Podcast industry lets loose with its current frustrations

Hot Pod News is an excellent news site for anyone trying to get under the skin of the fast-evolving podcasting industry, and its latest feature shows why. The site has been surveying its readers on their current frustrations with the way the podcasts world works, all anonymously. It’s a collecting steam-venting that will make useful reading […]

Sony Music to make a daily satirical podcast with The Onion

Sony Music Entertainment is partnering with satirical website The Onion to launch a new daily podcast in 2020. ‘The Topical’ will go live in January and will deliver daily sideswipes at the news and current affairs. It’s part of a wider trend towards shorter, daily podcasts that fit neatly into people’s work and home routines. […]

US digital-audio listening tipped to overtake radio in 2020

Research firm eMarketer has published some new estimates and predictions for the size of the US digital-audio market – music-streaming, podcasts, online and satellite radio. The big claim is that by 2020, American adults will be spending more time listening to that than to traditional radio for the first time – averages of 83.9 daily minutes and […]

Startup Pex can now scan Apple Podcasts for music clips

Pex isn’t a startup we’ve written much about for Music Ally thus far, but it’s one of the more interesting companies in the current music ecosystem – not just because of what it’s doing now, but for how its technology might be used in the future. The company’s business is “independent video and music analytics and […]

Sandbox Issue 238: Remixes Hit Saturation Point

Lead: Lil Nas X might have broken on TikTok but it was his deft use of multiple remixes (and collaborations) that kept ‘Old Town Road’ in the air throughout most of 2019. He claims he has 25 remixes of follow-up track ‘Panini’ ready to go, although this might prove to be the most high-profile case […]

Britney Spears rarities appear on Spotify as podcast episodes

“It’s Britney Bitch!” is all the blurb you get in the ‘About’ section of a new podcast that launched on Spotify on 7 October – all 89 episodes of it. And each episode lasts for less than five minutes… because they’re songs: demos, remixes and other rarities from Spears’ career. Oh, and there’s been no official announcement, […]

Hozier launches ‘Cry Power’ podcast with Global Citizen

Hozier is the latest artist to launch his own podcast, ‘Cry Power‘ although in this case he has some heavyweight backing: from activism platform Global Citizen. That’s a guide to the show’s content: “The podcast series will see Hozier speak with musicians, artists, writers, campaigners about how to take action and change the world,” according […]

Spotify’s ‘Dissect’ podcast returns with Kendrick Lamar focus

Spotify has launched the fifth season of its music-focused podcast ‘Dissect’, which focuses on a single album every series. It has previously covered albums by Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill and Tyler, the Creator (Lauryn Hill’s was a ‘special mini-series’, by the way, which is why the new season is the fifth […]

Midland and Vampire Weekend join the music-podcasts rush

More artist podcasts? You got ’em! Country trio Midland have launched their own spoken-word show called ‘Set It Straight with Midland‘. It sounds fun too: rather than promote the band’s music, each of the first season’s 10 episodes will investigate a famous, strange story from country-music history, starting with the theft of Gram Parsons’ corpse. […]

Spotify launches a podcast about musician mxmtoon

Oakland-based singer/songwriter mxmtoon has built an audience of 3.6 million listeners on Spotify – aided by slots on playlists including New Music Friday, Lorem and Alone Again. Now she’s getting a different kind of support from the streaming service: its Spotify Studios division is making an eight-episode podcast all about her. It’s called ’21 Days […]

The challenge with podcast music-licensing: annual renewals

If you read our report of the event we ran with the BPI in June, you’ll already be well aware that licensing music for podcasts is… challenging. Now Billboard has published an interesting feature outlining some of those problems in more detail. It explains some of the basics: for example that licensing a song for a podcast is […]

Jeffrey Epstein to be focus of Sony Music JV’s first podcast

Of all the possible topics for a major-label press release landing in Music Ally’s inbox, Jeffrey Epstein is definitely the most surprising. The late financier, who took his own life last month while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, is the subject for the first show being made by Three Uncanny Four Productions, the podcast-production […]

Spotify subsidiaries launch new business and horoscopes podcasts

The production lines are rolling for Spotify’s recently-acquired podcast studios, Gimlet and Parcast. Yesterday each had a brand new podcast to announce. Gimlet’s is called ‘The Journal’, and is a partnership with the Wall Street Journal for a daily show about “money, business and power”. That daily cycle could be important: it’ll generate useful content that […]

Partisan co-founder talks music-licensing for podcasts

When Music Ally and British industry body the BPI held an event about music and podcasts earlier this year, one of the main talking points was about the difficulty of licensing music for podcasts. “Rights are a disaster,” being just the snappiest summary of the current situation. Now podcasting-industry site Hot Pod News has been talking […]

Spotify creates its own daily-news podcast in Colombia

We reported yesterday on the launch of a new, daily true-crime podcast by Spotify’s recently-acquired Parcast studio. Now Spotify is launching another daily podcast – in Colombia. It’s called ‘El Primer Café‘, and the show is a collaboration with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. Co-hosted by broadcast journalist María Beatriz Echandía and DJ / podcaster Félix […]

Spotify’s Parcast launches a daily true-crime podcast

Spotify paid around $56m to acquire podcast production firm Parcast earlier this year, so what is the streaming service getting for its money? This week, it’s getting a brand new podcast called ‘Today In True Crime’, which as the name implies, will be a daily show. “Crime never takes a day off, and neither do we,” as […]

Pandora boosts podcasts catalogue with open submission tool

Spotify just brought its podcast analytics out of beta, but now Pandora is making its latest move in spoken-word content: by inviting podcasters to submit their shows to its platform. The tool is available within Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform (AMP) website, with podcasters able to submit their shows’ RSS-feed URLs, answer “a few easy questions” about their […]

Spotify brings its podcast analytics out of beta

In early October 2018, Spotify launched a version of its analytics for podcasters, offering data on their listeners, ‘starts’ and streams – in beta. Now the tool is coming out of beta, and is thus available to anyone distributing their podcast through Spotify. More than 100k podcasts are already accessing the data through its beta, Spotify […]

Podcasting app Himalaya spins off HiStudios production firm

Himalaya is one of the independent podcast apps battling to sign up listeners, and like rival Luminary it launched earlier this year with a very-big funding number: $100m of backing, with its lead investor being Chinese podcasts giant Ximalaya. Now the company is ramping up its original production, spinning out an entity called HiStudios that will focus […]

Deezer expands its podcasts pipeline with Blubrry / Libsyn deals

Spotify may suck up much of the media attention around music streaming’s intersection with podcasts, but the company’s rivals are all making their own moves too. Witness two deals announced last week that involve Deezer, which will significantly beef up that service’s catalogue of spoken-word shows. The first is with Libsyn, a company that distributes […]

Spotify filing reveals it paid €49m for podcasting firm Parcast

Music Ally reported on Spotify’s latest financial results last week, but the official filing has revealed a bit more information on the company’s recent acquisition of podcasts producer Parcast. Spotify paid €36m in cash and €13m ‘related to the estimated fair value of contingent consideration’ – €49m (around $55m) in total. However, Spotify also said that “the […]

New podcasts on the way for Gregory Porter and Dolly Parton

In Spotify’s earnings call with analysts last week, CEO Daniel Ek said that listening to music-focused podcasts has been growing fast on the platform: “If you look historically at podcasting that’s not been a big category, but it’s becoming a bigger one,” he said. It’s no surprise, then, to see the steady flow of new music-podcast announcements […]

Spotify beefs up its advertising-targeting features

Spotify’s advertising revenues grew by 34% to €165m in the second quarter of this year, and while that’s less than 10% of the company’s overall turnover, ads and the free tier ‘funnel’ continue to be of high strategic importance for Spotify. Hence its continued investment in new features, including the launch yesterday of ‘Interest Targeting […]

BPI Insight Session. What’s next for music and podcasts?

It’s notable how little research is publicly available on the size of the podcast audience globally. Ovum is the one research firm to have published estimates. Having previously claimed that there were 484 million [monthly] podcast listeners at the end of 2017, it now expects this to grow to more than one billion listeners in […]

Podcasts set to overtake music-downloads listening in UK

It won’t be long before more Brits are listening to podcasts than are listening to music downloads, judging by the latest figures published by UK radio-industry body Rajar. Its latest survey suggests that 16% of Brits aged 15+ now listen to podcasts, compared to 18% who listen to digital music tracks. The tipping point has already been […]

Podcasting app Castbox adds live-streaming feature with tips

Castbox is one of the independent podcasting apps that people can use to find, follow and listen to shows on their smartphones and smart speakers. Now it’s launching an interesting new feature for podcasters: the ability to stream live, and solicit donations from their listeners. The feature is called Livecast, and will help podcasters to […]

Notes of interest from Spotify’s Q2 2019 earnings call

It’s no secret: Spotify’s earnings calls aren’t meant to be interesting. They’re an exercise in repeating key corporate messages; parrying tricky questions; and striving not to say anything that will spook the Wall Street or music-industry horses. CEO Daniel Ek isn’t the kind of executive who lurches off-piste with controversial, off-the-cuff opinions, and CFO Barry […]

Feist is the latest artist to launch her own podcast

Canadian artist Leslie Feist (or rather: Feist) is the latest musician to launch her own podcast. It’s called ‘Feist’s Pleasure Studies’, and is a partnership with media company Talkhouse and women’s podcast network Earios. The show is described as a “spiritual companion” to Feist’s 2017 album ‘Pleasure’. Here’s the pitch: “Indie icon, Feist, knows a […]

Report claims Apple will soon be funding original podcasts too

Hands up if you saw this coming: Apple is preparing to get into the original-podcasts game, challenging Spotify with “plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service”. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that Apple has “reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts”. […]

Could Spotify make the next Dirty John-style podcast-to-TV hit?

‘Are you ready for Spotify: The Game Show?’ asked a report on MBW earlier this week. Insert your own jokes based on ‘Jeopardy’, ‘The Price Is Right’ and/or ‘Deal Or No Deal’ here, obviously. The story is based on a job ad for a ‘Reality Formats Lead’ at Spotify, working on reality podcast development for […]

Elevate Music Podcast to focus on wellbeing for musicians

There’s a new music-focused podcast in town, and it wants to help musicians safeguard their wellbeing and health. The podcast is called Elevate Music Podcast, and it’s the result of a partnership between production firm Wisebuddah; health and wellbeing service Elevate Music; and charity Help Musicians. The first season is due to tun to 15 […]

Chinese government to ‘curb industry chaos’ with audio apps

The Chinese government has launched a crackdown on audio apps, with one prominent music-streaming service included. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced that 26 audio platforms that spread “historical nihilism and obscene pornography” are the first batch of services it has taken action against. The announcement promises a “comprehensive centralised rectification of the audio industry” that […]

Guggenheim analysts hail Spotify’s push into podcasts

Spotify’s big podcasts push is eliciting mixed feelings within the music industry, as our recent survey showed: some people worry that it will draw attention (and revenues) away from music, while others think it will help Spotify grow as a platform and thus grow for its music partners. Analysts, meanwhile, are welcoming the development. Business […]

Music podcast ‘And The Writer Is…’ passes 2m downloads

One of the quirks of the podcasts market in 2019 is that ‘downloads’ is still an important metric, even as the likes of Spotify and Pandora have made ‘streams’ a bigger part of the market. Still, downloads count, and one of the established music podcasts just announced a new milestone. ‘And The Writer Is…’ is […]

Wondery talks music and podcasts: ‘This really is its own medium’

Podcast production studio Wondery was founded in 2016, and is best known for shows including Dirty John – recently made into a Netflix TV series – American History, Business Wars and Dr Death. Wondery is also one of the biggest independent podcast publishers in the US, with a monthly audience of 7.4 million Americans in March 2019, and […]

Spotify will now help advertisers target podcast listeners

Spotify’s latest feature for brands advertising on its service is ‘podcast listener targeting’. It launched in 10 countries on Friday: the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia. “With this feature, enterprise brand marketers will be able to reach Spotify Free users who have listened to podcasts on Spotify, verified by […]

The best music podcasts in 2019

There are a number of popular genres in the podcasts market: true crime, comedy, sports, politics and technology among them. But music is also a thriving genre, with a variety of sub-formats exploring songs, artists and the culture around music. We’ve chosen some of the most popular and/or inventive shows, which make a great starting […]

Spotify rolls out its new Library design to premium users

Some Spotify subscribers have had its mobile app’s redesigned ‘Your Library’ screen for a while now, but as of yesterday it began rolling out to all of the service’s premium users. As we reported before, the screen now has two main tabs, ‘Music’ and ‘Podcasts’, with the latter providing an easier way for people to […]

The challenge for music and podcasts: “Rights are a disaster’

There are big opportunities for the music industry in podcasts, but one of the big barriers is licensing: the cost and complexity for podcasters of securing the rights to actually play music in their shows. This was one of the clearest points made last night at the BPI and Music Ally’s ‘Pod Only Knows’ event […]

Spotify repeats ‘Sound Up’ podcasts program for women of colour

Last year, Spotify ran a New York accelerator program called ‘SoundUp’ for women of colour with ambitions to launch their own podcasts. It has since been repeated elsewhere in the world. Now it’s heading back to New York for its second year. 10 women will be chosen for the five-day program, with a panel of […]

Podcasts and music: the opportunities… and the annoyances

Around 62 million Americans are listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, according to the latest edition of Edison Research and Triton Digital’s ‘The Infinite Dial’ report, which was published in March 2019. Another research firm, Ovum, predicts that there will be more than one billion podcast listeners globally by 2020. No wonder music-streaming services […]

Spotify encourages artists to create their own podcasts

“Do You Need Your Own Podcast?” asks Spotify’s latest blog post aimed at artists. The tone of the article is clearly encouraging them to give it a go, ideally via Spotify’s own Anchor podcast-creation app, which it acquired earlier this year. “A podcast is a great way to establish your personality as an artist and expand […]

Spotify’s Soundtrap cloud-studio moves into podcast creation

Soundtrap is the cloud music-studio startup that Spotify acquired in November 2017. Since then, the tool has continued to develop, including partnerships with schools and collaborations between emerging artists. Now it’s also part of Spotify’s push into podcasts, with the launch of something called Soundtrap for Storytellers. Spotify is describing it as “a cloud-based one-stop shop […]

Spotify tests making podcasts more prominent in mobile app

Spotify is testing a design tweak to its mobile app that gives podcasts more prominence in the ‘library’ screen for its listeners. Bloomberg reported yesterday that the new layout involves two main tabs at the top of the screen to switch between ‘Music’ and ‘Podcasts’, with sections for new episodes of shows that you follow; shows that […]

Universal Music to develop original shows with podcast firm Wondery

Spotify and Pandora are throwing their energies into podcasts… but now so is the largest major label, Universal Music Group, via a partnership with podcast publisher Wondery. The pair have signed a deal to develop original podcasts based on the label’s catalogue, artists and labels. No specific shows have been announced yet, but when they […]

Blueprint Radio launches podcast-plugging service for artists

In recent years, the traditional discipline of radio-plugging has been joined by playlist-plugging, with people who specialise in pitching tracks to streaming services’ playlist curators. Now get set for a new variant: podcast-plugging. British radio-promotions firm Blueprint Radio has launched a new division called Blueprint Pods, which it says will focus on matching artists “with podcasts […]

$100m-funded Luminary podcasts app to launch on 23 April

Music Ally wrote about Luminary earlier this year: it’s a US-based podcasting startup that emerged from stealth mode brandishing pre-launch funding of $100m, plus plans to launch more than 40 podcasts with hosts like Lena Dunham, Malcolm Gladwell, Trevor Noah and Conan O’Brien. But the company was more than just a podcast production-studio: it had plans […]

Could podcast listening be more social? Castbox thinks so

Music Ally is thinking about podcasts a lot at the moment, given the interest in that world from Spotify, Pandora and other music-streaming services. These companies have the chance to innovate around content, technology AND business models for podcasts, so we’re keeping an eye on interesting stuff that independent companies are up to around those […]

BBC hopes to compete with Apple and Spotify for UK podcast listening

British broadcaster the BBC has just published its ‘annual plan’ for the next year, outlining its strategic priorities. One of them is its BBC Sounds app, which the corporation says has now been downloaded more than 1.8m times in the UK, and attracts a weekly audience of more than one million listeners. “A major part of our […]

BBC pulls its podcasts from Google Podcasts and Assistant

Amid all the excitement around new distribution platforms for podcasts, there are also some tensions. For example, British broadcaster the BBC has pulled its catalogue of shows from the Google Podcasts app, as well as Google Assistant. The Beeb explained why in a blog post. “Last year, Google launched its own podcast app for Android users […]

Sandbox Issue 224: Up Hit Creek. THE DRY STREAMS PARADOX

Lead: The Dry Streams Paradox is when there is a huge gap between the number of streams an act gets and the number of fans they have or can reach. Just because someone plays one of your songs, it does not follow that they even know what your name is. Does this all mean that […]

Anghami adds more than 250 local podcasts to its catalogue

Soon, it’ll be quicker to list the music-streaming services that *aren’t* streaming into podcasts as an additional content format. Middle Eastern / North African service Anghami is the latest, having added more than 250 shows from more than 40 local podcast studios, as well as global shows from outside the MENA region. “The local podcasting community is […]

Gimlet Media staff plan to unionise after Spotify acquisition

Fresh from being bought by Spotify, the staff of podcasting firm Gimlet Media have announced plans to unionise – which would make them the first US podcasting company to do so. “As Spotify’s reported $230 million acquisition of Gimlet makes clear, however, Gimlet is no longer the small, scrappy operation memorably documented on the first […]

UK broadcaster Fearne Cotton turns curator for Apple Music

We’re not sure how well-known Fearne Cotton is outside the UK: in Music Ally’s homeland she’s become a familiar face and voice through her TV and radio broadcasting. Now she’s become the latest curator on Apple Music. This is a proper partnership: Cotton is maintaining four different playlists on the streaming service, which is promoting […]

Blossoms get the pints in for their very own ‘pubcast’

If you’re reading this, Daniel Ek and team, we have another idea for what the existing podcasts ecosystem is missing: traditional British boozers! But UK band Blossoms are here to change that with the launch of their own ‘Blossoms Pubcast’, recorded in the pub in Stockport that inspired the band’s name. “In the first episode Tom, […]

Spotify podcast plans: discovery, experiments and ‘superpowers’

We know Spotify is splashing up to $500m on podcast acquisitions this year, but the company’s wider strategy around spoken-word content is also coming together. The Verge has done a good job of bringing together the various strands of Spotify’s plans, including recent comments from various executives. It includes the company’s determination to bring its music-discovery algorithms […]

Podcasts startup Luminary launches with $100m of funding

Another day, another podcasts startup attracting significant investment, amid the wider excitement around the spoken-word format. This time it’s a Los Angeles-based startup called Luminary, which is launching a slate of more than 40 podcasts including the likes of Lena Dunham, Malcolm Gladwell, Trevor Noah and Conan O’Brien as hosts. What’s more, the New York Times reports that […]

Podcasts app Pocket Casts is launching an Amazon Alexa skill

For people who aren’t using iTunes or Spotify to get their podcasts, Pocket Casts is one of the better independent podcast apps. Now it’s making an interesting leap from smartphones to smart speakers, courtesy of its new Alexa skill. “You can play any of your podcasts by name, ‘Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play the latest […]

iHeartMedia buys Radiojar to power ‘pop-up’ broadcasting

US radio group iHeartMedia has announced its latest acquisition: a Greek company called Radiojar, which offers “a centralised, cloud-based audio playout platform”. According to iHeartMedia, the deal gives it “a platform to easily combine or parse individual audio elements such as DJ voice tracks, music and broadcast spots to create, manage, distribute and monetise streams, […]

Pandora launches ‘stories’ as a blend of podcasts and playlists

Pretty much every social-media service now has ‘stories’ as a format, so why shouldn’t music-streaming services? However, Pandora’s launch of a ‘stories’ feature isn’t what you might expect (i.e. short video clips that expire after 24 hours). Instead, it’s a format that blends podcasts with playlists. “Podcasts can tell stories about music, but generally don’t include full […]

Around 91m Americans may be listening to podcasts every week

“We’re entering the Golden Age of Podcasts” claims a headline on a blog post by Chartable, a company that focuses on podcast analytics. This is based on an online survey conducted by the company recently, which aims to track some trends in the US podcasting market. Among them: 10.8% of respondents report listening to podcasts every […]

Spotify’s ‘Word’ category highlights spoken-word content

Spotify has made it clear that podcasts are just its first push into non-music content, so what’s next? A blog post by the company highlighting its ‘Word’ category offers some hints. “A category home to recordings of everything from poetry to guided meditation, audiobooks, and short stories,” as the post puts it.  We floated the idea of […]

Spotify paid €300m for Gimlet Media and Anchor acquisitions

When Spotify announced that it was buying podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor, it declined to say how much it was paying, other than that they were part of a wider $400m-$500m earmarked for podcast acquisitions. “We’re not commenting on that today, because we have other transactions in the works, and I don’t want transactions […]

Spotify gets Chuck D for eight-part podcast about The Clash

It was clear last week just how much welly Spotify is willing to put behind podcasts in the year ahead, with up to $500m earmarked for acquisitions of tech and content – including its deals for Gimlet Media and Anchor. Now Spotify has announced details of its next original, exclusive podcast: an eight-part documentary called […]

Sandbox Issue 221: Fake Views. Lies, damned lies and music statistics

Lead: Smoke and mirrors have always been part of music, but when it comes to data, truth is starting to play second fiddle to hype. The nefarious and ruthless are finding ways to “massage” social media and streaming numbers while offering the desperate and gullible a quick fix. But the platforms are getting wise to […]

Podcasting startup Himalaya Media raises $100m funding round

It’s the week for big podcasting news. Spotify has made waves with its acquisitions of Gimlet Media and Anchor, but other podcasting firms are also capitalising on current interest in the medium. US startup Himalaya Media, for example, has raised $100m in funding to push its podcast-listening app and distribution platform. The app launched in […]

Spotify buys podcasting firms Gimlet Media and Anchor

Rumours that Spotify was about to shell out $200m-plus on podcast production company Gimlet Media were correct: the acquisition was announced today. But Spotify is also buying a second company, Anchor, which makes an app that people can use to create their own podcasts. The value of the acquisitions has not yet been announced (Spotify […]

Hungama Music launches radio-style ‘original audio programming’

It’s not just the likes of Spotify, Deezer and Pandora trying to take a bite out of traditional radio by moving into podcasts. Indian streaming service Hungama Music is following suit with the launch of what it’s terming ‘original audio programming’. That means radio-style shows in languages including Hindi, Telegu, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi, but starting […]

Podcast listening on Spotify grew by 175% in 2018

Spotify’s push around podcasts at the CES technology show last week included the release of some new figures about how people are listening to this content on its service. “On Spotify, we saw listening increase by 175% over the last year,” explained the company in a post on its Spotify for Brands blog. And yes, […]

Spotify reveals more about its podcast plans in 2019

Besides having a party with posh food and Rita Ora, Spotify’s presence at the CES technology show in Las Vegas this week has seen podcasts loom large. We reported earlier this week on its announcement of a new, exclusive deal with journalist and broadcaster Jemele Hill to launch a new podcast on Spotify. Now the […]

Spotify signs former ESPN host Jemele Hill for new podcast

Jemele Hill used to be a host on sports TV network ESPN, and was in the news herself last year when she tweeted that “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists”. Hill left ESPN in September and subsequently joined The Atlantic, but now she’s also signed a […]

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