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Insider April 21, 2022 — ⚡️ LIGHTNING ROUND ⚡️

Spotify news, live audio news, and weird financial news

Hi everyone. I had a nice, fun, and busy week away… and I’ve returned to find that podcasting news did not slow down. So, it’s time to do some catching up: I’m going to try to turn this into a bit of a ⚡️ LIGHTNING ROUND ⚡️ and run through the news items as quickly as I can over today and tomorrow. (Spoiler: I’m not all that quick about it.)

Today: Spotify news, live audio news, and weird financial news. Tomorrow: even more Spotify news, lots of partnership deals, new shows, and ~ moves ~ plus whatever unexpected things pop up between now and then. Ready? Let’s go.

Spotify’s busy week

New this morning: Spotify opens video podcasts to everyone in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. You’ll now be able to upload videos through Anchor to have them distributed on Spotify. This is big in the Spotify versus YouTube department. The outstanding question: can Spotify teach people that it’s a home for video and not just audio?

The Obamas are leaving Spotify. Their production company, Higher Ground, is talking to other potential partners, including Audible and iHeartMedia, according to Bloomberg. Here’s the twist, though: Spotify reportedly declined to make an offer. That may be because Higher Ground wants to distribute to multiple platforms and not be locked into an exclusivity deal, according to the report. On the other hand…

Spotify’s top podcast dealmaker is leaving. Courtney Holt — who helped bring Joe Rogan, the Obamas, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Spotify — is stepping away from the company, The Ankler reported last week. Holt had been overseeing talk partnerships, editorial, and global markets and will remain on as an advisor for the next year. Holt is reportedly looking for “other creative opportunities,” but the obvious question here is: does this signal a change in strategy for Spotify? I’m not quite ready to make that bet, but it’s interesting news coming right as we learn that the Obamas are leaving, too.

The Parcast Union has a contract. They shared details on Monday, many of which are specifically catered to supporting podcast creators, making for a more reliable work environment. They not only won the expected annual and base pay bumps but also more specialized agreements like overtime after eight hours per day, a guaranteed rest period, specific crediting language, and four weeks’ notice of “significant changes to or cancellations of shows.” The union also got the diversity language they’d been looking for; no luck on IP rights, though. (Quick disclosure: the Parcast Union is organized with the Writers Guild of America, East, which also represents the Vox Media Union, which I’m a member of.) My colleague Mia Sato had the details first over at The Verge if you want to see more.

(I’m sorry everyone, but there’s at least five more Spotify links on my list… so stay tuned for that tomorrow.)

Live audio shuffles

Spotify Greenroom is now Spotify Live. The rebranded live audio service is now being integrated into the main Spotify app. This always seemed like a matter of time… and the new name is a lot clearer about what the service actually is.

Spotify shuts down Greenroom creator fund. “We plan to shift toward other initiatives for live creators,” the company wrote in an email.

Clubhouse experiments with in-room games. The first game is pretty simple: it just presents a bunch of ice-breaker prompts, like two truths and a lie.

Facebook didn’t renew deals with Live Audio creators. Ashley Carman writes at Bloomberg that it’s one of many signs that Facebook is losing interest in audio and podcasting. Instead, it’s reportedly emphasizing “the metaverse and online shopping” to partners.

Strange financial news

The SEC suspended trading of Libsyn after the hosting service failed to file public reports for over a year. I’m sorry, what!? This is extremely unusual, to say the least. Inside Radio has more. It all sounds very chaotic over there.

Deezer is going public via a special-purpose acquisition company (or SPAC). “As of Q2 2021, Deezer only held 2% of the global streaming music subscription market,” TechCrunch writes. Nothing puts my faith in a company’s future performance like a SPAC deal… 

Corporate consolidation has been good for podcasting efficiencies, says Vox Media. Disclosure: they own this newsletter.

Netflix expects to lose 2 million subscribers; CNN Plus “looks doomed.” This is obviously not podcasting news, but I think it’s worth paying attention to what’s happening in another major streaming content sector. Everyone has an explanation of what’s going wrong, and my very quick read is that some combination of too many services, too high prices, and too little great content has finally pushed things too far, for Netflix in particular. On one hand, maybe a company like Netflix will see podcasts as a space for expansion; on the other, podcast companies may want to keep in mind that audiences clearly have a limit when it comes to content services — at least ones that require a monthly subscription.

Phew. That’s it for today. I’ll have plenty more for y’all tomorrow.