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.

My Podcast Listening List now Scrobbled via Rockbox

I’m experimenting with a new thing now. A side effect of running Rockbox is that I can have it save a list of what I’ve played on my Sansa Clip+. Since the player has a clock it even has them in the right order and somewhat sensible timing (give or take a time zone issue or two.) In the sidebar is a little playlist widget that shows my recent plays via (which you can also see at my profile here.) I’m just fiddling with this so at any point in the future I may stop doing this, remove the widget or what have you. My queue has been beaten down from 6 weeks to right at 4 weeks and now you can play along at home.

I used to be somewhat cagey about what podcasts I listen to. I’d mention what I really like but generally keep my mouth shut about the ones I don’t much like. In the earlier days of podcasts when it was a closer knit group and my opinion mattered more to more people, people paid a fair amount of attention to my opinion on such matters. For that reason, I wouldn’t have done this then. The sad truth is that I have plenty of friends in the podcast world, people whose company I enjoy and that I consider friends whose podcasts I don’t listen to. It’s nothing personal, I have a specific set of tastes and finite time so its just the way it goes. I never wanted to hurt people’s feelings on the matter. Now if you pay careful attention you’ll notice shows that are missing. If that’s you, please don’t be bummed.

For the record, I don’t care who does or doesn’t listen to my show. If you know me personally and don’t listen, that doesn’t bum me out in the slightest. This is not a new issue to me. From my time doing the Reality Break radio show, I met a number of science fiction and fantasy writers and became friends with some of them. In general I tend to like the fiction of my friends but that’s not a one to one correspondence. There is a well known writer in the field who has been unbelievably kind and friendly to me, whose presence I love to be in and whose work I can’t read for more than a paragraph. For that matter, the late Robert Jordan was very nice to me personally, wrote me a hand-written thank you note for interviewing him and whose work is just plain not my thing and that I can’t read.

If you want to be my friend on, go for it. I’ll accept every request that comes in. I’m exposing part of my hand with all this, but I’m no longer so concerned about that. That’s one of the positive upsides of losing traction in the podcast world. I don’t have to guard my opinions so closely. Let the playlists fly!