Issue 274,  published September 15, 2020

Tracking: September 15, 2020

News, broadly…

  • Oprah has launched a book club podcast that’s exclusive to the Apple Podcast platform. The project is said to be an extension of the partnership between media mogul and Apple, which has primarily taken the shape of an Apple TV+ program. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter on the matter.
  • Charlamagne Tha God and iHeartMedia are launching a podcast network, called The Black Effect, focused on Black creators and Black audiences. Here’s the press release.
  • Art19, the podcast hosting technology platform, will no longer just be a technology platform. Last week, the company announced an expansion into the content business, which is maybe an indication that it’s tough to just be a technology player in the industry these days. Press release.
  • New corporate launch slates from Sony Music Entertainment and ViacomCBS were announced at the IAB Podcast Upfronts last week.
  • Over at Vox Media, Nilay Patel is the new Kara Swisher, taking over the Recode Decode feed that will be relaunched as Decoder with Nilay Patel. (Not to be mistaken with Slate’s excellent Decoder Ring.)
  • Meanwhile, Kara Swisher’s upcoming New York Times Opinion Audio podcast, Sway, debuts next Monday.
  • Chartable, the podcast analytics company, has raised an additional $2.25 million in seed funding, adding to the $1.5 million they pulled together last summer. Here’s the TechCrunch write-up.
  • The Moth adds two new board members: Gabrielle Glore, festival director and head of programming for Urbanworld, and Chenjerai Kumanyika, the multi-hyphenate academic and podcast producer. To quickly plug myself: Kumanyika was the guest on Servant of Pod last week.
  • Shout-out to the newly-formed Rough Cut Collective.
  • Josie Huang was doing her job.
Anchor’s been having copycat issues. Ashley Carman over at The Verge has the run-down on what’s going on and what it means. I suppose if you’re building out a YouTube-style platform, you gotta brace yourself for YouTube-style chicanery.

Personnel Notes.

(1) Spotify has hired Jean Chi, a “veteran Hollywood dealmaker” from Paramount, to take up the newly-created Global Head of Podcast Business Affairs role, which puts her in charge of dealmaking across the company’s various podcast divisions. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter on the hire. Seems like yet another data point supporting the view of Spotify as being distinctly Hollywood-centric in its original show commissions.

(2) Audible names new Head of Content Acquisition and Development: Pat Shah, a veteran of Twitch and Spotify. Variety had the exclusive on the hire, and the write-up notes that Shah’s role at Spotify involved original content strategy on the licensing and business side, and that his work there “prompted the company’s expansion into podcasts.”

In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod. Gretchen Rubin — the best-selling author, podcaster, and prominent voice on the subject of happiness — is on the show this week, and we hit on a bunch of things: the podcast-author intersection, the notion of self-help versus “self-helpful,” and how she moved from being a lawyer and clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor towards writing books about happiness, human nature, and in an earlier effort, Power, Money, Fame, (and) Sex.

In case it’s not already apparent, Gretchen is a super interesting person, and genuinely one of the most intimidatingly intelligent people I’ve ever met. We overlapped briefly when I worked at the now-defunct Panoply for a short stint back in 2015, which was the time she first launched her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, at the network. (The show is now with Cadence13.) In hindsight, that show turned out to be one of the earlier data points in the now surging modern trend of authors crossing over into podcasting. That trend makes a lot of sense now, but I’ll admit I thought Happier was going to be anomaly at the time.

Anyway, you can find Servant of Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the great assortment of third-party podcast apps that are hooked up to the open publishing ecosystem. Desktop listening is also recommended. Share, leave a review, so on.

I run this thing.