WGA Members At Spotify Studios And The Ringer Reach Tentative Agreement With Spotify

Writers Guild of America East members at Spotify Studios (formerly Gimlet Media and Parcast) and The Ringer have both reached tentative agreements with Spotify on new collective bargaining agreements.

Two of the first podcast production companies to unionize with the WGAE, both bargaining units made important gains in wages and achieved first-of-their-kind protections against Artificial Intelligence (AI) during negotiations for their second union contracts.

The tentative agreement will now go to the Spotify Studios Union, The Ringer Union and the WGAE Council for ratification votes. Details of each collective bargaining agreement will be made public upon ratification.

The Spotify Studios Union shared:

“After more than two months of bargaining, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve agreed to a new contract with Spotify. Thanks to the solidarity and strength of our union, we secured pay increases that are on average an inflation-beating 5.7% across the unit. We also made gains on severance, won new protections for employees who are on visas, and secured groundbreaking AI safeguards. To win these gains, 100% of Gimlet Union employees signed a strike pledge and were prepared to walk. 100% of Parcast Union employees signed this strike pledge in solidarity.

This contract also marks a new chapter: beginning with the ratification of this agreement, the Gimlet and Parcast Unions will join together to become The Spotify Studios Union.

Our joint unit went into these negotiations battered by brutal rounds of layoffs. So many of our talented colleagues were cast aside in a restructuring ghat was only necessary because of decisions made by Spotify leadership. Still, during the course of negotiations, Spotify Studio Union members came together and found a unified voice to defend our rights as workers.”

The Ringer Union bargaining committee said:

“The Ringer Union bargaining committee is proud to recommend a contract that includes necessary wage increased for lower-paid members of our unit, severance and layoff protections in an industry that’s been hit so hard, and key safeguards against the creep of Artificial Intelligence into our work. We could not have won this hard-fought contract without the solidarity of our members and our fellow WGAE shop unions at Gimlet and Parcast. Our union remains united in the face of the industry changes and we look forward to continuing to build solidarity through the life of this contract.”

Based in New York, Gimlet has produced such popular shows as The Journal, Science Vs, Every Little Thing, Reply All, Crime Show and many more. The Ringer has proceeded popular shows as The Bill Simmons Podcast, NFL Show, NBA Show, Bandsplain, The Rewatchables, and many more.

Gimlet Media and The Ringer Ratify First Podcast Contracts at Spotify

Writers Guild of America, East announced that the writers and producers at Gimlet Media and The Ringer, two of the first podcast production companies to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), both ratified first collective bargaining agreements. Gimlet Media and The Ringer are owned by Spotify.

The Guild negotiated both three-year agreements concurrently, and the contracts were unanimously ratified by the 48 bargaining unit members at Gimlet Media and 65 bargaining unit members at The Ringer.

Both of the groundbreaking union contracts include:

  • Significant increases to salary minimums, with The Ringer establishing $57,000 plus overtime as an entry-level floor, and Gimlet Media beginning at $73,000 for Associate Producers.
  • Establishment of new senior titles.
  • Limitations on the use of contractors within bargaining unit positions. Contractors must either be offered a full-time job after 10 months, or the companies must inform them 30 days in advance that there will not be a position available for them.
  • Minimum of 2% guaranteed annual increases.
  • Minimum severance of 11 weeks for all employees, regardless of tenure.
  • Spotify benefits, with no change in benefits for the duration of the contract.
  • Editorial standards that guarantee that the company will not modify or fail to publish content based on the direction of advertisers, and that bargaining unit employees will not be required to work on advertising and branded content.
  • Funding for Diversity Committees, with representatives from both management and the bargaining unit.
  • Language guaranteeing that 50% of candidates for open unit positions who make it to the stage after the phone interview will be from traditionally under-represented groups (BIPOC, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, military veterans).
  • Elimination of post-employment non-compete agreements for all employees who make under $155,000, and removal of post-employment non-competes in individual agreements.
  • Formation of a Labor Management Committee.
  • Just cause and union security.

Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “The collective bargaining agreements at Gimlet Media and The Ringer demonstrate that the people who make podcasts, from writers to producers to editors, bring enormous value to the major platforms for whom they create content. Collective bargaining ensures creative professionals have a seat at the table to address issues like inclusion and equity, intellectual property concerns, and sustainability of careers.”

The Ringer is Seeking an Associate Podcast Producer

The Ringer seeks an associate podcast producer to join its Los Angeles-based digital audio team. The ideal candidate will be creative and self-motivated, will possess experience in all aspects of production, and who loves audio storytelling and knows how to convey stories that are entertaining and engaging.

The associate podcast producer will provide support to the podcast producers and talent covering topics that drive The Ringer universe: sports, popular culture, technology, politics, food, and more.

Responsibilities include:

  • Work closely with the audio staff in support of production needs
  • Act as edit or production support for a full range of podcasts, including research and creating outlines for new episodes of existing Ringer podcast series
  • Covering studio sessions as needed
  • Organizing and coordinating show delivery schedules
  • Provide audio engineer functions to the video team
  • Aid in the operation of studio or field production equipment as necessary

Requirements include:

  • Minimum of two to three years experience in a professional digital media production role
  • Must have prior experience as an audio producer, demonstrating an understanding of creating content on the latest social media platforms
  • Must show a fundamental ability to make sound editorial judgements and balance conflicting priorities
  • An ability to convey complex information and stories in a clear and engaging way
  • Knowledge of what makes a story relatable, dramatic and interesting and what makes compelling audio and sound
  • Deep understanding of news and story lines, with sound journalistic ethics and judgement

This is a permanent, full-time position with comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits. The Ringer would like applicants to attach a cover letter, and samples of previous work if applicable.

Visit The Ringer’s Linkedin to learn more details about this job and how to apply for it.

Spotify will Acquire Bill Simmons’ The Ringer

Spotify announced today that the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Ringer, a leading creator of sports, entertainment and pop culture content. The Ringer was founded by Bill Simmons in 2016.Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With this acquisition, Spotify continues to deliver against its goal to become the world’s leading audio platform. The Ringer will bring to Spotify its industry leading sports and entertainment team, podcast catalog and website, further expanding Spotify’s content offering and audience reach. With its popular show lineup, The Ringer also offers new opportunities for monetization along with a continued focus on deepening audience engagement and innovating formats within Spotify’s business model. Not only has Simmons been a podcast pioneer in sports, he has also been a dominant force in the podcast pop culture arena.

“We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind The Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy,” said Dawn Ostroff, Chief Content Officer, Spotify. “As we set out to expand our sports and entertainment offerings, we wanted a best-in-class editorial team. Bill Simmons is one of the brightest minds in the game and he has successfully innovated as a writer and content creator across mediums and platforms. The Ringer’s proven track record of creating distinctive culture content as well as discovering and developing top tier talent will make them a formidable asset for Spotify.”

“Spotify has the unique ability to truly supercharge both content and creator talent across genres,” said Bill Simmons, The Ringer founder, and podcast host. “We spent the last few years building a world-class sports and pop culture multimedia digital company and believe Spotify can take us to another level. We couldn’t be more excited to unlock Spotify’s power of scale and discovery, introduce The Ringer to a new global audience and build the world’s flagship sports audio network. We’re joining one of the best media companies in the world. It’s an incredible day for us.”

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2020 and subject to customary closing conditions.

Spotify Might Buy The Ringer

Vox reported that Spotify is in conversations to buy The Ringer. It seems to me that Vox would likely have some insight on the situation. Vox owns Recode, which has a commercial relationship with The Ringer.

According to Vox, The Wall Street Journal was the first to report about Spotify being in talks to buy The Ringer. The Wall Street Journal reported that Spotify and The Ringer teamed up in September to launch a podcast hosted by Bill Simmons, The Hottest Take. That podcast streams exclusively on Spotify.

The Wall Street Journal described The Ringer this way:

The Ringer, a sports and pop-culture outlet founded by former ESPN commentator Bill Simmons in 2016, has a podcasting network that attracts more than 100 million downloads a month. In addition to “The Bill Simmons Podcast”, the Ringer produces “The Watch,” a discussion show about TV and pop-culture; “Binge Mode”, which dives deep into pop-culture franchises, and “The Rewatchables,” a show that breaks down popular movies.

Vulture points out that these talks are early, and states that there is a good amount of details that probably need to be ironed out if a deal is to materialize. In other words, it is probably best to wait and see what happens, rather than speculate that this is already a done deal.