And Amazon, never to be left out, has launched its own slate of exclusive podcasts featuring DJ Khaled and Will Smith.
“Every step along the way in my career, I’ve been either underpaid, undervalued or just without the information because they don’t make it transparent to creators, especially young ones, the same young ones that they target,” Budden tells Billboard in an interview. “The goal since maybe my last album has been to find what true value is.”
Budden adds, “The system is still all the way broken and we’re entering a new decade. At some point, somebody has to draw a line in the sand. I didn’t feel like any of my content was valued properly. That’s from Complex to Spotify to you name it, the story just continues. So when do people get tired of the same shit from the same people without attempting to break the standards and push the boundaries to incentivize us a little more? If we’re the people that are raising the market share in these different places, it seems right that we should participate.”
“This isn’t about one deal,” Jack Conte, Patreon’s co-founder and CEO tells Billboard. “This is about companies paying creators the minimum amount that they can get away with instead of what creators are actually worth, which is what Joe was feeling. And it’s what I’ve been feeling for many, many years.”
Conte — a musician and one half of the band Pomplamoose — continues, “I come from the YouTube world and indie rock, he comes from hip-hop and Def Jam, but as we were talking about our own experiences and sharing our experiences, it was like we were telling the same freaking story.”
Arguably the world’s preeminent hip-hop podcast and Spotify’s most popular podcast of 2019, The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal arrives on Patreon in a non-exclusive partnership that will provide subscribers to the show with additional episodes, behind-the-scenes footage and new video series called “Journey” produced by Budden, starting at $5 a month, with $10 a month and $25 a month options. (“These are additional bonus episodes, two per month at minimum, along with new content franchises that we’re going to roll out that I’ve been working on during the pandemic,” Budden says.) The Joe Budden network will also develop content that will live on Patreon moving forward. Budden says there will be discounts on merchandise and access to a Discord server for subscribers. The arrangement means The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal will continue to be available on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
Budden pulled his podcast off Spotify last September after a multi-year exclusive agreement with the streaming service expired, amid tensions with the company over a number of issues including compensation. At Patreon, Budden’s earnings will come directly from his fans utilizing a membership model. Patreon’s cut of a subscription is currently capped at 12% (before payment processing fees), leaving the majority of revenue for creators. Rather than a set contract like Budden had at Spotify, The Joe Budden Network will be able to earn as much as its fans will pay, a good option for Budden, who has publicly pushed for years for creators to be paid their fair market value.
Conte agrees, and says a “creative renaissance” is on the horizon once platforms figure out the economics around creators and how to properly compensate them.
“I believe that as the web starts solving payments, we’re going to see an explosion of creativity to a degree that we have not yet seen. And I don’t use the word ‘renaissance’ lightly. I believe we are about to enter a second renaissance of creativity,” Conte says, enthusiastically. “Creators have more value in the world. They do more for their fans. They do more for the Internet. They do more for the people around them than they’re paid. And that needs to be fixed. And I do think this is the beginning of a new era.”
The first Patreon-exclusive episode of The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal will be available Feb. 8 on Patreon.com/JoeBudden.