Luminary is Having Problems

Luminary is getting a lot of attention right now, and most of does not reflect favorably on the premium podcast app. It is going to have to work really hard to change the minds of podcast creators who are skeptical about Luminary.

One big problem with Luminary is that it added a bunch of podcasts to its app without asking permission of the podcast creators. While Luminary is not the first to do this, it should have known better.

The philosophy of “its better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission” is sketchy, and makes podcasters angry. If your podcast is on Luminary, and you don’t want it to be there, you have to give Luminary a bunch of information before they will remove it.

Another thing that bothered podcasters about Luminary is that it appeared to be re-hosting the podcasts that were included in their app. Marco Arment tweeted “Luminary’s responding in this thread, claiming (I think) that they’re proxying, not caching – still re-serving, but making a new request to the publishers’ servers for each request. If so, that’s still a copyright issue and still breaks most stats, which de-dube by request IP.”

Later on April 25, 2019, Marco Arment tweeted: “Confirmed, the @hearluminary podcast-masking proxy URL’s are now serving HTTP 302 redirects. Glad they responded quickly. Should’ve been done properly from the start, but at least they fixed it. If they don’t pull any more proxying shenanigans, I’d consider this resolved.”

Podnews reported on April 26, 2019:

It emerges that Luminary has, since launch on Apr 23, been running a proxy server for podcasts: breaking podcast analytics and making dynamic ad insertion difficult. Our site logs showed that they were using a service from Cloudflare. The company said in a statement yesterday that they have stopped doing this: we’ve confirmed the removal on web, on Android, and it also looks to have been removed from iPhone. We explain what a proxy server is, and why it matters for podcasts.

Podnews also reported:

Luminary is also being criticized for removing links in show notes, including the removal of donation links and truncating show notes; the company also removes all main website links for podcasts, and the company is incorrectly crediting show creators, too, using the itunes:owner instead of itunes:author data from the RSS feed.

The Verge reported that a Luminary spokesperson says the company is hopeful that it will soon be able to offer The Daily (a podcast from The New York Times). The Verge also reported that Luminary is in conversations with Anchor, “but Luminary doesn’t appear to have made progress yet in being able to distribute Spotify’s core collection of hit series like Reply All.” In addition, Gimlet Media’s Homecoming will not be on Luminary.

HotPod reported that The Joe Rogan Experience requested to be removed from the Luminary platform. The reason, according to Joe Rogan’s team, was: “There was not a license agreement or permission for Luminary to have The Joe Rogan Experience on their platform. His reps were surprised to see the show there today and requested it be removed.”

For what it’s worth, Luminary tweeted information that it wanted to share. The tweet said: “We heard your concerns this morning and would like to share some information with you about #Luminary.” The tweet includes an image filled with words in which Luminary explains how their technology works. It includes: “To be clear, Luminary has never hosted or cashed audio content for any open RSS feed podcast.”

Luminary also tweeted a response to Podnews: “Hey @podnews, let’s have a constructive conversation without allegations of bad faith. Our response is below.”

The tweet includes an image filled with bullet-points including: “Luminary has in fact had publishers ask not to be included on our free tier. However, Luminary has numerous publishers who want to be on our free tier, including many who reached out proactively voicing support, asking to be included, or reversing decisions after gathering facts.”