W.B. Walker’s “Old Soul” Podcast Receives Takedown Notice

The Ameripolitan Award-winning independent country podcast W.B. Walker’s Old Soul Radio Show is the latest music-based podcast to receive a takedown notice for using copyrighted audio files despite securing permission from the artists, and will be deleting all of its episodes and ceasing operations until a solution can be found.

Started in 2012 as a hobby of train conductor W.B. Walker, the 276-episode podcast is given credit for helping to launch the careers of important independent artists such as Tyler Childers and Colter Wall, and helping to support scores of others. W.B. appears on Colter Wall’s self-titled album from 2017.

In a 15-minute address to fans posted on Friday, October 9th, W.B. Walker explained that he received an email demanding he take his audio files down in a similar fashion to what happened to fellow podcaster Calvin Powers of the American Music Show in July. Powers was forced to cease his podcast after 452 episodes due to a similar issue.

Both podcasters gain permission to play music on their shows directly from the artists. However, audio bots scouring podcasts can detect a piece of copyrighted material, and begin the take down process automatically with little recourse for the podcasters.

“When I first started doing this show back in 2012, at the time podcasts—they were popular, don’t get me wrong—but it’s grown to be something that in my honest opinion I didn’t think they would get as big as they are,” W.B. Walker said in his address. “In all honesty, I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier. It’s just something out of my hands.”

As Saving Country Music reported in July in an article “Music Is Being Left on the Sidelines of the Podcast Revolution,” this issue is affecting grassroots podcasters and internet DJs doing what they can to give back to the music by helping to spread the word, to the biggest podcasts and audio creators in the world. Joe Rogan’s The Joe Rogan Experience has millions of daily listeners and viewers, and recently signed a $100-million deal with Spotify. But Joe Rogan cannot play music on the podcast, or the episodes can be demonetized on YouTube, or pulled. The issue affects all sorts of audio and video creators on YouTube and podcast networks.

Along with shutting down podcasts like W.B. Walker’s Old Soul Radio Show and the American Music Show that help promote artists, the industry is leaving a revenue opportunity on the sidelines from not allowing podcasters to license the use of music on the format at reasonable rates.

Unfortunately there is not even a “10 second rule” that some podcasters work under, believing as long as they keep copyrighted audio to small snippets, they’re in the clear. It also often doesn’t matter if you have permission from the specific artist, or credit them somewhere for the song. If a bot instructed from a label or publisher finds any part of a song in an audio presentation, it has the possibility of raising a flag. And since the human element has been taken out of the review process even for larger content creators, there are few options to override decisions. The only way to be completely in the clear is with licensing contracts meant for commercial radio stations that are so expensive, they price out would-be podcasters.

“I don’t want to sound cocky, but I know my show has helped a lot of independent artists, because when I feature an artist, I don’t just play a song, I showcase them. I put them on a pedestal and say, ‘Hey, listen to this,'” W.B. Walker says. “It’s sad, because folks like me who worry more about the musician than myself, the way things are going, there’s not room for us in the music industry. I’ve never considered myself part of the music industry. I do what I do out of a labor of love, to help people, and to turn folks on to music.”

Walker is encouraging his listeners to download his shows while they can, and says he’s planning to take all of the shows down in a matter of days across all formats.

“This won’t be the last time I talk to you, I promise you that,”
he says. “I’ll figure something out if I can … I’m not going to give up. But until I know what I did wrong, it’s better to be safe than sorry … Just know I love everyone of you and I appreciate you. This show has meant a lot to me.”

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