How One Lawyer Cost Me Thousands of Podcast Listeners

Was it my new format change? Was it Covid-19 wreaking havoc on podcast listening numbers? It’s almost as if thousands of subscribers just vanished into thin air around the end of January. Finally yesterday, I figured it out. A lawyer attempted, and halfway succeeded, at taking my podcast down on iTunes, effectively unsubscribing thousands of my listeners.

“Erin” from Apple

It dates back to January when I received, what I thought, was a suspicious phishing email from “Erin” claiming to be from Apple. She issued a warning that a lawyer submitted a complaint regarding my podcast infringing on a trademark. “Erin” provided absolutely no contact information, no details, telling me to reply to the CC’d address with my information within 5 days or they’d take it all down. Easily meeting all the standard phishing email signs, I did what anyone is supposed to do. I went to the source.

Speaking with Alta in Apple customer service, she agreed it sounded like a phishing scam, telling me not to respond. She asked me to forward her the email for further investigation. Nothing happened.

Approaching the deadline, I again reached out saying I didn’t want my podcast taken down if this was real and to please let me know its legitimacy so I can take action. She said she was still looking into it but again, nothing. Then near mid-January, the podcast was removed from iTunes.

The email from “Erin” at Apple

Because… lawyers (and jealous competition.)

After the podcast was removed, I finally heard back from someone at Apple explaining that this might be legitimate, but they still weren’t sure. “Just reply to the email” they suggested. Gee…. thanks.

After replying and hearing back from “Larry” he simply said I had to reach out to the lawyer who filed the original complaint. If he was satisfied, they’d re-list it. So that’s what I did.

I reached out to the Redmond, WA lawyer in question, who I’ll call “Biff” and found out it was, in fact, a real complaint. (I’m not disclosing the name of the podcast that filed the complaint, or the lawyer, because I don’t know who was actually responsible.)

“Biff” didn’t have much of a legitimate complaint, and it turns out the real reason I was targeted was because my podcast was appearing above another podcast in searches. Apparently they didn’t like that. Instead of doing some easy SEO work, they just decided to have my podcast erased.

I explained how I had already changed the name anyway, and wanted to amicably resolve this without getting my lawyers involved and having to countersue for losses. (I may have name-dropped my lawyers at this point.) He quickly agreed, contacting Apple and reversing the decision, was a good idea. I didn’t realize until yesterday however, this did serious damage.

Thousands Of Listeners Lost

It turns out, when my podcast was de-listed, it stopped updating on all iTunes / Apple podcast devices around the end of January, in some cases completely unsubscribing people.

Because I changed format about the same time and also Covid-19 catapulted us into an unprecedented time, I assumed the huge loss was related to those two changes. But yesterday I got suspicious. Looking at what little data I had, it looked like iTunes subscribers had nearly vanished in mid-January, while other platforms were unaffected.

Even though I’m adding listeners at a solid rate, early January took a huge hit, losing thousands of listeners.

I rarely use iTunes, so I opened the app to see if my own subscription had been broken and sure enough, it had. An exclamation point indicated it had stopped refreshing, the thumbnail was gone, and it was sitting at the very bottom of the list with the other dead podcasts. The last podcast was the last one uploaded before it was taken down.

Reaching out to known Apple subscribers, for some, their subscription had vanished completely. I have no idea why. They didn’t say anything because they just assumed I stopped publishing due to Covid-19 and the new year.

The bottom line is this, in the end of January, I lost thousands of subscribers from the largest podcasting platform, iTunes. And because iTunes dataset is extremely poor and there is zero contact information for anyone, there is no way to reach out.

How To Restore The Balance!

If you have subscribed in the past, there’s a good chance it’s not updating anymore or in some cases I’m hearing people were completely unsubscribed. If you search click to subscribe below, and it says you are still subscribed, here’s how to correct the issue.

For iTunes Users

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Click the “podcasts” option in the drop-down menu from the top left
  3. Scroll until you find “The Justin Brady Show” or “The Justin Brady Cultcast” there will likely be no thumbnail.
  4. Click the podcast name
  5. Click the three dots at the top right and hit “refresh”

If you can’t find the name in your library, you have been unsubscribed. Just search for “The Justin Brady Show” in the store and hit “subscribe.”

For Apple Podcast Users

  1. Open The Apple Podcasts app
  2. Tap Library at the bottom
  3. Scroll until you find “The Justin Brady Show” or “The Justin Brady Cultcast” there will likely be no thumbnail.
  4. Tap on the podcast
  5. Tap the three dots and make sure your podcast is refreshed and downloading new episodes.

If you can’t find the name in your library, you have been unsubscribed. Just search for “The Justin Brady Show” in the store (HERE) and hit “subscribe.”

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Thank you to the thousands of loyal listeners, and thank you to those of you who will be coming back soon. I missed you…

Thank you for contacting me!

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