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Tracking: September 24, 2019

Heads up, Canadian and Canada-philic readers. Just wanted to quickly put something on your radar: the Hot Docs Podcast Festival that’s happening in Toronto from November 6-11, 2019. I am a massive, massive fan of this festival, and of the team that stages the program every year. What they’re doing is essential, I believe, to the podcast industry up north.

So if you’re in the area, or are amenable to a brief trip to Drake’s hometown, I highly encourage you check it out. Can’t make it myself, but I wish I could.

Show Notes

(1) Shout-out to Gastropod, the indie podcast about the history and science food by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, which turns five this week. Five! In podcast years, that’s old enough to be buying your first house but still be riding on your family’s phone plan. Graber and Twilley have built something wonderful, independent, and free. Here’s to five more.

(2) Thirst Aid Kit, the all-powerful celebratory vessel of desire, returns on Thursday. As a reminder, the podcast is now with Slate.

(3) Gimlet’s Startup will return for mini-season in October, where the marketing vehicle-turned-autobiographical documentary-turned-hybrid of the two will cover the company’s acquisition by Spotify. Once that’s over, I would love to hear about the experience of the mini-season from the perspective of Spotify’s comms department. I can’t even begin to imagine.

By the way: Pocket Casts, the generally well-regarded podcast app owned by a consortium of public radio organizations, is now free. It has also launched a premium tier that’ll give paying users a bunch of perks. Here’s the official blog post on the matter, and here’s a link to the analysis I wrote in last Thursday’s Insider.

Descript raises $15 million Series A, introduces AI-powered “Overdub” feature. Useful, and uncanny. Here’s TechCrunch.

PodFund has announced three more creator investments… and it includes a podcast studio. They are DIVE Studios, Domino Sound, and Osiris Podcasts. Here’s the blog post.

Three things I find interesting:

(1) A new project tracking public media mergers, appropriately called the “Public Media Merger Project.” Shout-out to Dr. Elizabeth Hansen, friend of the newsletter and the person who’s leading the project.

(2) From Quartz: “How Neil Young’s failed anti-streaming business helped the music industry.” Neil Young, catalyst of dialectics.

(3) Google says it’s making adjustments to how it’s storing audio recordings off its Google Assistant-powered products, seemingly as a response to backlash over privacy issues. Here’s the official blog post, and I found the Wired write-up most comprehensive if you’re starting out with this thread.