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Insider: November 22, 2019

- Spotify in India - Whooshkaa in Asia - Keep an eye on something called Pex... and more!

Spotify in India. A follow up on Spotify’s continuing push towards exclusives and relationships with celebrities/influences, which was covered in yesterday’s Insider. On top of the reported “more than 30 new podcasts from partners including Jordan Peele, Paul Feig, Mark Wahlberg and YouTube influencer Lele Pons”, there is also an international dimension to this strategy. Pankti Mehta Kadakia reported for Forbes India this week on Spotify’s original podcast push in a market that the company entered only this year.

On 3 December, three new Spotify podcasts aimed specifically at the Indian market will launch: a cricket show, a relationships podcast and an audio drama. The play looks similar to the influencer-led plans elsewhere in the world — for instance, the cricket show (called 22 Yarns) will be hosted by TV presenter Gaurav Kapur, who has a significant profile in the sport and 1.5 million followers on Twitter.

In that article, managing director for Spotify India Amarjit Singh Batra is quoted saying the following: “The truth is that it’s a new market in India, and we need to invest first into creating this ecosystem. Returns will follow.” An interesting acknowledgement that direct revenue from podcasts is a secondary consideration for Spotify right now, and that being first into an emerging market matters more.

Go Behind The Scenes. Speaking of Spotify, Gimlet stable stalwart Reply All has recently debuted a new Spotify-only extra giving behind the scenes insight into the process of making the show. The new venture was flagged at the start of the latest main feed episode, Thank You For Noticing, with host PJ Vogt explaining that they would be replaying episodes “that people usually have questions for us about” and then following up with a behind the scenes interview about how the story was made.

The first iteration of this project concerns Sruthi Pinnamaneni’s 2016 mini series On the Inside about high-security prisoner Paul Modrowski who blogged from prison. The interview covers the logistics of how Pinnamaneni interviewed Modrowski, how she got interested in his story in the first place, and some of the decisions were made about how to present it on the show.

It’s not that unusual a practice to do this kind of extra podcast content — there are plenty of shows that offer this kind of ‘insider’ glimpse for Patreon supporters or similar. The intriguing part here is the decision to make the behind the scenes stuff exclusive to Spotify. Post acquisition, high profile Gimlet shows like Reply All have mostly carried on as before, with only small promos for Spotify playlists and so on.

This is the first larger attempt that I’m aware of to get Reply All listeners moving over to Spotify, and it’ll be interesting to see if it results in any visibly meaningful uptick. The behind the scenes stuff is accessible to anyone with a free account on Spotify, so it’s looking to funnel sign ups more than anything else.

Whooshkaa in Asia. Whooshkaa, the Australian audio company that provides both hosting and monetisation services, has done a deal with Astro Radio in Malaysia to launch a new “multi-lingual audio-on-demand venture”. Whooshkaa has already worked internationally with the likes of HowStuffWorks as an advertising partner, and this new arrangement will see them supply their software to Astro Radio for further expansion and monetisation of their podcasting operation. According to the announcement, Astro Radio broadcasts in four languages and runs digital streams for China, India, Indonesia and Brunei as well as radio and podcast services in Malaysia.

Musical detection. This is an area I’m always interested in: the combination of music, podcasts and tech. According to this write up on Music Ally, music analytics startup Pex is now scanning Apple Podcasts for copyrighted music clips. “As of today, Pex will be able to find musical works and audio snippets as short as a half second in all podcasts uploaded to Apple Podcasts,” the quote from COO Amadea Choplin runs.

As this Hot Pod case study back in September highlighted, music licensing for podcasts is something that big publishers are taking increasingly seriously, although there’s still a lot of blurriness in different territories’ legislation about how licenses for podcasts might work. Hopefully technology like this will force a bigger change, rather than just result in a lot of small independent creators being slapped with charges, but I’m not holding my breath.

On copcasts. A small coda to Nick’s recent Vulture piece about police departments launching their own podcasts: police in the Netherlands have supposedly had a breakthrough on a cold case after appealing for witnesses via a three episode podcast series. The details in that BBC write up are scant (I assume for reasons to do with the investigation) but they’ve had “useful information” as a result of the podcast.

We’ve had examples of this kind of copcast before — where the true crime podcast format is used as another way of broadcasting an appeal for witnesses. The shift that is remarkable to me, though, is the way it is covered. I can’t imagine the BBC writing a lengthy news story about an overseas police force launching a website, say, to capture potential tips, but there’s obviously something well known and yet novel enough about podcasting to justify this story and other similar ones in the past.

Of note: one of the related links in that story is to another BBC article with the text “Is our love of true crime problematic?” and it made me wonder, should we be asking ourselves the same question of these police podcasts. 

Four quick links: 

(1) A “status assessment” of what’s up in European podcasting.

(2) What do we want from an impeachment podcast? Sarah Larson ponders.

(3) Apple removes customer reviews from its online store (for its products). How long can the podcast ratings survive, eh?

(4) How the Hmong diaspora use a hybrid teleconference-radio show to stay connected.