Spotify is coming for Apple Podcasts’ star rating system with one of its own. The company announced today that it’s launching a five-star rating system for podcasts. Listeners will be able to leave a rating after they listen to a show for at least 30 seconds, and the average rating will be displayed on a show’s landing page once at least 10 have been submitted. Spotify says the feature is meant to make it “easier for listeners to decide when to try out a new podcast” and that these ratings will “serve as the first chance to draw new listeners in.”
The company explicitly encourages podcasters to shout out Spotify and tell listeners to rate them there. This is likely the primary motivator for Spotify. The trope of “rate and review” on Apple Podcasts is silly but also a real driver for people to go to an app. If, instead, podcasters shouted out Spotify, maybe even just a few people would download the app or at least open it and figure out how to listen to a podcast there.
At the same time, reviews often open platforms and their users up to harassment. They do indeed offer a helpful first impression of a show but are also easy to game. I wrote a story two years ago about angry fans review bombing shows on Apple Podcasts. In a year, I could probably write the same about Spotify. (The opposite can always be true, too, of a podcaster review bombing themselves for good.) Does that mean we shouldn’t have ratings? Probably not. But does that mean I hope Spotify has a good bot detection system or even one to detect broad harassment? Yes.