Well hi, everyone, I hope we’re all relaxed and ready for a very calm, very normal week. I know I’m certainly ready to stay focused on my own projects and not get wildly distracted by the whims of billionaires with money to burn. Wish me luck.
Joe Rogan “gained two million subscribers” from recent controversy
From the department of any press is good press: Joe Rogan says the recent firestorm around his ongoing vaccine misinformation and past use of a racial slur only added to his fan base. “It’s interesting, my subscriptions went up massively — that’s what’s crazy,” Rogan said on an episode Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “During the height of it all, I gained 2 million subscribers.”
The Reporter adds that, according to unnamed sources, Rogan’s numbers have “been consistently growing” since he joined Spotify, without spiking due to any particular event. (I’ve reached out to Spotify for comment.)
Good news for Rogan isn’t necessarily good news for Spotify
On one hand, this doesn’t surprise me. The backlash that kicked off after Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify led to a lot of publicity around Rogan at a time when certain mostly right-wing audiences are rallying around figures who claim they’re being silenced even as they draw in immense crowds.
On the other hand, Rogan’s growth doesn’t mean the incident was good news for Spotify: it led to real turmoil with the company’s employees, saw several major names pull their music from the service, and continues to be a brand debt that the company won’t be able to shake. I know Spotify has compelling reasons to keep Rogan around, but if I had to make a guess, I’d bet the company would take a better public image over the 2 million extra subscribers.
P.S.: Spotify reports earnings Wednesday morning, with a call at 8AM ET.
Exclusive: SiriusXM signs exclusivity deal with Therapy Gecko
SiriusXM has landed another ad sales and distribution deal with a hit podcast, this time with one of the stranger shows I’ve written about on here: Therapy Gecko. The show is about a “lizard psychologist who travels the universe talking to strangers,” and it somehow garners “more than 900k monthly downloads,” according to SiriusXM. The series is created by Lyle Forever, who has found more than 2 million people on TikTok willing to subscribe to watch him dress up in a lizard outfit and green face paint to talk therapy, or something like it.
Under the deal, ads will be sold through SXM Media and Stitcher will handle distribution. The deal covers the audio release of the show.
SiriusXM has made a whole bunch of similar deals like this recently. Just yesterday, the company locked down ad sales for the I Am Athlete podcast from Brandon Marshall and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson as part of a larger audio deal with the network.
P.S. again: SiriusXM will report earnings Thursday morning, with a call at 8AM ET.
Apple adds more podcast analytics, more podcast promos
Podcasters offering subscriptions via Apple Podcasts can now download monthly reports that aggregate the listening habits of paid and free listeners. The new platform’s “listening report” breaks down where people are listening to content, what episodes they’re tuning into, and how much they’re listening. Apple says it’s useful to see the differences between how paid and free listeners are tuning in. The reports are generated monthly and available through Apple Podcasts Connect.
New curated sections for true crime, culture, and entertainment
On the consumer-facing front, Apple Podcasts has also added three new editorially curated sections — called Darkside, tbh, and Popped — to its storefront across platforms. The collections highlight shows in the true crime, culture, and entertainment categories and could be a good way to drive new listeners to shows. Apple says you can pitch your series here.
SoundCloud says indie artists are earning more with its new pay system
Last year, SoundCloud started a program where indie musicians could get paid out based on subscription revenue from their actual fans, rather than being lumped into a giant pool with major artists and divvied out the pennies. It’s a major shift (with caveats!) in how artists are paid, and now, nearly a year later, SoundCloud says independent artists are earning 60 percent more on average than they were with the traditional model.
Caveats abound, of course. It’s not entirely clear how much of a subscriber’s money is going to the pool that gets divided up for indie artists. (SoundCloud tells me it depends on their listening habits.) But the figure still suggests that the new model isn’t all talk. It ought to lead to higher payouts for smaller artists, and it has.
The Podcast Upfronts are almost here
Last week, IAB announced the list of presenters for its 2022 Podcast Upfronts — and I’m seeing a lot of big and familiar names and faces on that list. Just from a corporate perspective, we’ve got NPR, SXM Media, and Wondery, plus some more surprising entrants like Disney and Paramount. It’s a long list name-wise, so check that out over here. The event is being held virtually this year from May 10th to May 12th.
Substack’s newsletter app is now a podcast app
Alright, so the app already had podcast playback controls, but with an update yesterday, they became a whole lot richer. The app now has a full-screen podcast interface with speed and playback controls. You can also now queue up a playlist of recordings. The app is still iOS-only, unfortunately, but these kinds of table stakes features are going to be necessary if Substack wants to help creators see its platform as a viable one for podcasting.
Insiders, get ready to say hi to someone new on Thursday. See you then!