Hi everyone, and by this I mean everyone, including you free readers. Happy Friday! You made it. Before launching into our usual Friday spiel, I have some ~personal news~ I want to share.
This will be my last day writing for Hot Pod. After more than six years in the Verge family, I’m moving over to Bloomberg where I’ll continue to cover the audio industry – both on the podcast and music side. I’ve so enjoyed these past five months at the helm of Hot Pod, particularly getting to know all of you. The community behind this newsletter is strong, supportive, and kind. (Which I can especially attest to after my first Hot Pod Summit yesterday; you’re all too sweet!!) I think that’s what’s kept me in this beat for years — y’all were too welcoming, so you ended up with me! You can read more about what I’ll be up to at Bloomberg on my Twitter @ashleyrcarman, and I hope you’ll follow me there while also continuing your support of Hot Pod.
This newsletter’s future is bright. It’ll continue to be a place for all things podcasting, and The Verge team will have more to announce about who’s taking it over in the coming weeks. In the meantime, though, Aria has you covered, as does our editor Jake Kastrenakes. Sincerely, thank you for writing to me and helping me understand your industry. I look forward to continuing to cover you all, the exciting things you’re cookin’ up, and to figure out what the future of audio might be. So with that, let’s get to a few news things.
Libsyn keeps makin’ moves
Libsyn, primarily known as an original podcast hosting platform, continues to make moves in the space to keep up with the times. The first: it launched Libsyn Studio Beta, a free hosting service designed for early podcasters. (This is a reskin of Auxbus, which the company acquired earlier this year and is clearly meant to compete directly with Spotify’s Anchor offering.) It also acquired Podcast Ad Reps aka PAR this week for $5 million cash, along with stock incentives and up to $6 million based on future targets. This adds 120 shows to AdvertiseCast, or more inventory for its team to sell ads against. This is all interesting because I think it speaks to how much tech companies entering the space has inspired deals across the industry.
Spotify speaks on moderation and takes down Alex Jones
After nearly a month of Rogan pieces, Spotify shared more about how it moderates its platform. In a Reuters story, the company disclosed its work with third-party Kinzen to help moderate content and whose CEO Mark Little says doing so is “uniquely complex.” Spotify also says it works with “a dozen partners with expertise in hate speech, harassment, child exploitation, extremism and misinformation” to moderate and determine its policies.
At the same time, Media Matters published a story on Wednesday about Alex Jones’ podcast getting uploaded daily since February 20th, despite the company banning The Alex Jones Show from using the platform in 2018. The company took the show and its episodes down after this recent report, but again, the saga speaks to the idea that preemptive detection is a problem still not wholly nailed down. User reports, particularly from press, represent a full part of the strategy.
LinkedIn is the latest tech company to care about podcasts
Unlike Amazon and Spotify, LinkedIn isn’t launching a full podcast listening platform and universe, but instead, its own 12-show network. The company says the idea is to start conversations in the podcasts but then take it to the platform through videos, live chats, events, and newsletters. Basically, LinkedIn recognizes there’s a whole contingent of people for whom the platform is their primary place to spend time online. If it can capture their attention both on and off it, and regardless of whether they’re staring at a screen or not, it’s a huge branding win.
iHeartMedia’s union gains recognition while podcast revenue continues to grow
Lots to discuss t in iHeart land. The first: nearly three months after organizing, the iHeartMedia union has been recognized and will enter bargaining on its first contract. Congrats to them! The second bit of news is iHeart’s earnings, which it reported Wednesday and looked very good for podcasts. Podcast revenue for 2021 was up 148 percent over 2020 and reached $252.5 million. We say podcasts are hot, and here we see it.
There’s many more things to discuss! Aria and Jake have you covered next week. Thank you again for giving me your time and eyes all these months, and I’ll see you on the other side.