And even then, you still may not be able to distribute it because podcast aggregators may not realize you have a license to play music, so they could refuse to add your feed to their list.
And I would highly discourage you from using the defense of “Fair Use” if you want to use licensed music. That is a defense used in court, not as a reply to a cease and desist letter you may receive from a record company or artist.
In other words, a record company or artist can sue you if they hear their song on your show. And MAYBE, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars defending yourself, you MIGHT win using a Fair Use argument.
But again, probably not.
You can use royalty-free music available at many websites, but you won’t find top-40 music there. But at least you have the option of adding music to your show, as long as you don’t mind if it isn’t your typical commercially successful artist.
But there are changes happening in the podcast world. Back in 2019, Spotify acquired Anchor, an all-in-one solution for podcasters. And in 2020, they started allowing podcasters using the Anchor platform to use licensed music in their podcast.
If you’ve been wanting to play popular, licensed music for transitions, segments, or just want to create a music show in general, Spotify may be the solution you’re looking for. The caveats are that you must use Anchor to host your podcast and you can only play your podcast on Spotify.
Another caveat is that if you want your podcast to appear on other podcast aggregators, you may not be able to do that because of the licensing arrangement with Spotify. In other words, once you choose this path, you may only be able to have your podcast play on their network.
This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker as Spotify is a huge platform and that may be all you need to gain a large following, but these minor drawbacks are something to consider if you were thinking of moving your podcast to another service or having it distributed to more places like Apple Podcasts or iHeartRadio.
Podcasts are evolving and are becoming more mainstream every day. I suspect that there will be more large entities following Spotify’s lead in the future. But for now, this may be a great solution for many podcasters that don’t want to pay all the licensing fees and still want to make a show with commercially available music.