Podnews Weekly Review

Copyright claims, Spotify's job losses, Pod People and Podgagement

December 08, 2023 James Cridland and Sam Sethi Season 2 Episode 51
Podnews Weekly Review
Copyright claims, Spotify's job losses, Pod People and Podgagement
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(description from Buzzsprout's CoHost AI feature)

Can you imagine receiving a bill for using an image without a license? James doesn't have to imagine it, and he’s here to share his harrowing copyright enforcement encounter that could have major implications for all podcast directories globally. We also dare to dissect the recent turmoil at Spotify, a giant in the podcasting industry, grappling with workforce layoffs and the shuttering of popular podcasts. 

Special guest, Rachael King, CEO of Pod People, gives us an inside look at her journey from starting her company to securing high-profile clients such as HBO and Netflix, and underlines the importance of social media in promoting podcasts. Ever wondered how to measure success in podcasting? We navigate the tricky world of podcast marketing and measurement, shedding light on the rise of new services and metrics that matter in this industry. 

Finally, we tackle link management tools for podcasts, putting a spotlight on LinkFire, and introducing you to Podgagement, a platform designed to turbo-boost podcast growth. Hear straight from Daniel J Lewis, the creator of Podgagement, about the exciting features of his newly launched platform. We wrap it all up by casting an eye over recent podcasting news and updates, offering reflections on the state of the industry, the challenges we face, and the opportunities that are ripe for the picking. Join us for an enlightening journey through the podcasting universe!

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James Cridland:

It's Friday, the 8th of December 2023.

Speaker 2:

The last word in podcasting news. This is the Pod News Weekly Review with James Cridland and Sam Suthey.

James Cridland:

I'm James Cridland, the editor of Pod News.

Sam Sethi:

And I'm Sam Suthey, the CEO of PodFans.

James Cridland:

In the chapters. Today, the company chasing money from podcast directories, spotify, unwraps a Christmas Nightmare. The first podcast from Instagram and Castro Dead too soon Plus.

Daniel J Lewis:

I'm Daniel J Lewis and I'll be on later to talk about the launch of PodGagement.

Rachael King:

This is Rachel King. I'm the CEO and co-founder of PodPeople and I will be on later to talk about all things podcasting my favorite thing to talk about.

James Cridland:

They will. This podcast is sponsored by Buzzsprout. Last week, 2,733 people started a podcast with Buzzsprout. Podcast hosting made easy with powerful AI tools, plus pod roles, transcriptions, free learning materials and truly remarkable customer support. From your daily newsletter, the Pod News Weekly Review.

Sam Sethi:

This is going to be a long episode. James, you ran a story yesterday on Pod News Daily about a copyright enforcement company which is sending bills to podcast directories. Come on, what's this one all about?

James Cridland:

Yes, it's quite a serious story and it's been three months in the making. I'll have to be relatively careful about what I say here, but if you run a podcast directory, you show the thumbnails of podcast artwork and we all assume, I think, that podcasters have the rights to the artwork they use. But what happens if they don't? So we had a company called Copyright Agent AS. I don't know what the AS stands for it's Danish but they contacted us about a show that they found on Spotify which we have in our directory. It's a South African podcast and that was on anchor, but it used a picture of an NFL player, tim Tobois. He was taking the knee at a match, and they said that that photograph was the copyright of writers. And because we, pod News, had not licensed the image, the company sent us a bill for $450 Australian dollars, which is about $288 US dollars, which was nice of them.

Sam Sethi:

So why didn't they go to anchor or Spotify, James, and get it removed there?

James Cridland:

Well, and there's a good question, because Spotify is based in the US. They have a thing called the DMCA there, and Safe Harbor says that rights holders basically as soon as a rights holder notices that their content is on someone else's website, they need to notify what they call a designated agent, and those websites should promptly remove that material if it is indeed copyright. And so Spotify, I'm absolutely sure, would do that, but of course that's not going to earn a copyright agent A as any money is it Because they're a copyright enforcement company. They earn their money from finding people like me who are, so they say, using images without a license. So if they were to get the image taken down, it wouldn't earn them any money. So instead they find companies that they think are running other countries where the DMCA doesn't exist, and they send them a bill and they thought the pod news was an Australian company. Thankfully we're not. We're a US company, so the DMCA applies here. But yeah, sending us a bill claiming that we owed them a ton of money for using RSS in just the normal way.

Sam Sethi:

Why did they think it was worth $450? I mean, that's a fairly random number.

James Cridland:

I think they chose that number because, well, it's less than the price that a lawyer would charge. You know, legal action in court would clearly cost more than $450. But I think that if you were to ask a lawyer to send a snarky letter back to them, then that would probably cost nearly $450. So I would guess that for many companies it's $450. They will go away and that's much easier than having a lawyer's big bill, you know, and fighting and everything else. So I think that they chose that very, very carefully, their number of $450 Australian or nearly $300 US. I mean they sent in one email. They sent 1,140 words of very complicated legal conversation about the use of images on websites. Some of it was frankly wrong, but you know it was quite a thing. So I ended up thinking, well, either I pay the $450 and they've gone away and everybody's happy, or I thought no. I think, a this is a story that people should be aware of, and also, b, I think that we should employ a lawyer anyway. So I use Lindsay Bowen, a lawyer, for podcasters. He used to work at Pandora, among other places. He was excellent at fighting our corner and I think that copyright agent AS has gone away, but obviously in some respects they've kind of won anyway, you know, I mean we've wasted a lot of time. We had to get podcasting's lawyer involved a man with a very excellent beard, a good way with words all because they didn't want to follow the DMCA take down procedure with Spotify because of course they wouldn't make any money.

Sam Sethi:

Okay, so is this bad for the industry?

James Cridland:

I think it is, because I think the whole thing about podcasting is that it relies on open RSS feeds and this particular podcaster hadn't signed a contract with me to list his show and, of course, that contract would probably have included an indemnity clause of something like this. I didn't even sign a contract with Spotify, of course, because open RSS feeds means that you don't have to do any of that. I just wonder, given that many podcast apps and directories are hosted by companies outside the US, I reckon that this is potentially a money earner for this particular company. If you were to think, maybe 50 different podcast directories, maybe 50 different apps outside the US, I reckon that would be a quick way for this company to earn 45,000 Australian dollars by sending out 100 separate bills. And, of course, rss very efficiently syndicates thumbnail images throughout the network of websites that use them. So I think it's a bit of a worry and hopefully we're able to get together as an industry and focus on what this means for us and make sure that at the very least, we talk to lawyers and there are lawyers who understand what is going on here. You'd be surprised how few lawyers understand how RSS works anyway, and hopefully other lawyers can fight our case as well as Lindsay Bowen was able to. So, yeah, I think watch this space is a thing I do think that we've seen this before.

Sam Sethi:

I mean you and I have been around the web long enough. I've seen lawyers who've gone oh yes, that hyperlink you've got on your page, that's a copyright infringement. And we've seen there was a guy who claimed he thought about email before email and therefore he invented email and he tried that. We've seen many a case like this. I mean RSS does have a copyright status in it and it does have a license capability with it.

James Cridland:

But they only work, of course, if the podcaster themselves are honest about where they've got the material. And in this particular case it's obviously super easy for copyright agent to do a Google image search and go oh look, all these people using this image. But yes, I mean I would agree that we've seen lots of people in the past but copyright trolls and I'm not necessarily saying that this company is a copyright troll, but copyright trolls seemingly end up doing quite well. I mean, I remember working at Virgin Radio back in the early 2000s. There was a copyright troll who said that he had invented internet radio and he managed he actually managed to get some money out of another Virgin company in the states because they thought that his complaint had a point. I mean, I just turned around and I said no, but you know, go away. But I just don't want anybody to win and either the lawyers win, because you have to pay lawyers, because lawyers are good and it's their job, or these people win.

Sam Sethi:

Would a host, when you're doing your RSS and you upload an image, be able to do an image check or or request? What I'm trying to think of is sort of that have you checked that you own the right to this copyright? If you answer yes, we will upload it If you want to know. Obviously we won't do it, but if you answer yes, the liability is now with you. Mr or Mrs, rss owner.

James Cridland:

Well, yes, but I mean that pretty well exists already in the terms of conditions that any podcast hosting company would actually have. So you know, in terms of that they all talk about, you know, making sure that you own the copyright in the stuff that you're uploading and blah, blah, blah. So yeah, so I think you know it's an interesting one, but I mean, it depends on how far you, as a podcast host, want to go. At the end of the day, it's no particular risk for you if you're a US podcast host, because the Safe Harbor DMCA applies, but it's what happens if someone uses your RSS feed and they aren't in a country where the DMCA actually applies.

Sam Sethi:

Just for clarity everyone who links to the podcast index. Okay, I'll put it out there. You know, found in podcast. Are we liable if we aren't under US DMCA coverage?

James Cridland:

I mean, I don't think that some of this is necessarily the podcast index. It is, of course, you know you end up using an RSS feed which you're probably passing directly from anchor or directly from you know bus route or whoever that might be. But yes, I mean, if it's being published on your website, then, irrespective of where you've got that copy of you know stuff from, you know it's your website which is still, which is still, you know, going to get these, these emails from excited lawyers.

Sam Sethi:

Well, watch this space. I'll let you know if I get one. Thanks, james, thanks, thanks a lot for that one Right Move on.

James Cridland:

Cheers Moving on. More cheery, more cheery news. What Christmas nightmare you say from Spotify.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, ebenezer Eck has been putting out his little notes. It seems that Spotify I mean, if you haven't heard already, but Spotify is laying off 17% of its workforce. Daniel sent out an email to the remaining staff, or, I suppose, the people that are there. Approximately 1500 jobs are going to be affected. Come on, james, why is he?

James Cridland:

doing this? Well, why is he doing this? I mean, this is a total of 2,300 jobs which have gone from Spotify just in 2023, and there were more jobs that went in Spotify last year as well. That is a lot of people. Now, lots of other tech people are also getting rid of people as well, but I think it comes down to Spotify's business model, and Spotify's business model is a percentage of revenue goes to the record companies. That's basically how it works. It's not quite as simple as that, but it nearly is. So that essentially means that for Spotify, if they get more revenue in, then that means that they have more costs to the record companies. So the only way that they can make more profit is to get rid of people is to get rid of human beings and to get rid of the price of their offices and basically any of the other capital costs that they actually have, because the vast majority of their cost base is on music, of course. Hence why they've jumped into podcasting because podcasting could theoretically make them significantly more money out of this, because they can't really make any money out of music at all, and hence why they've jumped into audiobooks as well.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, well, the good news is that the stock price went up 7.5%, so the market was yay, you're going to be much more cash positive in revenue generating. So they were very happy and, as you said, they've just got fixed costs that they've got to get rid of and I think we've talked about it before but their elasticity of demand is stuck because they can't increase the price because everyone has just abandoned them. Ship to Amazon or to Apple. There isn't enough of a differentiation. Do you think there will be more cuts?

James Cridland:

James. I mean I would sincerely hope not. I mean, given the huge amount of cuts that that company has actually seen, it's what nearly a quarter of its workforce gone. So one would hope that there won't be more cuts. We don't actually know yet where those cuts are coming from either. One person noticed that on the day of the cuts, all of a sudden Megaphone closed their support tools for a while and they said due to unforeseen circumstances. And you know, in the unforeseen circumstances, bluntly, might have been we don't know, but might have been some of those support staff being marched into an office and being given a black plastic bag to collect their stuff and off you go. Those 1,700 people have to come from somewhere, and it's not all going to come from the music side, and there is something in Stratechery. He ended up digging around and found a report in Billboard back in 2021 and Spotify basically said we will offer $1.3 billion in exchangeable notes due in 2026. And Spotify expects to grant the initial buyers of the notes an option to purchase an additional 200 million. That is a lot of money that Spotify will need to get hold of in just a couple of years and, given that the interest rate, of course, has changed from virtually nothing to 7.5%. That's a lot of money to go out and find if they're going to pay out this $1.3 billion to investors. So I think that that's some really nice reporting from Ben Thompson there, and perhaps that's one of the reasons why Spotify all of a sudden is trying to get rid of as much cost as they possibly can. I would also say, by the way, the fact that the share price went up 7.5% on the first day and continued going up during the rest of the week. It just shows what utter shits people are in the stock market. It's just oh brilliant. More people made redundant, excellent, well done Spotify. And I just find it fascinating that the people at the top, who have clearly messed up by hiring too many people, they just get away with it scot-free. So it just makes me depressed about humanity in general. But still.

Sam Sethi:

There you go. Well, it's Friedman Economics which basically killed the global market when he came out and said shareholder value was the primary driver of business, which was not the reason that most companies existed in the past. It then meant and I look at my wife, who's on the board of several PLCs and it's all about shareholder value. It's all CEOs look at. So they've cut everything over the years. They've got to cut people and that's why everyone's getting excited about AI. Oh yes, less people, more revenue, more return back to the shareholder. That's all it's about. And the reason why that stock price went up, just for clarity is because share prices set on the future revenue generation. It's basically, it's the de-risking of the future returns on the share. So what they're saying is ah yes, by you reducing your cost, your share price in the next quarters will go up, so we have greater certainty that this will be an increasing valued stocks. Or the share price goes up to reflect the future risk or de-risk that the market perceives. That's what it's doing.

James Cridland:

Well, it's cheery, isn't it? And also cheery theoretically unconnected, but they are going to cancel both. Heavyweight, named this week as one of the New York Times' best podcast of 2023. Spotify is cancelling that. Spotify is also cancelling Stolen, which won a Pulitzer Prize, no less. To give them their due, they are saying that they are going to be helping those creators move to another home for those shows, if, of course, they can actually get those shows out there. I mean, you would have thought that heavyweight must be commercially successful and Stolen must be commercially successful, but maybe they aren't. Lydia Polgreen, who used to be the managing director of Gimlet Media, wrote on threads if you can't make a go of it with these incredible shows, you are simply bad at podcasting. And she went on to say Spotify lit money on fire by handing it to the Sussexes and other celebrities with nothing to say. She has then realized that this is possibly not the best plan for her future career and has deleted it, but unfortunately, we all saw it. So there we are. So, yeah, I mean, I do understand a little bit, and we'll hear from next week on this show from Marshall Poe, who has seen podcasting's boom and busts as well, and he said well, obviously, because it wasn't an always-on show, because it was expensive to make, it probably wasn't commercially successful, probably wasn't a commercial hit, and I can well understand that. But I can also say those were two great shows and it's a great shame that Spotify has just pulled the plug.

Sam Sethi:

I'm going to play devil's advocate and say look, rewind a few years back. Going back to what you said earlier, we're not making money from music. We can't increase the price. We've got to find another way of making revenue because we've basically floated the company. We need to see quarter on quarter growth. What else can we do? I know we'll get into podcasting Great. How do we do that? Should we do it slowly and steadily and grow it over time? No, no, no, no. Let's go and make a really big bet. Let's borrow money, let's put a billion dollars into this and let's see what happens next. And I guess that's the bet they took, which hasn't quite worked off. And it could have worked off, and if we had, we'd all be sitting here going wow, daniel, you're a genius. And right now we're sitting here going Daniel, you put the company into a very precarious situation. I still, by the way, daniel, if you're listening, I have spotflixcom. You can have it anytime you like. I won't charge you too much. I think the problem they've got is Netflix has seen a massive growth in the last six months. It's very cash positive and I do think if Spotify doesn't find a way to turn the corner without more cuts than I think, they will be very vulnerable to a takeover.

James Cridland:

And of course, you've got YouTube Music and YouTube itself as well. This show comes out on Friday and, of course, today, more news out of YouTube Music and how they've accelerated the closure of Google podcasts as well. So you can very clearly see that for YouTube, well, they've got lots of video available. They've actually got quite a lot of TV shows and movies for you to pay for if you want to end up doing that. They're very good at advertising revenue. They've got music on that service as well. They've got some pretty good deals with the record companies, because the deals with music videos are a bit different to the deals with music tracks. So they are a significant competitor to Spotify, and if Spotify don't very quickly step up, then theoretically at least, if Google actually takes what they've got with YouTube properly, youtube could really come and eat quite a lot of Spotify's customer base.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah Well, I think we've said it many times before they just don't have multiple revenue streams, and Apple even has it as well. They've got hardware, they've got software, they've got other revenue streams that they don't have to rely on. Podcasting for Amazon's the same. So, in fact, in many ways you could argue, apple podcasts and certainly Amazon music, and Amazon podcast is a lost leader to get more prime users. So Spotify's primary goal is music and then on the back of it, it is podcasting. Now look, spotify isn't alone. Ashley Carmen was reporting as well that Tidal, which I think is owned by the wonderful Carter's Beyonce, has seen a 10% staff reduction as well. James.

James Cridland:

Yes, I think. I mean there are lots of staff reductions going on. I think Vox Media just announced a large amount of staff reductions too. I mean it's clearly something going on across the industry getting rid of staff. Maybe some of these companies were over staffed. Who knows? I mean, spotify seems to have companies and businesses and buildings all over the world. I've been in a number of them now and you kind of wonder why you need so much real estate in so many different countries across the world. So perhaps there's more changes to happen there. But who knows? Of course, apple also doing interesting things. Apple hasn't actually laid off anyone, to my understanding. I think they did a little bit in their retail but, accepting that they haven't laid anybody off and seemingly you know, plowing on, they named Wiser Than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus Hope I pronounced that right. They made that show Show of the Year for 2023. The Globe only gets one show of the year and that's a show from the US, as ever. But you know it seems to have done very well. It's a brand new show for 2023. It's from our friends at Lemonade Media. Strangely, they have a paid subscription on Apple podcasts. I'm sure that had nothing to do with being made Show of the Year for 2023, as the Show of the Year for 2022 also had nothing to do with the fact that they also announced an Apple Pay subscription.

Sam Sethi:

James, we've got a paid subscription. We're in the running for 24 then.

James Cridland:

Oh well, we're not, because we cancelled it because it wasn't making any money. Quick, get it back. Get it back. Good still. But stats are going down, though, for Apple, aren't they?

Sam Sethi:

Yes, they are. I mean Buzzsprout Friends, the Show, sponsors the show, I should say as well. They put out some numbers about the changes that occurred with the iOS 17 in mid-September. What was it that they said, james?

James Cridland:

Well, they release stats which are very good. Buzzsproutcom, as you say. They're the sponsor of this show. I compared August with November to cut out any of the iOS changeover in September and early October. Basically, buzzsprout users are making the same amount of podcasts as they have. There was no real change in the amount of active podcasters or the amount of new episodes August versus November, but big change in terms of total downloads. This I found interesting. Total downloads are down. They're down by 16%, which seems like quite a large drop August to November, 16%. But if you start splitting those out by app, then you can see that there are different stories going on. Apple podcasts, as you might guess, is down 15%. They've announced that they're going to close Google podcasts, so people are beginning to abandon that particular product. You would expect that Spotify is down 14%. Why it's down 14%, I don't know. Pocketcast is up 0.5%. Overcast is only down 2.6%, but Apple podcasts is down 24%. So there's clearly something going on with Apple podcasts. But also, very clearly, it's not just Apple podcasts, it's everyone else as well.

Sam Sethi:

Okay, I'm going to be naively asking a question now, which is downloads might be slowing down, but are streams increasing?

James Cridland:

Well, a stream, in terms of podcasting, is the same as a download, so the quick answer is no.

Sam Sethi:

So that's that, and so then, was Ross Adams right? Did these figures vindicate him? Was he prescient? Was he ahead of the curve when he said that the reason that there was problems with you know, spotify's numbers was because the industry and iOS 17 and downloads are all going down? Was he just being ahead of the curve in saying that?

James Cridland:

I mean, I think that Ross was clearly talking about his last quarterly figures. Now his last quarterly figures ended by the end of September. So, frankly, very, very few people had iOS 17 on their iPhones. The amount of down, the amount of decrease, shouldn't be a massive thing. So I think that he was very early to claim that anything had anything to do with Apple podcasts. And I think still the jury is out. I mean, even now you look at November and OP 3 has done some really good work looking at who is using iOS 17 and who is not, and for most of November only a third of iPhone users were using iOS 17. It's gone up to two thirds now, but for most of November only a third was using iOS 17 because of the way that Apple sends through those updates. So are we going to see even more decline in December? You would probably guess yes, we probably are. And if it's just such a small change that Apple made, it does sort of beg the question how much more of Apple podcasts traffic is automatic downloads that never get listened to.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, well, we'll keep an eye on the stats and let you know if there's an up curve anywhere along the line.

James Cridland:

Yes, I think keeping an eye on those stats would be helpful, and not just Buzzsprout stats. But it will be super useful. If you work for a podcast company, please buzzsproutcom slash stats, go and have a look at that page and then copy it. Copy it, you know, view, view, source, copy and plug your own numbers in there and publish it, because it's so, so useful to know what's happening in the wider podcast world. So it'd be super helpful if you work for any large podcast company or even a small podcast company, to be able to actually publish some global stats there as well.

Sam Sethi:

Now, moving on, james. This is weird, after what we've just said in the last three stories, that I'm going to say podcast growth. Okay, now I get totally confused right. We have just said it's all doom and gloom and now we know. Nielsen's 2023 consumer server report says that we're seeing the most growth of all media channels in the next six to 12 months, with podcasting. Explain James.

James Cridland:

Yes, so a big company called Nielsen. They have lots of data. They also have people whose job is to guess, and they have guessed that podcasting will see the most growth of all media channels in the next six to 12 months. Good guess, nielsen. Deloitte has also made a good guess. They say that the global audio market will surpass $75 billion in 2024. That's a 7% hike from 2023. That is also a guess Two guesses, and they both say that podcasting is still in growth, which it probably is to be fair, and yes, and that's all a good thing, but these are guesses, and they're guesses for what might happen in the next year, and they may be guesses that don't necessarily include the last couple of weeks worth of news as well, so that's what I would probably say to that. Nielsen's data did, though, include some quite nice numbers, and one of the nice numbers that I thought was interesting to see is that listeners to podcasts are happy with the amount of advertising they hear. More than half podcast listeners, according to Nielsen's 2023 Consumer Survey report, say that podcasts contain an appropriate amount of advertisements. 55% is a pretty good number If you look at that for free to air TV, 26%, and if you look at that for AMFM Radio 38%. So podcasting still does not have too much advertising in it, whatever people might say.

Sam Sethi:

Let's talk about IAB measurement, because that really always confuses me. What's the future for IAB podcast measurement? Then, james, it says here in November 2022,. We reported that the IAB's 2.0 certification would no longer be valid after December 31st. Tick, tock, tick, tock, it's coming. What's happening, james?

James Cridland:

There are a lot of very big companies who are only compliant to version 2.0 of the IAB's podcast measurement guidelines and all of those companies will lose their claim to certification by the end of this year unless they are at least in the process of recertification. And some of those companies are Busprout, our sponsor. I sent them a question about this and got no response, which I think is probably fair enough. Captivate, similar Charitable Soundstack, libsyn, podbean, podtrak, simplecast, adzwiz and Anker All of those companies are all only compliant to version 2.0 and will not be able to call themselves IAB compliant from the 1st of January unless they recertify. And I think that that's a pretty big deal because that will essentially mean that the majority of the large companies who are involved in IAB certification are no longer certified, and I think that that could potentially wound the IAB as the de facto standard for podcast measurement. Is that a good or a bad thing? Well, that might be another conversation to have, but a spokesperson at the IAB Tech Lab said we do expect companies who haven't been certified on version 2.1 to be recertified or they will lose current status. They went on to say they're welcome to regain status once they sign up again and complete the certification and audit process. We do have several companies in process of recertification. We do expect them to be completed by the end of the year. For obvious reasons, I cannot tell you which ones. Obviously Obviously yes, because I don't know I've always been a little bit dubious about handing the keys to the podcast industry to the IAB, who don't care about podcasting, don't care about audio advertising, don't care much about much. And so I'm kind of there thinking well, if this means that the IAB isn't the set of people who are involved in podcast measurement, is that probably a good thing? Should it be a different company, and who should that company be?

Sam Sethi:

I've often wondered why you have to be compliant. Is it because if you don't have a rubber stamp, then advertisers won't come to you? Has it been made into that sort of if you're not in our club, you're not valid type certification.

James Cridland:

Well, I think you can go back a number of years and see that it used to be the Wild West Anything used to count for a download or not count for a download for podcasting, and so the IAB was very helpful in coming up with these guidelines which you had to follow. And either you can say that you are IAB compliant, which means that you've looked at the IAB guidelines and you think that you're doing the right sort of thing, or you can be IAB certified, which means that somebody has had their eyes on your code and is actually looking at what you are measuring, and you've also handed a fat check over to the IAB as well. And you can well understand that there are companies, advertisers, who are there going. We only want to advertise If we're going to pay per download. We only want to advertise on podcasts which have IAB certified numbers, so that we know that we're not being lied to in terms of those numbers. Op3 fixes a lot of this stuff, of course, because that's an open standard which is very clear in how you're measured, and everybody will be measured in exactly the same way. If everybody used OP3. But yeah, but there are plenty of other ways of doing that too, I guess.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah sadly, not everyone's going to jump on board because they don't want to jump on board. Okay, let's move on. James, I saw a story on LinkedIn. I don't know whether you should call LinkedIn stalking. Is it surfing on LinkedIn stalking, because it feels like stalking. Anyway, I saw a story about pod people and I hadn't really looked at or heard much about pod people and I thought oh, who's the CEO? I reached out to the wonderful Rachel King, who is the CEO lovely lady actually and I asked her about what is going on at pod people and how they're successfully growing their slate a year on year.

Rachael King:

So we are a content and marketing studio for award-winning podcasts and social creative, because at this point I don't think you can have a podcast without fantastic social to go along with it. And we work with lots of media clients like HBO and Netflix and Marvel. We do some gaming, some podcasts for gaming companies which are really fun. We work with a lot of tech companies and startups like SoFi and Lattice, a couple VC firms. We've done shows for People and Vogue and Bon Appetit and Travel and Leisure. So it's a really wide mix which is fun.

Sam Sethi:

Can I just leave something for everyone else, please? Right, sounds like you do it all. So that sounds amazing. You've got this great slate. How big is your team? Hundreds thousands then, obviously.

Rachael King:

Oh, no, no, no, we are. I think we just hit 25. We've grown very, very slowly over the years. So I think we were one the first year, and then maybe four or five, and then 10, and then 15, and then 20, and now 25. So it's exactly as you'd expect slowly over time.

Sam Sethi:

Okay, that's a great way to grow. How have these companies approached you? What was the first one you produced, and what was it Word of mouth that generally led, or what's your secret, then? If it isn't word of mouth?

Rachael King:

So I came to start pod people from. I had been in the tech startup world for a long time doing content marketing and communications and PR, social, so similar things, helping brands tell their stories, but I've always loved the audio format, always been a huge fan of podcasts, had one of my own for fun, and when I realized that it was becoming a true industry where brands were going to need to figure out this channel of communication arguably the best channel for connecting with your audience, I would say I decided to force my way in and start a branded podcast production agency, and so that's how we began. I just created a logo with a friend of mine, slapped up a Squarespace page I hope they're one of your sponsors and then emailed everyone that I knew that I had started this company and I also. I did a lot of research and really networked with folks in the industry and found out that it was super fragmented. Like everyone kind of was a freelancer. This is 2016, 2017. So, even more so, there were lots of audio producers and I found my way to the listservs. You know the New York listserv, the LA listserv G that still exists today, and that's how I sort of started networking and got to know people and created a database that we still have of, you know, all the talented freelance producers, sound designers, writers, how to do this. And then, as we grew and scaled over time, we of course now have our in-house team, but we still use this database, this community of wonderful freelancers, to supplement our own team when we need a certain kind of subject matter, expertise or language or we need someone in a certain location, which is great, and we also used it for a time staffing up for clients who didn't need full service production. So, you know, when Wondery was scaling up, we did a lot of staffing for them. For Spotify, when they were scaling up, we did a lot of staffing for our legacy clients who know about it, who use it. But our talent team focuses much more now on host searches, guest booking and casting for our fiction shows.

Sam Sethi:

Awesome. So what was the itch and you know you said it was that you saw everyone getting into this podcasting. But you must, like, all of us had car crash podcasts when you first started. I mean, it couldn't have been. Just hey, I want to do podcasting, and it was a hit from day one, was it?

Rachael King:

You are I think that because I was so well-networked from being in PR. So when I sent that email out to all my contacts and friendlies, ryan Lawler, who had been a tech reporter at TechCrunch, he had gone in-house at Samsung Next, which was their innovation, investment and acquisition arm, and so he replied immediately and said I've been wanting to set up a podcast, let's do it. And so that was our first client. And then Twitter, and I want to remind you again that this was 2017, 2018. So this is a long time ago, pre-emons.

Sam Sethi:

Premask yes.

Rachael King:

So I had a friend at Twitter as well who was running Twitter business and wanted to sort of re-educate the world about how much better their advertising platform had gotten and bring in new customers for that. So we did a lot of really interesting case study episodes with Grindr and other companies who had used Twitter ads very successfully. So those were our first two clients. And then Medium, who had just launched the premium $5 a month for VIPs membership and they had all this fantastic content where they were contracting Baratunde Dethirsten, roxanne Gay, to write essays that were behind the paywall but people didn't know about it. So we created a podcast that would interview them, have them do a reading of their piece, and the episodes were launched in the Medium app as well as on the other podcast platforms to let people know about all this fantastic content that was behind the paywall and convince them to become the $5 a month subscribers. And it was super successful. So those were our first three clients and they are all very much in the tech world. They were very much from my network, but you know, I think getting those sorts of logos on our mass heads, so to speak, did really help us with a strong start.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I can imagine that Now, looking at what you do today, I mean 2023, I guess it has to be the year of AI. I mean, sadly. What tools and platform services are you using that are helping you now?

Rachael King:

Oh, okay, I should have asked my production team, because so our marketing team, our biz dev team and our production team they all do a monthly analysis of any new AI tools that have come out and test them to see which ones might be helpful, and we use quite a lot of them. I think the marketing team recently told me that they have 10 that they use regularly, and I think the production team is similar. I know for a fact that they use Descript, which obviously has a lot of AI built in, but they use quite a few other tools that I don't have the names handy, but I will say that that is yeah, that's something that we're doing on a monthly basis, where, you know, we even have someone designated on each team who is in charge of just collecting different potential tools and testing them out to then bring them back and report to the team. These three were absolute shit. Don't worry about them. This one was really interesting if we could customize it and then in 2024, part of what we'll do is we found a couple architects who will help us build custom tools that will help with our specific workflows, and we're really excited for that Obviously not a replacement for the creative elements of what we do, but if we can make the logistics and admin, and you know, bake in efficiencies so that we can devote more time to the creative elements. That is the goal.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, no, I think that is. I've called AI assisted intelligence, and that's really what it is. Now 2024 is round the corner. What does 2024 look like for pod people?

Rachael King:

Well, I think slow, steady growth is just always the name of the game at pod people, and it might sound boring, but I think, after a couple of you know, 2021 was a little rocky for us, just because we realized too much of our revenue was concentrated into few clients, and so, towards the end of 2021 and early 2022, we worked really, really hard to diversify. You know our different clients and different industries, which I think you heard when I listed off the sorts of companies that we're working with now. So it was, it's been successful, which is great, because having that diversification means that we're healthier, that we can breathe easier. If we lose one client, it's not the end of the world and so that was sort of the name of the game in 2022. This year it was okay. Let's double down on the new services that we've created that are working, which was our marketing team we created last year, and last year it was 5% of our revenue. This year it's 20% and I think that it will grow as large as 30, especially because in this year you know the market we've seen so many companies decide not to invest in new shows, which is a bummer, but they are using those funds instead to grow their existing slate, and so that's been good for us and for our marketing team to be able to help with that. You know those services and their talent arm, as I mentioned, has been growing a lot since we shifted the focus to guest booking and casting, and you know talent as it relates to the show, as opposed to production staffing and then our video and social arms obviously has been exploding, given you know how podcasting has chat shows in particular have gotten to the point where they at the very least need social clips and ideally would have a video version of the show as well.

Sam Sethi:

Cool, I've got a couple more questions. So good old YouTube's come on the old scene and TikTok is talking about adding RSS for, I suppose, linking clips back to the original podcast. I mean, where do you see your emphasis, given that you've got a marketing arm? Where do you see the focus for 24 for you guys?

Rachael King:

Yeah, so for now we are focusing more on the social clips. Youtube shorts have been really successful. Obviously, tiktok wildly successful for podcasts If you do it well, if you make a great clip reels as well, although obviously that algorithm is trickier as it's geared to who you follow versus TikTok is just we think you'll like this and so we've focused there. Except for our clients that already had a YouTube channel. Obviously, if they already have a presence there, we are doing full video episodes. I just I want to see you know. Youtube says they're going to do this, says they're going to do that. Now it's kind of confusing where it's. You can have it on YouTube or YouTube music, and this one needs video, but that one doesn't. But you at least want it to be searchable. I'm waiting for them to sort of. I want the dust to settle before we push new clients who don't have a YouTube presence To be doing full video episodes over there. And sometimes it's also just like let's walk before we run. Let's get the show up and running, because a lot of what we do is the first or flagship podcast for a brand, so we will usually say we've got to have the audio. The show needs to be fantastic. Let's focus on that first. Let's have great social clips and then let's think about adding in the video component Once the show is up and running. You know you're going to invest for the long haul, and same goes for TikTok. I'm really excited about the idea of them doing, you know, longer form podcasts and I know they've already sort of tested this with some TV shows, which is all very interesting. If they did RSS feeds, that's even easier, removes that barrier. But it's sort of the same thing where we're waiting and seeing.

Sam Sethi:

Okay, yeah, I think that's a very good idea. I don't disagree with anything you said about YouTube. I'm still confused and I'm supposed to report on what they do.

Rachael King:

And I've read so many thoughtful pieces about it and it's still like, yeah, this sounds like it's too much of a mess.

James Cridland:

Yeah.

Rachael King:

It's our clients who are, you know, doing a podcast for the first time. It just doesn't make sense.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I know, I agree. Now one of the things I wanted to ask is how do you measure success then? What is your metric?

Rachael King:

So most of our clients are making a podcast for content marketing purposes to reach their audience or a new audience, go deeper with them, engage them in a different way, create a different kind of trust and loyalty that you can with thoughtful, long form content versus, you know, more surface level relationship on social, and so that means that their goal is getting to the right audience, retaining them, going deeper with them. Sometimes it is a top of funnel play where they want to reach a new audience. You know we worked a lot with Meredith Corporation and their goal for podcasts was to reach a younger audience than they might have had through their magazines, which makes a lot of sense, right. So sometimes it's getting to a different or a new audience. It might be going deeper with their true 1000 fans. You know we do a show for Lattice, which is an HR platform, and so they want to get in front of people leaders, ceos of SMBs who are making those kinds of decisions. But the show is really good. You know it's called HR for people leader. There is no HR for people leaders. So that's what the podcast is designed to be and so obviously, providing value, being super sticky, being a true resource that leaves people feeling great and with action items and excited about, you know, putting something into play. That's always the goal. We do have a couple shows where the goal is more like large scale let's get as big as we can and monetize but that is much rarer for us. So we're usually focused on things like charting within the category. You know, thought leadership for the CEO or the host or the brand. I'm getting to a new audience seeing like it's much more important to us that you know the show's audience is growing over time. Again, slow and steady is better when you're going after a very targeted or niche audience, but that they're sticking around, they're staying till the end. They're finding value. Qualitative feedback is just as important as quantitative. So those are more of the things that we're looking at with our clients and our shows.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, james and I talk about measuring the value of a podcast with time listened, percent completed, as two metrics. Those are much more important than downloads, because we all know that downloads don't always equal listens, so I think that's important. Now you talked about diversity as well, and as in diversifying, not diversity, as in people right now, would you go international? Would you take VC money? Would any of those two routes go be something you do?

Rachael King:

International would be really interesting. We have done a few projects in the UK and in Germany and you know it's just being a small company. It's like the taxes and logistics that make it a challenge, so it has to be a really large project for it to be worth it. I do think that a strategic partnership with a company in Europe whether that was, you know, a different kind of production company or another podcast agency that had similar values and similar business model would be really interesting, and I would say that's probably a 2025 ambition as opposed to 2024, just because we try to focus on one thing that we can do really well each year and then, you know, blow that out before we move on to the next, and so it's super interesting. I'm not as interested in VC money. I don't want to give up control, my team doesn't really want to give up control, and I'm afraid that you know they would be like IP, ip, ip, and we've gone down the original route and we know how much it costs to make something fantastic and then, more importantly, put it out into the world, especially as an indie platform that doesn't have that, you know, distribution of an I heart or whatever built in. So then we'd need a slight deal with one of them and it's just like that's a full time job then, probably for a couple people. So I think we're too small maybe for that at this point, but 2025, who knows?

Sam Sethi:

Watch this space, Rachel. Thank you so much. It's been fascinating talking to you. Remind everyone if they want to find out more about pod people, where would they go?

Rachael King:

Yeah, we're podpeoplecom and spelled just like it sounds, and on Instagram it's at podppl and it's the same on TikTok.

Sam Sethi:

Amazing Thanks, Rachel.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much the tech stuff on the pod news weekly review.

James Cridland:

Yes, it's the stuff you'll find every Monday in the pod news newsletter. Here's where we do all of the tech talk, Sam. What's up first? The?

Sam Sethi:

Apple with this. This is the deal that I never understood, right Me neither. Yeah, no, it's a pre-acquisition. It's got to be. They've announced earlier this year that LinkFire has placed its linking tool alive for podcasters. Now it's gone out of beta so you can get one of the links and then you can start to share your show Again. I never understood why this wasn't just designed in Apple. It can't have been that hard for them to do internally, but they've gone externally. I've never heard them do this before. You can go and buy it. It's a bit like Bitly with analytics for links, right, and I looked at it and I thought, hmm, $9 a month for the starter, 24 for the pro, but it doesn't meet the requirements that I have. I use a different service called rebrandly, which is similarly priced, but you can buy your own domain and have it personalised to your own brand, whereas you can't do this with LinkFire. So I don't get it.

James Cridland:

I have to say I don't get it, particularly If you want to have a look at what a LinkFire page looks like. By the way, you can go to linkfirecom with a dot for the RE Linkfirecom slash pod news Brilliant for reading out on a podcast, I think. I think they've done a good job there. The secret source with all of this is, I mean, you know, it links to places like Apple and Amazon and Spotify. It'll even show you an Apple link if you're on an Android phone, because that's not user hostile at all, is it? But the secret source with all of this is that it has a exclusive link to Apple podcasts. Apple tell me that there is no Apple podcasts analytics API, that this is a specific bespoke thing. They say that LinkFire is very good at privacy and all of that. I just find the whole thing fascinating. But you know it's yours. If you want it, linkfire, you'll find it. Frankly, I would recommend you just went out and bought your owncom and had a website. Podpage is a pod news gold sponsor and you should probably go out and use that and, to coin a phrase, getyourowncom. Don't leave me, todd Cochran.

Sam Sethi:

We use rebrandly. We have podnewslink, you know, do we? Yeah, well, I do so for everybody who's interviewed, right, we have podnewslink forward slash interview. That's what I send out and it just goes out to them. They click on it and they magically turn up to get to an interview Fancy. So again, you can get branded URLs that can be linked, with great analytics behind them as well.

James Cridland:

Now talking about analytics podgagement is new, new, new new. Daniel J Lewis, a friend of the show and has been building my podcast reviews for years and years and years. My podcast reviews is gone. Podgagement is here, a new tool to engage audiences, grow podcasts and get more ratings, reviews and, frankly, just grow your show. Sam Cours up with Daniel J Lewis to ask what podgagement was.

Sam Sethi:

Before we go on, let's just get it out of the way. You used to have a platform called.

Daniel J Lewis:

My podcast reviews and the name itself kind of had an issue. It was great for SEO, because when people would look up, how do I see my podcast reviews? Well, boom, number one result. But it was actually with James in podnews that I realized the name has a problem, because when I started putting out some data a few years ago that I was discovering from Apple Podcasts, when James would try to cite me, he would say according to my podcast reviews, and that just didn't sound right because it's not according to his podcast reviews and it's not even according to anybody's podcast reviews. It's according to the service my podcast reviews. So I realized way back then the name had to change and I had another name in mind, but it fell into that same my problem. So along the way, though, I discovered all of this data that I could pull in from Apple Podcasts, and that was what fed the podcastindustryinsightscom site, and I was realizing that for years we've been saying and this is the truth ratings and reviews do not affect your ranking in Apple Podcasts, and I prominently tell people that, which kind of undermines my very business, because it would be great if ratings and reviews affected your ranking, because then people would be flocking to my service to get more ratings and reviews, but that's not the way it works. So I wanted something that wasn't a mere convenience to people, but something that they really depended on and what most podcasters just love so much, even more than big down low numbers. I think they love the engagement with their audience, so I wanted to focus on podcast engagement. Thus podgagement was born.

Sam Sethi:

And therefore you have a new platform Now with podgagement. Let's start off with who's the audience for podgagement first.

Daniel J Lewis:

Well, it's definitely for podcasters and it's for podcasters who want to, as the tagline says, engage your audience, grow your podcast. When you have an engaged audience, you can grow your podcast. Or even if you don't want to grow the size of your podcast audience, you can do great things when you have a really engaged audience. That helps you get sponsors, that helps you leverage opportunities. I talk about in my own podcast about podcasting, the Audacity to Podcast. I talk about this idea of profit P-R-O-F-I-T. It's what you and your audience should get. From your audience that stands for popularity, relationships, opportunities, fun, income and tangibles. All of those things are so much easier to get when you have an engaged audience, an audience that's so engaged that they're basically like, hey, whatever you release, just shut up and take my money, I will pay you for whatever it is, because I know you so well, I'm so engaged with you. That's what I want to help podcasters build through. Podgagement is helping them to more deeply engage their audience. Track that so that they can then grow their podcast in whichever way they want to grow their audience or their podcast, or their profit or their opportunities or any of those other parts of profit.

Sam Sethi:

So let's take some real examples. And so let's say it's pod news and we've come on to podgagement and we've acquired a slot in podgagement, so we put pod news weekly there. What's the first thing we are going to be doing? Aggregating all of our reviews from multiple sites. Is that the first thing we do? How does it work?

Daniel J Lewis:

Yeah, there are two feature levels that you can sign up for on podgagement and everything is very astronomical themed, as you'll tell. First there is the Astro level and this carries over all of the features that were available under my podcast review. So it's everything focused on the ratings and reviews inside of Apple Podcasts, podchaser and some other podcast apps and directors out there as well, and we're bringing in more and more now, especially that we've got this all new platform that's so much easier to build on than the old stuff. So the first thing you get and all of these plans have it is the ratings and reviews features. You also get the ability to more easily get more ratings and reviews by delegating all of your calls to action to a very friendly, speakable page. It's called lovethepodcastcom, so you can tell your audience if you love the podcast. Visit lovethepodcastcom. In my case, the slash is audacity. It takes you to my love page where it's all focused on helping you to leave a rating or review for my podcast. That's for my current audience. You get that inside of the Astro plan. You also get the follow page, which is followthepodcastcom. That's for people who aren't your audience yet and that focuses on helping them to follow your podcast and it displays many other options. And both of these are very device aware, so they show only what works on that specific platform. So these are built into the Astro plan, really focused on that first level of audience engagement. The constellation tier then builds on top of that, has all of those same features, but then adds to that collecting feedback from your audience, both in written and recorded form, and those can even be merged together in the same message, in the same feedback item. Also tracking some of your performance in more places, like your search ranking inside of the podcast apps, your chart ranking inside of the podcast apps. Being able to see how you're doing with your engagement in that way and your growth, being able to track it in that way. And one of the features that I'm most excited about this is engaging not only your own audience but engaging your community of fellow podcasters, and this is in the constellation plan. I call it the networking feature, and right now it's built around data from Apple Podcasts. Soon I'll be adding in data from Podroll, from Spotify and from pretty much anywhere I can get it. I'll add in the data. The idea is this comes both ways If you look at a podcast inside of Apple Podcasts. Scroll down to the bottom and you'll see this section that the name has changed over the years and it's basically a list of recommendations on your podcast. Those are all algorithmically generated In Apple Podcasts. It's looking at crossover audience. A lot of people who listen to this podcast also listen to this podcast and therefore let's recommend that other podcast back on your own podcast listing. So I'm tracking that for you. That's the outgoing networking, so it's showing everything. Your podcast listing is recommending all the other podcasts. What's even more exciting, I think, is then tracking all the other podcasts that are recommending your podcast in their listing. This is data no one else is providing, but I've been tracking it for years so that you can see you appear on this other podcast, even though they don't appear in your recommendations. You appear in their recommendations and you can even track. As we gather this data, you'll be able to track your position in those rankings. It's not exactly a ranking, but if you're the number one recommendation under another podcast, you're going to want to know that you're the number one or that you moved up into the visible slot of maybe the first four or first three, something like that. So you can track that, you can see that and you can take action on that. We'll pull in the email addresses from the RSS feeds. Those are publicly accessible email addresses. And before you think I'm going to start spamming everybody, no, it's not about spamming. This is about providing the opportunities for a podcaster to connect with a relevant related other podcaster and think of the opportunities. Then, when you know that you have a crossover audience which this is what the data shows or you know that there's some relevance between your podcasts, and when we bring in the pod role data too, this would show that these other podcasts have put your podcast in their pod role. So when you know that, then you can look at all kinds of networking opportunities, like just relationship building, getting to know your fellow colleagues in the same industry. You can look at cross promotion opportunities, cross guesting opportunities, you can collaborate on projects together, all of this kind of stuff. And you know we have some crossover audience. Maybe you can increase that crossover audience or maybe you can really leverage it for even bigger things. And that's all right there in engagement, where you can take action on that and see that information and even track it over time to know that, hey, you've popped up on someone else's pod role or on someone else's recommendations with their podcast listing, so you can be notified then to reach out to them and say, hey, I just noticed it looks like we have some crossover audience. Would you be interested in being a guest on my podcast? Or hey, here's something that I checked out, your podcast. I'd love to offer this kind of content to your audience, knowing again that you have crossover audience and there is that relevance already there.

Sam Sethi:

It sounds cool. I mean, how long is it taking you to build all these?

Daniel J Lewis:

Way too long. It has been only me, and I take a lot of healthy level of pride in this because my podcast reviews was programmed for me by a developer overseas A great guy. We got to work together for years on it. But when I started my podcast reviews back in 2014, and it was the first of its kind, the first online service to track all your ratings and reviews since there have been several copycats, but back then I barely knew anything about programming, so it was all programmed in Ruby on Rails back then, and if you're out there thinking Ruby on who, then yeah, that's why I wanted to move off of Ruby on Rails.

Sam Sethi:

Hang on, wait, wait, wait. Buzzsprout love Ruby on Rails. Be very, very, very cautious. Anyway, keep going, yeah.

Daniel J Lewis:

And they love it because they know it really well. They've built something great on top of it. They know exactly how to use the tool to make it do what they want to. I don't and I didn't want to learn Ruby on Rails because I know it is a dying language, so I don't really want to waste my time learning it. So I learned a full JavaScript stack on everything from Node to MongoDB to React to Nextjs, to all of this stuff. That's all JavaScript based, and I rebuilt then podgagement completely myself, and that's not to brag at all. I learned this, and what I love, though, so much about this is, of all of the products I've created for podcasters in the past, my podcast reviews was the one that, although I created the idea, I did not personally build it. Now, podgagement has my heart in every of the thousands of lines of code that are behind this. I'm the only one who's developed it so far. In the future I'll get some other developers probably, but I really love that. I've put my heart into this, both as a podcaster, as a developer, as someone who enjoys these kinds of things. So I think about how would I want this to work, and talking with other podcasters, learning what their needs are and just understanding the podcasting industry and being able to make it myself is so exciting because I can tweak it and, having a web design background, I can. I'll own this and confess it. I can be a bit of a pixel pusher and say it doesn't quite look good in that color. Can we tweak it a little bit, change it just a tiny? Well, I can do that now and I've done that.

Sam Sethi:

It's such a relief when you can do it. I think I can do it. It's such a relief Rather than I think I have to ask for it. It's such a big difference.

Daniel J Lewis:

I decide, okay, that button is there, but what if it was over there? Boom, Mind exploded. That kind of thing I can play with and really just especially play with the data, and see, oh, this is the data I'm getting back or this is the data I can track. Here are these other points of data that I hadn't even considered. What can I do with this now? How can I better serve my audience with this stuff that I'm now finding? And it's really cool, some of the stuff that I've uncovered, like this whole networking thing that in coming and outgoing stuff I didn't even realize that was possible years ago and now bringing that in for the podcasters. That's exciting for me to be able to serve the podcasters in that way.

Sam Sethi:

And okay. So I understand the platform now. I understand the audience, I understand the engagement, I understand some of the services it offers. What's coming down the track? What's the thing that you're most excited about coming down the track?

Daniel J Lewis:

Oh, so much. Because it's on a completely new platform coding-wise and because I'm the one developing it, I can build anything I want to inside of it. So I've got all kinds of plans and now that it's finally launched I can reveal some of what's coming in the future, like chart tracking, which that's not all that earth shattering, but I've been tracking this data all the podcast charts in all the countries, from Apple podcasts and Spotify and more. I've been tracking that for years, doing nothing with that data yet, but that's coming, so you'll be able to track your ranking in the charts as well as special features, like years ago we had NU and NOTE worthy was a really important thing. I was tracking that for years Now. Some of the other features inside of Apple podcasts, like what's hot section or some of the trending sections I'll be able to track those and pull that in. That's really exciting for podcasters to be able to see that, but not everyone's going to appear in those rankings, so that might not appeal to them. But what can appeal to them is search ranking tracking, where you'll be able to enter in some keywords to know that I want to be found for these keywords. You enter that and you'll be able to then see where are you in this position and who else is in this position, and you'll be able to track how you're doing with that. So, as you release more episodes, that helps boost your SEO inside of the podcast apps and you'll be able to see that progress over time. I'm really excited about how I can use AI with this, and if you've seen the movie Idiocracy then you know the line. It's got electrolytes and I'm not just trying to add AI to this just because everybody's doing something with AI, but I wanted to do some things that analyze the data for a while and can make something special with it. Ai is going to make that easier for me to do. So what I want to do with that is to be able to look at your episodes and again, the focus of podgagement is all about engaging your audience and growing your podcast with that. So looking at your podcast and then helping you build engagement from that, like generating a list for each episode of your podcast of here are some very engaging questions that you can share out on social media to engage your audience and get them to listen to your podcast in the same time, like build a list of questions from this episode's topic. Or here are some ways that you can pitch this podcast to a potential sponsor. Or here are some ways that you can pitch yourself as an expert to someone else based on what you've covered in your podcast. Things like that that are really focused on engagement. Not that stuff that, like many of the other AI tools are doing that generate your title, give your transcript, chapter markers, all of that. I'll leave that to them. They do that stuff really well, like your sponsor, and I'm not paid to say that, but I want something that really focuses on the engagement with your audience. Now that you've already published your episode, how do you engage your audience after that? That's what I'll be using some AI stuff to do, as well as pulling out some insights from your ratings and reviews where people can see that, oh man, I got another one star review and I've got all of these one star reviews or two star reviews, even though it's a much smaller balance compared to the number of five star and four star reviews. But the AI can then pull in some of that information and bring out some insights like here's what you're doing really well based on your reviews. Here's what you could work on based on your reviews. That kind of thing I'm looking forward to bringing into pod engagement as well as just improving all kinds of other things. Supporting new platforms like Good Pods is I'm right about to launch support for bringing in the ratings and reviews from Good Pods and more of that kind of stuff to more deeply engage and monetization opportunities where we've got the streaming Satoshis inside of value for value, providing some ways for podcasters to do that and kind of speaking of podcasting 2.0 there, whenever we figure out this cross app comments thing.

Sam Sethi:

I figured it out, just no one listens to me. That's cool, I have figured out. Anyway, I know how it works. It's fine, but no one wants to do it.

Daniel J Lewis:

All right, yeah, and as a developer, I don't want to do one of the particular methods that's out there. I want to do an easier method, and that's I figured it out. No one's listening to me either, so no one's listening to either of us. And whenever, whatever is done, I'll integrate that too, because cross app comments are engagement. So there will be a comments section inside of podgagement that will allow podcasters to track and engage their audience through the cross app comments. And if that means, however, we build cross-app comments, if it means that a service has to exist, I want to also try and build that service for the podcasters so that, if they're on a legacy hosting provider, maybe they could still have and track their cross-app comments, even if it's not possible with whatever is generating their RSS feed. I want to try and build those things. So everything around helping the podcasters engage their audiences.

Sam Sethi:

Brilliant Daniel. Thank you so much. Congratulations on the launch. Remind everyone where they can go and sign up.

Daniel J Lewis:

Yeah, go to podgagementcom, or, if that's a little too hard for you to figure out how it's spelled, podcastinggagementcom gets you there too, and you can sign up for a free trial over there. Try out the Astro plan or the Constellation plan, and there are bigger things than constellations in the galaxy and in the universe. So there will be bigger plans in the future with even more features for those who need them.

Sam Sethi:

Well, I'll get my Hubble telescope out and keep an eye out for you. Thanks, Daniel.

James Cridland:

Thank you, sam. Congratulations, daniel J Lewis. He's a very, very focused person and I think what I know he's excited about is, instead of my podcast reviews, which was produced by a contractor, a contract software developer, he has written every single line of code for podgagement and I think that that's a big thing for him. So many congratulations to him for that launch. What else have we got jumping in Castro? Do you remember last week that I said that Castro was going to close? Yes, they have made a blog post. It's their first blog post for three years and their blog post says any communication or publication regarding the app's future is not official and does not represent Castro's views. Hmm, you should tell that to Tiny, the company that owns Castro, because Mohit Mamouria, who works for Tiny, said it was going to close within two months. Well, you said former Castro employee.

Sam Sethi:

He might be former Tiny employee if he's got this wrong as well.

James Cridland:

Well, maybe or maybe not, because Castro is also not on the Tiny website anymore and it certainly used to be as an owned company and in fact, castro has also said that they are actively seeking a new home with new owners. That does not sound to me like a company with a very long-term future if they are actively seeking a new home with new owners.

Sam Sethi:

Now let's move on In YouTube listeners can now add RSS podcast to YouTube. Didn't we say this? Last week, though, james has something changed.

James Cridland:

Yes, what has changed is that you can do that on iOS now, which you weren't able to, so it's now available absolutely everywhere. So they've done a good job there. And also, as we reported in pod news this morning, they have turned on their migration away from Google podcasts to YouTube music in the US US only for now, and I don't really understand why and they won't tell me. But yes, they're discontinuing Google podcasts in the US as early as April 2024, they've said so that's rather earlier than we thought. They've put a fancy little banner on the top of the screen in Google podcasts which you basically press and it'll do two things Either it will load all your podcasts into YouTube music so you can listen there, or it will give you an OPML file that you can download and then import into PocketCasts or AntennaPod or any other service. So all of that is happening in the US only as of today, and we will find out doubtless when the rest of the world will get this tool as it comes on stream. I'm using YouTube music as my primary podcast player at the moment and it's not bad. It's still missing a few things, but it's not bad.

Sam Sethi:

Have you done anything that might help people move across as well?

James Cridland:

Well, I'm glad you asked. Yes, there's a website called RSS2YTM, rss number two, ytmnet, which will allow you to essentially find the RSS feed for your favourite show and then copy and paste it into the right bit in YouTube music, and that works on your mobile phone as well. So highly worthwhile giving that a play.

Sam Sethi:

A couple of quick stories. Then, remote Recording Tool, riverside, which we used to use before we started using Squadcast, has released a new iOS app, and a Descript who we had on last week has launched some more AI tools. They've got another one called Find Good Clips, a tool that will extract your best highlights and let you share them on social media.

James Cridland:

Yes, indeed, and I should say that we use Clean Feed as well for our main audio. Podengine is a new podcast discovery platform in beta, which basically transcribes every new episode, analyses each one for your interest and sends you a time-stamped clip once a week. The company is busy working on that, and one of the things that I shared, and I noticed that you also feel strongly about, is why they're not using the Apple Mail audio tag in there, so you can actually just share the audio directly in the email. I think that will be a wise plan. So, yes, I'm a bit confused as to why they haven't done that.

Sam Sethi:

They don't know about it, James. We haven't told them.

James Cridland:

Maybe that's it. Both Podcast Guru and Tenapod, and, I think, pocketcasts, have written up clear guides on how to migrate from Google Podcasts, which is nice. Spotify for Podcasts is responsible for 30% of all new episodes published in November. That's an all-time high, according to LiveWire's data.

Sam Sethi:

Another company that's doing really good work within the hosting and the podcasting to that space is RSS Blue Dovey Dast. There he's added the location tag to his support. That comes alongside, of course, blueberry and RSScom. It's good to see, james, that all of the tags are relevant. Whether you still want that tag or not, james, all of the tags are slowly and steadily being implemented by hosts and apps, which is a good thing.

James Cridland:

Antenapod 3.2 has been released which adds accessibility, adds a boost option in the volume settings. I'm afraid that's not a boost in terms of value for value.

Sam Sethi:

When I read that I was like wow, antenapod supporting V4V Amazing.

James Cridland:

That's essentially a voice boost option, but they can't call it voice boost because Marko Arment owns the trademark for that. You call it a boost. Two other very quick things Transistor has added delegated delivery, that's Apple Podcast subscriptions thing where you can upload to there. Alongside Transistor and Blueberry Rode has acquired Mackey, which is a pro audio manufacturer. It makes perfect sense for those two companies to be owned by the same company, the Freedman Group, who own that. That's a very good thing. Finally, automatic has just released version 1.3 of the Activity Pub plugin for WordPress, which is good news for anybody trying to escape from the shackles of Elon Musk. You can do an awful lot of interesting things in terms of that. Might be good for podcasters as well. Indeed, I think it will be. Boostergram corner on the Pod News Weekly Review.

Sam Sethi:

Right, james, our favourite time of the week, it's Boostergram Corner.

James Cridland:

It is. Gene Bean sent us a row of ducks. Double two, double two sats. Hope you're enjoying your new home assistant. Yes, I am. Thank you very much, gene, although I noticed that Google isn't enjoying my use of it and has cancelled something. Anyway, also in sending this, I just realised I've been streaming sats as anonymous. Oops, guess I forgot to send my name after reinstalling. That would be a good thing for apps to catch, wouldn't it? Because if we are to be talking about people who are streaming sats, it would be nice to know their names. Also, I totally agree with Sam about needing filters on Albi, and Saturn Contracts would benefit from this too.

Sam Sethi:

There you go, he agrees with you, thank you very much, gene Bean, for the row of ducks as well. Mere mortals. Kairyn, I've been noticing people struggling with Boostergram surfacing a lot recently. We have Satoshi Streams is the best for this. Now, I've never looked at Satoshi Streams, james, I don't know if you have.

James Cridland:

I once used it a long, long, long time ago. It was pretty well the first to support Boostergrams and that sort of thing. The entire user interface is in Telegram. It is in a chatbot, if you can imagine it, but it does work pretty nicely. So you can set limits, as Kairyn says, if you want to avoid low-value spam. You can get payment data in a CSV file if you want that, and he says, add them as a split and your life will be easier. That's not a bad idea, is it Gene?

Sam Sethi:

I'm going to say something. I really find it weird that we as an industry still can't work this out. So you do it, adam does it, so many other people do it. You put one sat in so you can see what's going through fountain because there is no reporting correctly. And you do, and other people do this, and I just find it really weird that the only way that we can get better reporting in the industry is to sort of do a clutch, and it's really weird. So, yeah, we need to fix this. Oh well, and finally, dave Jones has sent a very oh well, it's ever been dismissed, and that was it.

James Cridland:

Oh well, oh well, I'm just looking at the time and going oh well, yeah.

Sam Sethi:

Dinner dinner, don't walk.

James Cridland:

Some point. Dave, though, has sent us a rush boost 2112 sat, which is very kind of him and says OK, the shame of Adam's 1000 sat streaming is too much. I've now set my per minute streaming sat for the Pod News Weekly review to 1000 and one. Oh, thank you, which is very excellent. So thank you very much for that. I look forward to seeing those numbers coming through and we'll see what happens. So thank you, and thank you to everybody who is streaming for us as well, and thank you, too, to Alec Armandaris, who I have probably pronounced your surname wrong, alec, which is very embarrassing Because Alec has become our latest Pod News Weekly review power supporter at $3 USD per month. Thank you so much for doing that. At weeklypodnewsnet, alec says I've been a long time listener, ever since the pod land days, my goodness but up until now I haven't supported the show. I'm a believer in the value for value philosophy. I get value from the show, but my finances are not in order. But I had just realized that I had an active subscription to BBC Podcast Premium that I haven't been using, so I've decided to cancel that and allocate those funds to us. Well, alec, thank you very much. Please don't if it gives you financial problems, but I really very much appreciate it and thank you so much for that. You can be a supporter, too at weeklypodnewsnet if you fancy doing it through fiat coupons instead, if you get value from what we do. The Pod News Weekly review is separate from Pod News, sam, and I share everything from it. We really do appreciate your support so we can continue making this show. So you can become a power supporter, like Alec has at weeklypodnewsnet, or you can support us with sats by hitting the boost button in your podcast app. Podnewsnet slash new podcast apps will help you find a new one of those. So what's been happening for you this week, sam? We took another step.

Sam Sethi:

Basically, we are opening the doors on Monday. Oh God, did I say this public? Yeah, did I say this public? I should not say these things publicly. Yes, that's the goal. We are working our little backsides off for Monday. We've migrated our servers this week, which was good fun. We refactored a load of APIs. We're working. Actually, that was visible to anybody, but we did move over, I think, just over 200,000 podcasts into our new index server.

James Cridland:

So yes, it's all going well, excellent Gosh. Well, there's a thing, and you've been testing for Ainslie and JP's concert as well, haven't?

Sam Sethi:

you, yeah. So last night Ainslie Costello did a rehearsal and all the podcast apps were on parade. We were basically testing to see if we could do audio and video. Dovey D'Ast put out a report. I mean, what it fundamentally showed is, yes, we can all do it, but, wow, we all need a lot of work on our UI and UX experiences. We are all probably not very slick and smooth there. So I think the next couple of weeks is going to be lots of rolling up of sleeves and coding to get this ready for the 20th, because, although it all works, it's you know, stand on one leg, point north and rub your tummy and you might get a video feed. So it's all a little bit, yeah, it's all a little bit scissory, but anyway, we will see. That's it, james. What's happened for you?

James Cridland:

Oh, I've had a week of yes, basically yes, following an awful lot of stories for this week. It's been quite full of stories over the last couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to a bit of Christmas and a bit of sort of relaxing, you know, over that period of time. But no, apart from that, just been just just basically having my head down, you know, focusing on a few little bits of technical changes and away you go. So that's been me and that's it for this week as well. Thank you to our fine guests for this show Rachel King and Daniel J Lewis.

Sam Sethi:

You can give feedback to James and I by sending us a boostgram. If your podcast app doesn't support boost, what are you doing? Come on, we keep saying it. Then grab a new app from podnewsnet. Slash new podcast apps.

James Cridland:

Yes, our music is from Studio Dragonfly. Our voiceover is Sheila D. We used clean feed for our main audio and we're hosted and sponsored by Buzzsprout. Podcast hosting made easy. Get updated every day.

Daniel J Lewis:

Subscribe to our newsletter at podnewsnet Tell your friends and grow the show and support us, and support us. The Pod News. Weekly Review will return next week. Keep listening.

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