Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Obamas go to Audible

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Well, now we know where the Obamas are headed after their split from Spotify. I had a really nice intro before I got the news, but this is about as hot as Hot Pod gets, so let’s get into it.

Obamas Bring Their Podcasts To Audible After Leaving Spotify

Amazon’s Audible and Higher Ground, the production company of the Obamas, announced a multi-year first-look deal on Tuesday, ending speculation about where the former first pair would take their podcasts after their deal with Spotify expires in a few months.

It’s a big win for Audible, which is better known for audiobooks than podcasts, even if it increases development agreements† It’s also a curious choice for the Obamas, who… reported being frustrated due to the limitations that came with making shows like The Michelle Obama Podcast and Renegades: Born in the USA for Spotify with months of exclusivity windows. The split was apparently mutual, as Spotify made no offer to renew their contract.

“At Higher Ground, we have always sought to raise voices that deserve to be heard — and Audible is investing with us in making that vision a reality,” President Obama said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with them to tell stories that not only entertain, but also inspire.”

If accessibility is a priority for the Obamas, the Audible deal could be a tricky one. Audible makes many podcasts, even originals, available for free. But it is best known for its premium programming, which comes with a $7.95 per month subscription. (Even Spotify’s exclusive shows are still available for free.) Today’s announcement doesn’t detail whether the shows will be behind a paywall or what kind of program the Obamas will deliver, but Audible spokesman Keri Dizney told Hot Pod that “Audible and Higher Ground plan to make the Audible Originals available to the widest possible audience.”

Spotify is testing new feature that lets you record and post podcasts in the app

Michael Mignano, the co-founder of Anchor who has been leading Spotify’s podcasting tech stack since 2019, left the company last week, but not before introducing a potentially game-changing new function. Spotify is trying out a new tool that allows users to record and distribute podcasts directly in the app. It may not be the best-sounding podcast out there, but it lowers the barrier to entry for potentially millions of creators Spotify is eager to attract.

According to Spotify spokesperson Laura Pezzini, the feature is available to users in New Zealand and a small number of users in the US. It also comes with a number of editing tools that allow creators to cut audio and add background music to their podcasts. It makes podcasts a step (or two) more accessible than Spotify-owned Anchor, which still requires a separate app.

Spotify has not given any further details on how the test is progressing, but the new feature appears to be key to the company’s goal of recruiting millions of new creators. Music streaming is still the bread and butter of the business, but it requires paying expensive royalties. At the company’s investor presentation earlier this month, executives argued that profit margins on podcasts and, soon, audiobooks could potentially be much higher. However, podcasts still remain unprofitable for Spotify.

EXCLUSIVE: inherited returns for the second season with a new collaboration with YR Media

Climate change-focused studio will bring back Critical Frequency inherited, a show about the youth climate movement that debuted in 2020, for a second season. This time it will partner with YR Mediaa breeding ground for young journalists, with stories from young people about how climate change affects their future.

The first season of inherited ended in the fall of 2020 with critical recognition, if not chart dominance. But Critical Frequency has found success by partnering with other environmental programming studios. It partnered with Crooked Media on the second season of This country and with Scene on the radio for season five of The repair† It also sold talk show Hot Take earlier this year to Crooked Media.

YouTube gives friendly podcast tips that certainly don’t indicate a hostile takeover

As part of the Creator Insider series, YouTube posted a video last week pitched why podcasters should post their shows to the platform and the best practices for doing so. First indicated by Pod news, the tutorial is led by a YouTube strategic partner manager who highlights the reasons YouTube is great for podcasters (money, reach, yada yada). But as the lines between podcasts and videos blur and YouTube becomes increasingly dominant in the space, podcasters don’t have much of a choice.

For top (or even mediocre) podcasts, video becomes a mandatory part of the process. Fans are beginning to expect recording sessions to be videotaped, and a sports podcaster from the Attached to network recently told Hot Pod that a fifth of its audience comes from YouTube. This is in line with the findings of a recent study of Cumulus and Signal Hill which showed that, in addition to those who just listen, YouTube also ranks first above Spotify and Apple.

The tutorial gave creators tips such as maximizing SEO and user experience when it comes to creating playlists and episode titles. The video follows a company blog post that also touts YouTube for podcasters. It’s a new attitude from the streamer, which has mostly been passive when it comes to podcasts (presumably because there are bigger fish to fry). That seems to be changing. “We’ll keep you posted as we develop more tools for podcasters on YouTube,” the partner manager said at the end of the video (dun dun dunnnn).

That’s all for today. I’ll be back later this week for Insiders with fresh juice from the podcast industry.

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