Somethin’ Else and Sony Music Announce New Podcast Ventures

Somethin’ Else, Britain’s leading independent audio producer, and Sony Music Entertainment announced they have formed a new global content partnership to expand their development of podcast shows across multiple genres.

Somethin’ Else is the acclaimed production company behind hugely popular series such as David Tennant Does a Podcast With…, Unheard: The Fred & Rose West Tapes, and The Sun King with David Dimbleby. The team have produced content across audio, TV and social media for the past 25 years and their previous work has seen them win numerous awards including eight BAFTA’s.

Under the agreement, Somethin’ Else will work with Sony Music to expand its leadership position in the UK market. In addition the companies will pursue a range of new international podcasting opportunities including in the US where Somethin’ Else has opened an office in New York.

Newly-launched series that will form part of the Sony Music deal, include How Did We Get Here? With Claudia Winkleman and Professor Tanya Byron, which provides listeners with insight and advice in family and parenting issues. Peaking at no.1 in the UK Apple Podcast Charts at launch, the topics range from parental estrangement, gender identity, mental health issues, and challenging family dynamics amid hardship.

Also included with the partnership is The Last Post, produced with The Bugle, which was at the vanguard of satirical comedy podcasts when it launched in 2007 with John Oliver. The Last Post, which launched January 1st 2020, is a daily satirical news fantasy that delivers 365 days of fake news, alternative facts and wildly predicted half-truths hosted by comedian Alice Fraser and guests from the full line up of Bugle co-hosts.

As a partner in podcasting, Sony Music will provide its expertise in content creation, marketing and monetization to help enhance the scale and scope of Somethin’ Else’s work.

Initial releases for February and beyond will be announced in the coming weeks.

Buzzsprout Released Advanced Podcast Statistics

Buzzsprout released its advanced podcast statistics, allowing anyone with a Buzzsprout account to track their show using comprehensive, intuitive, and actionable data within a well-designed interface.

This update offers at-a-glance statistics on podcast growth while respecting listener privacy and ensuring maximum accuracy.

Buzzsprout advanced podcast statistics provide insight into podcast performance over time, episode downloads, listener locations, and apps/devices used.

Buzzsprout has been a leading provider of podcast analytics for over 10 years. This latest update incorporates the most advanced technology and best thinking from a coalition of industry experts to deliver the most accurate and comprehensive podcast statistics available.

Throughout its creation, Buzzsprout focussed on building a stats package that:

  • Implements industry standard best practices
  • Makes the complexity of algorithms within a beautiful interface for ease-of-use
  • Collects the least amount of data necessary to provide anonymized statistics
  • Protects the podcasting space from privacy violations

“With advanced podcast statistics, podcasters can figure out which marketing efforts are working, so they know what to focus on,” said Alban Brooke, Buzzsprout’s Head of Marketing. “With this rollout, we’re adding an entire suite of podcast statistics to all Buzzsprout plans without increasing our prices.”

Acast Hired Brian Danzis to Lead Growth in the Americas

Acast has appointed Brian Danzis as Managing Director, Americas. Danzis will spearhead expansion in the US, Canada, and Mexico, focusing on business development, major partnerships, content acquisition, and the delivery of new technology in local markets.

His hire supports Acast’s ambition to scale its market-leading products and services for creators, advertisers, and listeners across the globe.

Acast invented dynamic ad insertion technology – which delivers timely, contextualized podcast ads to listeners across any device or platform – and its pioneering an automated podcast ad buying solution. Its services include hosting, distribution, consultancy, and monetization for its podcast creators and its publishers, such as Complex, BBC, HuffPost, and VICE.

“The Americas are Acast’s fastest-growing markets, and we’re excited to welcome Brian to the team to lead the next phase of our expansion,” said Oskar Serrander, Chief Operating Officer at Acast. “His credentials speak for themselves, but what impressed us further is his belief in Acast’s vision and his dedication to accelerating our growth in a space with massive potential.”

Danzis was most recently Global Head of Video and Live Events at Spotify, where he led the direct sales team in monetizing the company’s streaming video ad formats and experiential offerings across 79 markets.

Prior, he was Chief Revenue Officer at programmatic video platform Virool, and spent six years at Videology as Senior Vice President of Sales and Sales Strategy for the Americas.

“We’ve reached a watershed moment for audio content. Just as we saw with video, we have an incredible opportunity with audio to provide a platform for creators and publishers to monetize content at scale,” said Danzis. “The podcast industry is still in its relative infancy, but that presents huge growth potential both in content and in its value for advertisers. Acast has the people, the vision, and the technology to drive that growth.”

Danzis will be based in Acast’s New York office.

Spreaker Announced Collaboration with Staples Connect

Spreaker has announced that they are excited to share that Spreaker is the hosting and distribution vendor within the podcast space at six Staples Connect retail stores in the Boston area.

Earlier this month, Staples US Retail announced the opening of Staples Connect, a reinvented store with coworking, podcasting and community event spaces where professionals, teachers, and students alike can connect and grow. The first six Staples Connects have opened in the home state – Massachusetts – of Staples US Retail in Cambridge, Somerville, Needham, Boston, Brighton, and Danvers.

Spreaker says that one of the elements of the new stores – Staples developed through a collaboration with iHeartRadio – are the Staples Connect Podcast Studios, which are dedicated spaces for storytellers to record their podcasts. Each studio features a soundproof room with professional equipment for up to four people, plus a few perks to help podcasters along the way, like a dedicated in-store specialist and discounted access to host and distribute podcasts on Spreaker.

Staples customers are teachers, students, small business owners and side hustlers, and their needs when it comes to retail are evolving, so that’s why Staples adjusted their stores to fit their needs. Many of those customers are launching and recording podcasts, but struggling to find the space to record, which is exactly why Staples incorporated this space into the new store concept.

The Podcast Academy Golden Mics Controversy

The Podcast Academy was recently launched, and it included mention of an annual awards program called The Golden Mics. Personally, I think things could have been handled better than they were. The announcement led to some controversy.

On February 14, 2020, posted a press release on its website titled: “The Podcast Academy Launched; Annual Awards Program Announced”. Towards the top of the press release, it said: “Annual peer-based awards of merit called The Golden Mics planned for 2021.” Here is a portion of the press release:

Leaders across the podcasting community today jointly announced the formation of The Podcast Academy, a new membership-driven not-for-profit organization of independent podcasters and industry professionals dedicated to elevating awareness and excitement for podcasts as a major category and advancing knowledge and relationships in and around the business.

Supporters of the Podcast Academy’s launch include many of the world’s top producers and independents, led by founding members Donald Albright (Tenderfoot TV), Erik Diehn (Stitcher), Anya Grundman (NPR), Kerri Hoffman (PRX), Courtney Holt (Spotify), Hernan Lopez (Wondery), Christy Mirabal (Sony Music), Rekha Murthy (Independent), Lauren Spohrer (Criminal), and Alia Tavakolian (Spoke Media).

Why did this cause controversy? Here are a few reasons:

  •  Nick Quah, from Hot Pod, noted that The Podcast Academy has the same name as an Australian resource for podcasts. To me, it appears that The Podcast Academy didn’t do any research on the name they selected before announcing it.
  • Nick Quah also pointed to the Variety article about “The Oscars of Podcasting”, and pointed out that some major podcast publishers haven’t joined The Podcast Academy, including The New York Times, Entercom (which owns Cadence13 and Pineapple Street), Westwood One, Luminary, and iHeartMedia – which operates its own podcast awards.
  • Dave Jackson wrote “Did Wondery Kill The Podcaster Hall of Fame?” on Podcast Business Journal. In it, he points out that The Podcast Academy is a very similar name (and idea) to Academy of Podcasters, which began in 2015. The Academy of Podcasters would select people for the Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame. In addition, Dave Jackson wrote: “The biggest outrage came from the announcement from Lopez via a tweet to Rob Usdin that the old Academy and Hall of Fame had been shut down.”
  • Jessica Kupferman, CEO of ShePodcasts tweeted: “I’d love to hear from @hernanlopez and @prx and @npr how they will acknowledge, if at all, the previous academy inductees. Does it just no longer exist and now we start fresh? Are they grandfathered in? All of them had over 10+ years in podcasting and achieved AMAZING things.”
  • Hernan Lopez responded with a tweet: “Hi Jessica! The new Podcast Academy has no connection with the former Academy Of Podcasters which was discontinued – just a similar name. I checked with them before moving forward with this initiative. At this point, we haven’t yet decided whether there will be a Hall of Fame /1”

Naturally, that led to some confusion about what happened to the Academy of Podcasters. Podcaster Business Journal posted an article with some explanation about that.

  •  Dan Franks, of Podcast Movement, said: “The other big question about the awards element of the new Academy. Hernan did come to use very early in the process to make sure these awards did not conflict with anything we did or were doing.” Dan Franks said “within the next 12 months we’ll have already had our next round of Hall of Famers inducted.” This makes it clear that the Hall of Fame will not be erased or ended.

Personally, I think the controversy could have been avoided if the Podcast Academy had done a few things differently. They should have spent more time making sure their choice of a name was not already being used. Someone in their group should have take a few seconds to use Google it.

I also think that Podcast Academy feels a bit rushed, but that perception could be due to what felt like a sudden announcement without any build up behind it.  I also think there is reason to be concerned that Podcast Academy didn’t understand how beloved the Hall of Fame is. What else are they going to miss the mark on?

Chartable Achieves IAB Tech Lab Podcast Measurement Certification

Chartable, the podcast measurement company, announced that it has been officially certified by the IAB Technology Laboratory.

Chartable offers analytics and attribution services to agencies, brands, and publishers. Advertisers rely on Chartable’s SmartAds dashboard to understand the value of their podcast ad spend, while thousands of publishers trust the company’s analytics to grow their audiences.

The IAB Tech Lab Compliance Program ensures adherence to the IAB Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines V2 for reporting podcast downloads and listeners. These guidelines establish a common set of metrics for podcast measurement and a base set of principles for the industry to follow.

With this certification, Chartable becomes the latest addition to the list of just over a dozen companies that have completed the compliance program.

“We couldn’t be happier to announce our IAB Tech Lab certification,” said Chartable’s cofounder and CEO, Dave Zohrob. “Chartable has always been committed to reliability and transparency in the service of growing the podcast industry, and working with the IAB Tech Lab helps us uphold and expand that commitment. We look forward to continuing to offer agencies, brands, and publishers insights they can’t get anywhere else.”

SoundCloud Announced $75M Investment from SiriusXM Holdings Inc.

SoundCloud and SiriusXM Holdings Inc. announced that the leading U.S. audio entertainment company, SiriusXM, has invested $75 million in SoundCloud, the world’s largest open audio platform. SoundCloud will use this additional investment to accelerate its product development and enhance the services that fuel its global community of creators and listeners.

“SoundCloud’s three consecutive years of strong financial performance directly reflect the success of our creator-led growth strategy,” said Kerry Trainor, Chief Executive Officer, SoundCloud. “We have an exciting roadmap focused on deepening the connections between creators and listeners that fuel creator discovery, career growth, and the evolution of music culture on SoundCloud. We’ve built a great relationship with SiriusXM through our highly successful Pandora ad sales agreement, and their investment gives us added capital flexibility to accelerate our vision and take advantage of strategic opportunities as they arise.”

“SoundCloud’s unique platform serves a vital role in today’s music ecosystem where new artists are discovered and build their fan base, and established artists experiment and connect directly with their fans in highly effective ways,” said Jim Meyer, Chief Executive Officer of SiriusXM. “We admire SoundCloud’s loyal and growing audience, its offering for creators, and its reputation and popularity in global music communities. We believe this is another opportunity to continue creating value for SiriusXM stockholders by investing in expanding digital audio platforms.”

The minority investment follows the highly successful ad relationship between SoundCloud and Pandora, a subsidiary of SiriusXM, which started in 2019. The agreement enables advertisers and brands to purchase SoundCloud’s U.S. ad inventory directly through Pandora, leveraging the company’s direct sales capabilities, targeting data, and audio programmatic platform. Together, SoundCloud and Pandora’s combined U.S. audience offering reaches more than 100 million unique listeners, creating the largest digital audio advertising marketplace.

Under the terms of the agreement, SiriusXM has purchased $75 million of securities for a minority investment, and the SoundCloud Board of Directors will expand to include two individuals designated by SiriusXM.

Pod Bible Offers Physical Copies of their Issues

Pod Bible is the UK’s first ever magazine dedicated to podcasts. Their aim is to act as a hub for podcast listeners, old and new. The magazine is released every two months and is full of podcast reviews and recommendations, interviews with prominent podcasters and tips on how to get into podcasting yourself.

Physical copies of Pod Bible are released across London, Brighton and Margate with the digital version available to read anywhere. Back issues are also available to purchase online. In addition to the magazine, Pod Bible also has a weekly podcast featuring conversations with your favorite podcasters about their shows and the shows they love.

To order physical copies of Pod Bible, you need to visit the Pod Bible Shop. You can buy the entire 2019 collection – which consists of all six Pod Bibles released in 2019 – for £8.00. Or, you can buy an individual physical copy of any one of the issues from 2019 for £2.00 (each).

The most recent edition of Pod Bible is the February 2020 edition (which you can also by a physical copy of for £2.00). This issue features Fearne Cotton, Tez Ilyas, Kathy Burke, Stu Goldsmith, and all your podcast tips, reviews, and recommendations. It appears that a digital flipbook of the newest Pod Bible is viewable on the Pod Bible website.

Podcasting is a audio media, which can sometimes also come in the form of videos. It’s really cool that Pod Bible regularly offers physical copies in London, Brighton, and Margate, and also allows people to purchase physical copies online. Sometimes, it is nice to have something tangible, that you can hold in your hand, that connects to an audio podcast.

Spreaker Enterprise Now Includes a Private Podcast RSS Feed

Spreaker announced a new feature of Spreaker Enterprise. It now includes a private podcast RSS feed feature.

Our Limited RSS Feed feature gives publishers and podcasters the ability to share a private RSS feed with their audience – across many third party apps and on Spreaker – as a way to monetize bonus content that’s not available in their public feeds.

With this feature, you have the ability to make exclusive content for a special subset of listeners. For instance, you can create private episodes or an entirely private podcast for your paying listeners – perhaps via a service like Glow or Patreon – and distribute it to third party listening apps. Or it can be an extremely useful tool when you’re looking to share pilot episodes or podcasts with media outlets or potential sponsors.

If you’re a Spreaker Enterprise client, you might be wondering how this is different from the existing Episode Visibility feature on Spreaker’s CMS. In short, the difference is where your listeners can tune into the special RSS feed. The existing Episode Visibility feature allows listeners to turn into individual episodes and podcasts on (and via the embedded Spreaker player), whereas this new Private RSS Feed feature gives you the ability to share your special content on third party apps such as Apple Podcasts, Podcast Addict, Overcast, Pocket Cast, and others.