My six-month dive into podcasting’s very chaotic year

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Well, this is simply a weird email to constitute — coming is technically my past time astatine Hot Pod. But you’ll still spot my byline astir from clip to clip because I’m joining The Verge’s news squad successful November. Starting adjacent week, nan newsletter will wholly beryllium backmost successful nan very tin hands of lead Hot Pod newsman Ariel Shapiro. Although I’m sad to leave, I’m besides really excited to spot her return nan reins again and proceed to churn retired nan sum that Hot Pod is known for. 

It’s astir apt not a astonishment to astir of you that I knew very small about podcasts earlier taking this occupation backmost successful April — a clip that besides coincided pinch immoderate seismic changes successful nan podcast manufacture itself. Although my inheritance is successful tech reporting, I’m usually known for penning stories for illustration this and stories for illustration this. Weirdly enough, I besides covered Spotify’s acquisition of Podsights and Chartable measurement backmost successful 2019 for Engadget — a communicative that I person nary representation of really writing. I learned a ton successful a short play of clip by relying connected nan activity of my Hot Pod predecessors, which see Ariel, Ashley Carman, and Nicholas Quah — as good arsenic nan thief of my editor, Jake Kastrenakes. But I besides relied connected nan tips and expertise of galore Hot Pod readers. So acknowledgment for your thief complete these past respective months — as good arsenic trusting maine to show your stories. 

A mates of group astatine Podcast Movement noted that each of nan Hot Pod writers person had very chopped styles. Obviously, we’re each different group — but we each took complete during very chopped periods for nan manufacture astatine large. In my view, Nicholas and Ashley covered nan promises and grounded hopes of nan “golden” era of podcasting and nan unreserved of dumb money that made it possible. For maine and Ariel, our situation seems to beryllium really to archive an manufacture that is successful nan mediate of a contraction — but besides figuring retired really to past and reinvent itself. 

During nan clip I was successful complaint of Hot Pod, Spotify laid disconnected hundreds and efficaciously killed its in-house podcast accumulation units, Gimlet and Parcast. It seemed for illustration each entity, from public radio to news publishers, made cuts to their podcast units. Companies folded, and near their creators hanging. The movie manufacture efficaciously went connected hiatus this summertime arsenic some nan unions for screenwriters and actors went connected strike, which, surviving successful Los Angeles, I saw firsthand. The nonaccomplishment of Hollywood advertisement dollars led to existent consequences for nationalist power — some WNYC’s president LaFontaine Oliver and erstwhile Southern California Public Radio main Herb Scannell cited it arsenic a facet successful layoffs. A fewer celebrities mislaid podcast deals — but it seems for illustration each day, a caller celebrated personification gets a podcast. 

To that end, it’s still a enigma to maine why astir celebrated podcasts sewage that way. I don’t cognize why Joe Rogan’s play driblet of 3 hours of unedited babble is ever 1 of nan apical podcasts successful nan country. I don’t cognize why truthful galore group for illustration Morbid or Alex Cooper. When I look astatine nan apical podcast charts, I spot a operation of disposable existent crime, news podcasts from awesome media outlets for illustration NPR aliases The New York Times, and buzzworthy celebrity-led efforts for illustration Strike Force Five or SmartLess or that one hosted by Taylor Swift’s fellow and his brother. But while nan titles that person wide entreaty whitethorn beryllium a enigma to me, they intelligibly resonate pinch others.

I was heartened to see Heavyweight, a erstwhile Gimlet podcast hosted by Jonathan Goldstein and now made by Spotify Studios, do good now that it’s disposable wide connected each players — it presently ranks number 36 connected Apple Podcasts. But it was besides benignant of surprising, fixed that galore interpreted Spotify letting spell of Gimlet and Parcast arsenic a motion that communicative podcasts were over. I’m judge Goldstein’s ties to nan early days of Gimlet and This American Life nary uncertainty plays a facet successful its success. 

But astatine nan extremity of nan day, I do deliberation group still person an appetite for bully stories. It’s easy to hide that, I guess, during an property wherever “everything is content” and virality is nan cardinal to survival. The number of views aliases streams connected a video aliases news article aliases a station often seems for illustration nan only point that matters. While algorithms tin beryllium tweaked — I do deliberation definite concepts are timeless. 

YouTube’s uncertain podcast future

Can audio-only podcasts really thrive connected YouTube? Despite an ongoing effort by YouTube to cater to accepted podcasters this year, nan reply to that mobility is still uncertain — and YouTube’s idiosyncratic attack to ads and RSS remains nan large logic why. 

Google sunset Google Podcasts this twelvemonth and announced plans for those users to migrate to YouTube Music, which will efficaciously double arsenic some a video level and a accepted audio podcast subordinate by adding RSS support later this year. Many celebrated accepted podcasts person already made nan modulation to YouTube and YouTube Music, pinch very mixed results. 

Rob Walch, vice president of podcaster relations astatine Libsyn, told Hot Pod that he viewed a webinar connected Thursday that YouTube Music hosted for podcasters. He said that arsenic nan webinar progressed, a Slack transmission he was a portion of for podcasters “filled pinch expletives.” The wide guidance was very negative.

“No 1 I talked to is going to urge [YouTube Music] to podcasters,” said Walch. 

A sizeable dilemma for audio-only podcasts is really YouTube will grip their ads. Neither YouTube nor YouTube Music allows dynamically inserted advertisement spots. YouTube’s position of work explicitly authorities that podcast contented can’t incorporate advertisement formats that compete pinch YouTube’s own. Technically, there’s an objection that applies for host-read ads aliases baked-in ads — podcasters tin disclose them by checking nan paid promotions box. But moreover if podcasters are capable to support their original ads, YouTube will still tally its ain ads against nan videos, splitting gross pinch nan creator, alternatively than nan move ones a podcaster whitethorn want served and that would salary retired only to themselves.

“Nobody will judge ads connected their contented that they person nary power over,” said Walch. 

It’s not a astonishment to galore successful nan podcast manufacture that “putting your podcasts connected YouTube” is harder than it sounds. “It’s ever been a small unusual to maine that group understand that video-only platforms for illustration YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok activity successful fundamentally different ways, and that contented betwixt them is not interchangeable, but still expect podcasts to automatically activity connected YouTube,” noted Bikram Chatterji, CEO of Maximum Fun successful an email to Hot Pod. Max Fun has experimented pinch putting immoderate of its podcasts for illustration FANTI connected YouTube but notes that YouTube’s believe of inserting its ain ads “could beryllium a problem” for them connected YouTube Music. 

There’s a increasing sentiment successful nan podcast world that YouTube’s podcast imagination is (perhaps unsurprisingly) designed for video-first contented creators.

There’s a increasing sentiment successful nan podcast world that YouTube’s podcast imagination is (perhaps unsurprisingly) designed for video-first contented creators. The company’s messaging doesn’t jibe pinch nan day-to-day reality of astir group who make audio-only podcasts, arsenic good arsenic nan galore hosting, distribution, and monetization services that shape nan accepted podcast ecosystem successful spot for decades. Surveys from Edison Research and others that concluded that YouTube was nan number 1 level for listening to podcasts grounded to capture what benignant of podcasts those group were listening to.

Hot Pod reached retired to a number of different podcasts and podcast networks to spot what their plans were for YouTube Music. Some still scheme connected making their podcasts disposable connected YouTube and YouTube Music, if only for find purposes. Others are taking a “wait and see” attack for now. 

“We person asked for much info, and gotten very small truthful acold from our YouTube rep,” wrote The Vergecast’s supervising producer, Liam James, to Hot Pod in a Slack message.

The Vergecast only uses YouTube’s ads for now — but wants to yet cook ads into its videos. The podcast only started publishing connected YouTube successful nan opening of nan year. “Right now we make peanuts connected YouTube. It’s a nonaccomplishment for america wide but we are looking astatine it arsenic an investment,” wrote James. 

Betches Media plans to put its audio-only podcasts connected YouTube Music erstwhile it rolls retired RSS ingestion. “We spot immoderate caller distribution level arsenic an opportunity to scope caller audiences, but arsenic YouTube’s strategy becomes clearer, we’ll proceed to measure and spot what is correct for Betches and our podcast network,” wrote David Spiegel, main gross serviceman of Betches Media, successful an email. Betches presently relies connected YouTube to tally pre- and mid-roll ads. 

“While YouTube’s determination to not let podcasters to monetize their ads straight isn’t what we’d prefer, it is not astonishing astatine all, astatine nan extremity of nan day, restricting podcaster’s expertise to monetize will impact their liking successful promoting nan platform,” noted Spiegel. 

But nan challenges pinch YouTube Music and RSS ingestion — as good arsenic YouTube and podcasts much broadly — go beyond conscionable ads. 

“YouTube uses a different connection than us,” Bryan Barletta, nan laminitis of podcast investigation group Sounds Profitable, told Hot Pod. 

One example: erstwhile YouTube talks astir podcasts connected YouTube, what it’s talking astir is simply a cached video that is audio-first that tin person a afloat video constituent aliases fixed video. And moreover erstwhile YouTube adds RSS support, it won’t activity arsenic a accepted podcast player. “They’re pulling from your RSS feed, caching it, truthful it’s 1 telephone from YouTube and that’s it,” said Barletta. 

If a podcaster wants to alteration nan audio aft an section is published, they only request to update nan audio record connected their hosting level — which automatically carries complete to each podcast players. Except, it turns out, for YouTube. Podcasters will person to manually update nan audio connected YouTube Studio. 

Listener stats are different rumor pinch YouTube podcasts. In a video titled “Why YouTube Music ingesting podcast RSS feeds could beryllium a immense mess,” Justin Jackson, nan co-founder of hosting level Transister.fm, highlights immoderate of those problems. Whenever a listener presses play successful a podcast subordinate for illustration Spotify aliases Overcast aliases Apple Podcasts, it requests nan RSS provender from a hosting platform. Hosting platforms, therefore, clasp a ton of information connected who listeners are and wherever they’re coming from. But YouTube is doing thing very different from different podcast players successful that it will literally host nan audio — instead of redirecting listeners to nan hosting platform. 

This besides intends hosting platforms won’t beryllium capable to entree immoderate of a podcast’s YouTube listener stats. While it’s existent that you tin spot listener stats connected YouTube Studio, nan information offered by hosting platforms is overmuch much detailed. 

“This will make it harder for podcasters to analyse wherever their listeners are coming from, which episodes are astir popular, and really episodes execute complete time,” wrote Jackson successful an email. 

Lightning Round

Jon Stewart and Apple are reportedly parting ways complete imaginative differences, including nan host’s volition to screen topics specified arsenic AI and China. I’ll beryllium funny to spot what happens pinch nan podcast, considering it performed truthful overmuch amended than nan TV show. 

Speaking of erstwhile Daily Show hosts, Trevor Noah’s podcast on Spotify is set to launch connected November 9. The show, which is hosted and distributed by Megaphone, will beryllium released crossed podcast platforms arsenic portion of Spotify’s displacement distant from exclusivity.

Audioboom is still making deals, announcing yesterday that it has signed exclusive partnerships pinch Girls Next Level, The Bulwark Podcast, We’re Here to Help, and Out of nan Pods.

On October 26, Serial will debut The Kids of Rutherford County, a caller investigative podcast that examines really a juvenile tribunal successful Tennessee abused its power. The show was produced successful business pinch ProPublica and WPLN Nashville Public Radio, and is hosted by WPLN reporter Meribah Knight.

Suge Knight is making a podcast from prison, and according to TMZ, it’s each astir personal beef

Triton released its September podcast ranking, pinch Dateline NBC ranked number one. Two caveats to nan ranking, which is that NPR is excluded temporarily because of a information migration. The 2nd is that it besides does not see Spotify podcasts, truthful Joe Rogan (the existent number one) is not connected there.

Spotify reports net connected October 24, and will beryllium followed by Cumulus Media connected October 27 and SiriusXM connected October 31 (spooky!).

- Ariel

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