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The Podcast Genome Project, or something like it

It's a platform bonanza.

The Podcast Genome Project. As hinted at previously, Pandora is looking to spend some resources to deepen its catalog with podcast content. From Variety:

Lynch, who joined Pandora as president and CEO in September, said that the company is working on a deep integration of podcasts that will allow users of the service to easily browse and discover new shows. Describing these efforts as a kind of podcast genome project is a nod to Pandora’s Music Genome Project — a massive database of dozens of musical attributes for every single song in the company’s music library that is being used to compile stations and aid discovery. The “Genome Project” term-usage, of course, refers to Pandora’s core technological innovation, which is to construct a database of music that breaks songs down into units of traits that are then deployed as the taxonomical basis for their stations.

Pandora, by the way, isn’t doing particularly well in the overarching music streaming platforms wars. Its previous CEO, co-founder Tim Westergren, stepped down last summer after struggling to turn a profit after taking the company public. There were some rumors about a SiriusXM acquisition, but that didn’t seem to have panned out. The Verge has a pretty good roundtable piece that looks at the Pandora situation from a bunch of different angles, which I found helpful.

Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye on this, though I can’t say I think very much of it. Remember that Pandora had already played around with podcasting through a partnership with This American Life, and that Pandora’s theoretical value to the podcasting space is the very same as any other music-first platform looking to add podcast content: a considerably large pre-existing user base, and the opportunity for applying their own forms of the discovery onto the ecosystem.

Monetization, however, doesn’t necessarily map onto that value. Though it does seem to be on new CEO Lynch’s mind:

Pandora is also looking to offer podcasters monetization options that will be superior to the current state of podcast advertising. Currently, many podcasters still rely on ads that they read themselves on air, Lynch said. “It is not the most effective advertising model.”

Many, of course, would beg to differ, though probably less so if he used the word “efficient” instead of “effective.” Also: ten bucks the dude means “programmatic.”

While we’re on the subject of platforms… Let’s not forget Tidal, the Jay-Z-owned music streaming platform that also doubles as a punchline for some people, given the company’s various… quirks (including a surprisingly quick CEO churn, money problems, technical instabilities, etc. etc.) This week, Tidal announced an original podcast collaboration with rapper Joey Bada$$. Billboard has a write-up.

At this point, is there a music platform that hasn’t dabbled in original podcast production? Apple Music doesn’t count.

$$$. Apropos of, well, the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending some time digging through cryptocurrency podcasts, and damn, let me tell ya, niche is niche is niche is niche.