Not all podcasts have the format of Joe Rogan's episodes, consisting only of long informal conversations. By the way, speaking of Rogan, if you're following the podcast scene, you might have read that he recently signed an exclusive $100 million deal to move his podcast to Spotify. That's a lot of money! Which enabled him to revamp his studio and move into a new $14M 8-bedroom 10-bathroom mansion in Austin, Texas.
Are you allowed to use commercially licensed music in your podcast?
While dreaming of becoming the next Joe Rogan, some of you might entertain the altruistic idea (i.e. not making any money) of launching a music podcast, interviewing indie artists and playing their music, call it an asynchronous radio show. The question is: can you play commercial music on a podcast and distribute it on all the main platforms: Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, etc. ?
As recently confirmed by Podnews, the short answer is: No, sorry, you can't.
Simply because those platforms don't have a built-in system to track the songs you'll be playing and pay the rightsholders. They don't have the proper global licensing system in place, it's not part of their business model. And you can't invoke the Fair Use argument. If you play commercial music in a podcast, you might end up receiving a cease & desist letter from the RIAA, threatening to sue you if you keep on playing music in your podcasts. Or simply get expelled from the mainstream podcast platforms, with no possibility to appeal, losing all your listeners.
Update: Spotify has just announced (Oct 2020) that they would offer a service allowing you to play commercial music in a podcast, sort of. The music would be technically played from Spotify, only for Premium users, which would allow Spotify to pay the rightsholders. The service is called Shows With Music and is available through a special authoring tool developed by Anchor (a Spotify company).
Play commercial music in a podcast with MixCloud
MixCloud is your go to destination if you want to distribute a Music & Talk podcast. In their own words, they have a "comprehensive licensing framework with rightsholders globally... This allows creators to upload shows with licensed music and they will pay royalties to those rightsholders, who in turn distribute them to artists."
This is why I'm distributing my own music podcast, CMF Radio, exclusively on MixCloud. You can listen to the first 90+ episodes on https://www.mixcloud.com/CMFradio/.