The second day of PODCAST MOVEMENT EVOLUTIONS sessions at the MILLENNIUM BILTMORE in downtown LOS ANGELES kicked off with a big announcement in the keynote by WONDERY’s HERNAN LOPEZ, the formation of THE PODCAST ACADEMY and the establishment of the GOLDEN MICS, an award ceremony to launch in 2021. LOPEZ made the announcement by noting that podcasting does not have an industry non-profit professional organization to serve the business and hold awards. A ten member board of governors including major players like PRX CEO KERRI HOFFMAN, SPOTIFY’s COURTNEY HOLT, STITCHER CEO ERIK DIEHN, NPR’s ANYA GRUNDMAN, SONY MUSIC’s CHRISTY MIRABAL, CRIMINAL’s LAUREN SPOHRER, SPOKE MEDIA’s ALIA TAVAKOLIAN, TENDERFOOT TV’s DONALD ALBRIGHT, producer REKHA MURPHY, and LOPEZ has been appointed, with a total of 17 governors to be announced.
In a press release, LOPEZ said, “Film, Television, Music – all other major forms of art have long-ago established a member-based Academy with the goal of fostering and celebrating creative excellence. It’s time for Podcasts to establish their own. I am delighted to be joined by a diverse group of people who really care about excellence, from across the country, representing all kinds of podcasts, from public radio to independents and networks.”
“I welcome the opportunity to celebrate the excellence throughout podcasting — at the mic and the amazing talent behind the scenes,” said HOFFMAN.
“As an independent content creator and podcast producer myself, I’m honored to join my peers from all areas of our industry on the Board of Governors of THE PODCAST ACADEMY. This is an imperative move in podcasting, allowing us to recognize those who continue to elevate all sides of the industry,” added ALBRIGHT.
The ACADEMY plans to host monthly webinars on industry topics, networking events in LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK, and publish best practices whitepapers and a searchable directory of members. Podcast pros can get updates about the ACADEMY at thepodcastacademy.com, with applications to join the ACADEMY beginning this SPRING.
Before the announcement, LOPEZ joked about podcasting going from a “paradise” of DIY shows to experiencing an “alien invasion” of big players talking about monetization and scaling, explaining that the “invasion” has happened to every form of art, from theater to movies, television, and now podcasts. “Things are changing in the podcast world for the better,” LOPEZ asserted, listing advantages like audio being immersive and intimate, not requiring people to use their eyes in a world bombarding the public with images, and a still-low barrier of entry that allows even an individual to create a successful show (beating a big company’s shows, LOPEZ said, results in the feeling of “chartenfreude”).
Another keynote featured the team behind “THE SCORE: BANK ROBBER DIARIES,” reformed bank robber JOE LOYA and producer BEN ADAIR, interviewed by SHANNON CASON. Like THURSDAY’s agenda, the day’s schedule was populated by three tracks of presentations geared at different levels of podcasting expertise.
“Radio Futurologist” and PODNEWS founder JAMES CRIDLAND offered a look at the international podcast market, including U.S.-based podcast dominance of listening in English-speaking countries worldwide. He noted that a survey in AUSTRALIA showed that 64% of listeners there don’t care if the podcasts to which they listen are from AUSTRALIA or overseas, and pointed out that ads in American podcasts for products and services not available in other countries highlights the opportunity for geo-targeting advertising. The session included data on the iOS/Android split (Android dominating outside the U.S.), the cost of mobile data (both in dollar amounts and as percentage of income, with the PHILIPPINES at 17.3% and CANADA at 4.7% as opposed to the U.S. at 1.7%), and SPOTIFY vs. APPLE (the former rapidly growing as a podcast player).
AMPLIFI MEDIA’s STEVE GOLDSTEIN examined the rise of smart speakers and voice controlled devices and why podcast listening over the devices has not yet gained traction while streaming audio is second only to asking questions as a top use of the devices. He pointed to challenges facing podcasting on smart speakers including the difficulty of precisely invoking podcasts with commands, no screens, and the difficulty of discovery; increased integration with APPLE and SPOTIFY is helping, he said. Advice from GOLDSTEIN for podcasters includes having a clear, unique name to invoke, educate listeners how to ask for the show, sell the benefits of listening that way, and repeat the instructions.
SPOTIFY’s JOEL WITHROW and ANNA SULLIVAN focused on streaming ad insertion in their presentation. The presentation called for the podcasting industry to achieve better measurement and true conversion of listeners to take action based on hearing the ads (coupon codes, WITHROW noted, “are a lot to ask” from listeners), and touted SPOTIFY’s streaming ad insertion platform, announced at CES, as addressing the challenges that standard dynamic ad insertion does not, using more data about the listener to serve up targeted spots as the show streams rather that bundling the ad with the download.
A panel of lawyers addressed the legal issues facing the industry, with AUDIBLE’s JON KURLAND, PANDORA’s LINDSAY BOWEN, and LOEB & LOEB’S ANNE KENNEDY MCGUIRE and RACHEL KIWI offering guidance on topics like IP ownership, revenue sharing, derivative exploitations like TV shows, books, and live events, and clearance of clips and music.
Reporting by PERRY MICHAEL SIMON in LOS ANGELES