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Tracking: April 13, 2021

Selected Notes

Last Thursday, the Writers Guild of America, East announced that The Ringer and Gimlet Media unions have ratified their collective bargaining agreements with Spotify. Both contracts last for three years, and you can find the entire language of the Gimlet agreement here and The Ringer agreement here. Keep in mind, the Parcast union is still in the middle of negotiations.

Clubhouse has hired Grey Munford, Spotify’s head of content communications, Insider reported last Friday. Munford’s new role was not disclosed, but he joins a team of executives (compiled here, again, by Insider) built out of recruits from companies like Netflix, TikTok, and Medium. This is intriguing to me on a purely inside baseball level, and I’m getting genuine YouTube vibes in terms of where this platform seems to want to go.

Relatedly… there appear to be reports that Clubhouse personal user data was leaked online. CEO Paul Davison has disputed those reports.

Yesterday, Libsyn announced that it’s acquiring Glow, the podcast membership startup (think of it as the same category as Supporting Cast or, like, Memberful), for an undisclosed amount. This deal continues the company’s recent run of acquisitions, which includes the $30 million AdvertiseCast pickup a few weeks ago and the Auxbus purchase back in January. The AdvertiseCast deal also came attached to a new $25 million fundraise, part of which was presumably allocated to this Glow purchase. For the unfamiliar, Libsyn is the hosting platform that originated in one of the older generations of podcasting, and with these acquisitions, the company appears to be pushing their way into the conversation surrounding the modern podcast boom, and they strike me as either being poised to position themselves as the open ecosystem-oriented alternative to the consolidation around Spotify — or as another valuable end-to-end podcast technology asset that can be picked up by another media giant hoping to buy its way into the digital audio space. The question on the latter note, however, is who’s left as a possible buyer at this point in time.

Audioboom, which posted record revenues last year, announced this week that it has signed two different deals with the team behind the popular True Crime Obsessed podcast: The first is a long-term exclusive distribution and monetization with the show itself, and the second is a development deal with the Obsessed Network, which the True Crime Obsessed creators founded last year. The Obsessed Network publishes shows like Unjust & Unsolved and Crimes of the Centuries and is said to have driven “more than 10 million downloads in the first year.” UTA brokered the deals.

Higher Ground’s latest podcast offering — the pick-up of Misha Euceph’s Tell Them, I Am, which was one of the shows within the intellectual property discourse that bubbled up last summer — makes its debut (slash return) this week, just in time for Ramadan.

Bijan Stephen is joining Campside Media! For those unfamiliar with the company, I wrote about them last summer.

Amid its various sojourns into television, Two-Up Productions, the studio behind the fiction podcasts Limetown and 36 Questions, is dipping back into the audio pool with Shipworm, which it’s billing as a “feature-length” fiction podcast project. That drops on April 26. Some interesting details I was able to pry: I’m told the project was independently financed out of pocket, had a budget of $257,000, and will be released ad-free for the first two weeks, after which they’ll presumably start running some ads on the whole two-hour-long-ish affair. There is also no adaptation deal or package in place at launch. Seems like a “why not?” sorta situation.

Ben Smith’s Media Equation column on Sunday was just a torrent of Little Scoops Everywhere, but one detail in particular caught my eye: As part of his move to run a Substack full-time, Danny Lavery is giving up his seat as Slate’s Dear Prudence columnist. However, I hear that won’t be the end of his engagements over there. A Slate spokesperson tells me that while Lavery will be departing from the column and associated podcast, he will still be hosting a new podcast for the company that will be “in the spirit of Dear Prudence” though with a different name and format. That project will launch next month. The company is also currently on the hunt for a new person to fill the old Dear Prudence slots.

Shout-out to Lauren Ro, who interviewed the hosts of Time To Say Goodbye for Vulture last week. I just wanna say: Very few pods have become as important to me personally as that show, and it remains perhaps the sole space that has been genuinely useful to me in terms of processing the past few weeks (months?) in particular. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s unrelated that this is a kind of project that probably could never exist under the framework of a larger media organization, and I also think it’s meaningful that the show is distinctly of the “a few people sitting around and talking into microphones, loosely edited” variety that some people like to be snobbish about, but does, in fact, continue to be a very powerful format.