How to Kludge Together a Flattr based Podcast Payment System

I had a brainstorm tonight on how to hack together a way to automatically pay the podcasters that you listen to. I’m not exactly sure the best way to implement but here is the basic principle. It might have too many moving parts to be feasible but it is interesting to think about.

  1. Both you the listener and the podcaster need to have Flattr accounts and also Last.FM accounts.
  2. The podcaster must create good ID3 tags for artist and unique ones for each episode, so that every single MP3 has one and only URL associated with it at Last.FM.
  3. The listener needs some form of scrobbling software that automatically records their listens into their Last.FM.
  4. The podcaster publishes a new episode of their show. At the same time they do, they submit a Flattr for the URL of the Last.FM on top of whatever other thing they might. I submit the permalink of the blog post but this way I would do both of them for each episode. (Question: Is submitting a Last.FM URL within the terms of use for Flattr? )
  5. Now, with whatever mystical system in the middle, which could be any kind of script or a webservice or an application or even a plugin to the scrobbling application, you map the two things together. Periodically you go out and read your recent scrobbles from Last.FM (or do it at the same time you scrobble) and for each of those URLs you call the Flattr API to find that item and submit a Flattr to it from your account.
  6. Profit!

That’s really all it would take. The rest of it would happen automatically. If any of your podcasts exist, they get a Flattr from you for each episode you listen. You don’t have to remember to go out and Flattr anything, and you can control how much you pay podcasters the same way you do anything on Flattr – you pick your monthly budget and let it ride.

It all makes sense to me. The only question is does the Flattr directlive to “only submit your own items” prohibit you from submitting an Last.FM URL, since that isn’t your site or does it allow it because that URL does actually represent your work? If it does, then gluing up all the stuff in the middle is pretty trivial. The problem is that when you get this down to the set of people that have Flattr accounts for both podcasters and listeners, then also require Last.FM accounts and also engaging the glue in the middle (installing an app or plugin or setting up a webservice) it might get down to such a vanishingly small set of people to be silly. However if this is viable from Flattr policy, I’m willing to set this up. I’ll take automated Flattrs from my nerd listeners gladly. If the proof of concept, uhhm, proves the concept then maybe other podcasters and listeners would be willing to put this money plumbing together.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

5 thoughts on “How to Kludge Together a Flattr based Podcast Payment System”

  1. Ken Kennedy says:

    I like the idea…the only thing is that (at least for me), Last.FM is for music scrobbling, not podcasts. In fact, I make sure that I don’t get podcasts mixed up into my Last.FM stream, just so my preferences stay tweaked.

    I realize that different people handle that different ways, of course. Maybe if the proof of concept pans out, something like could be another option. It should be pretty transparent to swap in, actually, as it uses the same scrobbling APIs as

    Regardless, I like the concept, and I’ll be happy to beta if you need people. I guess I’ll need to re-add to my Flattr account!

  2. dave says:

    Ken, I had never heard of until you mentioned it to me. I just set it up on this blog because, hey, why not? I’m trying to find out if this acceptable under the Flattr terms of service. If/when I have something to test, I’ll sign you up as alpha user #1.

  3. Ken Kennedy says:

    Sweet! I’m all about bleeding edge. *grin*

    And I like the widget on the blog; nice! I use Google Listen on my Android phone to listen to podcasts (at least when I’m mobile), and the LACK of any way to get at what I’ve listened to (even though it’s tracked in Google Reader, which is what Listen uses to manage subscriptions) still irks me. Come the test, I’ll hack around it if necessary; all the data is available in Reader.

  4. hugh says:

    I don’t think claiming URIs would be allowed due to the problem of people claiming things that aren’t theirs. I haven’t looked at the API, but doesn’t the request have to come from the same domain that’s being Flattr’d?.

    I think what’s needed is a service that can match up the metadata on with the feed it came from to determine the show’s homepage. AmigoFish could be tweaked to collect the ID3 metadata.

    Don’t forget that some podcatchers like iTunes can change the tags. They use data from the feed, though, so you’ve still got something to match.

  5. Thilo says:

    Getting Flattr integration into podcatchers (especially on mobile devices) would be huge. Now that there is an API, an Android app (and apparently also one for iOS, though one has to wonder how long it will stay given Apple’s stance on “alternative payment methods”), we seem to be getting closer. has recently launched their flattr integration, so this could go a long way towards associating podcasts with Flattr Things.

    There are related threads on the Flattr forums about this issue: and

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