All posts by Jen Thorpe

Triton Digital Acquires Omny Studio



Triton Digital announced that it has acquired Omny Studio, the Melbourne-based enterprise podcast technology and hosting company. The Omny Studio brand will continue as Triton’s podcast-facing technology suite, and Omny CEO Sharon Taylor, along with the company’s staff, will join Triton Digital.

Omny Studio has built its business by serving hundreds of enterprise clients including some of the largest radio groups in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The company offers its radio and podcast clients hosting, easy capturing of broadcast audio for on-demand, editing tools, auto-transcription, analytics, and monetization.

Triton Digital has been the face of Omny Studio sales and marketing for the past two years, and the two companies have executed business collaborations serving a global range of clients as diverse as the Brazilian radio network Jovem Pan, Emmis Communications, Salem Media, and an exclusive reselling arrangement in North America.

Triton Digital’s acquisition of Omny Studio is closed after this announcement was made. Financial details are not disclosed.

Omny Studio announced that it had been acquired by Triton Digital. Omny Studio wants users to know that it is not going anywhere. Your audio has never been safer and Omny’s service and features will only improve and develop as they continue to strive to lead the industry in the coming months and years.


Audioburst Launches Audioburst Studios for Apps and Website Integration



Audioburst announced the launch of Audioburst Studio, a quick, free, and easy-to-use SaaS platform that developers and non-developers alike can use to integrate the Audioburst experience – short form audio content playlists filled with the best moments from podcast and talk radio into their websites and apps.

After logging into the Audioburst Studio users are presented with a simple 4-step wizard to help them create an integratable audio player into their apps and websites. The platform offers pre-built playlists, as well as “Build Your Own” option, letting users take advantage of short-form audio-talk clips or “bursts” from more than 4,000 radio stations or podcasts, and 100 different topics and categories, including sports, news, entertainment, business and local traffic and weather.

Audioburst’s uniquely curated audio content is proven to increase users’ time spent and experience satisfaction on partner apps and devices, and this comes at a time when 200M smart speakers are expected in-home by the end of 2019 and the interest-in and creation-of podcast content is exploding.

Studio-generated players and playlists can be integrated into Android and iOS apps via SDK, as well as to web and mobile sites using a simple javascript embedded code or APIs. Users will be given access to powerful analytics capabilities that provide insights including number of listeners, number of bursts played, listening duration, and distribution by device and location.

Those who embed the player will also be given the ability to monetize an aggressive share of Audioburst’s revenue. In the coming months, Audioburst will release an update to Studio that includes Amazon Alexa and Google Home skill integrations.

This news comes on the heels of a $10M+ pre-Series B round including partnerships with Hyundi Motor Company for their new in-car experience and Dentsu, for a custom voice content ad solution, both expected to come to fruition in the coming year. Audioburst also has partnerships with major brands including Bose, Samsung, Harman, Bytedance, and others who have long understood the benefits of providing users with audio-based content in a world that’s becoming increasingly screen-independent.


Los Angeles Times Names Abbie Fentress Swanson as Executive Audio Producer



Los Angeles Times announced that Abbie Fentress Swanson is their Executive Producer for audio in the newsroom. She will lead the production of podcasts and other editorial audio, and will report to AME Len De Groot.

Previously, Abbie Fentress Swanson worked as an Executive Producer of I, Survivor for Wondery, which had half a million downloads in the month after being launched. She has reported for, produced and hosted programs for NPR, KCRW and Harvest Public Media where she was recognized for her coverage of the impacts of drought on farm country.

Abbie Fentress Swanson is also a fixture in the L.A. food scene. She was the supervising producer of the Good Food radio show, podcast, and blog at KCRW, which won an Edward R. Murrow award and was a finalist for the “Best Radio Show” James Beard award. She also created interactive content and booked guests for WNYC’s The Takeaway.


Higher Ground and Spotify Partnered to Produce Podcasts



Higher Ground and Spotify announced a partnership to produce podcasts. Higher Ground is former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s production company. The Obama’s formed Higher Ground to produce powerful stories to entertain, inform, and inspire and to lift up new, diverse voices in the entertainment industry.

Spotify, which recently surpassed 100 million Premium subscribers and has more than 217 million monthly active users, will distribute the podcasts to audiences across the globe.

Under the Higher Grounds partnership, President and Mrs. Obama will develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics. The multi-year agreement will be with Higher Ground Audio, an expansion of the Higher Ground production company that will oversee the move into podcasts.

When President and Mrs. Obama launched Higher Ground in 2018, with an initial partnership with Netflix, their goal was to create compelling content that entertains and inspires viewers. Recognizing that content is consumed in many forms, this new partnership will give them the ability to expand the conversation, educating and engaging Spotify’s diverse and extensive audience.


Apple is Replacing iTunes



Apple previewed macOS Catalina, at WWDC 2019. With macOS Catalina, Apple is replacing iTunes with its popular entertainment apps – Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and the Apple TV app.

“With macOS Catalina, we’re bringing fresh new apps to the Mac, starting with new standalone versions of Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and the Apple TV app,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Users will appreciate how they can expand their workplace with Sidecar, enabling new ways of interacting with Mac apps using iPad and Apple Pencil. And with new developer technologies, users will see more great third-party apps arrive on the Mac this fall.”

Based on the information Apple posted in its Newsroom, there doesn’t appear to be any changes happening to the Apple Podcasts app. This isn’t very surprising, because Apple Podcasts was launched in 2017 and appears to be quite popular.

Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in 2003, and it has gone through many changes since then. When macOS Catalina launches, iTunes will be split into three separate apps. Apple is replacing iTunes with a new Music app for Mac.

According to Apple, “Users will have access to their entire music library, whether they downloaded the songs, purchased them or ripped them from a CD. For those who like to own their music, the iTunes Music Store is just a click away.”

What does this all mean for podcasters? It sounds like you won’t have to make any changes to your podcast if it is currently on Apple Podcasts. You will still be subscribed to whatever podcasts you already are via Apple Podcasts.

I recommend that podcasters go through their iTunes library before they update to macOS Catalina. Your music will find its way to the Music app for Mac. I’m not certain that podcast episodes, that you downloaded outside of Apple Podcasts, and then put into iTunes, will also migrate.


Tim Ferriss Will Remove Ads and Sponsors from his Podcast



Tim Ferriss, host of The Tim Ferriss Show, and author of The 4-Hour Workweek (among other books), is moving to a new model with his podcast. He will remove ads and sponsors from his podcast for a six-month test. The podcast will continue to be free for everyone, and he is not putting it behind a paywall.

Fans who would like to contribute to his works can do so if they would like to. Subscription options range from $9.95/month to $1,000/month.

Tim Ferriss says, “Please only contribute what you feel great about contributing. This is zero pressure, and I’m not mailing out any beer koozies or other crap you don’t want. I’ll just do and share more good stuff.”

Since the podcast has become the engine that fuels everything else, if this experiment doesn’t work out after six months, we’ll go back to sponsors. If it works, we’ll stay with fan-supported. Easy peasy.

Tim Ferriss gave three reasons why he decided to do this:

  • “I’d really love a more direct relationship with my most dedicated listeners, readers, and fans.”
  • “Sponsors and ads chew up a TON of time that I’d rather spend finding and doing cool things I can share with you.”
  • “Over the years, thousands of readers and fans have asked me, “How can I thank you?”

More details can be found on his website. He is potentially taking a financial risk by removing ads and sponsors from the show. If the experiment doesn’t work out as he hoped it would, it might be difficult to entice the dropped sponsors to return.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tim Ferriss’s net worth is $100 million. Between that, and his huge fan base, it seems to me that his experiment could work out for him. But, if it doesn’t, it appears that he won’t be destitute. Few podcasters can safely take that sort of risk.


Podcast Movement 2019 Scholarship Applications Now Open



Podcast Movement 2019 is offering scholarships and grants to new and aspiring podcasters who want to attend Podcast Movement but are not in a position financially to make that happen. Those who are eligible can apply now on the Podcast Movement website.

Podcast Movement subscribes to the mindset that we will always attempt to do for some what we wish we could do for everyone. We have a track record of going the extra mile to help podcasters that are serious about attending Podcast Movement to be able to afford to attend the conference.

The scholarship is for a “Standard Plus” pass to Podcast Movement 2019 in Orlando, Florida, from August 13 through August 16. It does not include hotel or transportation, and the pass is not transferable.

Who is eligible? Brand new, or yet-to-launch, podcasters who love podcasting, appreciate the community, and have never been to Podcast Movement before. You must also be an active member of the Podcast Movement Community Facebook group.

Who is not eligible? The scholarships are for podcasters who have never attended a Podcast Movement before, have not yet signed up for PM19, and are not in a position to attend the conference without assistance.

Those who fit those criteria can fill out an online application by Friday, June 14, 2019. Podcast Movement will announce the recipients of the June 19 edition of the newsletter and in their Facebook group.


SoundCloud Announces Acquisition of Repost Network



SoundCloud, the world’s largest open audio platform, announced it has entered into a definite agreement to acquire leading rights management and distribution company, Repost Network. With this acquisition, SoundCloud will be able to provide high-performing, emerging creators a seamless upstream to Repost Network’s invite-only tools and services like streaming distribution, analytics dashboards, content protection and more. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“There are more than 20 million audio creators on SoundCloud, and we know building audiences and earning income from streaming are critical to them. SoundCloud’s focus is to build more tools and services to solve those needs. We’ve built the foundation with our SoundCloud Premier program and our recently launched distribution product, and today we are taking another step forward,” said Michael Weissman, Chief Operating Officer, SoundCloud.

He continued, “The acquisition of Repost Network will meaningfully move SoundCloud forward as we build the most comprehensive set of tools to help creators build their careers. We welcome the Repost Network team to SoundCloud and are excited about what we will build together.”

“Repost Network has been working with SoundCloud since the early days of its monetization initiative, and we are ecstatic to join the world’s largest audio creator community,” said Jeff Ponchick, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Repost Network. “Our mission is to help artists make a living through their audiences online, and by joining the SoundCloud family we can help even more emerging artists take the next step in their career, earn more revenue and be heard by more fans.”

The deal is expected to close in the coming weeks.


Johanna Zorn is Leaving Third Coast



Executive Director and Co-Founder of Third Coast, Johanna Zorn, announced (Google Doc) That she will leave the pioneering audio arts organization she led for 19 years. She will remain at the helm until the fall.

“Third Coast has been successful beyond my wildest dreams,” said Zorn. “At this juncture, I’m excited to pass the leadership of the organization on to the next generation, whose bold new ideas will foster the next chapter of Third Coast’s growth and evolution.”

Zorn founded Third Coast in 2000, alongside Julie Shapiro, as a project of Chicago Public Media. In creating the first home for audio storytelling of its kind. Zorn plays a pivotal role in the evolution in the field. In 2019, Third Coast’s position across an expanding industry of audio storytelling is more important than ever.

When Third Coast became an independent arts non-profit in 2009, Zorn steered the organization into its independent status, ensuring the organization’s vitality in public media and podcasting.

The Board of Directors and current staff of Third Coast have initiated a public search to replace Zorn on May 30, with the intention of filling the role in the fall of 2019. The position will be posted on the Third Coast’s website shortly.

Johanna Zorn wrote a post titled: “A Letter form Third Coast’s Johanna Zorn (5/22/19)” on the Third Coast website. Fans of Third Coast will want to read it in full. In it, she writes, “I won’t be leaving until the fall, and I look forward to working with Third Coast’s board and staff to ensure a smooth transition and secure future.”