Podnews Weekly Review

Wondercraft AI's Oskar Serrander; Apple's transcripts, and more

February 02, 2024 James Cridland and Sam Sethi Season 2 Episode 59
Podnews Weekly Review
Wondercraft AI's Oskar Serrander; Apple's transcripts, and more
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We talk with Wondercraft AI's Oskar Serrander, and Sam and James talk about the week's news in podcasting. Also, something fun from Buzzsprout.

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James Cridland:

It's Friday, the 2nd of February 2024.

Speaker 2:

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

James Cridland:

Yes, I'm James Cridland, the editor of Pod News here in Australia.

Sam Sethi:

And I'm Sam Sethi, the CEO of TrueFans, and while you're listening to this, I'm currently flying to Australia.

James Cridland:

Very good. Not while you're recording this, of course, because that would be no, that would be super clever In the chapters today. Apple Transcripts now supports the podcasting 2.0 transcript tag. Broccoli is off the menu and Sony, see what you did there. Sam Podcast exclusives Are they a thing of the past? And ACAST blocks YouTube and.

Oskar Serrander:

Hi everyone. I'm Oscar Surrender. I am the co-founder of Wondercraft. I'm going to be on later on the show with Sam to talk about our new funding and the new audio studio for creators. He will.

Sam Sethi:

This podcast is sponsored by Buzzsprout Podcast hosting made easy with easy and powerful tools, free learning materials and remarkable customer support.

James Cridland:

And we're sponsored by a new show called why your Podcast Isn't Growing, a show made to help you get more listeners. They've just posted how Adam Adams sold a podcast, started a new show, grew it to 30,000 monthly downloads and $30,000 a month revenue, which is worth a listen. You can find why your Podcast Isn't Growing wherever you got this podcast. From your daily newsletter, the Pod News Weekly Review.

Sam Sethi:

All right, james, let's kick off this week's show. Last week, we covered a Libsyn's, robin Elsie, talking about why they didn't want to support podcasting 2.0. Well, elsie did, but Rob certainly didn't. Well, straight after the show, though, apple decided to break the news that they're going to support transcripts, which was great news, and they were going to support the podcasting 2.0 transcripts as well. So, james, one week on, what are your thoughts?

James Cridland:

Again. I just think if you're going to talk about not innovating in podcasting in the future, I think that makes you look a little bit silly. But once again, I completely agree with Elsie. It's very difficult to understand what podcasting 2.0 is, so we're not sort of properly announcing it yet, but Daniel Jay Lewis and I are working on a new website which will do exactly that. It will help people understand what podcasting 2.0 is. It's got a fantastic domain name and I'm looking forward to talking about it when the time is right.

Sam Sethi:

Congratulations. Well done to the pair of you, Jay. I think Danny and I tried to get something off the ground last year. It didn't happen because we were both too busy building our own products, so I'm genuinely looking forward to that.

James Cridland:

I think we should be good because I think we've got half of the work already done actually. So, yeah, but just something which is much more clearer and for people like Elsie to help explain, I think will be super helpful.

Sam Sethi:

Now let's have a look at quickly what actually Apple did announce, Because, I mean, we now know that they have transcripts. I think you've done a really helpful FAQ and workaround in terms of a video to show people how it works, haven't you?

James Cridland:

Yes, I have. Yeah, so you'll find that video on the Pod News website. If you go back to last Friday's issue, then you can find it there or in the articles section. But yeah, I mean, basically Apple are producing transcripts for absolutely everybody. They're producing them in VTT format and VTT turns out to be really good. I didn't know much about VTT I always thought that SRT was the thing but VTT format transcripts are really good in that you can mark speaker names in there. You can do per word timing if you really want to, but you can do a bunch of other things. But Apple is doing it actually really cleverly. So every single podcast will have a transcript. But if you want to and you are the creator, you can override that using the podcasting 2.0 transcript tag, and that will allow you to submit your own transcripts, which Apple will do. Nobody else who has announced this is offering that. So that's great news from Apple's point of view. The transcripts Apple is doing some clever things with their technology under the hood. So basically, all of these transcripts will be matched word by word. So it will look pretty cool from that point of view. But what that also means, I think, is that it will be impossible to spam transcripts. You won't be able to write things in your transcript file that you didn't actually say, which is good news in terms of dynamic ads, because that way you know it won't be confusing you won't see a transcript for one ad and hear a different one. But also it means that you know you won't have random you know people trying to flog you cryptocurrency or something in the middle of a transcript. So I think that's all pretty good as well. Works in English, french, german and Spanish Looks really smart as well. The Apple team when they showed me the thing working, they were actually saying how much they'd worked with the Apple Books people in terms of making sure that it was the right font face, making sure that it was the right size font, making sure that the contrast was done, all correctly and everything else. So the whole thing, I think, is all pretty good in terms of Apple's support for an open standard, but also a backstop of. They'll just make the you know the thing for you anyway. So if you're just an ordinary podcaster, you don't fiddle around with transcripts or anything else. Don't worry. You know Apple will still be producing a very serviceable transcript for your show, and the transcripts for this show are pretty good, I have to say, so I've been really impressed so far.

Sam Sethi:

Okay, so Dave Jones, the pod sage, himself said in a blog post with a single feature, apple podcast have established themselves as an actual advocate for RSS podcasting, says Dave Jones, the pod sage. Now, firstly, I'd like to just give my thoughts on it very quickly. Yes, thank you, apple, for the transcripts, but what kept? You Could have done this sooner. But hey, better late than never. Apple did, if I'm right, james, add support for the TXT tag last year, didn't they?

James Cridland:

Well, they kind of did, but then not really very officially and not really very obviously either. So I think this is the first support for something that actually does something which touches listeners as well as creators, and they've done it in a really good way. So, yes, it's probably not Apple's first podcasting 2.0 tag, but it's the first one. I think that really makes you know a change. So yeah, so I think it's good from that point of view.

Sam Sethi:

Now, I'm going to take the cynical view and I know we had a little exchange on mast on where you said, like why do people have to take this cynical view? But I am going to take that view. It's because I think they've brought this out now because of the EU legal challenges. We know that they had to open up the app store, but they did that reluctantly and they did the least they could do. You know, we talked about it last week. They still have a 27% store tax in effect. You know it's not 30% well done but it's only 27%. And you know and I just think this is also a little bit of backside covering the EU is looking at them fairly closely. I mean, we're talking about the app store. I think transcripts we'll talk about a little bit later on as well with SiriusXM and I just think this is Apple doing what they had to do. I mean, they could have supported the person tag. They could have made that a link to transcripts. I think this is the minimum they could have done and I think it's the minimum they could have done with the app store, and that's what they're up to.

James Cridland:

Yeah, I mean, you know some people have said that the app store stuff is something called malicious compliance, where they are doing the bare minimum that they actually have to do to get the EU off their back, and I think that there's certainly something to be said for that. I have to say that the podcast person tag that's the tag where we say that you know this podcast has James and Sam in it I have to say that that is too open for spam to be used by a company like Apple, and Apple would end up you know it's got no safeguards against you just adding Joe Rogan in there or adding Travis Kelsey or whoever the number one podcaster is right now. So from that point of view, I kind of understand a little bit why Apple have been slow they're a slow company but also why Apple has chosen this particular one, because there's a fallback, so they're always going to be producing transcripts anyway. But also the system won't actually allow you to spam anything because of the way that it's associating the audio with the text. So I think you know it's a difficult balancing act for Apple not to basically open the floodgates to the bad people who would just come into the podcast apps and try and spam as much as possible. If you talk to Buzzsprout, you talk to rsscom, you talk to any of the large podcaster you know Blueberry as well any of the large podcast hosting companies. They have a terrible trouble with spam and with people trying to post all kinds of stuff. You might remember a couple of years ago I covered a story about Dubai call girls advertising their telephone numbers in podcast apps because they worked out that it was a way of getting their information in there. So I think that Apple's a little bit hamstrung in what it can support and what it can't. But yeah, I think it's a positive thing.

Sam Sethi:

Okay, well, playing on the positive side, then, I do think and I've said this before when I was at Netscape it might have invented and innovated on the web with the browser, but it was Microsoft, with its inclusion into the operating system of IE, that took the web to the masses. I think maybe is Apple going to be the company that takes podcasting 2.0 to the masses, james, will they support more tags, do you think, and on that basis, will they educate the mass market about podcasting 2.0 and be that catalyst, maybe?

James Cridland:

I mean, I would certainly hope that they do put more focus on new features like this. I think it makes perfect sense for them to do and I think it's something that, frankly, at the moment let's be blunt Apple needs friends in the podcast industry. Apple has managed, with the little changes that it made for auto downloads, has managed to wipe about 20% of revenue from every single podcast publisher out there. They really didn't handle that very well, to be fair, and I think that Apple really does need to make friends with the podcast industry, and this is one way of doing that, and I think that it's a good thing. We shouldn't forget that Apple is actually the last large company to announce support for transcripts. Really, spotify has announced support, amazon has announced support, so kind of what took Apple so long? The one thing that I would say is that actually, apple have delivered which is more than any of the other companies have.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, you were saying that Spotify announced time sync transcripts for more podcasts on their platform at the end of September. Podcasts can't edit those transcripts or supply their own, and there aren't very many anyway. Amazon, it was limited to Wondery, and now you think you can't find them anywhere at all.

James Cridland:

Yeah, I can't find any. I mean, they announced transcripts in November 2021. I can't find a single one in there. I went to have a look at the big Wondery shows, the big shows on the platform that Amazon are promoting Can't find a single transcript in there at all. So I suspect that that's been. You know, yonked and Sirius XM, of course, are in court right now, taken to court by the National Association of the Deaf for a lack of transcripts in their app. Now, I suspect that that court case has actually meant that Apple has looked a little bit more seriously in supporting transcripts and that legal action started in December 2021. Well, here we are at the beginning of 2024 with transcripts appearing in the app. So you know, perhaps the National Association of the Deaf's legal action against Sirius XM has actually kicked a little bit more of this off. But yeah, I find it fascinating that you know, in a typical way for Spotify, certainly they've announced something that they haven't actually delivered.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, hd music anyone. Now one of the other things. Sorry, couldn't help myself. Is there a better way as well for people to make transcripts?

James Cridland:

I mean, there are a couple of other ways. If you want a VTT transcript, which is the version that Apple is wanting, yes, it will also go back to SRTs as well, but if you want a VTT one, then, firstly, whisper is a free download. If you are technically advanced, that means you can use a terminal window. There's a brilliant blog post on the Castapod website. If you just search for Whisper and Castapod then you'll find it. There are a number of free VTT editor programs online as well, and also there's Hindenburg Pro, which is one of a number of audio editors which does transcripts. But in this particular case, you can export the edited transcript in that format that Apple podcast wants, if it supports uploaded VTT files. So that's a good thing as well. Just to take a peek at Now, there are two elephants in the room here that we should probably declare. One of them is that no one can actually make the podcast transcript tag work with Apple podcasts right now. But it's in beta, and I think it's probably fair that we don't jump up and down and say but it's not working, apple, but it's not working because it is in beta. And that's the whole point of a beta is to make sure that it works. Apple's VTT files are actually not compliant with the VTT standard either, but I'm sure that they will be fixing that prior to actual launch. A beta means a beta, and it's not launched to the public yet. So that's one thing, and the other thing that I suppose I ought to declare is as of next week, I will be rocking an iPhone 15. Oh my God, I know, I know Now I haven't bought it. I haven't bought it. I may have been lent it by someone. I probably shouldn't mention too much about that, because then everybody will want one. But yes, so I have a long term loan on that. So I will be trying my very best to be a good iOS user and try and understand all of the new tools and everything else. So, yes, but that will obviously color what I'm going to say in the future, because I will actually have rather more experience. I was actually working out the last time that I properly used an iPhone. Yes, I've had a little iPhone 8 on the desk, but I've not been using it as a real phone for a while. The last time I used an iPhone was my iPhone 3G that I owned in 2009. Come on, granddad. Get with the game and it turns out that it's changed a bit since then, so I am looking forward to having a good, proper play. I'm a bit sad about having to lose my fancy Google Pixel watch, but anyway, we'll see how all of that works.

Sam Sethi:

But yes, that's where we are on that, so I suppose Zach doesn't need what now he's playing with Vision Pro.

James Cridland:

Well you know, I mean Zach. Zach's dead to me. Yes, he never did any of that. So yes, but yes, but there we are. I do notice that Zach, this is a former PR person from Apple Podcasts who is now looking after some toy toy glasses. I do notice that Zach is still very excitedly tweeting about podcasts, so I have a feeling that he's missing it, but still, but there we are. Has he got?

Sam Sethi:

any customers yet for Vision Pro. That's why.

James Cridland:

Anyway moving on. Oh no, I meant to press, but anyway moving on.

Sam Sethi:

It's a new show called why your Podcast Isn't Growing. James, tell me more.

James Cridland:

Yeah, this is a pretty good podcast that I've been having a listen to. It's hosted by Anthony and Tig I'm not quite sure what sort of a name Tig is, but I think I can allow them that. But so, basically, it's a show that comes out every week. Every other Monday, you hear a really successful podcaster talking about how that podcast got to be as successful as it got, which is a really helpful thing. The other Monday and this is something that I'm kind of thinking do I put our podcast forward for this? And then I'm kind of thinking, maybe not. Anthony and Tig have a Roast the Show session where they get one of their listeners on the show. They give their podcast a live audit. I can't think of anything more scary for this particular show. And there are also weekly bite-size episodes every Wednesday and Friday giving you up-to-date growth and monetization strategies. One that you might want to have a listen to is episode number 80, which is four lessons. We've heard from podcasters getting 10,000 or more monthly downloads, so it's a pretty good thing it's called why your Podcast Isn't Growing, and you can find it wherever.

Sam Sethi:

You got this podcast Right, james, moving on, I'm AI, drink, drink. If you're going to anytime, now's the time.

Oskar Serrander:

It feels.

Sam Sethi:

it feels Now there's a company podcast called Dudzie, not one that I've heard of. It's been sued by George Carlin.

James Cridland:

But yes, so it's been sued by George Carlin's estate. What the Dudzie podcast said that they had done is they had trained an AI tool on five decades of George Carlin's work. George was a stand-up comedian, of course, and it produced a podcast that imitated his voice, cadence and attitude. Turns out that it was all a load of nonsense anyway, because it wasn't written by AI. It might have just been a cloned voice. That's not going to stop the legal action, though, because obviously George Carlin's estate is there saying well, you've basically promoted this as a George Carlin thing, and it clearly isn't. So that was an interesting story to take a look at.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, AI has been in the naughty step this week as well, because it's been putting out naughty pictures of Taylor Swift, and she's not very happy about it either.

James Cridland:

There is a story going on at the moment of a Australian TV channel who took a photograph of an MP and to put it onto the TV news you know how you have pictures behind the news anchor of somebody who you're talking about and they took a picture of one of the MPs and they made her breasts bigger and changed her clothing so that all of a sudden she had a bare midriff, and they then blamed it on the fact that they automatically resized these images using Adobe Photoshop and there must have been a problem with the AI because of an automation by Photoshop, which is just nonsense, which is utter, utter nonsense.

Sam Sethi:

I think they're going to be careful. Adobe's lawyers might get hold of that and that's defamation.

James Cridland:

Well, adobe's lawyers have turned around and said, no, this is nonsense. Edits to the image in question would have required human intervention and approval. Now the ABC has done a full look into this and it turns out that Adobe Firefly, which is Adobe's Photoshop thing, basically has a thing that just makes up bits of the image which are being cropped off, and so they've actually had a good look in and worked out that might have been the case, but it's very dodgy the fact that they have ended up doing that. So there's all kinds of nonsense which is going on with AI, but also all kinds of relatively good things which are going on with AI. So Zencaster Clips, which is a product which is clipping bits of podcasts with AI, now works in four additional languages French, german, spanish and Portuguese, which is very cool. It's nice to see not just English language getting the thing. And then we got a news story earlier on in the week from a company called WonderCraft, which looks like an incredible AI-powered audio service. It's raised $3 million in funding. Stephen Bartlett is one of the investors in that, and the technology apparently enables anyone to create studio quality audio production in any language by simply typing. Guess who's involved, sam. Well, you know who's involved the former COO of Acast, oscar Saranda. How do I know that you're involved? Because you ended up chatting to him, didn't you?

Sam Sethi:

I did. He's a super nice guy, very smart, and yeah, we had a chat about what is a WonderCraft. I wanted to say in German it sounds like it should be a German name, wundercraft, but it isn't. And yeah, what was the investment like and who else is behind it?

Oskar Serrander:

So WonderCraft is the audio studio for creators, so basically it's the easy and enjoyable way to create professional studio quality audio for all your projects, whether that's podcasts, audio books, audio ads or company communications, or even a meditation anything you want really and then also effortlessly be able to translate that content into any language for a global audience. And it all happens in one place, which right now is a web application on wondercraftai.

Sam Sethi:

So just so I've got it in my head very clearly, I go into WonderCraft, I type out what I want, and then it translates that into a voice and a foreign language, or do I speak it and then have it dub it over into a foreign? Which element is it?

Oskar Serrander:

Well, we're starting out with the first one, so it really comes in two kind of modules, if you will. If you log in with your account, you have one part of this content creation that really is about empowering your original human work and ideas and have them come alive in audio that actually sounds good and doesn't take that long. The whole idea of that is really getting people more excited to work in audio and lower the threshold of entry. My career has been long in this space. People are always struggling to start out with audio, so that's one part of it. But, yeah, you can either generate a podcast script or an ad copy or anything from different inputs. It could be an image that you received from an advertiser, for instance, that haven't worked in audio before. You can upload that image and it turns it into a podcast host read. You can upload creative brief PDF or you can start a template that lets you fill in all the messaging points that you want for your ad, for instance. Or you can link to a website to start a podcast. Maybe you have a company blog that's sitting around that no one really pays much attention to, but you can turn that into a podcast very easily, but just linking to it and our script writer would then turn that into a nice listening experience and you can mix in music beds and obviously choose your voice or even clone your own so you can have it in your own voice. So that's one part. The second module is the translation and dubbing, so you can take any of your projects and localize those for a more of a global audience. 80% of the world doesn't speak English, so this is a fantastic way to kind of grow your content and, again, a big mission for us is to help creators expand in many ways. This is certainly one that is coming now with full force with this technology, so you can basically turn it into any major language out there. But what's very unique with WonderCraft is that we also use AI for the cost and the speed efficiency to really translate it. It takes it up to 90% 95% accuracy. As you know, if you work with generative AI, it's not always perfect when you translate it, but we'll take it. We use different AI technologies to really get it as far as we can, but then we also we have over 100 translation expert translators that we have created a process where we basically hire them for projects that are coming in and then they sit in an interface to really fine tune the translation to make it really local. So if you are in Mexico City, you want to make sure that your British podcast that is dubbed into Mexican Spanish really resonates with that local audience, and so forth. We're doing this in 15 languages now and we work with a lot of big creators like Steven Bartlett, ali Abdaal, who has 5 million subscribers on YouTube, just translating his book into six languages, including Hindi and Arabic, and it's all in his own voice, which is also a great way to have your brand translated into many parts of the world.

Sam Sethi:

So let's try and unpack a little bit of that. What's the AI that you're using? Is this OpenWhisper or is this a in-house built LLM that you've developed? I mean, what's the basis of the AI? Let's start with that first.

Oskar Serrander:

Yeah, we're actually using different technologies for this, for the different parts of what we're doing, so the transcription is certainly one of them. That we use several AIs to be able to find an average best version of it, make sure we're not only reliant on one of them. It's also important for us in our future development that we are in the forefront of whatever is best to be able to kind of adopt to those changes this space is happening right now and it's developing so quickly. But we do have a very specific partnership with 11LAMP, so it's also a strategic investor, as we announced yesterday in our seed round, and they are really in the forefront of voice AI research and technology, and so we're working closely with their developments to make sure that the text-to-speech component is as great as it can be, and right now it sounds fantastic, but it's still early in our days and I look forward to talking about the future and where the developments is really heading.

Sam Sethi:

So you've mentioned two of the investors. Let's talk about them 11LAMP's and Stephen Bartlett. I mean, did you approach them? Did they approach you? How did that relationship occur?

Oskar Serrander:

The relationship started with our entry into dubbing and really working with languages for creators, and Stephen is very much in the forefront of this. He is an incredible innovator in his space, so we're privileged to really work with him early on, pioneering this and making sure that the technology worked. Not only that the technology worked and it sounded good and his voice was intact and it's a good listening experience but also the workflow of it right. We really want this to scale. We want to make this available to any creator and podcaster At a price point that actually works. This professional translation and dubbing costs thousands of dollars per hour if you want to do it with an agency and with technology. Now we're in a place where we can get that down to just 100s of dollars depending on the scope of the project and length, et cetera. But it's a very approachable way to it and Stephen was very keen on that and obviously had a tremendous growth on his YouTube channel and his podcast. I think it's one of the fastest growing in the world and I think that speaks volume for his ambition with that and how he's looking at worldwide distribution and not only looking at English as one language. So we're very happy with that and that has opened up a lot of doors for us to more creators. I mean, we always share this. I think MrBeast was quite early with dubbing his content into more languages and his subscriptions skyrocketed for it, and I think that's a great kind of case study here. But not everyone has MrBeast funds to do it, so this provides a more approachable and accessible option for any creator or publisher out there.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I read Stephen Bartlett's girlfriend's Spanish and when he had the podcast dubbed into Spanish, he was super happy because his I think future in-laws could now hear what he was doing, because they kept saying to his girlfriend what does Stephen do? And well, this is his podcast, but he didn't understand English and when they got the Spanish version, they were very pleased. So, yes, congratulations for that.

Oskar Serrander:

I mean tearing down those barriers. It makes us understand each other more, right, and I think, yeah, there's something I'm very passionate about that part. I mean, everyone in our company is bilingual, at least. We're from various different backgrounds. I was born and raised in Sweden and if you didn't learn English, you only had a population of 10 million to really deal with. So there's something about breaking down those language barriers that makes it really interesting. I'll tell you what. We did a project with a Dutch publisher, and I don't speak Dutch. I can probably pick up a word every 10 or so, but really listening to and understanding what they're talking about felt a little bit magical in a way, and I think not to be too aspirational here, maybe, but I think that's really beautiful and I think that will lead to us understanding at each other a little bit more. We did the same with an Arabic YouTuber, and just hearing what they're actually talking about is pretty amazing, and I think that's maybe something that we need a little bit more of than world especially right now.

Sam Sethi:

The Babelfish's time has come Now. Look with what you're doing currently today. Is this something that takes a long time to do the processing from, say, english to another language or can this be done on the fly? So, for example, could I eventually have an API to Wandercraft in an app and then say right, hey, I'm listening to this podcast, it's in English, but I'm a German and I want to hear the German version and click, I hit it and Wandercraft can do it in real time? Or is this a no? You have to edit it and record it and it gets translated and then published. Where's the process today?

Oskar Serrander:

I think it's certainly possible. We are going for the quality angle first, though, with the human component. That's really our differentiation, as I mentioned before, because right now I think everyone is very accustomed to working in the generative AI now I think, more so than just six months ago, even a year but there is always this quality assurance that needs to happen and that's where we find our sweet spot, and I think you can do this now. I think there are probably AI features that translate quick, but the margin for error there is going to be there, and if you're a news publisher, you can't really deal with those risks of not having the translation really turn out the way you want it. So that's kind of what we're doing In terms of how fast it goes. We're really turning this into a process that is easy to work with. On the app, if you log in, there's a dubs module where you basically drag and drop your podcast. You can do that with music or AI or technology. You can recognize what is music and kind of turn it out. You get a little better quality if you just do the voice stems in your productions. Or you can upload your YouTube video. Just link that to the service that the transcription goes quite fast and you can get a dub done quite quickly, depending on length obviously. But if it's a shorter clip or if it's an hour, it just takes a couple of minutes and then you're ready to go. It's in your voice and it is just that If you want the quality assurance, it takes a little longer. We usually turn around six to seven hours right now for an hour of content to make sure that our expert translators had really worked on it and proved it and listened to it in full to be able to return it in the highest quality possible. So that's kind of where we are right now with 100 translators we have. But in the future we're definitely growing this out. The demand for it is here, so we're excited to kind of fine tune the process even more and build on that technology. So I think that's important for people who are publishing maybe daily even to be able to turn that around quite quickly. That's part of it. We want to be part of that workflow to make it fast.

Sam Sethi:

So I'd call this a white glove service. Basically, you're holding the hand through the final process. But just one quick question In terms of training my voice how long does that take in terms of you getting an accurate voice? Ai of me.

Oskar Serrander:

That also goes quite quickly In the app. You can clone your voice. Now you need to obviously follow terms of service here and acknowledge that you have the rights to do this and you have the IP, which is obviously something that we're thinking a lot about how to be as secure as possible, and that's very clear in our terms of service. But once you do that, once you assure that this is your voice and you can use it, it just takes a couple of minutes and all you need is really a one to two minute sound bite, preferably with a good microphone such as the one you have there, to be able to make it right. And that's a quick and easy way to do it. For the creation model, when you want to voice your own podcast creation, for instance, for dubbing, it's already there. That's going to happen when you go through the dubbing process.

Sam Sethi:

And you've got a really good example podcast called Hacking News Recap. Can you talk me through first of all, how you've created Hacking News Recap and probably why did you create it as well in some ways?

Oskar Serrander:

I take no credit in this. This was Dimitri and Yusuf and it was a fantastic part of the first version of what they created back in May last year Coming out of Y Combinator. Hacker News was obviously near and dear to them and they used that as a case study to create a listening experience that really worked and it blew up. It became a bit of a viral success. We were happy now in December to see on a lot of people posted their Spotify wrapped and Hacker News recap was there Basically what it does, and anyone can do this using Wondercraft. You can basically use one of our templates that's called a daily news rundown. You can select a couple of articles that you want. In this case, we take the 10 most red articles on Hacker News every day and that's it. Rai will then transform that into a podcast show. You can decide if it's one host or two talking about it and it just creates a lovely experience where it's read through in a voice that you don't want to turn off. That's where the technology is now. It's really good. It's been a great case study and a validation of just the use of the listening experience and I think that was very important when we got started. If that isn't there, we're not going to be able to do this. If you're interested in going to Spotify or Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts and search for Hacker News recap.

Sam Sethi:

Well, talking of Spotify, let's have a little bit of a backtrack into your career. I mean, you came out of Cara, but you went to Spotify, then you went to iHeart and then you went through a COO of a cast, through an IPO. Wasn't that enough? Didn't you want to just put your feet up and go to a beach, somewhere Most people go? Yeah, that's it, I'm done, I'm out of here, wasn't that it?

Oskar Serrander:

Oh funny, you say that that was actually what I was trying to do when I left a cast. I'm like, oh well, you know I'm going to take a long break. And I said, well, I'm going to. Can I take a year off? And then after one week that turned into six months. After four weeks I was done. I'm not good at not working and I started to miss it a lot. I started to miss what I did at a cast. I started to miss what we're doing with audio. So it's kind of it's been part of my entire career. And then when I met my co founders now it was kind of a sign from above that I needed to get into it. But yeah, I've been in podcasting for a while, but back when I was at an ad agency back in 2007, eight podcasting was not really a thing. I lived in Sweden. You know. I wrote about this on LinkedIn yesterday because it was kind of a blast from the past and I'll try to explain how I how I ended up here and I wrote something along the lines of you know, back then it was just MP3s and Pirate Bay and that was it. And when I was introduced to Spotify, that was the first kind of jaw drop that I had in my career. Like this is amazing. I can search for any song and I was such a huge music fan. It was just the best thing I've ever seen in my entire life. So I that's when I asked him for a job and I started there eventually.

Sam Sethi:

Oh I, good place to start, Not bad yeah yeah, and it was.

Oskar Serrander:

I mean, it was small then, right, but they had the grand ambitions. Daniel Eck is probably one of the most inspirational founders I've ever worked with and that sense he you know, he has this 20 year, 25 year vision. That is so rare, but yeah, it was a fantastic journey and we were just 60 people at that point, but anyway, that's how I also ended up in in the US To help help launch Spotify over here. It's kind of the token suite that was that was sent over to be sent the Viking send one and yeah, and then then my story kind of continues. I've been in media and technology for a long time. Audio was, and it's kind of where this started. When we moved over here to the US and even in Sweden, audio was just radio and radio wasn't, wasn't top of mind for everyone. It was all about mobile and, you know, video was starting to come around and be really interesting. So audio radio was always kind of like the ugly duckling in a way. I was. I didn't like that. I loved radio as well. As a radio producer back in my student days as well, I absolutely loved it. And it was very hard to work with brands who wanted really to align with Spotify, so much they really wanted to get in there, because how could you not? You want to be around people's favorite music, right, but it was very hard for them to do it with audio. Like, how do we do audio? How's the Cardi we worked with? Or Coca Cola when we launched, like I don't know what? You know, this is hard, what do we do? So it wasn't really an easy way for brands to explore audio. And then podcasting obviously came around as a big big next kind of big thing in audio. We all know that story and I was at I Heart for a while where I discovered podcasting. Really, they were just dipping their toes in it. We're pushing that quite hard on the kind of new business development side. I had some great people at I Heart who was really working on that and now they have fantastic people are really spearheading that, andy Kelly being one of them, and Connell, who are doing a great job building that up with great content and really have taken that to the next level. Back then it wasn't it was still very much a radio focused company. And then A-Cast came along and I thought that was an amazing mission to try to again break down the barriers and try to make it more accessible for smaller creators to get started, but again, not in a production kind of sense, but in the distribution and how to make money from your creation much better, and I love working for that mission. It was really really satisfying to finally kind of break through and onboard a lot of smaller creators who could start making money from their hobby basic thing. That's great. Yeah, took that IPO in 2021. And then 2022 was obviously pretty rough year for everyone alive on this planet, also for a tech company. It was public. So it wasn't easy. But, yeah, really great respect for everyone at A-Cast and what they've done over there and what they continue doing. But, yeah, it was my time to leave and I was excited to get into something new. That was a long backstory, sam, but this idea really stuck with me for a long time and when it came back up like this feels like an obvious. I really want to make audio fun to work with. It's never been easy. I always, you know, I sit with Logic and I was a radio producer. I didn't even know what we used back then, but it's not easily accessible the way that, you know, my mother can create a great Canva invitation for her dinner party. It's it's. It's quite different and that's what we want to change.

Sam Sethi:

So let's look forward to the future, then, of Wondercraft. Where do you see it going? I mean, what you've described so far is the creation of audio. Would you go as far as doing what Descript does and ingest audio to allow you to edit it and then promote it? What is the future for Wondercraft?

Oskar Serrander:

We can. We can look ahead a couple of years here, but I think now it's most important for us to really invite more people into the process of working with audio. I think that's the most important part, and I think what we're hoping to gain traction with is there's so many great writers out there, so many great authors who are so clever in their language and I want them to discover Wondercraft and start exploring audio. And then a lot of people who don't want to buy a microphone and do that right. Not everyone has the podcast ambition, but they're probably told you need to make a podcast If you're a great blogger. I mean, you probably heard that a million times. But there's a lot of different use cases that we're really exciting on on tackling and seeing how they can come on board and discover the benefits of what we're doing. You know marketers in general it's kind of a big, big area, but turning your company blog into a podcast I think more companies should do that and work with audio. It creates a much better experience, I think, than just the normal word vomit you do for SEO purposes on your website.

Sam Sethi:

Until. You know, my wife's the director on six PLCs. The amount of board papers she gets just in PDFs. If you could convert any and all of those to an audio so that she can be down the gym listening to them rather than sat in front of the screen reading them, she would love you. I promise you that.

Oskar Serrander:

Yeah, and it's easy to do on the craft and that's that's kind of the beautiful cases that we're looking forward to. What I'm excited about is what we're just starting out with is also bigger enterprises. We're speaking to a lot of big companies now that I feel timing is perfect for it as well. Everyone's looking for kind of more operational efficiencies. I think dubbing into new languages is a new exploration for publishers to see if they can grow their content much faster, find new audiences to then turn on whatever monetization they're on, subscriptions or advertising for ad sales teams and brand partnerships Very excited about that. We have built out a bunch of different templates for just those users. You can turn your like I said before, if a client just sends you a billboard ad, you can turn that into a podcast or sorry, an audio ad where, if it's just of the website that you have, either way, it's really fun to create and I think you can do wonders introducing audio to new advertisers that is not doing that already and it's a great kind of way to invite them in into a process. That's more fun than pitching audio by showing slide decks right, which most companies are doing, and then talking to a lot of production studios. Again, we're not here to take anyone's job right. I think what Canva did for design, for the design design communities really elevate people's understanding of design principles, and we want to do the same for audio, meaning appreciate the craft. That is so hard to create a podcast like you're doing. It is so hard to edit it and make it right and to distribute it and all that stuff right. But a lot of people miss that. A lot of producers say I talked to an ad agencies are really keen on this because they can start drafting pilots and do more interesting things in that creative field, which is great. And then there's kind of the whatever you want to call it the middle class creator out there. We have amazing users. So even before yesterday we've had 30,000 users on a platform since the MVP. A lot of them are newsletter writers who turn their newsletter into a podcast very quickly, their bloggers or writers and their authors. We had a wonderful creator called Amy. She published her own book on Audible, all voiced in her own voice and it sounds amazing and it saved her hundreds of hours to do that and I think that's great and that's coming from a freelance writer who is who is really breaking out and doing something cool. So yeah, what was your question? Again, the future, well, the future.

Sam Sethi:

I mean, I guess the point was with the future is you know, do you see the product going vertically, horizontally? I think you've sort of talked about you know getting into the production houses, getting into the mainstream consumer space. One of the questions I would have is, clearly, if you're white-gloving the solution by you know, adding that extra bit with the translation team that you've got on top, how do you scale that? How do you scale? If you are super successful and we hope you are then you're going to have every man jacking their dog, knocking on the door, going hey, oscar, I've got a podcast, I want it in 15 languages, and you're going. Great, that's lovely, but I haven't got any staff left to do this. Or it's now not overnight turn round, we're now looking at three weeks. I mean, that's got to be the, I guess, the current barrier that you might be facing. So how do you scale it?

Oskar Serrander:

Yeah, that's a good question that we have a wonderful problem to have and we're getting close to it. We're very confident in how we are recruiting our translators. We spend some time training them and making sure they're vetted and great and what an amazing thing to do to be able to offer job opportunities to people who can basically sit at home and do these proofing. So I'll be happier than ever if we have thousands of translators that we can send these projects out to. What an amazing thing. There's not a lot of technical requirements for them to be set up and if we expand this into all languages of the world, what an amazing thing. That that's a dream for me and for us. The process already there. We're fine tuning it, but it's really creating a good technological process, kind of like an Uber you're picking up a driver or you're waiting for a driver right, but it's kind of the same principle here. You match your project with the best available translator that can help you get it just right and you're going to know that it's proofed and ready to go for a global audience.

Sam Sethi:

I like the Uber analogy. That's a good one. Now, honestly, price point. What is the price of Wandercraft? If I wanted to sign up today, where would I go?

Oskar Serrander:

Yeah, so starting out is free. You get a couple of credits, which means you use credits to generate or produce your final audio, so anyone can go in and play around with it. It's free to try. If you're more on the creator level, you can sign up for $29 a month. If you pay annually, it's 34, I think. Monthly, yeah, which means you get 60 credits to spend. You have more premium voices. You also have access to a video editor, so any project that you use you can turn into a video for YouTube or TikTok or LinkedIn, which is super neat and you're able to clone your own voice. Then we have a pro plan that starts at $99 per month. That comes with more benefits, branded share page etc. And access to our dubbing at that price point. And then, obviously, enterprise plans. So if you're a publisher out there or if you're a podcast network or ad sales team, you can reach out to enterprise at Wandercraftai and we'll get you a demo and start it in no time.

Sam Sethi:

Oscar, thank you so much. Congratulations on the new funding. I can't wait to try Wandercraft myself now. I know James has already tried it and he loves it. So the last thing to say is when will you be coming to podcast movement or coming to the London podcast show? When can we meet you directly?

Oskar Serrander:

Oh yeah, come meet me. I'm going to be in LA for podcast movement Evolutions, albeit South by Southwest as well, and I'll definitely come to London. Podfest is awesome, so definitely going to see everyone there, so reach out. Anyone who's open to reach out happy to say hi to everyone.

Sam Sethi:

Well, we'll take you for a beer in LA.

Oskar Serrander:

I love that. Thank you so much, Sam. I'm a big fan of the show. Thank you so much for having me.

James Cridland:

Oscar Saranda from Wondercraft. Wondercraftai is where to go. Sam and I both have an account so we can have a play, and I suspect that there will be something in the pod news extra podcast, maybe next week with playing around with that. It does look, sam, as if you've got a bit of the hots for Oscar.

Sam Sethi:

I tell you what he's he looks like Brad Pitt's younger brother. Move over Zach Khan. I thought you were the hottest looking guy in podcasting. But no law, move over Oscar. Yeah, he's a. He's a bit, you know. He's rich. He's young. Ladies, look out, or he's coming to LA as well, james.

James Cridland:

So wow, wow, superstar moments. Let's move on, before you overheat. I thought we had seen an end to the ridiculous amounts of money which had been spent in podcasting, but oh no, we've seen. We've seen some interesting moves from Sirius XM, haven't we?

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, tony Leffield did on this one. It actually Carmen from Bloomberg put out in a scoop announcement that smartness is moving from Amazon to Sirius XM in a hundred million dollar deal. It's over three years but oddly it's not going to be exclusively on the Sirius XM platform.

James Cridland:

No, they've done something which they've done, which they did last time with their previous deal with Amazon's Wondery. It'll publish a week early. Well, it'll publish early on the on the platform, and so Amazon spent 80 million dollars on this podcast in June 2021. In the middle of the madness, it was a deal brokered by CAA, or CAA very clever, because they've just managed to sell the podcast again, this time to Sirius XM for a hundred million dollars over the next three years, which is quite a thing, and, yeah, I mean. To me this looks like the madness of two years ago. Why Sirius XM is still doing it, I really don't know, but I guess it's one of the top. I think it's one of the top five podcasts in the world, and so, therefore, perhaps it's an important thing for Sirius XM to do to bolster their share price.

Sam Sethi:

Well, you talked about Sirius XM bringing out a new app, which was rolling out in December 14th 2023. And also we've talked in the past about James Corden, the former Late Late show and Prochactor, who signed a deal with Sirius XM and his show will be coming out in March as well.

James Cridland:

So although thankfully, that show will only be available for subscribers to Sirius XM. So so that's, that's all OK, but yeah. But to me that's weird because you see Sirius XM spending an awful lot of money in this. They've just announced that their media sales arm, sxm media, is quite sensibly changing its name to Sirius XM media. Makes perfect sense, congratulations for that. But yeah, I mean, they are going at it in a very different way than you know, than pretty well everybody else, including Spotify.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, spotify, which had been writing its huge exclusive checks for everybody that wanted it. They've just now announced that. Call her daddy, louis Thiroux and perishing hell, just to name three. And now going to be available every chain, every word, james, why, why have they gone down this different road? And yet Sirius XM look like they're going down the other road.

James Cridland:

Yeah, well, I guess I guess they're both doing the same thing in that call her daddy is now no longer a Spotify exclusive. They signed that deal in July 2021. It was a deal worth 60 million dollars. It's now available on all platforms, but the video remains exclusive to Spotify. So if you want to watch it, you've still got to use Spotify. So, in the same way, I guess, as Sirius XM is doing, what Spotify is doing here is they now have much more inventory to go out and sell. They can now advertise across Apple podcasts, across, you know, castro, across all of the other podcast apps that are available and all of that. So that's all good, but they still have a little bit of secret source which is still exclusive to their own platform in terms of the video for call her daddy and in terms of smart list for early access to shows and things. So I guess that there's a little bit of that going on. But I mean, very obviously, call her daddy is no longer exclusives and is all to do with. Yes, we've got a bit of video on there, but it's all to do with selling ads across all of podcasting, which is probably good news for podcasting at the end of the day. You know, it's an open medium and Spotify appears to be embracing that now.

Sam Sethi:

Well, I'm just looking at call her daddy on true fans. And if you're telling me that video doesn't come across, then the latest episode says sorry, he didn't pick you. Video, dick appointment disasters video Everyone's lying. I won't read the next sentence. Video, internet trolls, kidnapping and nudes video. It's all video practically. Yeah, yeah, oh, one episode that doesn't have video so I can listen to the audio, but everything's video. Oh, that's interesting.

James Cridland:

So basically, it is basically sitting there promoting itself as video, even though actually all you will hear is the audio version. Yes, I can see that in the in the RSS feed, so there are lots of things which are marked as video. But yes, you're right, you know you'll only get the audio version, so doubtless you will hear them very much promoting the fact that you can watch the video of this. Yeah, on on on Spotify. Maybe it's a clever piece of marketing, I don't know.

Sam Sethi:

Now, beyond the Spotify getting its exclusives out and about, it seems suddenly that some production companies are going away. James Broccoli is off the menu at Sony who's broccoli productions? So broccoli productions they. They had six members of staff.

James Cridland:

They ended up it's called broccoli because it was stuff that was good for you to listen to, was the, was the was the basic thing. So they may not have been making any very large hits, but the stuff that you heard was good for you to listen to. It was a joint venture partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, announced in October 2019, and apparently Sony have ended that early. So they say Sony has closed an earlier JV with three uncanny four as well, and they've made a number of redundancies, so one would assume that it's cost cutting from Sony's point of view. I was talking to a large podcast producer, though, who was saying it's very sad to hear about broccoli productions, but they never made any hits, did they? And perhaps, at the end of the day, the the world of podcasting can't just be there for, you know, enjoyable side projects that are good for you to listen to. They also have to deliver the numbers as well, and I can kind of see a little bit of that. You know as well too. Six all female members of staff René Richardson, very much around equality for audio and and all of that, and, in fact, was the founder of the equality and audio project, I think so. You know it's sad seeing them go. Also sad seeing news from Odyssey in the US. Unsurprisingly, probably, for a company that has filed for bankruptcy protection, they have just announced that they are going to be cutting about 12 roles at Pineapple Street Studios, which is about 25% of their staff. They previously laid off 14 staff in Cadence 13. So they're very clearly looking at cost cutting throughout all of their services. I actually did cover Cadence 13 a while back and said what's going on with Cadence 13, because the actual brand simply wasn't being used anymore. So you know, literally everything that was coming out of the Cadence 13 studio just had an Odyssey logo on there. So I wonder whether that's happening at Pineapple Street as well. But yeah, there's quite a lot of movement there, which is, you know, a shame to see and you have to ask the question, I think, is the 20% down of podcast downloads numbers that we're seeing from the slightly rejigged Apple Podcasts app. Is that actually having this sort of effect on larger podcast companies? Again, I was talking to a large American based podcast publisher last week who was saying very much that you know there is a bit of panic at the moment actually, as it's really set in that their numbers are 20% down than where they thought that they were, and there's an awful lot of make goods being made and it's not good times. I don't think for some of that.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I think we talked about that. I think, out of all these redundancies, I think there will be a silver lining. I think you will see some smart people starting their own things and I think we will see, you know, Phoenix-like new companies appearing. But you know, let's wait and see.

James Cridland:

We have a friendly listener called Larry who told me that the word redundancies is something that Americans simply do not understand. So from now on they are layoffs, as I've been writing. So yeah, apparently there is no such thing as a redundancy.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, there is, it's English.

James Cridland:

Who knew? Yeah, I know it's proper English. Exactly, there we are. Anyway, there is some good news there, isn't there?

Sam Sethi:

Yes, Castro, who we said was basically on its last legs, wasn't answering support calls and probably was about to die. Looks like it's been bought. James. Who buy me?

James Cridland:

Yes a company called Bluck Apps Bluck Dustin Bluck who owns it. It's an independent app studio and consulting agency based in Brooklyn in New York. Now they already own a podcast app. That podcast app is called Aurelion, which I'd never heard of. It's an Android podcast app, so I went to have a play with it and it's quite good. It's a quite a good replacement for Google podcasts if you wanted one of those. Anyway, aurelion will be moved under the Castro umbrella. I would hope that what Dustin does with Aurelion is basically not just brand it Castro but add Castro's quite nice sort of inbox view To it as well. But yes, it's very good. They haven't said how much they bought Castro for or any of that, but it does say that Bluck Apps is very committed to the open podcasting ecosystem. They're very delighted to take over such a well designed independent app and I think that's good news. As of today, the Castro logo is now reappearing in pod news podcast pages, because at least we can see that there's a future for that particular app. So yeah, I think that's very good news.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, well done, dustin. Now one other app, though, that isn't doing so well is Radio Public Change. It's announced it's closing.

James Cridland:

Yes, so Radio Public is going to close at the end of March. It's an app, but it's also a website. It was offering podcast websites. I mean, still is offering podcast websites, I guess, but more full you if you were using them, because there won't be a podcast website for your podcast by the end of March. It actually launched in 2016 as a public benefit corporation. They asked podcasters in 2018 to support an investment round. I invested $100 into Radio Public. I know big spender, wow. I mean, I as well have taken that $100 to the pub, because that would have been more use than investing it in Radio Public. Radio Public was bought by ACAST in February 2021. And yeah, and since then, what ACAST have basically been doing is a lying about the fact that it was still a public benefit corporation. It wasn't. They deleted the privacy policy off their website. They didn't tell Radio Public users that it had been purchased, which is against the privacy policy that did exist. They then went through the entire Radio Public user list and sent all of those spam telling them to move their podcasts over to ACAST. Some of those emails were illegal because they didn't actually have the proper address on there, and yeah, and you know, and so on and so forth. They never bothered doing anything with the apps. They've now got rid of the app from the Apple Store already. They're going to be getting rid of the app from the Android Store. It is a absolute poster child of being taken over because you just want to hire the people and you don't care about the product. I think it's just such a shame. Radio Public was a pretty good thing and they haven't even open sourced the code and any of that. They're just going to press the big delete button on the whole thing. It's a real shame in my book. But still, there you go.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I did actually make one of my predictions that ACAST would buy a podcast in 2.0 app and then go vertical in a stack.

Oskar Serrander:

Maybe I'll have to review that one.

Sam Sethi:

Now, moving on talking of ACAST, they're going to be blocking YouTube, James, why?

James Cridland:

This is. This is really interesting and I am surprised that more podcast hosting companies haven't done that. If you try and ingest your ACAST hosted podcast into YouTube using the standard YouTube RSS tool, then YouTube complains that it can't download any of the audio. Why is that? Because ACAST is blocking them. Acast is sending a slightly disingenuous email to their publishers who ask and say here are some of the reasons why YouTube is unable to ingest your episodes. It's not YouTube unable, acast has blocked them. Let's be really clear. But they are pointing out that YouTube requires all submitted podcasts to be ad free and they won't be. Creators can't make any money from listeners on YouTube and they're also concerned that YouTube will divert listeners away from podcast platforms, and I think that that's a valid concern. They also say that ACAST has exclusive monetization rights to podcasts hosted with them, which is the case in pretty well all podcast apps that exist, funded by advertising. I actually think that this is a pretty sensible move from ACAST's point of view. I totally understand why they're doing it. I'm not sure it's a particularly creative, friendly thing to be doing, but I do totally understand why they're doing it and I am very surprised that more podcast apps haven't actually done that. But if you do want to listen to ACAST hosted podcasts on the YouTube Music app, then you can just go to RSS, that's RSS to ITMnet, and you can find any ACAST show and listen to it through good old fashioned open RSS and your ACAST podcaster will still get the money.

Sam Sethi:

When I first read this I was like, oh OK, why would they do that? And basically I think I agree with ACAST. I mean, youtube's trying to take ACAST's business and kill it, so why would you want to support it? I think we've said this for a long time, haven't we?

James Cridland:

Yeah, I mean, I stood on stage last year and said if YouTube becomes a market leader or even a number two in the industry, our industry is basically screwed. So many people go out of business if that's the case. And so you know, I mean, I look at it and I think you know it's a slightly mendacious thing for ACAST to be doing. But I also totally understand why they're doing it that way. And if you don't want to play in an ad funded model which ACAST is, then take your podcast, move it to Buzzsprout or other podcast hosts, because that would be the correct way to do things and then you have complete control over what your podcast does. But being with ACAST means that, yeah, absolutely right. If it's a large company like YouTube which is essentially, if it succeeds, going to put ACAST out of business, you can well see why ACAST would turn around and say we're not going to help that.

Sam Sethi:

I wonder which other podcasting hosts is going to block a YouTube next?

James Cridland:

time. Well, yeah, exactly, I mean would. Could you see Blueberry doing that with their advertising? I mean Red Circle, you know Red Circle is the obvious one from my point of view, because that's Red Circle's you know business model as well. I mean, and arguably you could go so far as to say that Megaphone and the other you know very large hosting companies Megaphone, audio Boom and those sorts of people would block that as well, and I think that'd be absolutely perfectly, you know, perfectly right to do that.

Sam Sethi:

Is this a bit of the horses closing the stable after the horses bolted James? I mean, why do it now?

James Cridland:

Well, I mean, there's a little bit of that, but YouTube music is still or indeed YouTube as a whole still has very few popular podcasts on there. So, yeah, so I think that the timing is probably about right there. I mean, let's not forget that YouTube only officially launched their RSS ingest a couple of weeks ago, and it seems that this came on a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, acast used to have a direct system which would export your show onto YouTube, so they did actually have a system that would do all of this, and they have turned that off and they've walked away from it, primarily because yeah, you know, as they say, they can't make any money out of it. So how does it benefit anyone really at the end?

Sam Sethi:

of the day. Well, let's have a little whiz around the world. James Acast has entered into a strategic partnership with a European digital advertising platform Azerion. Who are they?

James Cridland:

Yes, they are a well, they're an ad platform where you buy you know podcast ads from and various other things. I think this is quite a neat plan from Acast. Spain, belgium, the Netherlands, italy and Greece is where Azerion will be helping them, where basically Acast isn't really there. They're in either very early stages or they don't have a physical presence at all, and so actually it makes sense for them to have sales partner in those areas. So I think that that makes sense. In Canada, the CBC has launched seven new local podcasts from CBC News. Quite a clever strategy in that some of them are daily and they cover a big story from you know Toronto or from you know other places like that. Vancouver Island, I think, is another one. But what they have also done is they have weekly podcasts for some of the you know less newsworthy parts of Canada as well, which I think one of them is called Good Question, saskatchewan, and another one is called Good Question, prince Edward Island and all that kind of stuff. I think it's quite, it's quite neat strategy, so worthwhile keeping an eye on that. It's part of CBC's plans to get a little bit more local. What else is going on ESPN, the latest television station to put podcasts on the small screen. Every single day, from two o'clock Eastern time, you'll be able to watch a video podcast on the TV and something that, annoyingly, television companies are calling visualised podcasts, and I wish they would stop, because they're just TV shows. And finally, triton Digital has released a US podcast report 2023, which is a fascinating podcast report. Good news in that we will have Darrell Batalya from Triton Digital on this very podcast next week to talk about that.

Sam Sethi:

Wow, now events, events, events. James, what's going on?

James Cridland:

Events, lots of events going on. There's a future of media exhibition in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, which is going on in the middle of next month. You're not going, I'm not going, but our friends at the International Radio Festival are so interesting to watch that there is also South by Southwest and there's bits and bobs of podcasting going on there, but the big one, of course, is podcast movement evolutions between the 26th and the 29th of March. It includes a thing called PodFronts, which is a upfront style event where publishers will come together with brands, agencies and buyers. That's not open to the likes of you and me, it's just open to publishers and brands, but it's exactly what podcast movement should be doing. So I think that's a very good thing, and I'm also speaking at Evolutions by Podcast Movement as well Amy Poehler, speaking just after me, and I will be going through this year's PodNews report card, which hopefully today, friday, I will have launched, suddenly realised that I haven't actually done the tech for it yet, so hopefully I will be launching it today, friday, but we will talk doubtless more about that next week as well.

Sam Sethi:

Doesn't the American Podcast Awards go alongside this event as well?

James Cridland:

Oh, now, that's an interesting thing the Ambiz. Two years ago in Los Angeles, they held them in a very smart theatre, if you remember, down the road, because we were both there down the road from the JW Marriott Hotel. This year they will be held on March the 26th at the JW Marriott, so they're not hiring a theatre, it's just purely going to be in a conference room with a headache inducing carpet. But yeah, so that's where the 2024 Ambiz are going to be, or as you call them, the American Podcast Awards, which I think is very rude. But yes, so it does appear that they're just doing them in the hotel this year. There you go. You've heard it here first.

Sam Sethi:

Well, I will call it the Ambiz when an international winner is actually announced.

James Cridland:

But other than that. I mean, I think they had some Canadians Nice.

Sam Sethi:

Americans no, that doesn't count.

Oskar Serrander:

Now there's one other event the New.

Sam Sethi:

Zealand Podcasting Summit 2024 in Auckland on May the 11th. Again, you're going to be there, James.

James Cridland:

I'm not. I was there last year. I'm not going to be there this year, but yes, if you want to see a bunch of podcasters from across Outer Roa, then you can. All kinds of people will be there. It's definitely something that I would recommend. It's a small event but well worth going to. So you can get tickets by following the links from podnewsnet. And there are more events, both paid for and free, at podnews Virtual events or events in a place with people. It reminds me that Apple Podcast is running a bunch of virtual events as well, including ones in the correct time zone for the UK and Australia, but also ones in France and in Germany and in Mexico. So you'll find all of those, too at podnews, and if you're organising something, tell the world about it. It's free to be listed. Podnewsnet slash events. The tech stuff on the Pad News Weekly Review. Yes, it's the stuff you'll find every Monday in the podnews newsletter. And here's where Sam talks technology.

Sam Sethi:

This is actually going to be the shortest tech section we've ever done. Right, James? It's excellent. You're a happy boy. There's just two stories to cover here. Last week, on the podcasting to the O show with Adam and Dave, they started talking about using hashtags to help basically discover podcasts and to categorise them. It was an interesting conversation. I'm not quite sure where it's going. There is a GitHub proposal so you can go and have a look at it Again, not because of any other reason, but in Truefans we already do support hashtags and we do support music categories and we do support the person tag with roles, and they're all indexed and searchable through our search engine. So I'm going to have a look at this proposal and see what's been done differently, I think.

James Cridland:

Well, I will tell you a lot about the proposal, because I wrote the original idea.

Sam Sethi:

Hey, excellent, there we go.

James Cridland:

Tell me more. I mean essentially although I don't think I quite wrote it in the proposal but see what Flickr did with hashtags way back 15 years ago. So you could just like basically make up a hashtag. If you made up a hashtag with, I don't know, this is a photograph of sausages, so I'll put hashtag sausages. Then you can click on that hashtag and see lots of other photographs of sausages Exactly that, but for podcasting. So we're not setting a big category list down. We're not doing any of that nonsense. We are allowing people to just make up categories and keywords for their shows and that is all absolutely fine. The Apple categories will continue, obviously. So therefore, there is already a category listing, but this essentially means that if you really want to and you are doing a podcast for underwater knitting, then you can actually just put you know, hashtag underwater knitting, and people can then find you and other podcasts which are all about underwater knitting. So that's basically how that works. Works particularly well, I think, with Activity Pub because you can follow hashtags. Unlike Twitter, you can follow hashtags as if you are following a person. So that makes it really easy to find new shows that you would be interested in. So, yeah, I'm quite excited by it. So even Alex Gates has said that it's a good idea. So, or rather he said I'm not opposed to it, which I think is high praise indeed.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, yes, that's what it is. So, yes, we actually support most of what you've just described them. But again, I'll have a look at your proposal before I say yes, we follow it completely, but we do allow you to self tag both as a person and as a podcast, and it's all searchable. So, yeah, we'll see how that works. You talked about Apple's VTT not being compliant fully yet, but they've updated their documentation, james.

James Cridland:

Yes, they have. So they had a slightly weird bits of documentation around transcript tags. They have clarified which mine types to use. So if you care about such things, then they support the correct mine type for VTT files, which is text slash VTT, and they also support the correct mine type now for SRT files, as well as the wrong one. The right one is application slash X, dash, sub rip and the wrong one is application slash SRT, and Apple is supporting both of those. So that's all good. As I say, it's, it's beta. This is where things go to get broken and to get fixed, so I think it's great to see Apple moving very, very quickly on that sort of thing, as well, boostagram corner, corner, corner on the pod news weekly review. Oh, yes, it's our favorite time of the week. It's boostagram corner, with a ton of boosts actually, which is really good and a special thing from our friends at Buzzsprout. But firstly, thank you, andrew grume, or grummit, I'm not quite sure how to pronounce, I'm going to say groom. May Andrew grume, 1000 sat's appreciated your response to the podcast 2.0 criticism. Yes, well, thank you. Thank you. Yes, that's all I'll say. Downloads. It'll get me into even more trouble, but I think I've been trouble enough, okay moving on.

Sam Sethi:

Then we got one, two, three, four sats from a Kyron and mermortals and people say podcasting to the O isn't gaining adoption. It's already made its way into the top tiers of English football. I'm trying to think why, yeah what day?

James Cridland:

Yes, because because of your Liverpool, you know sats.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, yes, Anyway yeah, what days are you coming down here, sam? Yeah, well, as I said, when you're listening to this, I'm on my way down and flying down to Singapore, then down to Australia and I'm just waiting to find out. When James isn't out, you know. So I don't want to ring the doorbell and then find he's gone off to Walla Maloo or somewhere. Crazy on him, he's gone on an outback walk.

James Cridland:

I wouldn't be going to Walla Maloo. That's in Sydney, oh, okay, wherever?

Sam Sethi:

It is rock to go.

James Cridland:

That's in New South Wales as well. I'm not going down there, but yes, as Kyren says, we have now got all of the rain out of the way. We have had quite severe flooding in South East Queensland, but the good news is, none of that, it's all. It's all burning away. So, yes, you'll get the blazing sun. Instead, we will chat. My plan is, I think, when you're up, because you're up for a night or something. So I think my plan is that we will find somewhere to have beers and we will invite Kyren and you know, and Satan's lawyer and a few other people, and I think that that will be a good thing to do.

Sam Sethi:

Well, James, I was thinking that haven't you just reported that there's a brand new podcast? Usually that's opened in and Brisfagus.

James Cridland:

I have. Yes, it's called the Pod. It's open in West End in Brisbane and it looks very, very fancy. So, yes, I see what you're doing there. We could actually host one of the shows from there. Yes, I mean, it's $400 an hour.

Sam Sethi:

No, look, james, use that, use that power of persuasion that you have. Yeah, tell him it's an advertising sponsor opportunity.

James Cridland:

Yeah, we will see how that works, but, yes, that would be a good thing. Well, we should. We should talk offline about, yes, what, when, when you're coming up and whether or not you want to record a show, which I suppose we ought to, and all of that. That would be a good thing. You're away next week. I still need to find a co-host site. I suppose I better go and find one. 25,000 sats from Dave Jones Excellent show. Gentlemen, thanks for showing up every week and putting in the hard work. Sam, you're going to Australia. Question mark. We just answered that.

Sam Sethi:

Well, yeah, Thanks Dave for saying showing up every week, and then I'm not showing up every week.

James Cridland:

Yes, exactly Exactly, gene Bean 2,222 sats a row of ducks, and there appears to be icons now for rows of ducks, which is going on in Helipad. Who knows what's doing there. Anyway, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the Scarlett 2i2. As I'm a long term user of one, I can give you my thoughts on the Scarlett 2i2. It's quite nice and the big difference is I listen to all of my music from the computer. And the big difference is I discover that if you put your audio through an LG monitor and then take it out of the LG monitors headphone jack, it doesn't sound quite as good as coming through a premium piece of audio equipment. Who would have thought so? Yes, I'm enjoying playing my music at high volume and doing that. So thank you, gene Bean, for your row of ducks. I appreciate it.

Sam Sethi:

We've got another row of ducks 2,222,. Sending a row of ducks from the lovely staff at the Weach Heave in Crick.

James Cridland:

Yes, this was the one that had a dreadful photograph on Google Maps and I and I rather rashly said it's Si Joblin's local and I rather rashly said the week shift looks rubbish, but it turns out it's lovely. So there we are, so hello to you.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, they sent sent us a voucher for two. I'm loving that Going over the launch.

James Cridland:

Yes, I'm not sure that they have, have they? No, but no, I'm now, of course, trying to find out, trying to find out what beers that they actually sell, just to see, if you know, if I can dane to go in. Oh, they do their own. They've got their own, brewed by Banksy's brewery. They've got their own beer. It's called Sunshine Golden Ale, and it looks, it looks lovely and the outside of the place looks lovely and we can stay there. It's got a B&B, hooray, yes, and it's got a restaurant and all of that. So, yes, it looks, it looks fantastic, the more now I've actually looked at the proper website rather than, rather than the bad photograph on Google Maps. It looks really nice.

Sam Sethi:

Excellent, there you go, mrs Cridland, and night out for the bear of you.

James Cridland:

Yes, I mean, it's a long way to go and we've already we've already done our flight to the UK. We're not going to do another one of those again as a family. But still another of ducks, sam.

Sam Sethi:

Yes to to to from Jean Bean. Sam's ramp was entertaining as I listened to this after the podcasting two to oh show where Adam responded. I like the activity streams, ideas. Sam, keep at it. Great overall show, as always. Yes, I is the way forward. I believe Adam and Dave keeps threatening to have me on the show to explain it, but they'd never, ever send out the invite. So yeah, one day one day.

James Cridland:

I was going to go on just before Christmas, and because I wasn't available at the exact time, they went for somebody else and I've not been invited since. No, that's it.

Sam Sethi:

You're on the naughty step as well.

James Cridland:

Also, jean Bean, I do note great overall show, as always. So you know I mean it's great overall. There are some bits that aren't, but you know I mean it's great overall, but that's okay. Yes, so I do note that. And we also got an email from Kevin Finn from Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout are our sponsor. What have I done wrong now? Well, you know, you've been singing all of these jingles and I've been mixing them together with the, with the TV jingles from 1980s of, you know, yes, doing the shake and vac and all of that kind of stuff and whatever it was last week I can't even remember now Milky Bar kid oh, yes, the Milky Bar kid. And I use the really old version of the Milky Bar kid where they used to say nestles, because people in the UK were too uncultured to work out that it was actually pronounced nestle. Anyway, he says he just emailed five words your audio jingles inspired us and then sent this. Now I'm hoping that you're going to learn how that goes so that you'll sing along to it next time.

Sam Sethi:

It does sounds. If they spent some money on that. I think we're going to have to do that live in LA on the live show sponsored by ZZSPORT.

James Cridland:

I know it sounds really weird, zz. Yes, I have to say our music is made by a company called Studio Dragonfly and that company is a is owned by TM Studio, which is a massive, great big jingle company based in the US. You'll have heard all of their stuff because they make all of the big jingles for all of the big radio stations in the US. That's where our music is made by. They must be listening to that. Chris, who owns the company, or one of the owners, must be listening to that, shaking his head going where did that get made? Anyway, kevin, thank you so much. I'm terrified now that Sam has said that we will be singing that, but that sounds fun to get that on stage.

Sam Sethi:

I've got it. We'll get Albin to be our guest on the live show and Olbo can sing it. Yes, excellent.

James Cridland:

Yeah, good luck with that. Oh, my word. So, apart from packing and getting ready for your big long haul flight to Australia via Singapore, what else has been happening for you, sam?

Sam Sethi:

Well, last week I was having a look at why True Founds wasn't listed in the OP3 list of apps, and then it turns out because we're a PWA, we were listed in the web section. So the very nice man that is John Spurlock kindly added us to True Founds to the OP3 app section. So, although we don't really register much yet, thank you, john for doing that.

James Cridland:

So I'm sorry he put on, mastered On. Recently he put a very excited post of how much Google shares were now worth, and so I said time for a new yacht.

Sam Sethi:

Yes, he papers the walls with the spare shares that he doesn't need. That's what he does.

James Cridland:

I'm sure he does. You were our friends at City University of London.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I got asked by Sandy and Brett to come along and give a presentation on the future of podcasting, which was fun to do. I hadn't done that in a while. I did keep most of the people with me until about probably 90% when, I think, I started talking about various things you could do with sats. I think I lost everyone at that point, but it's OK, we got through it. But, yeah, it was good fun doing that, so that was great yeah yes, I'm looking forward to speaking at City University in London in March.

James Cridland:

We're just busy sorting out times and dates for that, but that should be good fun too.

Sam Sethi:

And then again coming down to CU. So we'll organise a time, yes, and maybe do a show as well. Yes, that will be good. So what's happened for you, james?

James Cridland:

Well, two things have happened for me. We hit 30,000 subscribers last week and I was slightly concerned because what normally happens over the weekend is we get some unsubscribes, and so I was slightly concerned about mentioning it last week just in case we dipped below 30,000 again. But we didn't, so that's good news. So I mean, I know it's only a number, but it's a nice number and it begins with a three now. So yeah, I'm super stoked about that. That does mean that the Pod News front page is being targeted by quite a few robots who are signing email addresses up. So now I have to sit and fiddle around with how to make recaptures work and all of this. But anyway, I suppose with success comes a bit of nuisance. But still Delighted with 30,000. And also really pleased with an article which you will find if you are in France and you speak French. You'll find an article in Podcast Magazine, which is an excellent publication, which is produced by a man called Philippe Chappot, or in English, philip Hatt, and it's a great magazine which you will be able to pick up at the radio show in Paris if you are there. But also you'll find the interview on the Castapod website as well. Blogcastapodcom, benjamin Bellamy ended up interviewing me for it and was really good and yeah, and there's pictures of you in there and everything, sam, it's a good thing, yeah.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I read that when you sent it through. It was a really nice article, so thank you to everyone who put that one together. And the other thing, james, was I did ask all the students on the podcasting MA course at City do they read Pod News Daily Bar one? Everyone did so that one person may be actually subscribing soon as well, but other than that they all did Excellent.

James Cridland:

You've got me a subscriber, sam. Yes, finally, after three years.

Sam Sethi:

Yeah, I haven't lost you any. That's the main thing, that's the more worrying thing.

James Cridland:

Well, well, well well, we don't know that. Yes, that's true, and on that bombshell, that's it for this week. Thank you so much to Oscar for being our guest what seems like four years ago. You can also listen to the Pod News Daily. You can subscribe to the Pod News newsletter for more of these stories and much more.

Sam Sethi:

You can give feedback to James and me by sending us a boost to Graham. If your podcast app doesn't support boost, what are you waiting for? Then grab a new app from podnewsnet forward slash new podcast apps.

James Cridland:

Now, I don't know where Buzzsprang's music is from, but our music is from Studio Dragonfly. Our voiceover is Sheila D. We use clean feed for our main audio and we're sponsored by why your Podcast Isn't Growing a new podcast for podcasters, and by Buzzsprout. Podcast hosting made easy. Get updated every day. Subscribe to our newsletter at podnewsnet.

Oskar Serrander:

Tell your friends and grow the show and support us, and support us. The Pod News Weekly. Review will return next week. Keep listening. B-u-z-z-s-b-r-o-u-t. Podcast. Hosting for you and me by sproutcom.

James Cridland:

That's quite catchy the third time you hear it.

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Interview - Oskar Serrander from Wondercraft
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Events
The Tech Stuff
Boostagram Corner
An Email From Buzzsprout
Sam and James's week

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