Spotify Announced Partnership with Warner Bros.

Spotify announced that Warner Bros. is bringing the DC Super Heroes and Super Villains to Spotify as an exclusive series of podcasts. Spotify has entered a multiyear partnership with Warner Bros. and DC to produce and distribute an original slate of narrative scripted podcasts exclusively on Spotify.

The partnership—the first to involve the intellectual property of the entire DC Universe —will leverage iconic characters in new Spotify shows. Additionally, the companies are expected to draw upon Warner Bros. Studio’s broader collection of timeless titles as stand-alone podcast series. This collaborative and innovative effort will further increase the diverse array of premium storytelling content for Spotify listeners around the world.

Spotify says that Warner Bros. Digital Networks (WBDN) will manage the business and strategy related to the partnership. Television Group’s digital studio, Blue Ribbon Content (BRC) will oversee the creative relationship and will co-develop and produce the programming in collaboration with Spotify. Spotify itself will be responsible for the marketing, advertising, and distribution of the shows exclusively on the platform.

Variety reported that this deal gives Spotify first-look rights to original scripted narrative DC podcasts based on its stable of Super Heroes and Super Villains. The shows will have new storylines that are set in the DC Universe, unrelated to existing movies or TV shows.

In addition, according to Variety, Warner Bros. will develop original scripted podcast series based on some of their other properties, such as Looney Tunes and Warner Bros. TV-produced shows like “Supernatural” – as well as original podcasts unrelated to Warner Bros. existing intellectual property.

Castro Announced Integration with Siri

Castro announced a deep integration between Siri and Castro that shortens the distance between you and your podcasts.

What’s your favorite show? Ask Siri to play it in Castro, and we’ll do all the thinking for you. If the show is already in your queue, we’ll play the episode closest to the top of the list. If we can’t find an episode in the queue, we’ll check the inbox. Even if you’re not subscribed to the show, we’ll go find it and play the latest episode for you. You can even ask Siri to play the first, or the newest episode and Castro will skip episodes you’ve already listened to.

There are a total of 30 requests that you can make of Castro through Siri. Casto knows that it can be hard to remember them all, so they made a hand reference guide in Settings → Siri where you can find what you’re looking for to make your day a little easier.

Castro also added shortcuts for Castro that were built to connect Castro to other apps. Search Castro’s directory to get access to data from any show or episode. You can also add items to your queue.

9to5Mac reported that the Castro Podcast Player of iPhone and Apple Watch now offers support for a variety of Siri commands to play shows, play a certain genre, or even the news. You can also use Siri to control playback controls including Chapter skipping and Trim Silence.

WBUR Announced Layoffs and Changes to Podcasts

WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, posted “An Important Message About WBUR From CEO Margaret Low”. The message includes information about layoffs and changes to their podcasts.

…To begin, we are laying off 29 people. Many of them are part time staff. This means valued colleagues are losing their jobs at a very challenging time and will be leaving WBUR over the next days, weeks, and months. We’ve already been in touch with everyone who is immediately affected by the changes.

While I’m confident that WBUR has a bright future, this is a hard moment – because longtime coworkers and friends will be departing…

The message also points out there will be no wage increases for FY21, except for negotiated union salary adjustments. There will be no contributions to retirement funds. They have developed a reduced budget for the next fiscal year. The WBUR Board approved a FY20 budget of just under $46 million. For FY21, the Board approved a budget of just over $40 million.

CEO Margaret Low will be taking a 10% salary cut. WBUR had to eliminate seven unfilled positions, cut travel and marketing costs and canceled various contracted services.

Only a Game podcast will stop production at the end of September of 2020.

Modern Love will be taken over by The New York Times at the end of June of 2020. Personally, I hope that The New York Times won’t hide this wonderful, story-driven podcast behind a paywall.

Kind World which was described in the message from Margaret Low as a podcast “which blossomed from a digital experiment back in 2012 into an award winning Morning Edition feature and podcast”, will end its run in July of 2020.

Spotify Signed a Deal with Kim Kardashian West

Spotify has signed a deal with Kim Kardashian West for an exclusive podcast that focuses on a case involving criminal-justice reform, Variety reported. The deal was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

A Spotify spokesman confirmed the company’s deal with Kardashian West and TV producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi for the podcast, to be made available exclusively on the Spotify platform. Kardashian West and Rothschild Ansaldi will co-host and co-produce the show with Spotify’s Parcast Studio.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the podcast series will follow Rothschild Ansaldi’s investigation of the case of Kevin Keith, who was convicted of three murders in 1994 and was sentenced to execution in Ohio. In 2010, then Governor of Ohio Ted Strickland commuted Keith’s death sentence after new evidence presented by his attorneys raised doubts about his guilt.

BET reported that, according to the Wall Street Journal, the podcast will be focused around the work that Kim Kardashian West has done with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that works to exonerate wrongly convicted individuals.

SiriusXM Acquires Simplecast

SirusXM announced the acquisition of Simplecast, a leading podcast management platform that enables podcasters to publish, manage, and measure their content. The Simplecast solution, pared with the award-winning monetization platform of AdsWizz, the adtech subsidiary of SiriusXM, creates an end-to-end solution that enables creators to publish and generate revenue from their podcasts all in one place.

Led by Founder & CEO, Brad Smith, the Simplecast platform, with its leading content management, audience analytics, and dynamic audio toolset, MAE (Moveable Audio Engine), has attracted some of the largest and most highly respected brands and publishers including Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Netflix, Maximum Fun, Cloud10, QCODE, Anna Faris is Unqualified, Blue Wire, and Revision Path. The Simplecast platform is employed by a wide range of creators, from enterprise-level publishers and networks to independent niche podcasters.

Simplecast and AdsWizz will form SiriusXM’s publisher solution business, a full-service platform designed to meet the needs of podcast creators of all sizes. The acquisition expands and strengthens SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s tools and monetization services for podcasters and publishers. Through AdsWizz, SiriusXM offers a leading adtech solution for podcasters and networks, from dynamic ad insertion to ad serving, new programmatic solutions for podcasting, and the AdsWizz Podcast Marketplace, PodWave. Through Pandora for Podcasters, creators can easily submit their podcasts to reach Pandora’s millions of users and get access to data analytics tools and useful audience insights.

“Our goal is to provide audio publishers with state-of-the-art platforms and give them everything they need to be successful,” said Alexis van der Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz. “Empowering podcasters of any size to create, distribute, analyze, and monetize their work is the next natural step in pursuing our vision.”

“From the beginning, Simplecast’s mantra and mission was to remain laser-focused on podcast creators – building the best tools for publishing and insights,” said Brad Smith, the Founder & CEO of Simplecast. “The opportunity and alignment with AdsWizz allows our product — and our customers — access to a powerful monetization platform.  Two best-in-class platforms are now able to align with the shared mission of helping publishers succeed, while each team continues to focus on their respective areas of expertise.”

With the integration between AdsWizz and Simplecast’s MAE, podcast publishers are able to take advantage of the integrated solution now.

President of Singapore Tells OKLETSGO to Apologize for Mysogynistic Remarks

President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob, urged podcast channel OKLETSGO to apologize to all women for the “humiliating and misogynistic remarks made on its podcasts, saying that it was not alright for women to be treated like “punching bags”, CNA reported.

“Women are not objects to be made fun of, ridiculed and trampled upon, and no one has the right to do that to them. Women have the right to be respected, valued for their contributions in the family and in our society,” Mdm Halimah wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.

According to CNA, Mdm Halimah said that many people had emailed her with concerns about the values that the podcasts promote, and added that those who perpetuate the image of women being inferior should “be held responsible for being one of the perpetrators of violence against women.”

Mdm Halimah said: “The Podcast OKLETSGO should sincerely and humbly apologize to all women for their offensive, humiliating and mysogynistic remarks on their podcasts about women.”

The hosts, Dyn Norahim, Dzar Ismail, and Raja Razie, posted Episode 568 on Spotify. The description of the episode says: “To whomever it may concern, this is for you”. It is a short episode.

Coconuts Singapore reported that the hosts “did not apologize, and said the show’s language was part of their “flavor”.

“Let me just put things into perspective. Number one, I think people forget we are not mainstream media. I just want to reiterate that we are not mainstream media,” Dzar Ismail said.

“We acknowledge that the language we use is out of the ordinary but this in truth and in fact is consistent with our flavor,” Dzar said today. “This is our flavor, which we in time and time again have reiterated in this podcast hosted by three men which technically amplifies what we have heard outside our interpretation of what people are outside.”

He said their words should not be taken seriously.

“And I believe it is with this concept that has gravitated so many listeners to come and listen. I don’t believe we would get these listeners if the concept was different, something kosher, but that being said I’d like to remind all of you that we are not mainstream it is meant to push boundaries and it’s not meant to be taken seriously, you get where I’m coming from? It’s not meant to be taken seriously.”

Coconuts Singapore later reported that the OKLETSGO hosts have issued a public apology in response to backlash over its use of crude language, hours after Singapore President Halimah Yacob called on them to do so.

On June 14, 2020, the OKLETSGO Facebook account posted an apology. The first part of it says:

“We woke up this morning to see the message from our President, Halimah Yacob, calling for us to apologize. Many others have also reached out to us expressing their concerns about our content.”

“We reflected on this more, and we are truly sorry it took us this long to realize the extent of hurt that we have caused. Thank you, Madam President and respected individuals/groups for amplifying the voices of those who have been hurting, and we take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to all our listeners who we have hurt with our words and content…”

Black Podcast Awards will be Online September of 2020

Black Podcasting Awards will take place online on Sunday, September 27, 2020, at 7PM EST. The decision to hold events online – instead of in person – is one that many podcasting event organizers are choosing in order to keep people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black Podcasting Awards tweeted (on June 12, 2020): “Please join us for the first Black Pod Awards ceremony. Broadcasting online LIVE! around the world. We will award over a dozen categories to our first year winners and feature special performances. Virtual seating is free with email signup. #blackpodcasts #bpa”

Black Podcasting Awards is a celebration of the ownership and creation of content for the black experience in the world of podcasting. Through a curated list of categories, we aim to elevate black voices within the podcasting network that may not receive the recognition they deserve. In a marketplace that often overlooks the unique voices and candor of black podcasters we are here to bridge the gap. Our mission is to amplify our own and celebrate those who have paved the way, as well as, provide a foundation for the up and coming voices in the black podcasting arena.

Award Categories include:

  • Best Cultured Podcast
  • Most Informative Black News podcasters
  • Best Food(ie) & Drink Podcast
  • Best Comedic Podcast
  • Best Film/TV podcast
  • Best Music Podcast
  • Best Sports Review Podcast
  • Best Fashion or Black Fashion Update Podcast
  • Best Black Health & Wellness Podcast
  • Best Black Beauty Podcast
  • Best New Podcast
  • Best Finance Podcast
  • Best Black Business Podcast
  • Best International/Travel Podcast
  • Best LGBTQ Podcast
  • Best Parenting/Family Podcast
  • Best Sex Podcast
  • Best Relationships Podcast
  • Black Podcast Of The Year

Ximalaya FM is Reportedly Demanding Advertiser Information

PingWest reported that Ximalaya FM posted a (now deleted) announcement to the content creators on their platform. The announcement said they must file their advertiser information before publishing content. This is a problem for many reasons, so podcasters need to be aware of this situation. Ximalaya FM is the same company as Himalaya, which means there is potential that the same demand could be made of content creators who have podcasters on that platform.

Here is some information from the PingWest website:

In a screenshot of the announcement seen by PingWest, Ximalaya FM now requires content creators, including podcasters, to submit to the company’s Advertisement Business Group the name of their advertisers, the nature of their deals, i.e. host-read or sponsored content, etc. The platform also asks the hosts to provide to go through the hassle and provide qualification documents to prove that what the are advertising in shows are true.

Ximalaya FM is reportedly requiring podcast hosts to give out the quoted prices of their advertising deals. This is unacceptable because if podcasters reveal that information to a third party (such as Ximalay FM) they would violate the rights of the advertisers, who may have an agreement that requires confidentiality.

It appears that failure to comply with that demand by Ximalaya FM could result in the company taking down some shows. Multiple offenses, according to PingWest, would mean a permanent ban from the platform.

The way I see it, what Ximalaya FM is demanding is unethical. Ximalaya FM is said to be China’s top user-generated audio content platform. This means that podcasters who don’t comply with the platform’s demand to hand over confidential information from their advertisers are being punished with a ban. I cannot help but wonder why Ximalaya FM suddenly decided to institute their advertisement policy, and what podcasts are being harmed by it.

WBEZ Cut 12 Employees and Terminated Agreement with Sound Opinions

WBEZ announced the layoffs of 12 employees and the termination of its production agreement with the weekly rock music talk show Sound Opinions, reported Robert Feder who had been covering the media beat in Chicago since 1980. The cuts came after WBEZ faced a 20% revenue decline in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Sound Opinions is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. The show is described on the WBEZ website as: Take two nationally respected rock critics, the latest music news, personal commentary, and exclusive interviews and performances, add a huge pile of records old and new, and the result is Sound Opinions.

On June 16, 2020, Greg Kot tweeted: “We at @soundopinions appreciate the messages of support we’ve gotten about today’s announcement. To be clear, while WBEZ will no longer produce the show, SO will continue independently and be heard on WBEZ & 150 stations in the U.S. as well as the podcast.”

Robert Feder posted the test of Chicago Public Media’s (CPC) statement on his website:

“The economic impact of COVID-19 has placed enormous pressure on the finances of many organizations, including Chicago Public Media. As a result, we are facing an overall revenue decline of 20 percent in the coming fiscal year, leaving a deficit four times larger than the deficit experienced during the 2008 financial crisis.
“Since then, we have worked proactively and collaboratively to implement a number of cost-savings measures, including a freeze on hiring for new positions, executive compensation reductions, a salary freeze, a temporary suspension of 403b company match, and a voluntary separation option, among many others.
“We also received PPP funding under the CARES Act and modest funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from the recent emergency Congressional appropriation, both of which provided support for us in the immediate term and enabled us to avoid layoffs or furloughs for any staff members during these past few months.
“These steps, along with the generosity of members and donors, have gone a long way toward helping us lower our deficit, but they alone don’t fully address the historic challenges facing us. Therefore, we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of having to make additional reductions. 
“Today we announced layoffs of 12 members of the Chicago Public Media team. In addition, we are also ending WBEZ’s production of Sound Opinions on August 28. Going forward, Sound Opinions will continue as an independent public radio show and podcast. It will continue to air on WBEZ, as well as on nearly 150 other public radio stations, with distribution via PRX. 
“While these decisions are extremely difficult ones, we have worked hard to preserve the local journalism and programming investments that are so critical to our mission and to our community. As a result, we have not made any layoffs to our newsroom, programming or Vocalo teams. We remain committed to navigating these unprecedented challenges as responsibly as possible so that we may continue serving Chicagoans with the essential journalism and programming they need.”