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Spotify’s new activist investor is maintaining a detailed eye on podcast spending

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That is Scorching Pod, The Verge’s publication about podcasting and the audio trade. Sign up here for extra.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Immediately, we’ve the ultimate lineup for Scorching Pod Summit subsequent week, together with a brand new headliner. Plus, Spotify’s new activist investor and Rihanna’s post-Tremendous Bowl streaming spike. Let’s get into it!

Activist investor takes stake in Spotify, and it’s all for firm cuts

There’s much more stress for Spotify to be lean now. Final week, it was reported that activist investor ValueAct had bought a stake within the streamer. Mason Morfit, who leads the agency, disclosed the brand new place at a non-public convention at Columbia College and indicated that he was on board with the cuts Spotify has been making.

“Spotify’s superpower was combining engineering breakthroughs with organizational talents — it organized creators and copyright homeowners to construct a wholly new financial mannequin that benefited everybody concerned,” Morfit mentioned. “In the course of the increase, it utilized these powers to new markets like podcasts, audiobooks and stay chat rooms. Its working bills and funding for content material exploded. It’s now checking out what was constructed to final and what was constructed for the bubble.”

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The information comes less than a month after Spotify laid off 7 % of its employees and skilled a serious reorganization on the content material facet. Daybreak Ostroff, who led the corporate’s content material and promoting enterprise for 4 years, departed. Longtime leisure government Ostroff had overseen the unique licensing of prime reveals like Joe Rogan Expertise and Name Her Daddy and Hollywood collaborations for unique initiatives like Batman Unburied. If Ostroff helped make Spotify the dominant participant within the podcasting area, she additionally spent a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} within the course of with out but making the vertical worthwhile. Throughout an earnings call earlier this month, CEO Daniel Ek admitted that podcasting had been a “drag” on income.

Content material and advert enterprise will now fall below Stockholm-based subscriptions chief Alex Norstrom, who’s now chief enterprise officer. In a letter to employees, Ek burdened that Ostroff selected to go away her place and can keep on as a senior advisor. Nonetheless, Semafor reported this week that Ostroff was pushed out. Spotify spokesperson Rosa Oh advised Scorching Pod that Semafor’s declare is inaccurate. Both method, the truth that the division now falls below Norstrom signifies that there will likely be an additional layer of enterprise oversight on podcast spending.

The added component of ValueAct’s funding does depart me with just a few extra questions. Did it purchase its place earlier than all the cuts and reorg passed off? Does it actually have a large enough place to exert actual stress on the corporate? (None of Spotify’s financial filings replicate ValueAct’s possession, which suggests its stake should be lower than 5 % or that the acquisition occurred up to now week or so — nicely after the cuts passed off). Additionally, what is going to podcasting appear like on this new, leaner construction? I don’t suppose anybody expects the spending bonanza we noticed the final couple of years, however it’s laborious to think about they might be keen to forgo the expense essential to preserve their marquee expertise joyful (particularly with Rogan nearing the tip of his contract).

YouTube is coming to Scorching Pod Summit

I’m actually excited to announce that Kai Chuk, head of podcasting at YouTube, will likely be becoming a member of us subsequent week at Scorching Pod Summit in Brooklyn. I will likely be doing a brief interview with Chuk about how YouTube plans to leverage its place as the highest streamer of podcasts, however extra importantly, we wish you to come back ready with questions for him on the Q&A session. Video podcasts are a scorching subject within the audio world — who ought to make them, what ought to they appear like, are they even nonetheless podcasts? — so I’m positive you all have loads of spicy ideas.

And now, I’m happy to share the complete day’s schedule for the summit! 

Within the morning, we’ll have three panels: The blurring line between audiobooks and podcasts with Nir Zicherman, head of audiobooks at Spotify, writer and podcaster Gretchen Rubin, and Dan Zitt, senior vp of content material manufacturing at Penguin Random Home Audio; YouTube and the way forward for video podcasts with YouTube podcasting chief Kai Chuk; and What’s subsequent for narrative podcasts? with John Perotti, co-founder and CCO of Rococo Punch, and Kate Osborn, EVP of improvement at Kaleidoscope, which will likely be hosted by Nick Quah, Scorching Pod’s founder and writer of Vulture’s 1.5x Velocity.

Within the afternoon, we’ll be breaking apart into small teams to debate a number of the largest and buzziest matters of the second: what sustainable podcast income seems to be like, the present podcasting job market, showrunning challenges, shrinking advert budgets, rising audiences, and the difficulties and alternatives of video.

And at last, we’ll cap off the day with a stay recording of Decoder, the place editor-in-chief of The Verge, Nilay Patel, will interview Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group.

Thanks to our sponsors for the occasion, AdsWizz and Subtext. AdsWizz is a self-serve promoting platform for creating and working audio advertisements. Subtext is a textual content messaging platform designed to attach creators immediately with their subscribers.

Scorching Pod Summit is being held in partnership with On Air Fest and our pals at work x work. On Air Fest is a three-day celebration and exploration of all issues audio creativity. It’s being held February twenty third–twenty fifth at Wythe Lodge in Brooklyn and can function appearances from Audie Cornish, Kara Swisher, Talib Kweli, and plenty of extra — you can buy tickets here. On Air can be internet hosting a podcast fan expertise with immersive exhibitions from Radiolab, On Being, My Favourite Homicide, and different favourite reveals. The Podcast Expertise runs February twenty third–twenty sixth, and tickets are available here.

Rihanna streams spike after Tremendous Bowl efficiency

No kidding! Within the grand tradition of Super Bowl halftime shows, Rihanna didn’t really receives a commission for her efficiency. However that doesn’t imply there isn’t a monetary profit. Streaming of the star’s catalog elevated sixfold because the efficiency, in response to Selection, with featured songs seeing even greater spikes. “Diamonds” and “Impolite Boy” elevated by 1,400 % and 1,170 %, respectively, and “Bitch Higher Have My Cash” received a bump of greater than 2,600 %. Plus, she used the present as a possibility to flaunt her newest lipstick. That’s why she’s a billionaire, individuals!

That’s all for right this moment! See you subsequent week.



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