Joe Rogan Spotify deal should be a warning to the industry

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on

Yesterday's announcement landed like a shockwave in the podcasting world.

Reports put the Joe Rogan Experience podcast at around 190 million downloads per month. It's an absolute juggernaut in the business. The deal is also suggested to be in the order of US$100M. And, until now, it's been posted as both a podcast and a YouTube show.

 
With today's news – let's be very clear – Joe Rogan's show stops being a podcast. Once it goes exclusive, it becomes a show that is exclusively available on Spotify.
 
Why does this matter? Why is it relevant to local audiences and marketers?
 
Podcasts are based on a simple, open RSS distribution system. Apple has offered a near canonical directory of shows since the earliest days of the format – but it doesn't host shows itself, just a listing of those RSS feeds.
 
For any one show, an exclusive deal is no big deal. But as the exclusives pile up, we once again head down the road of dealing with yet another monopolistic player with a tight control over an audience – and, ultimately, another media access problem.
 
While we're in the thick of a debate over Google and Facebook's monopolistic behaviours in news media and how users discover and access content, Spotify is showing its own hand. It purchased Gimlet Media and The Ringer, but kept them open access. Now it reveals it wants exclusive shows that force users onto its platform and to start using it as a unified place to listen to all their audio.
 
Aggregation starts out really great for everybody involved. It *is* easier if my podcasts are right there alongside my music. It *is* nice for anyone to get compensated well for their creative efforts.
 
But Spotify’s track record on paying artists sits on the ‘we do what is legally required’ end of the spectrum, but is very much in the domain of digital cents to the niche fans and big dollars to those at the pointiest end of the scale.
 
Even if a band has a bunch of super fans only playing their songs for months on end, that individual’s $15/month (or whatever fee they pay as a subscriber) goes into a pool of money that gets distributed in aggregate, ensuring that the band they love still gets just the tiniest portion of the money they put into the pot.
 
Not only that, for the free users of Spotify, they are then bombarded with ads throughout podcast episodes they wouldn’t normally have to listen to if they were watching on YouTube or listening via another podcast hosting service.
 
Apple has maintained an open directory of podcasts that's easy to add a show to, and while every other podcast app makes it easy to add any arbitrary RSS feed (and in the process allow for member-only podcasts to exist), if Spotify becomes the dominant podcast platform those same Google and Facebook monopoly issues appear again.
 
Once again, scale becomes the driving force. Local and niche struggles to get that mega scale that drives the ad dollars, and alternative monetisation dries up if you can’t easily carve out your own direct audience relationships.
 
There are new models emerging in podcasting right now. Shows that can run as ‘member only’ feeds, where you get a private RSS feed that stays active as long as your subscription does, and the feed can be imported into any podcast app with just a couple of taps.
 
For now, we’re lucky the ‘canonical’ directory of podcasts lives at Apple. It has happily played custodian to the podcast landscape, erring on the side of disinterest rather than showing any sign of acting as a controlling force. Without that relatively-open-yet-centralised directory the entire ecosystem of podcast apps would struggle as it would ask too much of the user.
 
Podcasts are a bastion of diversity of access points and ease of distribution. They do harken back to an older part of the web. That also means podcast discovery is also still a pain in the butt – I work hard every day to find new ways to find new ears for my own network of Byteside shows. Audio search is still a technical dilemma.
 
Closed systems, centralised access and walled gardens lead to more gatekeepers and less diversity. And, as we've seen in wider news, it hurts the local and the niche more than the global and the populist.
 
We haven’t even touched on the video side of the discussion. Maybe this whole thing turns out the other way around, and Rogan gives Spotify the chance to break the YouTube monopoly on video. Somehow a magical balance of competing services that keeps everyone in check nevers seems to be the outcome.

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Hass Dellal stands down from SBS

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Dr Bulent Hass Dellal is stepping down as the chairman of SBS, effective 2 June 2020.

The exit is in line with the SBS Act which mandates board memberships of no more than ten years. 

Hass Dellal joined the team as director in 2010 but was reappointed for three more years in 2015. He had been acting chairman for a year when the board made his role permanent in 2017. The SBS board has yet to appoint a successor.

“I have had so many proud moments, in particular, during these unprecedented times as SBS has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. The content and services that SBS has been providing to keep so many Australians informed and safe exemplify its vital role and value to our society,” said Hass Dellal of his time in the company. 

“I want to thank everyone at SBS – the board, the executive team, and all of the incredible staff throughout the organisation – for their ongoing support. It has been a privilege to work with people so passionat

See you soon?

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
The baby steps toward seeing each other again in person have begun. For all the difficulties of life in isolation, the reopening process brings its own anxieties. Very small events are likely to be a starting place, given the rules. Though I guess in some cities you could book out a restaurant and have 50 guests at the event very soon? In others you still need to stay home.
 
I've had one company reach out to gauge sentiment ahead of planning anything in June. It was a very nice gesture, and afterward they said things were 50:50 on how comfortable people were feeling about coming to a real world event again. It's the early days, and I think it's a sensible worry that this first wave of reopening cities is when we have the least grasp on whether it will trigger new infections or not.
 
I think the most valuable lesson that can be taken forward relates to the column I wrote as it was all beginning. It would be a terrible shame if anyone tried to shake this off and

News Corp Australia shutters regional papers

By Elliott Richardson and Jonas Lopez in Media News on

NewsCorp Australia has dealt a massive blow to local news coverage after it announced a closing of 14 community newspapers and 22 regional papers, and a transition to digital for a further 100.

The content that some of the soon-to-be-closed titles carry will be reassigned to other mastheads.

The transition and closures come as the latest in a line of local news shutdowns, impacting thousands of journalists.

For many regional towns and cities, locals have long-relied on their local newspaper to keep them informed of important stories and events. 

While some will transfer to digital in order to keep the papers alive, many residents aren’t in the position to pay for a NewsCorp digital subscription, restricting their access to important local news.

Closures and digital transitions will come into effect on 29 June, as outlined below. Metro papers The Courier-Mail, The Daily Telegraph, the Melbourne Herald Sun, and The Adelaide Advertiser will be tweaked to carry more state c

Kiama Community Radio to go live

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The NSW south coast will have a new digital radio station next month, called Kiama Community Radio.

Radioinfo reported that a number of local residents have volunteered to work on the new endeavour, which is aimed at listeners in the Kiama LGA from Minnamurra to as far west as Jamberoo. 

The team spent the past month on crowdfunding efforts, and is planning a one-hour weekly show over its official website, then expanding the content to webcasting and podcasts. Actress Diana McLaren has agreed to host the new show.

“The idea for KCR came about when we were all suddenly told to stay home, and all the ways we usually connect to each other were taken away from us, particularly for the older generations within our community. There’s a lot of global information available right now, but nothing that is specific to our own backyard,” said Graeme Gerashe, a member of the station’s organising team. 

“We are hoping that this new service will reignite ou

Print IT! B2B magazines May 2020

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
IDM
The April-May Information & Data Manager has quite a few insights into government data management, including efforts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. One story looks at Georges River Council's rapid digital transformation. What had been planned as a phased transition over two years was executed in "around a week" to deal with the situation. Naturally, it's an ongoing process but it's an interesting look at whether ripping the band-aid off might be a better path in future. Another nice local IDM story explores what the Turnbull autobiography leak means for document management in publishing.
 
ECD
The latest Electrical Comms Data takes a close look at security on a number of fronts, leading with a feature by Editor Amy Steed on the rise of smart home devices and the questions around their security. The story talks to Swinburne researchers about the kinds of flaws their research is finding in these devices, such as memory leaks that create vulnerabil

Wimmera Mallee News introduces Horsham Times

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The Wimmera Mallee News in Wimmera, Victoria, has added a new publication to its roster, called the Horsham Times.

Premiering on May 29, the Horsham Times is actually a revival of the first Horsham Times that was in print from 1886 to 1959 when it merged with the West Wimmera Mail to become the Wimmera Mail-Times. 

The Mail-Times, however, was among the ACM titles shut down last month over lower ad revenues, along with sister titles Stawell Times-News and Ararat Advertiser, and Horsham residents needed fresh news and information. 

Wimmera Mallee News managing editor David Ward said the plan calls to hire six people for the new Horsham Times’ editorial board and lease office space in Horsham proper. 

He also sees the move as a link to the past. 

"In the 1890s my great-grandfather George Ward came to Horsham and worked on the Horsham Times and ended up being the owner. The name was available and we felt there was a really strong family connection there

Subject Line Real Estate Is A Precious Resource

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on

 

"[Company Name] Announcement"
 
That's the actual subject line of a press release email I received yesterday. It's... not good. But it's also not the worst I've seen in recent times.
 
The worst are those that put in so much preamble that the content of the subject is hidden because there's no email software on Earth that shows more than the first 12 words (if the words are short).
 
"Press Release: New tool helps measure sustainability impact..."
 
What's the tool? Who is making it? Is there a wow stat lurking inside? Don't tease me. Don't build suspense. Don't make me think. Just hit it fast and hard. Why should I open this email? What is your company announcing that means I want to write about it?
 
It's vital to remember that our job is not reading your emails. It is finding the best stories to write for our audience on whatever timeline we need to work under.
 
We don't read

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