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Insider April 1, 2022 — YouTube and Apple making moves

This is an April Fools-free zone

Good morning, everyone, and good luck navigating April Fools’ Day. On a personal level, I am totally on board with giving companies a day to fake-announce goofy products and launch silly day-long features that poke fun at themselves. As a journalist, however, today is a chaotic nightmare obstacle course. Wish me luck. I promise no news below is a joke… unless you count the Joe Rogan update.

YouTube plans podcast features

Earlier this week, Podnews scooped an early look at YouTube’s plans for podcasting. A leaked slide deck pointed to a handful of notable features YouTube has in the works: a dedicated podcast page, a way to ingest RSS feeds, a way to sell your own audio ads, and improved analytics.

None of these features spell “blowout podcasting success” on their own. But I don’t think that’s what we’re looking for here. YouTube taking podcasting seriously is itself a huge deal with huge potential — both for the platform and for podcasters who figure out how to take advantage of it. And this news makes it sound like 2022 could be the year we see YouTube make some moves.

Back in 2019, my former colleague Julia Alexander wrote about how traditional YouTubers were already using the platform for just this purpose. Big names like Logan Paul and Ethan and Hila Klein had launched podcasts with video components, which they would post on separate channels, and then break out into clips on yet another channel. (Some guy named Joe Rogan was using this model, too.)

The setup allowed these creators to diversify their content, reach new viewers, and reach viewers in different ways, too. Short clips could appeal to people who weren’t ever going to consume an hour-long Logan Paul podcast, but they could also be a funnel for listeners who might become regular listeners but just hadn’t heard of it yet.

Right now, this model has been a big win for existing YouTubers and digital-native networks like RoosterTeeth’s The Roost that know how to take advantage of it. The potential that comes with YouTube’s growing investment is that others with great audio content might learn to tap in, too.

Women are driving the growth of podcast listening

Nielsen has new numbers out this week showing the explosion of podcasting growth coming from female listeners. There were 5.4 million women considered “heavy” podcast listeners in November 2019, according to the report. By November 2021, that figure had reached 9.3 million, a growth of close to 75 percent.

That’s particularly notable because Nielsen says there was only a 40 percent increase in overall US podcast listeners over the past three years. So new audiences seem to increasingly skew toward women. The report also says that the contingent of women considered “heavy” listeners are better than the typical listener at brand retention from ads. Aka, y’all better be thinking about appealing to female listeners if you aren’t already.

Double Elvis doubles down on local content

Double Elvis is betting that there’s an audience for local podcasts in big cities. The Disgraceland creator is launching a new series of shows under the banner Lust for Live — and truly, don’t we all feel that after two years of pandemic — that will tell people about upcoming live events in their city and introduce them to new artists.

The network is kicking off with a show in Boston, which will publish weekly, and it plans to launch in Los Angeles and New York later this year.

I think this is a neat idea, even if it seems like a potentially pricey bet. These shows still require all the hard work that goes into any podcast, but they necessarily have a limited audience. Still, it’s not like there isn’t a vibrant history of local radio, so maybe that can work in podcasting, too, and surely there are some unique advertising possibilities that come along with the focus.

Apple gives content apps a lifeline

You know how I went (way too) long on Spotify and app stores last week? Well, I’m sorry, but I have another update. This one is about things on Apple’s side of the fence.

Apple is now allowing “reader” apps — apps that allow you to access content purchased elsewhere, like ebooks — to include a link out to their website to create a new account. This applies to apps offering digital content, which, relevant to this newsletter, includes music and audio.

I haven’t seen what this looks like in practice yet, but in theory, it means that Spotify could direct new users to its own website to sign up for an account on iOS, rather than using Apple’s in-app payments and handing over up to a 30 percent cut of revenue.

The user experience of this all doesn’t seem great — Apple clearly still wants people using its own system — but the impact of this could go beyond Spotify. Audio companies that want to control the billing relationship with customers (and earn more money in the process) now have an option to do just that.

Rode made headphones for producers (and they’re good!)

Rode, known for its microphones, debuted its first pair of headphones earlier this week. My colleague Andrew Marino — he’s our senior audio director and produces podcasts, among many other things for us — has been testing them out for the past month, and he’s mostly got good things to say about them.

Andrew writes that Rode’s first headphones “sound better than most headphones in the $150 price bracket. They aren’t the ultimate mixing headphones that will make you want to ditch using mixing monitors — but great for a lot of production work.” After a while, he says, “I have started to prefer their frequency response over my other editing headphones.”

Rode’s headphones are a bit more expensive than Sony’s MDR-7506, but they have a handful of unique features meant to make them comfortable for extended listening sessions. You can read Andrew’s full review here.

Joe Rogan will leave if he has to ‘walk on eggshells’

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Joe Rogan said he’d quit his podcast if he has to — and I’m very much interpreting his comments here — stop saying inappropriate or offensive things.

“If I become something different because it grew bigger, I’ll quit,” Rogan said on Tuesday’s episode. “If it gets to a point where I can’t do it anymore, where I have to do it in some sort of weird way where I walk on eggshells and mind my p’s and q’s, fuck that.”

That’s all for today. I’ll be with you next week!