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Insider: May 29, 2020

Podfund x Atypical Artists Podcast Academy Governors Bon Appetit Podcasts... and more!

Podfund invests in Atypical Artists. Since the news started trickling out that all was not well at Luminary, I’ve been turning this one question around in my brain: if, as suggested by this Bloomberg News report, the startup is cutting costs dramatically, what happens to the production companies/partnerships that were using Luminary money as one of their major income streams?

We’ve already heard from one such — Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant announced earlier this month that they were winding up the Stable Genius partnership that made their ZigZag show and Note to Self for Luminary. And now another Luminary affiliated shop has made their new model public. Atypical Artists, the company formed in 2019 by The Bright Sessions creator Lauren Shippen with Jordan Cope and Briggon Snow in part to make The AM Sessions for Luminary, has become the latest outfit to receive a strategic investment from Podfund.

Podfund is the seed investment startup headed by RadioPublic CEO Jake Shapiro. It launched officially in May last year — I covered it then — but had been operating under the radar for a while beforehand with initial investments in Pushkin Industries and Disgraceland. Arrangements vary according to circumstances (and the terms for Atypical Artists have not been disclosed) but the podcaster typically gives up a percentage of revenue for a stated period in return for an upfront investment in their company.

The release states that conversations between Podfund and Atypical Artists began last fall, and that their next release — a Bright Sessions sequel called The College Tapes — will still go to Luminary later this year. In that sense, Podfund is a somewhat unusual entity, in that it invests in audio companies but generally doesn’t take IP ownership in return. As such, it doesn’t operate like a network, although last year Shaprio and general manager Nicola Korzenko told me that they were hoping the creators Podfund invested in would operate as a “peer group” with members at a similar stage of development.

It is worth noting, I think, that when I spoke to Shapiro last year, he said that Podfund was mostly interested in creators at an early stage of their journey and hoped that the investment would help these fledgling production shops avoid the “common pain points” that come with trying to grow a company while also making good audio. Atypical Artists is something of an exception to this, having already worked with a major distribution partner/investor in Luminary and now having “more than a dozen shows actively in development”.

Regular readers know that here at Hot Pod we’re always interested in shaking out the possibilities of funding models beyond the widespread sponsorship route for regularly publishing shows, and for that reason Podfund continues to really interest me. Limited run series, fiction, experimental audio and other formats that are generally considered to be less “brand friendly” have a steeper hill to climb than, say, a massively popular weekly interview show hosted by a celebrity when it comes to monetisation. This kind of seed investment provides, for those companies that can meet the conditions required, another avenue beyond advertising or crowdfunding.The Podcast Academy announces governors. The volunteer board of governors for the new membership-driven non profit called The Podcast Academy has been announced. A reminder: this is the group that was announced back in February with the mission of “elevating awareness and excitement for podcasts as a major media category and advancing knowledge and relationships in and around the business.” In practical terms, that was expected to translate into a series of webinars, networking events, research papers and an award ceremony, to be held for the first time in 2021. I recommend refreshing your memory on the challenges facing this entity with Nick’s piece about who gets to “represent podcasting” from a couple of months ago.

Rob Greenlee from Libsyn will act as chairperson for the Podcast Academy, with Kerri Hoffman of PRX as secretary and other assorted governors drawn from both the independent and corporate podcast scenes including Eric Diehn from Stitcher, Jenna Weiss-Berman of Pineapple Street and Conal Byrne from iHeartMedia. Hernan Lopez from Wondery is also listed as a governor — and indeed was considered to be a prime mover in the Academy’s formation — despite his ongoing legal issues around the 2015 Fifa scandal. From the Academy’s second year of existence, the governors will be elected by members (it currently costs $50 to join, a price that rises to $100 after October 1).Fifty local radio stations in the UK to go. Bauer, the German media conglomerate that operates a number of commercial radio stations in the UK, has announced that almost fifty local stations are to stop producing their own regional programming and will instead air syndicated shows made in London. From September, these stations — which currently have their own names peculiar to the town or city where they are located — will all be rebranded as “Greatest Hits Radio”. Local journalists will still make stories to supplement the national news coverage, but it is estimated that around 160 on air roles will go in the shift.The Archers changes under lockdown. The Archers, the radio soap opera that has been running on the BBC since 1951, has returned from its first ever hiatus with a new production style to account for lockdown restrictions. After a three week break during which time classic archive episodes were aired in show’s usual slot on BBC Radio 4 and on its podcast feed, it returned this week with new episodes. (The Archers, it should be noted, is one the BBC’s biggest podcasts.)

Rather than dialogue between characters recorded in studio, the show now takes the form of monologues recorded in the actors’ homes and tells the story of how the fictional rural community of Ambridge is coping with the coronavirus outbreak. This rapid change in style definitely falls into the category of “things the BBC would not previously have countenanced doing under any circumstance but have now done in three weeks with no fuss because of the virus.”Gourmet Makes: The Podcast?An eagle eyed reader spotted a Conde Nast job posting on the NYC radio listserv seeking “a freelance lead producer for a brand new narrative podcast featuring some of the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen’s biggest stars”. It seems that the brand’s video success on YouTube is now going to get an audio treatment…Drive in movies but for radio. The UK’s broadcasting regulator Ofcom has expedited the process for granting temporary radio licenses so that drive in movies, outdoor church services and other socially distant audio-led events can go ahead as soon as possible. I’ve also heard of similar efforts elsewhere in the world, with the somewhat old fashioned speaker devices that can hook up an audio feed to multiple cars suddenly very much in demand in the US, for instance. Fascinating consequence of everything that’s going on right now.