Ricky Gervais Launched “Absolutely Mental” Paid-For Podcast



Absolutely Mental is a new podcast hosted by Ricky Gervais and Sam Harris. It was launched on May 10, 2021, as a paid-for podcast series. Those who are interested in listening to it can buy the series for $14.99.

Absolutely Mental is described this way:

In this new podcast series, the Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor, director, and writer Ricky Gervais phones his favorite smart friend, the neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, to ask some very important questions… and some not-so-important ones.

Gervais and Harris contemplate the wonders of science and the chaos of modern life while having many good laughs.

According to Deadline, some topics include dreams, free will, death, the robot apocalypse, bears, the perils of celebrity, and the future of comedy. Absolutely Mental will feature 11 episodes, all available at launch. Each episode will be 30-40 minutes long and listeners will be able to air them on their podcast players.

Deadline quotes Ricky Gervais, “These aren’t academic lectures. They are casual chats about how it feels to be human. Evolution, the mind body problem, spirituality, morality, mortality, the pursuit of happiness, and free speech. And by ‘free’, I mean $14.99.”

There are many podcasts who launched paid subscriptions this month on Apple Podcasts. It is interesting that Ricky Gervais and Sam Harris have decided to make their own subscription outside of Apple Podcasts. It might make it easier for fans of one or both of the hosts of Absolutely Mental to opt-into the $14.99 subscription. They won’t have to sort through Apple Podcasts to do so.


Pushkin Industries Announced PushNik Premium Subscription Service



Jacob Weisberg, co-founder and CEO of Pushkin Industries, announced PushNik, a premium audio subscription that will launch with Apple Podcast Subscriptions. Pushkin Industries is known for its thoughtful, chart-topping podcasts, including Revisionist History hosted by Pushkin co-founder and President Malcolm Gladwell, The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, Against the Rules with Michael Lewis, The Last Archive with Jill Lepore, Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford, Broken Record, and the recent #1 Apple Podcasts hit Lost Hills.

“The advertising model has fueled a huge burst of creative output and will always be important to podcasting,” said Weisberg. “But Malcom and I have always believed that paid content — whether it be through membership programs or single purchase products like audiobooks — are what independent creators like us need to thrive over the long term.

At launch, the benefits of a PushNik membership include:

  • Ad-free listening across the catalogue of independently produced Pushkin podcasts, including Revisionist History, The Happiness Lab, and Against the Rules.
  • Extended “Producer’s Cut” episodes from the Broken Record archive, including iconic interviews with legendary host Rick Rubin.
  • The first in a series of “Where Are They Now?” Episodes from Against the Rules, in which Michael Lewis and his producers catch up with key figures from the show’s first two seasons.
  • Weekly news roundups from Deep Background host and Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, including his analysis on important Supreme Court decisions.

Over time, PushNik subscribers – “PushNiks” — will also have access to:

  • Behind-the-scenes episodes and other bonus content from fan-favorite hosts, including Malcolm Gladwell, Dr. Laurie Santos, Michael Lewis, Jill Leopore, Tim Hartford, and Rick Rubin.
  • Exclusive previews of upcoming shows and audiobooks.
  • Early or “binge” access to select new series.

Much-anticipated next seasons of Revisionist History, The Happiness Lab and Against the Rules are scheduled to premiere later this year, and the Pushkin content calendar also includes:

  • The Bomber Mafia audiobook, inspired by several episodes from the fifth season of Revisionist History, The Bomber Mafia is Malcolm Gladwell’s next audiobook, which expands on these episodes and has been produced intentionally for the audiobook format.
  • The Last Archive. Harvard professor and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore’s podcast returns for a second season and explores the evolution of doubt over the course of the 20th century.
  • A Slight Change of Plans. A new interview show hosted by Dr. Maya Shankar about navigating change.
  • Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi. The esteemed writer and scholar dissect the politics that contribute to racial inequality and social injustice in this co-production with iHeartMedia.

Monthly subscriptions to PushNik will cost $4.99 per month, and the introductory annual membership costs $39.99 per year. Annual memberships will increase to $49.99 per year in August. Pushkin shows will remain free with ads on Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms.


QCODE+ Subscription Service Launched on Apple Podcasts



QCODE+, a premium content studio and podcast network, announced that it has launched QCODE+ on Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. QCODE+ will allow fiction fans to dive deeper into the QCODE universe with a library of over 12 chart-topping shows and many more coming this year.

“With QCODE+, we are excited to have the opportunity to delight fans by giving them deeper access into the fictional worlds across all of our series, all in one place, along with incredible bonus content and additional perks,” said Rob Herting, CEO and founder QCODE.

“Apple has been in podcasts since the very beginning and Apple Podcasts reaches millions of listeners globally,” said Steve Wilson, Chief Strategy Officer at QCODE. “We’re thrilled to partner with Apple as subscriptions will further diversify monetization in the podcast industry.”

At launch, QCODE+ members will be able to listen to their favorite past series and enjoy new ones completely uninterrupted – without any advertising in the middle of the episodes – to allow for an immersive listening experience. In addition to these benefits across the QCODE+ catalog, over time subscribers will enjoy access to an increasing library of exclusive content including:

  • Bonus episodes
  • Conversations with creators
  • Alternate endings
  • Special “making of” episodes

QCODE’s “Making” series will provide fans with special insight into their favorite QCODE shows for the ultimate experience. Hear creators Rhys Wakefield and William Day Frank dive deeper into the themes of From Now while giving fans an in-depth view at the production process and what it takes to build a world within a podcast.

Left Right Game creator Jack Anderson takes the audience further into his process and shares how his series went from cult internet status to Ambie Award-nominated podcast to an upcoming television series.

Fans will also be the first to hear from talent and creators of upcoming QCODE series such as Golden-Globe winning Rosamund Pike’s satire Edith and Blackout Season 2 with Academy Award-winning Rami Malek and Aja Naomi King.

QCODE+ is available worldwide for $2.99 per month on Apple Podcasts. QCODE series – without the perks of QCODE+ – will remain available for free on Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms.


Lemonada Media Launched Lemonada Premium on Apple Podcast Subscriptions



Lemonada Media announced a new membership offering titled “Lemonada Premium,” the premier way to get your Lemonada, launching worldwide with Apple Podcast Subscriptions.

For one simple $4.99 per month, Lemonada Premium members will enjoy access to our full slate of original podcasts, including Last Day, Add to Cart, Good Sex, The Cost of Care, and more, plus:

  • Early access to listen to select new series
  • Exclusive and bonus content
  • Behind the scenes access to Lemonada talent
  • Discounts on tickets for special events and Lemonada merchandise

“Lemonada Premium is a golden opportunity for our diverse host community to develop a deeper relationship with their listeners,” said Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Lemonada’s Chief Content Officer and co-founder. “Listeners on Apple Podcasts will be able to get even more from their Lemonada experiences and support the work that we do to make life suck less.”

“We’re grateful to the innovative team at Apple for supporting high-end, world-shaping content and forging a new path for monetization, said Lemonada CEO and co-founder Jessica Cordova Kramer. “We’re excited to be part of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions from day one.”

Lemonada Premium will be accessible as a new channel on Apple Podcasts – making it easy for listeners to find all of Lemonada’s series and offerings in one place. Lemonada’s podcasts will continue to be offered on other platforms.


Luminary Announced New Subscription Channel on Apple Podcasts



Luminary, a subscription podcast network, announced the launch of a new subscription channel on Apple Podcasts when the new subscription platform debuted worldwide in May, making Luminary Original Podcasts available globally to Apple Podcasts listeners.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Apple, the house that built podcasting, to bring our original content to millions of listeners across the world,” said Simon Sutton, Luminary CEO.

“When we founded Luminary, we believed that supporting premium subscription podcast content was important to listeners and creators alike. Distributing our content on Apple Podcasts is a critical step in fulfilling our vision,” said Matt Sacks, Luminary Co-founder and Executive Chairman.

The Luminary channel will include all 35 Luminary Original podcasts, including Under the Skin with Russell Brand, Snap Judgement Presents: Spooked, The C-Word with Lena Dunham and Leon Neyfakh in the coming months, among others.

Luminary also announced The Midnight Miracle, a new show from creators Talib Kweli, Yaslin Bey, and Dave Chappelle. The Midnight Miracle will begin releasing episodes in May. Luminary will also debut new shows and seasons from Russell Brand, Kamaro Brown, Lena Dunham and Leon Neyfakh in the coming months, among others.

All Luminary Original Podcasts will continue to be available for subscribers on Luminary’s app in the 12 countries it is currently available, as well as in Apple Podcasts’ Luminary channel when it debuts.

Listeners will be able to access all Luminary Original Podcasts after a seven-day free trial for $34.99 per year, equivalent to $2.99 per month, or for $5.99 per month through the Luminary app, available in 12 countries. With Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, listeners in more than 170 countries and regions can access the Luminary channel on Apple Podcasts for $5.99 per month after a seven-day free trial.


iHeartMedia and the NFL Team Up to Launch NFL’s Podcast Network



iHeartMedia and the National Football League (NFL) announced an exclusive podcast partnership to launch the NFL’s podcast network which will include the distribution of NFL Media’s existing podcasts (Around the NFL, Move the Sticks, NFL Fantasy Football, Huddle and Flow, NFL Total Access: The Locker Room, Good Morning Football and NFL Legends) as well as the co-production and distribution of two dozen new original podcasts.

“Podcasts are an increasingly important way to reach fans and a compelling way to tell NFL stories,” said Kevin LaForce, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy and Business Development. “We look forward to partnering with iHeartMedia to bring the NFL Podcast Network to life and deliver our podcast content seamlessly to fans on their platform and anywhere podcasts are consumed.”

As part of the exclusive deal, the new podcast slate will develop new shows with NFL Films utilizing some of the best content from their archives, while also creating new podcasts focusing on NFL history, inside access, and more. These NFL podcasts will be distributed through the iHeartPodcast Network.

The first new original podcasts stemming from this partnership will be in-progress by this upcoming summer, ahead of the 2021 NFL season, and will be available on the iHeartRadio App and everywhere podcasts are heard.

About NFL Media Podcasts:

Around the NFL: The “Around the NFL” crew of Greg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, and Marc Sessler break down the latest football news, with a dash of mirth.

Move the Sticks with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks: Former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks break down the latest news and action around the league from a scout’s perspective.

NFL Fantasy Football Podcast: Fantasy Football fans, this is the podcast for you. Marcas Grant, Mike Florio, and Kimmi Chex, provide detailed fantasy football analysis combining in-depth stats and film study to help you win your league and earn bragging rights over your friends, coworkers, or family.

Huddle and Flow: Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter call on their experiences as two black men with 40-plus years combined covering the NFL to bring listeners unfiltered, enlightening, and entertaining conversations about important issues involving the league both on and off the field.

NFL Total Access: The Locker Room: Former NFL head coach Brian Billick and fullback Michael Robinson provide unique stories and insights about the game of football and those who coach and play it. These two Super Bowl champions take listeners inside the locker room to learn what’s really going on in the NFL.

Good Morning Football: It’s never too early for football! Each morning Will Selva brings you the key NFL stories you need to know in a bite-sized daily podcast. Tune in each day for commentary from GMFB personalities Kay Adams, Nate Burleson, Peter Schrager, and Kyle Brandt.

NFL Legends Podcast: The NFP Legends Podcast is an unscripted podcast series discussing the challenges and personal anecdotes of NFL Players. Hosted by Hall of Fame Aeneas Williams, topics include parenting, coaching, wellness and overcoming adversity.


Osiris Media Announced a Diverse Slate of Podcasts



Osiris Media has announced a new slate of podcasts for 2021, along with two key hires. The company is expanding its podcast formats and entering new musical genres with several shows to be released this year.

Beautiful Garbage is a limited series that traces the development of punk rock from American garages and bars to England and back in the mid-to-late 1970s. Written and hosted by Kevin Hogan, Beautiful Garbage shares stories about punk’s innovation in sound and style, and the sociopolitical factors that produced the punk aesthetic and its indelible mark on popular culture.

Osiris will also debut a trivia podcast called Master Mixtape. The show gives listeners a unique opportunity to listen, interact, and win various prizes, all while enjoying weekly playlists. Each episode gives listeners a five-song playlist, with each song containing a clue that will direct them toward the answer to the puzzle. Once listeners have connected the dots, they can submit their answers for a chance to win prizes. The show is hosted by musician, entertainer and guy you’d love to have a cocktail with, Ethan Eubanks. Premieres May 3.

Alive Again, launching this Summer, is a history of Trey Anastasio’s solo career, from the formation of the Trey Anastasio Band in 1999, up to the Beacon Jams of 2020 and the launching of the Divided Sky Fund. This limited series will include interviews with Trey and his bandmates and collaborators from the past 25 years.

Osiris will also release the second season of Festival Circuit, the popular podcast about music festivals. In June, they will release Festival Circuit: Newport, about the iconic Newport Folk Festival. Episodes will include interviews with musicians, promoters, and fans along with archival audio and music from some of the most notable performances.

In October, Osiris will debut Sugar Maple, the company’s first fiction podcast. Over the course of this eight-episode season, listeners will meet musicians from different genres, different backgrounds—and different eras—to hear about the unique journey of the Sugar Maple. Each owner discovers the guitar, and writes a single song with it before parting with it in ways that are sometimes unexpected, unwelcome or unexplained.

Osiris has also hired Greg Stangel as Managing Director, Sales. Greg has held senior sales roles at iconic organizations across the sports, entertainment and media business, including the National Hockey League, New York Mets, Creative Artists Agency, Fox Networks Group and Misfits Gaming Group. This hire is part of a joint sales venture with Talkhouse, helping to expand the two organizations’ relationships with leading brands.
Osiris will also add rock music critic and podcaster Steven Hyden as Consulting Producer. Steven’s background hosting successful music podcasts and writing about music for decades will help push the company’s writing and strategic direction forward.

“Osiris continues to partner with artists and brands to create engaging, original audio content, “ says Kirsten Cluthe, COO of Osiris Media. “I’m really excited to get this lineup out to listeners.”

“We came into 2021 with the goal of making this the year that we established Osiris as the leading music storyteller,” said RJ Bee, CEO of Osiris Media. “Our 2021 slate offers listeners our most diverse, innovative and forward-thinking podcasts that we’ve created. And with the addition of Greg and Steven, we’re continuing to push our business forward, setting us up to create amazing content for music fans well into the future.”

Other Osiris shows include Undermine, Salute the Songbird with Maggie Rose, Wheels Off with Rhett Miller, Comes A Time with Oteil Burbridge and Mike Finoia, Eric Krasno Plus One, and many more.


ARN’s iHeartPodcast Australia Signs with Audioboom for Two More Years



ARN’s iHeartPodcast Network Australia announced it has extended its commercial partnership with leading podcast creator Audioboom for a further two years.

Of the partnership, Audiobook’s CEO, Stuart Last said, “ARN’s iHeartPodcast Network has delivered exceptional commercial opportunities for our podcasts and we are pleased to extend our partnership. We are looking forward to continuing to work together to create opportunities for brands in Australia to reach our diverse audiences.”

ARN’s Head of Audio Corey Layton said, “This is a great day for the iHeartPodcast Network as we continue to strengthen our offering as Australia’s #1 podcast publisher. Our partnership with Audioboom gives brands access to some of the world’s most compelling and popular content, from the true crime thrills of Casefile to the entertaining No Such Thing As A Fish as part of our diverse podcast slate.”

The partnership announcement comes as March data released today from the Australian Podcast Ranker shows iHeartPodcast Network Australia remains Australia’s #1 podcast publisher – holding the #1, #2, #4, #6 and #8 most popular podcasts in the country. Audioboom’s Casefile, which is part of the iHeartPodcast Network, remains in the #1 position ahead of Stuff You Should Know at #2 and The Kyle & Jackie O Show at #4 on the Australian Podcast Ranker.

The iHeartPodcast Network holds nine of the top 20 most popular podcasts in Australia: Life Uncut with Brittany Hockley and Laura Byrne, She’s on The Money, No Such Thing As A Fish, Jase & PJ, Morbid and The Mindset Mentor.


Warner Music Group and Spotify Strike Innovative Podcast Development Deal



Warner Music Group (WMG) and Spotify announced they have entered into a new partnership which will see the two companies develop a series of original podcasts built around WMG’s vast and diverse artists’ and songwriters’ catalogs featuring some of the biggest names in music. Fans will get to experience the stories behind some of the biggest hit songs and get an inside look at the work of their favorite artists and songwriters.

“The most impactful podcasts share with music the key component of storytelling and personal experience. In partnership with Warner Music Group, we look to develop stories leveraging their unique artists and catalog,” said Courtney Holt, VP Global Studios & Business, Spotify. “We look forward to helping them leverage the power of podcasting to forge a deeper connection with fans.”

“We’re excited to take this step forward with Spotify as we strengthen and deepen our existing partnership. Podcasts provide an opportunity to unlock value for artists and songwriters by delivering fresh and unique stories to music to fans across the globe,” said Oana Ruxandra, EVP, Business Development and Chief Digital Officer, Warner Music Group. “We look forward to working with Spotify to experiment and drive growth in podcasting.”

The news follows Warner Music Group’s recent launch of the BLK In America podcast by Topsify, which sees influential Black artists – like Rico Nasty, Chaka Khan, and Keedron Bryant – discussing what it means to be Black in America. Today, WMG produces various podcasts from across its network including Duran Duran’s WHOOOSH! curated and hosted by Simon Le Bon; the Prince official podcast in collaboration with his estate; Robert Plant’s Digging Deep; the Good Ol Grateful Deadcast hosted by musician Rich Mahan and Relix contributing editor Jesse Jarnow; The Rhino Podcasts, telling stories of legends like Aretha Franklin, Todd Rundgren, and John Densmore of The Doors; Warner Chappell Music’s Final Sessions, a series chronicling the long and fascinating narrative behind the release of Losst and Founnd – the album of final recordings from the late singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson; Grandson’s XXWhy show interviewing other artists and activists; as well as cultural hit show Uproxx’s People’s Party hosted by Talib Kweli.

Spotify is now home to more than two million podcasts including The Michelle Obama Podcast, The Journal, The Joe Rogan Experience, The Bakari Sellers Podcast, Stolen: The Search for Jermain, and the recently launched Renegades: Born in the USA.  It is also the exclusive home of a wide range of Music + Talk shows, the personalized music and podcast mix Daily Drive and innovative programming like The Get Up, which combines music curated for each individual listener with the latest in pop culture, news, entertainment and music from hosts Kat Lazo, Speedy Morman and Xavier “X” Jernigan.