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Insider: September 3, 2021 — RedCircle raises $6 million in Series A funding, Spotify hires new Head of US Studios and Video, Odds and Ends

RedCircle raises $6 million in Series A funding. We’ve talked about RedCircle a couple of times in this newsletter, but for those unfamiliar: the company, founded by former Uber-types, started out as a platform dishing up paid podcast tools — at least, that was the focus back when I first wrote about them in the fall of 2019. They have since broadened out to become a hosting platform option meant to compete on multiple fronts, providing users with solutions for, among other things, cross-promotion, dynamic ad insertion, and direct revenue. Its future is likely defined by just how far-reaching Spotify can go with Anchor.

In the corresponding press release, the startup claims to support “thousands of monthly active podcasters earning several million dollars this year alone,” with many generating “six figures annually.” This funding round was led by EPIC Ventures and Refinery Ventures, with participation from SignalFire, Bloomberg Beta, and MathCapital, among others.

That reminds me… Mulling over this recent thread from friend-of-the-newsletter Cherie Hu:

“With every tech platform under the sun launching direct creator subscriptions, I wonder if there are any artists/creators out there who sustain successful subscription businesses on *multiple* tech platforms simultaneously. My theory is that doing this well is almost impossible… Also, there is an inherent contradiction between the centralization of big-tech creator subscription products and the rising wave of interest towards more decentralized/platform-agnostic community options for creators, which some big-tech companies allegedly want to support too.”

 I suspect she’s spot on.

Spotify hires former streaming television executive to lead its US Studios and Video operations,according to the Hollywood Reporter. The executive, Julie McNamara, was previously at Paramount+, where she was EVP and Head of Programming, and at the Swedish streaming platform, she’ll be responsible for “setting the creative vision” for the company’s many studios and high-profile content partnerships. She’ll report to Spotify CCO Dawn Ostroff. Courtney Holt, who holds the title of Global Head of Studios and Video, will continue working that side of the business.

Not that anybody asked, but Paramount+ remains one of the few TV streaming platform that I haven’t signed up for. Though I’ve always wanted to watch Yellowstone. In other news, I’m paying a fortune for television, holy shit.

Another day, another social audio app attempt. This time, it’s called “Callin” — sure — and it’s co-founded by former Paypal COO David Sacks with Sequoia Capital participating in the $12 million Series A funding round. Not particularly interesting, but given the pedigree of the personnel, someone’s going to fail up at the very least. Hit the TechCrunch write-up for the press release.

Watch for the ripple effects on this one.From The Verge: “Apple concedes to let apps like Netflix, Spotify, and Kindle link to the web to sign up.” Big waves, small waves. 

Meanwhile, in New York… The recent news that the New York Times is repositioning the Wirecutter behind a paywall isn’t directly related to our interests, but this section of the Wall Street Journal’s write-up on the matter did catch my eye

The company doesn’t currently plan to build a subscription product around its growing audio division, which includes the popular podcast “The Daily,” nor to bundle Audm with its all-digital-access subscription.

The broader audio division, I get. Leaving Audm out of the bundle… not so much.

Mapping potential. A new podcast study from Edison Research, focused on US Latino’s who aren’t podcast listeners, is slated to drop on September 16. The study was commissioned by Adonde Media, LWC Studios,  Libsyn, PRX, Simplecast, Sonoro, and SXM Media. Details here.

Boy, there sure are a lot of 9/11-themed podcasts coming out this month, for obvious reasons. Just an observation. 

On a separate note, my fall preview list is out on Vulture. Plus an interview with Seth Rogen on his upcoming audio project, produced by Richard Parks III. 

This isn’t directly podcast-related, but it caught my eye: On Thursday, YouTube’s global head of music, Lyor Cohen, claims that YouTube Premium and YouTube Music have collectively surpassed 50 million users — though no distinctions were made between how much were paid and how much were free, and really this is the kind of headlining stat that you should probably keep at arm’s length. Here’s the Engadget write-up on the matter.

Anyway, here’s why this is interesting to me: we know that a fair bit of podcast consumption happens on YouTube, and we know that there’s an overarching trend of various music streaming platforms — see: Amazon Music, Spotify, etc. — broadening out to include non-music audio content as part of its offerings, and we know (or at least strongly suspect) that Google Podcasts has largely been a nothingburger. If there’s ever a meaningful path for Google to take to jump in on this audio platform rumble, it probably runs through YouTube Music. It’s definitely not Google Play Music.

Odds and Ends

  • Lots of transatlantic cross-over, with Maximum Fun participating a fair bit in the London Podcast Festival that’s taking place over the next week plus.
  • Today, Explained appears to be hiring for a co-host. I would say that this might be the first time a daily news podcast is attempting to co-host model, except that The Journal exists, unless you don’t count business news as part of the general news segmentation.
  • The Library of Congress and NPR have struck a partnership that will some collaborations between the National Book Festival (which is organized by the LoC) and several NPR podcasts. Very on-brand!
  • Tinkercast, the kids-focused audio entertainment company founded by Meredith Halpern-Ranzer, Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, strikes an exclusive licensing and ad sales partnership with Wondery and Amazon Music. Hollywood Reporter with the details.
  • Leon Neyfakh has a dedicated kitchen device for boiling eggs, and I want one.