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It takes ‘2-3 weeks’ to see if a podcast is a hit

iHeart explains how it knows when podcasts are a hit or a flop, plus a new Rodecaster Pro and Alex Cooper getting excited about video

Hi, everyone, Jake here again. It’s been a while! I’ve been enjoying hanging out in the background since Ariel took over last month, but everyone’s gotta take a day off sometime. So I’m back and newly energized to jam through some podcasting news. And yes, I have once again written too much about Spotify.

iHeart says it takes 2-3 weeks to see if a podcast is a hit

iHeartMedia executives spent a bunch of time talking up the success of their podcasting business during an appearance at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference on Tuesday. And the company came across as fairly bullish on podcasting continuing to explode in the coming years as more major advertisers get interested in the space.

“Big companies where the big dollars are, where the big CPMs are, are just beginning to explore the medium,” said Richard Bressler, iHeart’s president, COO, and CFO. “So when you think about it in that context, the growth numbers that are out there make an awful lot of sense.”

The conversation didn’t cover too much new ground (‘iHeart Execs Say iHeart Doing Great’), but there was one tidbit that I found pretty interesting: how much time iHeart gives a show to prove itself a hit.

First off, a show has to be good, according to Bob Pittman, iHeart’s CEO and chairman. “We can’t make something that’s not a hit a hit,” he said. From there, it comes down to marketing. “What we can generally find is probably in two or three weeks, we can see if we’ve got a hit or not with heavy promotion.”

What happens after three weeks if a show doesn’t catch on? Pittman was less clear on that, though he did open his remarks by noting that one upside to podcasts is the “unlimited shelf space” they have compared to the limited bandwidth of radio. “So you never have to get anything off [the platform],” he said. You might, however, have to throw in the towel when it comes to promoting them.

Bressler followed up by highlighting how “inexpensive to produce” podcasts are — his words, not mine! — as another advantage to the medium and the company’s ability to try things out. His ultimate takeaway was a sentiment I think most folks will agree with, though: “There’s no correlation between cost to produce something in a podcast and its success.”

Rode debuts a new mini audio mixer

Rode introduced a new version of the Rodecaster Pro this week that makes the portable audio mixer even more customizable. The new version, the Rodecaster Pro II, opens up the mixer’s sound pads so that they can now trigger effects and commands — instead of being locked to audio clips — and gives the console more granular controls over an assortment of effects. Plus, the whole package is just a little bit sleeker and smaller.

My colleague Andrew Marino, senior audio director here at The Verge, wrote about what’s new with the Rodecaster Pro II over on the site if you want all the details. He also highlights the new model’s improved preamps, which Rode claims “eliminates the need for products like the Cloudlifter to boost the signal-to-noise ratio of professional microphones like the Shure SM7b before going into the mixer.”

The original Rodecaster Pro, from late 2018, made for a surprisingly capable little podcast studio in a box that was particularly suited for live, on-location recordings. A few years later (and for a hundred dollars more), the new model seems to stick to the same formula while chipping away at some of the original’s limitations.

Spotify news bites

There’s been a whole bunch of little Spotify items the past week or so that have made me go “huh” but haven’t quite been worth a full writeup here. But there’s just enough of them now that I thought we’d do a little lightning round to run through them:

Spotify wants to be your next corporate perk. The company has a new offering called Spotify for Work that lets companies offer a Spotify subscription to their employees. It seems to be starting small, through a deal with Accenture in just three countries. I certainly wouldn’t complain if Vox Media wanted to pay for my Spotify subscription. Maybe Netflix, too…

A wild Wild Turkey ad appeared. On Sunday, a co-worker was showing me her brother’s podcast listing on Spotify when we noticed that his show appeared to have locked down a Wild Turkey sponsorship, with a little bar appearing below the show description. It turned out this was an error, with a rogue Wild Turkey sponsorship banner appearing on many podcasts across the platform. Wild Turkey wasn’t happy about it, and its parent company Campari Group has since paused all advertising on the platform, according to Podnews. Spotify called the incident a “technical error” and said it was “swiftly resolved.”

Alex Cooper plans to do more video. The Call Her Daddy host told The New York Times Magazinethat she’s planning to “launch more vlog podcasts,” saying that the format is “10 times more entertaining and stimulating.” Cooper has already been publishing a lot of video episodes — I’m sure you remember Uncut Gemmms going viral — and says her audience loves it. “I know as a consumer I want to watch a podcast,” Cooper said. (Cue existential drama over what a podcast even is.) As we’ve seen with Rogan (and Conan!), these video clips have the potential to go viral in a way we haven’t really seen with audio-only moments, which is a big deal for reaching new audiences.

A glitch in The Joe Rogan Experience. Who knows what happened here, but the Los Angeles Times reports that36 more episodes of Rogan’s showbriefly disappeared from Spotify this week. More than 100 episodes of the podcast are already missing from Spotify due to a range of content issues — two, for instance, feature conspiracy peddler Alex Jones — so it’s entirely possible that Spotify or Rogan would find reason to remove more. In this case, though, Spotify told the LA Times the episode disappearances were just a “technical issue.” The episodes appear to have since been restored.

Alright, that’s it for me today. I’ll be with you again tomorrow.