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That is gearing as much as be a extra eventful August than standard. For as we speak’s concern of Sizzling Pod, I’ve information about how Disney’s spring layoffs hit the in-house podcast group at Marvel. I even have a Q&A I performed with Warner Music Group’s senior vice-president of digital technique and growth, Allan Coye. Coye was the principle pressure in launching Interval Presents, which is WMG’s in-house podcast unit. Lastly, I’ve an replace on SiriusXM’s second quarter earnings name from this morning.
Marvel’s podcast unit is the newest casualty of Disney cuts
Marvel wasn’t spared in Disney’s axing of seven,000 staff this spring, which included former Marvel Leisure chair Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. Now, Sizzling Pod has realized that Marvel’s small in-house podcast unit of six staff was reduce in half through the newest spherical of Disney layoffs, too. The group produces each companion podcasts and popular culture podcasts like Girls of Marvel, The Historical past of Marvel, This Week in Marvel, and others. Of the three staff who got discover, one has already left, and two will depart by the top of the month. Sizzling Pod reached out to Marvel for clarification in regards to the layoffs however has but to listen to again.
One worker, who requested to not be named so they might freely talk about the cuts, informed Sizzling Pod that Marvel gave no particular cause for the layoffs however talked about that Disney was concerned within the resolution to axe the roles. The podcast group had already give you a plan to chop prices, together with sunsetting Marvel’s Pull Checklist podcast — however this effort wasn’t sufficient to sway Marvel.
Marvel’s SiriusXM deal wrapped up earlier this 12 months
“Watching the audio trade implode this previous 12 months has been intestine wrenching. So a lot of my former public radio colleagues, and people working within the non-public sector misplaced their jobs. I wasn’t fully stunned Disney determined to comply with go well with,” the nameless worker informed Sizzling Pod.
Marvel and SiriusXM signed a multi-year settlement in 2019 to launch scripted and unscripted podcasts again when the satellite tv for pc radio big was simply dipping its toe into podcasting. Beneath the settlement, SiriusXM subscribers obtained both early or unique entry to Marvel’s podcasts. The 2 corporations most lately launched a scripted fiction podcast, Marvel’s Wastelanders, in December of 2022. We perceive that the conclusion of the newest season of Wastelanders this 12 months marked the top of SiriusXM’s pact with Marvel.
Disney’s efforts to chop prices have hit the numerous audio properties underneath its belt fairly arduous. Three ABC Audio execs departed the corporate final month following a number of cuts at each ESPN Radio and ABC Audio. Nationwide Geographic (of which Disney owns a majority stake) laid off plenty of audio staff in April, together with the group behind the Overheard podcast. It then deepened the cuts solely a few months later, terminating the remainder of its audio group in addition to all of its workers writers.
SiriusXM is betting huge on its next-gen app
Audio big SiriusXM appears to be holding regular regardless of this 12 months’s treacherous advert market, in accordance with the corporate’s second quarter earnings name this morning. The corporate’s complete subscriber base of 34 million (together with each self-pay subscribers and people who be part of the free trial after buying SiriusXM-enabled automobiles) continues to be roughly the identical quantity it reported in 2022. However the satellite tv for pc radio big hopes extra streaming subscribers will be part of when it debuts a brand new “next-gen” app within the fall.
SiriusXM reported second quarter earnings of $310 million and income of $2.25 billion, barely exceeding Wall Road expectations. It misplaced a complete of 132,000 self-pay subscribers within the second quarter however gained 155,000 new paid promotional subscribers. It’s typical for the corporate to achieve new subscribers every quarter from its three-month promotion for automobiles — a quantity will then cancel after the trial interval ends.
CEO Jennifer Witz appeared optimistic about an upcoming streaming app that SiriusXM plans to launch within the fall, which the corporate is betting will add new streaming clients and assist retention charges for in-car listeners. Customers can choose to pay $10.99 for a streaming-only subscription to SiriusXM, which is solely on the SXM app and good audio system and media gamers (streaming-only listeners can technically join the app to their automotive’s radio).
“…We’re investing on this platform to assist each the streaming enterprise, which can allow us, we imagine, to enhance our streaming subscribers, who pay attention in and outdoors of the automotive, but in addition to enhance retention and conversion amongst our in-car subscribers as a result of after they stream, we see greater conversion and retention charges,” Witz stated in response to an investor’s query.
“Podcasting has remained comparatively steady when it comes to what’s working.”
Podcasting stays a vivid spot in SiriusXM’s promoting portfolio. The corporate reported over 2,600 podcast campaigns from greater than 100 Fortune 500 manufacturers. SiriusXM can also be presently testing AI promoting instruments for podcasts, seemingly geared toward making it simpler for small companies to create their very own audio adverts.
“[These AI tools] will decrease the barrier of entry to audio and democratize entry for small companies whereas providing sooner, smarter options to empower bigger manufacturers to create and execute audio campaigns extra seamlessly and effectively,” she stated.
Sirius XM Radio’s president and chief content material officer, Scott Greenstein, additionally shed some mild on the place the corporate stands on podcasting as others reduce their audio operations: “The general view is podcasting has remained comparatively steady when it comes to what’s working. So as an example, the highest 10 in podcasting and high 20 largely has the identical podcasts it had not less than a 12 months in the past. And we’ve two of the highest 10, 5 of the highest 20, and 14 of the highest 50.” The corporate presently has a number of podcast networks underneath its umbrella, together with Audiochuck, NBC, Crew Coco, and Freakonomics.
“We really feel actually good on our means to market and get these on the market however, extra importantly, to monetize these,” added Greenstein.
Warner Music Group’s Allan Coye on the music trade’s embrace of podcasts
The music trade is paying shut consideration to a different huge audio medium. Warner Music Group final 12 months launched its in-house podcast unit, Interval Presents, with the purpose of constructing upon its huge music library and serving as a platform for its roster of creators and artists. WMG is simply the newest “Large Three” document label to enterprise into podcasts — Sony Music Leisure already has its personal international podcast division, and Common Music Group labored on native podcasts earlier than getting into into an settlement with Wondery to provide authentic exhibits in 2019.
Interval Presents has launched 5 podcasts to this point — together with Yeah, I F*cked That Up, hosted by Billy Mann, Rap Radar with Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller, Drink Champs hosted by N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, Holding Courtroom by Eboni Okay. Williams, and The Final Resort, a podcast about Calexit narrated by the musician Xiuhtezcatl.
Arising the pipeline at Interval Presents is a fiction podcast that includes Jason Derulo and a podcast in regards to the African diaspora hosted by actress Lupita Nyong’o. I spoke to Interval Presents’ common supervisor, Allan Coye, to listen to extra about what it’s wish to run a podcast community at a document label.
I do know Warner Music Group launched Interval Presents, its in-house podcast community, again in 2022. Are you able to speak in regards to the considering behind launching the hassle on the time?
So, I put on a variety of hats at Warner Music Group. Certainly one of them is on the central enterprise growth, the place we do music licenses with the digital music platforms and different streaming providers everyone knows and love. It’s from that vantage level that, you recognize, we see loads. A part of my remit is to search for new alternatives in locations the place we expect [WMG] can add worth to artists and to followers.
Podcasting stood out [in 2022] as a kind of locations the place we didn’t have a variety of capabilities. We had performed some experimenting throughout a number of the labels and associates within the house, but it surely actually simply made sense to do one thing that’s pushed by a central technique. We wished to leverage our capabilities as IP house owners but in addition as an entity that’s near artists and understands easy methods to discover listeners. So, with that spirit, I broke the preliminary enterprise case and obtained the inexperienced mild and employed everybody who’s on the group.
So we’re actually excited and proud to see what I believe has turn out to be a fairly cool, consumer-facing model throughout the podcast house. We’ve rolled out 5 exhibits to this point and have one other three on the way in which. It’s been actually thrilling to have the flexibility to kind of begin and construct these capabilities in-house.
Warner Music Group will not be a struck firm for the needs of the Hollywood strike. However I used to be questioning if you happen to’ve sensed any impression so far as creators expressing curiosity in exploring audio? Have any alternatives from the strike introduced itself?
That’s a terrific query. I sort of give it some thought in a few other ways. When alternatives turned sparse for movie and TV throughout covid, I believe we already noticed some people search for podcasting alternatives that may not have been there earlier than. I keep in mind pitches for brand spanking new exhibits, and it was clear to me that this pitch was as soon as for TV, however now it’s for a podcast as a result of there have been no productions on the time.
“We’re not going to ask any of our creatives … to do something that makes them uncomfortable.”
I’ve had a few conversations with creators who had been in search of alternatives to maintain them busy and issues like that. I believe that most likely could possibly be part of the long run. However I believe it additionally is determined by how lengthy the strike goes as to what the chance actually appears like. When it comes to what number of creatives might want to hold busy. When it comes to impression, I haven’t actually seen something. Possibly there’s an inflow of expertise that possibly needs to get into podcasting, which I believe is at all times a wonderful factor.
We’ve had conversations with consultants and attorneys concerned who comply with [the Hollywood strike] intently to verify we’re ready in case something occurs that may have an effect on our initiatives or the advertising or promotion. Thus far, we haven’t seen something impacted. However clearly, we’re not going to ask any of our creatives or artistic partnerships, companions, or manufacturing corporations to do something that makes them uncomfortable.
[The strike] is one thing that we’re intently monitoring and hope to get a decision to quickly. However within the meantime, if we get alternatives to work with creators we wouldn’t be working with in any other case — I’m completely happy to evaluate these alternatives.
On the identical time… we’re not essentially arrange for the largest scale. We’re now set as much as do eight or possibly 12 exhibits in a given 12 months, and that’s been our focus.
We’ve seen an growing variety of musician-hosted podcasts over time, with everybody from Alice Cooper to Questlove. I do know Interval has that podcast hosted by Billy Mann — Yeah, I F–ked That Up. There’s additionally podcasts that go into making music. What sort of alternatives are there in podcasting for the music trade?
Our focus is music and music-adjacent subjects. We’ll additionally do leisure and popular culture, way of life, social justice. It’s not nearly music in these kind of very contained methods. However I believe in the identical means — music helps push tradition ahead. So we take into consideration that once we’re fascinated by the impression we are able to have and easy methods to discover followers and easy methods to discover content material that resonates with followers.
It’s nice if you happen to get the chance to inform a narrative of an artist or a narrative of a cool launch or album. But additionally, can we discover attention-grabbing and new methods to infuse music as part of the sound design of the podcast?
We have now this one challenge with Jason Derulo. It’s a fiction romance thriller known as Underwater, and it’s going to come back out later this 12 months. We wished to make the podcast a full-force multiplier for his music. Now, each challenge doesn’t have that degree of alignment. However I believe there’s methods to consider artists and creativity and shifting tradition ahead which can be sort of natural — however not tremendous on the nostril as in simply telling an artist’s story.
So, with this fiction podcast with Jason Derulo — this isn’t one thing he wrote and labored on, but it surely’s integrating his music, appropriate?
He was concerned within the making of the story, however we additionally had a group of writers that got here up with the precise scripted dialogue. However he was used as the idea for the challenge and gave us the preliminary framework.
As you talked about, a variety of these exhibits sound like one thing that isn’t tied to music as a lot because the tradition surrounding followers and the adjoining subjects they’re curious about. Are you able to speak in regards to the considering behind that?
It’s kind of like 4 increasing, concentric circles, if that is smart. Interval Presents was born out of a document label, and we’ve the DNA of a document label and are at all times in search of alternatives for artists and followers to know one another higher. However when you concentrate on what could be exterior of that and music adjoining, it’s exhibits like Rap Radar and Drink Champs. They’re not essentially about music however are largely musicians telling their very own tales in a relatable means.
We have now a present popping out with Lupita Nyong’o later this 12 months known as Thoughts Your Personal. It’s sort of like — for lack of a greater comparability — it’s her model of This American Life however pushed by tales from the African diaspora. It’s primarily based on tales from her rising up in Kenya and Mexico and her distinctive standpoint. We’re trying to infuse a few of our artist catalog from the sub-Saharan Africa roster as properly to sort of make the sound design actually pop and really feel genuine.