Liz Gateley Joined Spotify



Hollywood Reporter reported that Liz Gateley has joined Spotify. She was the former programming executive for Lifetime. Her new role at Spotify will be Head of Creative Development.

Liz Gateley is expected to help shape Spotify’s original podcasting strategy. She will oversee the original podcast development teams in both New York and Los Angeles as they develop projects in the comedy, sports, YA Fiction, scripted, news and documentary, and music genres.

Liz Gateley announced the news on her LinkedIn:

I am excited to share that I’ve accepted the role as Head of Creative Development at Spotify! I will be overseeing their original content development teams on both coasts and their expansion into Comedy, Sports, YA Fiction & Scripted, News/Docs and obviously more Music formats in the podcast space. I am excited to be back in the music/culture world to tell loud stories with my incredible team and to help invent new executions as I always have, but, most importantly, to join at such a transformative time at Spotify on the heels of the Gimlet and Anchor acquisitions. I also get to work with Dawn Ostroff and Courtney Holt, both former colleagues and two of the smartest people I know.

Dawn Ostroff is the Chief Content Officer at Spotify. Courtney Holt is the Head of Studios and Video at Spotify.


Pocket Casts has an Alexa Skill



Pocket Casts announced that after many months of design, development, and hard work, the Pocket Casts Skill is now available on Alexa.

It adds to the other places you can use Pocket Casts: iOS, Android, CarPlay and Android Auto. The Pocket Casts Skill is currently only available in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

Here is how the Pocket Casts Skill works:

  • Head to the Skills section of your Alexa app on your iOS or Android device
  • Search for “Pocket Casts” and install the Skill.
  • In the Alexa app, link your Amazon account to your Pocket Casts one

So what kind of things can you do? Well, version 7 brought with it an important new feature: Up Next syncing. This means what you’re currently listening to is saved to your account, as is everything you’ve queued to play next. So getting your first podcast playing is as simple as saying “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play my Up Next” and what you were last playing will begin, right where you left off.

You can asks for a specific podcast by name. For example, “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play the latest episode of Radiolab.” Not sure what to listen to? Use the phrase “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to give me a recommendation”. Pocket Casts will use your playback history to find something that is tailored just for you.

Other phrases include:

  • “Alexa, open Pocket Casts.”
  • “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts what’s playing.”
  • “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts about the featured podcast.”
  • “Alexa, tell Pocket Casts to surprise me.” Use this phrase when you want Pocket Casts to randomly pick an episode from your subscriptions without trying to be too smart about it.
  • “Alexa help”. Use this phrase whenever you are interacting with the Pocket Casts skill and you are not quite sure what to do next, or what other things you can do.

PRX is Seeking a Director of Audience Growth



PRX is at the epicenter of the audio revolution, bridging broadcast, digital and mobile with a portfolio of exceptional programs. PRX is seeking a Director of Audience Growth.

The Director of Audience Growth reports to the Chief Marketing Officer and will work in partnership with the marketing team on effective initiatives that introduce our content to new listeners and build loyalty with our existing listeners; the core aspect of this position is to identify and grow new audiences and help support PRX’s premier broadcast programs.

Some requirements include:

  • Deliver required consumer audiences to ensure broadcast, download and live event success and advertiser and sponsor satisfaction
  • Develop broadcast, podcast and audience acquisition strategies for PRX and Radiotopia; manage overall audience development testing strategy – including funnel optimization, distribution channel mix and headline and image optimization
  • Ensure social media strategy developed by VP audience development & engagement is aligned with audience growth strategy
  • Apply SEO initiatives and best practices to the content strategy that will strengthen and optimize both website and keyword ranking with the ability to clearly communicate best practices to editorial and product teams
  • Work cross-functionally with brand site editors, publishers, product development, and sales & marketing groups to identify opportunities, executive brand initiatives and maximize audience growth

PRX points out that this position is based in Boston. PRX employees are offered health, dental and life insurance benefits, short- and long-term disability, a 401K retirement plan and paid vacation and parental health.

Visit the PRX job listing for full information about the Director of Audience Growth position.


ART19 Hires Two Industry Leaders



In a press release, ART19 announced that it has made some new hires. Both of them come from Stitcher. From the press release:

As part of its plan to be the best in class solution for all audio publishing, ART19, a pioneer of dynamic ad insertion and leader in enterprise podcast hosting, is expanding its suite of technology products to advertisers and connecting them more efficiently with content creators.

To drive the new effort, ART19 is hiring proven industry leaders Korri Kolesa and Lex Friedman. Korri Kolesa, former Chief Revenue Officer at Stitcher, is joining as Chief Operating Officer and Lex Friedman, former Chief Business Development Officer at Stitcher, is joining as ART19’s Chief Revenue Officer.

“We are excited to have Korri and Lex join the team,” said Sean Carr, ART19’s CEO. “Their technology backgrounds, advertiser relationships, and proven success at monetizing podcasts makes them a perfect fit to spearhead our expansion efforts.”

“The level of talent and quality of content in podcasting keeps rising,” said Korri Kolesa. “Traditional approaches to podcast sales will need to evolve for revenue to catch up with the spectacular growth of listening in the space. ART19 is focused on building the innovative tools that advertisers need to better connect with audiences – and to make hosts more money for the same great shows they already love making.”

Nick Quah of Hot Pod has some background information. From Hot Pod:

Kolesa departs after slightly more than two years at Stitcher, where she worked to expand the company’s sales infrastructure.

Friedman, meanwhile, leaves after six years at the company, after his own podcast advertising venture, Podlexing, was ingested into what is now known as Midroll 2013. He was part of Stitcher/Midroll Media leadership through the Jeff Ulrich and Adam Sachs years, along with the acquisition by EW Scripps in 2015.


Pandora Stories Combines the Best of Podcasts and Playlists



Pandora Stories allows Creators to curate Playlists and Mixtapes comprised of music and comedy tracks from Pandora’s extensive catalog. Curators can further customize Programs with their own commentary, or that of a collaborator, by uploading Voice Tracks sequenced within the Program.

TechCrunch has a statement from Pandora’s VP of Artist Marketing and Industry Relations, Jeff Zuchowski.

“Podcasts can tell stories about music, but it’s difficult to include full songs, and regular playlists have songs but lack personal context from the artists behind them. We’ve created Pandora Stories to fill the void, bringing together the greatest strengths of both podcasts and playlists, and giving artists the opportunity to connect with listeners on a uniquely deep and personal level.”

Pandora explains that Voice Tracks are messages recorded by any Creator, artist, or featured guest that add context or commentary to the Program listening experience.

The Voice Tracks are not advertisements, but they can be used to promote music, comedy, or podcast releases. The Voice tracks “should instead be used to make listeners laugh, cry, or learn something new.”

A Voice Track can be set to play as an introduction to your Program, before or after a specific track within the Program, or as an unattached message playing as sequenced in a Playlist or at random in a Mixtape. Those who want to create Pandora Stories need to fill out a form.

If I’m understanding this correctly, Pandora considers the combination of the Voice Tracks and music in a Playlist to be similar to a podcast. Personally, I don’t think Pandora Stories are podcasts, or even podcast episodes. They are sort of a hybrid between podcasts and playlists.


Wondery Introduces Wondery+



Wondery has introduced Wondery+. It is Wondery’s effort to provide an even more immersive experience to their fans. Wondery+ enables you to access behind the scenes content as well as brand new, unreleased, episodes. It is a subscription based service. The price is $5 per month.

Wondery makes it clear that all subscriptions auto-renew monthly or annually. Wondery+ can be cancelled at any time. There are no refunds.

The way Wondery+ users receive their content is interesting. New episodes of Wondery podcasts will be uploaded to the user’s private RSS feed, which can be accessed from any post in their Member Portal. Users can add their private RSS feed to Apple Podcasts and listen to new content as it is uploaded.

Wondery+ users will only need to add their RSS feed to their app once, and episodes will be updated automatically. It is not necessary to add the private RSS feed to the app per episode. If your podcast app of choice does not support private RSS links, you can stream the episode right from your phone or desktop.

Wondery+ users will receive Tides of History episodes one week before it is released to the public (each Thursday). They will receive Business Wars episodes each Monday and Wednesday, one day before their normal release. Behind the scenes and new content will be distributed as it becomes available.

Another interesting thing about Wondery+ is that it appears it will be tailored to a specific genre of podcasts. For example, There is a Wondery+ True Crime grouping that includes ad free versions of Over My Dead Body, ColdDr. Death, Sword and Scale, The Vanished, andYoung Charlie. More will be includes as they become available.


CRA wants to Protect the Content of Radio Podcasts



Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) has proposed a range of measures to protect broadcasters’ content and limit the ability of global tech giants to use their market power to unfairly erode the business model of commercial radio stations.

In a submission in response to the preliminary report of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s Digital Platforms inquiry, CRA called for stronger protections to limit third parties from benefiting from Australian radio content, including live radio streams and podcasts, without the permission of the content owners.

Chief executive officer Joan Warner said CRA supports the introduction of a Mandatory Standard to enable timely take-down of copyright-infringing content, and further recommend the standard should include hyperlinks to radio station “listen live” websites.

CRA also recommended that the ACCC’s proposed separate review to develop an overarching regulatory framework for all platforms should include a focus on how local content obligations and Australian music requirements are spread across various platforms.

Here are some of the Recommendations:

Verification of Advertising: CRA submits that a reliable digital audience measurement methodology should be imposed upon digital platforms by the Commission (as a condition of access) and must:

  • require that the collection and analysis of the data is conducted by an independent third party
  • be accompanies by a clear, consistent and transparent explanation of the methodology used
  • be consistent across all suppliers of digital advert performance measurement services to enable fair and consistent comparison

Protection of Content against Aggregators: CRA urges the Commission to address this issue in the Mandatory Standard, by requiring digital platforms to remove hyperlinks to copyright protected content upon the request of the right holder.

Many digital platform aggregators are smaller players and the Mandatory Standard must therefore cover digital platforms of all sizes. Its application should not be limited to the larger platforms.


RAIN Podcast Business Summit will be in New York City



The RAIN Podcast Business Summit will take place on March 5, 2019, in New York City. The summit will provide expert insight from audio innovators, researchers, agency leads, podcast experts, and executive-level marketers who will share invaluable perspectives and insights on the dynamic online audio podcast business.

The Keynote Speaker is Founder and Head of Product for Google Podcasts, Zack Reneau-Wedeen. The Featured Speaker is President & CEO of National Public Radio, Jarl Mohn.

Additional Speakers include:

  • Gina Garrubbo – President & CEO, National Public Media
  • Conal Byrne – President & CEO, HowStuffWorks
  • James Cridland – Editor, podnews.net
  • Joe Bihlmier – Vice President, Global Media, American Express
  • Erik Barraud – Senior Vice President, Product, AdsWizz
  • Amy Fitzgibbons – Vice President of Marketing, Midroll Media
  • Joel Sucherman – Vice President, New Platform Partnerships, NPR
  • Kerri Hoffman – President and CEO at PRX & PRI
  • Ken Lagana – VP and Head of Sales, Panoply Media
  • Sharon Taylor – CEO, Omny Studio
  • Stephanie Donovan – SVP Publisher Sales, North America, Triton Digital
  • Maggie McGuire – CEO, Pinna
  • Velvet Beard – VP Products, Podtrac
  • Francesco Baschieri – VP President, Voxnest
  • Fannie Cohen – FannieCo
  • Steve Pratt – Principal and Co-owner, Pacific Content

Visit the Rain Podcast Business Summit website for a full list of speakers, and to see when more are announced. You can also view a schedule. Tickets are being sold through eventbrite, and range from $299 to $450.


To Live and Die in LA Podcast will be Hosted by Neil Strauss



Tenderfoot TV and Cadence13 announced that award-winning journalist and Rolling Stone contributing editor Neil Strauss will host the new true crime podcast, To Live and Die in LA. The investigative podcast will be available on all platforms on February 28, 2019.

To Live and Die in LA will chronicle Stauss’s ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Adea Shabani. This marks Neil Strauss’s first foray into narrative podcasting, after more than a decade of going undercover in different communities and writing best sellers based on his experiences, including The Game of Truth, in addition to award-winning reporting for the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

The debut season of To Live and Die in LA will take a deep dive into the mysterious disappearance of 25-year-old Adea Shabani, an aspiring actress and model who vanished without a trace from her apartment complex near Hollywood’s famous Walk of Fame.

Like thousands each year, Shabani, a native of Macedonia, moved to Hollywood with the hope of realizing her dreams of stardom. But in February of 2018, the acting student disappeared just days before her 26th birthday.

Within a week of Adea Shabani’s disappearance, Strauss was contacted by Jayden Brandt, a private investigator who was hired by the Shabani family. Strauss began looking into Adea’s case, interviewing friends and family not for a podcast initially, but for an article to help increase fading media coverage. However, in the process, he and Brandt began to uncover new leads and close in on the main suspect.

What happened next was a series of shocking events, revelations, and even death threats that continue unfolding in real time. This fast-paced 12-episode podcast pays off with surprising answers and uncovers the truth about Shabani’s disappearance that has never been reported before.