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Insider November 17, 2022 — Talent deals are back!

Plus, Pineapple Street employees have successfully unionized

It’s been a minute since we got a juicy talent deal. Today, Spotify brings on a new buzzy host, Audible makes a deal with Goop, and YouTube keeps trying to low-key entice podcasters.

Spotify cuts deal with Emma Chamberlain, will take her podcast exclusive in 2023

Spotify announced Thursday that it has cut a multiyear deal with YouTuber-turned-podcaster Emma Chamberlain. Starting early next year, all past and future episodes of Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain will be exclusive to the platform. The podcast, which is currently produced by Cadence13, is available across platforms until the Spotify arrangement takes effect. It’s Spotify’s first big licensing deal in a while and a savvy move as video personalities pivot to podcasting. 

Chamberlain, likely the biggest Gen Z influencer in the world, has managed to spin her star power into a top-ranked podcast. And she is not the only one who has made the leap. In September, Amazon Music snagged an exclusive deal with MrBallen creator John Allen, who started out his spooky true-crime show on YouTube. His channel is middlingly successful, but his podcast is a smash. And as studios try to drive podcast listens with known personalities, influencers may be a better fit for podcasting than the film and TV stars they have tried to elevate (often without success).

After making talent deal after talent deal in 2020 and 2021 (with varying results), Spotify has been pretty quiet this past year. I am sure we will hear more next year, as some of their landmark deals with hosts like Joe Rogan and Alex Cooper run their course. I imagine they will fight hard for renewals, as exclusive, personality-driven shows seem to be the magic sauce for Spotify.

Audible lands development deal with Goop

The single worst podcast episode I ever listened to was when Gwenyth Paltrow interviewed Sarah Jessica Parker at her Hamptons house (the stakes have truly never been lower). But enough people are into the Goop vibe that Paltrow’s wellness brand has landed a development deal with Audible. While the deal does not include The goop Podcast (which is produced in partnership with Cadence13), it will entail four new shows, none of which will be hosted by Paltrow.

In January, Audible will launch four Goop shows: Leaning into Pleasure, hosted by sexual wellness advocate Penda N’diaye; Healing in a Sick Society, hosted by psychiatrist Will Siu; Finding Beauty, hosted by LGBTQAI activist Jodie Patterson; and Coming Home to Yourself, hosted by psychologist Thema S. Bryant.

In its quest to establish itself as a podcast destination, Audible is taking a page out of Spotify’s playbook by aggressively racking up celebrity-produced shows. In June, the company announced a deal with the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions. The company has also worked with Elizabeth Banks, Lena Waithe, and Kevin Hart on podcast projects. 

YouTube posts how-to guide for podcasters

YouTube keeps making (tiny) moves to establish itself officially as a podcast platform after stealthily becoming the most-used podcast platform in the US. The company posted a guide to podcasting on its platform, and it has one big and potentially disruptive piece of advice: shoot video.

“Our analysis found that podcasts on YouTube with video–particularly those featuring hosts on camera–are performing better than podcasts with just static visuals,” the guide says. It also emphasizes that podcast videos can be lower production than other types of videos because they “are more casual in nature.”

Pineapple Street Union is recognized by management

Pineapple Street’s employees have successfully unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East after receiving voluntary recognition from management at the studio and parent company, Audacy. (Disclosure, Vox Media is also unionized with WGAE). It’s a win for the union that will allow them to move on to contract bargaining at a time when the company is facing headwinds.

“We’re very pleased that Pineapple and Audacy have moved quickly and respectfully in this voluntary recognition process,” the union said in a statement. “We hope that this not only sets the tone for our upcoming bargaining process, but also sets an example for leaders across our industry.”

Pineapple has produced a number of well-received shows, like Will Be Wild, The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow, and Missing Richard Simmons. But Audacy has been hit particularly hard by the economic environment and risks being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange if it can’t get its stock price back above $1 per share (it’s currently trading at 33 cents). The company is reportedly exploring a sale of its other podcast studio, Cadence13.

When the employees of Pineapple Street announced their intention to unionize last month, they demanded better pay, severance packages, and accountability when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Ideally, those protections would be in place before Audacy were to make any changes at the studio, but the bargaining process often stretches on for a year or more. 

That’s all for today. See you tomorrow!