Librarians are coming for podcasts
Well, hi, everyone! You’ve got Aria. Real excited to be here with y’all.
As a reminder, Ashley’s out this week, so if you have things to share, you can send ‘em my way (email@example.com). In the meantime, I’ll share some things with you, which is my job, to share those things.
P.S. Julie, if you’re reading this, tell your 10-year-old we said hey!
Hot Pod Summit is almost here! We’re hosting the invite-only event on February 24th in Brooklyn, New York, as part of On Air Fest. You can see this year’s On Air Fest lineup and buy tickets here. We’ll have more to share on programming and ticketing for Hot Pod Summit in the coming weeks.
EXCLUSIVE: $100K podcast fund launches for upstart shows
Starting today, budding US-based podcasters can apply to receive money from a new podcast sponsorship fund, which can be used for any purpose, from paying contributors to buying recording equipment. The fund, called Podca$h, will deliver one-time payments between $250 and $5,000 to up to 100 recipients. Eligible applicants include people who’ve never podcasted before, as well as those who’ve received less than $10,000 in total funding or sponsorships for an existing project. Applications are open until March 4th, 2022.
Podca$h was conceived to help more creators make well-known, well-paying podcasts. The two companies funding and operating the program, the short-form audio platform Racket and money-management software Stir, share a mission of supporting homegrown projects and helping them take off. “In podcasting, the rich tend to get richer,” says Racket founder and CEO Austin Petersmith. “We wanted to limit this campaign to people who have yet to make significant revenue for their podcasts. We also didn’t want to exclude those who have been at this for a while and are making, say, a few hundred dollars a month.”
Recipients will be chosen by a panel of judges with fingers on the pulse of digital media — angel investor and podcast host Jason Calacanis, the YouTube-using artist Humble the Poet, and several executives overseeing audience growth and talent.
Podca$h is a sponsorship program, not a scholarship. Recipients will be asked to deliver an ad read for Racket and Stir on the shows they ultimately develop, “but whether they do it or not will be on the honor system,” says Petersmith. Full terms can be found on the official Podca$h website.
An industry so big it needs librarians to organize it
Podchaser, the podcast discovery service, recently hired Norman Chella as a full-time “podcast librarian.” Chella is only the second person I’ve ever heard of to have that job title — and shortly after his role was announced, Ma’ayan Plaut, who’s considered to be the first podcast librarian, welcomed him to the club.
A librarian for podcasts does a lot of the things that a librarian for books would do — add new titles to a collection, organize them so people can find what they’re looking for — which, as the audio landscape gets more crowded, offers a systematic way to find shows. This helps overwhelmed listeners, and it also helps podcasters, for whom making money requires a show to be discoverable, both by audiences and potential advertisers.
As Plaut told me over email, there have been people in the audio industry with “the heart and spirit of a Podcast Librarian” since podcasts emerged. But Plaut and Chella may very well be the only ones who’ve ever been given designated, full-time librarian titles for audio companies. And while there’s a fair amount of similarities between Plaut’s 2016–2019 tenure at RadioPublic and Chella’s new role at Podchaser, the ways that the role has changed in just a few years show how much the podcast industry has changed, too.
The biggest shift is the increased emphasis on ad sales. While Plaut spent a lot of her time finding, listening to, and recommending shows for curious listeners, Chella knows that companies are increasingly curious, too, and he tells me he’ll be working to ensure that both the stats that are pulled in from streaming platforms (e.g., estimated monthly listens) and the specs that users add themselves (e.g., host bios) are correct. As Chella says, “a misstep in crediting can prevent that one sponsor from reaching out to your podcast for a great deal. You never know!”
Another change is the addition of a “curator” role to Chella’s plate, since there’s plenty of room for error in both the automatic and manual ways of contributing data that I mentioned above. Podchaser’s library may have predated Chella, but it takes a human to monitor such a system, coach people on how to contribute to it, and identify ways it could be better. As Chella says, “I’m here to provoke every single person in the podcast industry to record their body of work accurately.” This includes things like getting folks to credit shows’ contributors using uniform language, an area where Podchaser is trying to establish standard terms. It also includes getting podcasters excited about being documented at all — in Chella’s words, “getting their name etched in podcast history.”
No one took over Plaut’s librarian position when she left RadioPublic three years ago. But times are a’changing, and there’s a lot to do, so it seems likely that we’ll see more of these jobs pop up soon. As Chella puts it, surprisingly calmly, “the mission to document the timeline of every podcast in the world requires someone’s full attention on it.”
YouTube temporarily bars Dan Bongino for COVID misinformation
Conservative talk show host Dan Bongino has had his YouTube account and monetization privileges temporarily suspended after receiving his first “strike” for violating the company’s COVID misinformation policy, according to The Hill. Bongino is a big name in radio — he’s Cumulus Media’s Rush Limbaugh replacement — so YouTube is showing here that moderation rules apply even to a major host.
This stands in contrast to Spotify’s resistance to moderating or removing content from the comparably controversial Joe Rogan. Rogan has also been sharing dangerous information around COVID, enough that hundreds of medical professionals recently petitioned Spotify to enforce a misinformation policy. But Spotify has not responded to calls to take his episodes down.
BBC funding nearly slashed
It’s a storyline that will sound familiar to US residents: over the weekend, the publicly funded BBC was threatened with the elimination of most of its financial support. This was ultimately walked back and replaced with a less catastrophic change, but it’s one that still deals a blow to the broadcaster.
On Sunday, the UK culture secretary threatened to end the license fee that residents pay to the BBC, which makes up three-fourths of its funding, according to The New York Times. The fee was expected to remain frozen for the next two years, rather than rising proportionately with inflation, then be phased out entirely by 2027. By Monday, the only remaining change was the freeze. Though the longer-term fate of funding is unclear, even the fee freeze will affect BBC’s ability to create programming, necessitating what The Guardian estimates will be “hundreds of millions of pounds” in budget cuts.
Recordings for Spaces for all
Twitter is now letting all Spaces hosts record their sessions on mobile, then access detailed attendance numbers. Users will now be able to differentiate between listeners who tuned in live versus those who watched the replay for up to 30 days after a Space ends.
Excited to see you Insiders on Thursday! And Friday! Aria lives on!