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News Rundown: June 22, 2021

Spotify officially rolls out Green Room, its take on the live social audio category. The formal rebrand comes a few months after the Swedish platform acquired Betty Labs, which operated a sports-centric Clubhouse competitor called Locker Room. 

The rollout includes a whole new look for Green Room — which still exists as a separate standalone app, though I’m guessing it will be absorbed into the main Spotify platform at some point in the future — as well as an expanded presence on both iOS and Android in over 135 markets globally.

Spotify also had another smaller announcement last week: The company has acquired the horrifically named Podz, a startup that’s seemingly premised on using machine learning to create podcast-preview clips that listeners could use for the purposes of better discovery. A relatively quiet acqui-hire, it seems.

Meanwhile, Facebook launched its own take on Clubhouse, plus its podcast product, yesterday. You know, because these are apparently the most innovative tech companies in the world.

From TechCrunch

Facebook is officially rolling out these products with the launch of Live Audio Rooms in the U.S. on iOS, starting with public figures and select Facebook Groups…

… Alongside the launch of Live Audio Rooms, Facebook is also beginning to roll out its planned podcast support with a few select creators. These include Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast; “Jess Hilarious” of Carefully Reckless from The Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio; Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin and Jac Vanek of The LadyGang; and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro. Facebook will open up to other podcasters this summer.

When it comes to the podcast stuff, the best way to think about this is as a distribution play: When opened to all, podcasts would supposedly flow more freely over Facebook, while Facebook gets the engagement from those interactions in return, with which it can continue to make more money, etc etc. The theoretical upside is that podcast creators can possibly find, reach, and convert new audiences over the platform. The downside, of course, is that it’s Facebook. Media companies and publishers of many industries have lived through severalcyclesof hell when it comes to Facebook, and it’s up to you whether you believe that this cycle might be different. 

One last social audio note… Speaking of Clubhouse, you might’ve noticed that the social audio app — which seems to be finding most of its new momentum outside of the United States — has been periodically switching out its app icon, featuring a different person with each change. The team over there seems to be leaning harder into the idea of using these icons as a magazine cover of sorts. Over the weekend, Clubhouse executed a press push around the announcement of its latest icon figure: Dandara Pagu, a Brazilian user who’s also an activist and a producer. A curious marketing campaign, though I do find the idea of app-icon-as-creative-real-estate somewhat intriguing.

SmartLess seeks $20-million-per-year deal,according to Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw. And they’re apparently finding at least some interested suitors, including Amazon. Spotify is said to have looked at the prospect and passed.

Worth noting: Shaw points out that the $20-million-per-year number pushed by CAA, which reps Smartless, is likely pulled from the Call Her Daddy deal that Spotify closed last week. Looks like some leading and following happening in the deal market here, and that tends to not bode super well for the followers. 

Sony Music Entertainment has acquired Somethin’ Else, the decades-old UK audio studio. This doesn’t come out of nowhere, as SME had previously invested in a joint venture with the studio in February 2020. With this development, Somethin’ Else’s execs Steve Ackerman and Jez Nelson will “jointly spearhead SME’s global podcast content and business development strategy,” according to the press release. SME’s pod exec team just got even more white, even more dude.

Hey, Floodlines won a Peabody Award. Very well deserved.