Hope you all had a great weekend! We’ve got some big Hot Pod Summit updates for you all, as well as the latest in audio news. Today, Audible lands another star, Spotify experiences another outage, and creators stop bothering to make podcasts when it is so hard to get anyone to listen to them.
Who will be at Hot Pod Summit?
Hot Pod Summit in Brooklyn is coming up fast, and we’ve been working hard getting the lineup together. I am really excited about who we have so far, and I hope you will be, too! Summit headliners include:
- Spotify’s global head of audiobooks, Nir Zicherman.
- Dan Zitt, senior vice president of content production at Penguin Random House Audio.
- Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and host of the Happier podcast.
- Co-founder and chief content officer of Rococo Punch John Perotti.
- Vulture podcast critic and Hot Pod founder Nick Quah.
And this year, we’re trying out something new: some of our favorite memories at Hot Pod Summit come from our conversations with the audience or those moments between panels when you all let us know what’s on your mind. So this year, we’re trying to turn that feeling into its own segment. We’ll be organizing attendees into groups to discuss some of the hottest topics of the moment so that you all can drive the conversation.
What topics? Well, we’ve got our own thoughts, but we want to know yours, too — if you’re buying a ticket, there’s a spot at checkout to leave a suggestion on what you most want to discuss. We’ll be picking our favorites and making them topics for conversations to organize around. At the end, we’ll want to hear your thoughts on what’s to come.
We’ll have some more announcements in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
People are launching way fewer podcasts
One thing I keep hearing over and over is that it is so much harder to launch a podcast now than it was, say, three or four years ago. And that is usually coming from people at established studios with at least some marketing might. For independent creators, it must be nearly impossible. It is not entirely surprising that, according to data compiled by Chartr from Listen Notes, fewer podcasts were created in 2022 than in the two years prior. Even so, the margin is shocking: the number of new shows created dropped by nearly 80 percent between 2020 and 2022.
Some of that can be attributed to the pandemic — podcast creation peaked in 2020 when people truly had nothing better to do. But the number of new shows in 2022 was even lower than pre-pandemic levels: 337,063 podcasts were launched in 2019, compared to 219,178 in 2022. New episode creation has fared somewhat better. Though still lower than 2020 and 2021 figures, Listen Notes logged 26.1 million new episodes published in 2022, up from the 18.1 million episodes in 2019.
Creators seem to recognize that until podcast discovery improves, launching a podcast may be a losing proposition. The system seemingly cannot effectively handle the number of podcasts that already exist. One small solution seems to be launching new shows on old feeds, such as what The New York Times did with Hard Fork and Sway’s RSS. The feed had a built-in audience and made it much easier for listeners to discover the new show. It may not have landed well with all subscribers (or podcasters), but Sway ranks in the top five technology podcasts on Apple and Spotify several months after its launch.
Spotify was down in the US for about three hours on Friday night. My Verge colleague Richard Lawler reported that the cause was a partial outage only affecting the platform’s player. Users started reporting issues before 8PM ET on Friday night, and the issue was resolved after 11PM ET. It was not related to the kind of Google Cloud issue that caused Spotify’s last systemwide outage.
Audible inks development and first-look deal with Daniel Dae Kim
Audible is really taking a page out of Spotify’s playbook by building a roster of marquee names, from the Obamas to Gwyneth Paltrow to Queen Latifah. Next on its list is Daniel Dae Kim of Lost fame, whose production company, 3AD, has inked a multi-project development and first-look deal with the Amazon-owned audio company.
His first project for Audible will be an audio adaptation of the play Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang. Kim will star as Hwang, and Leigh Silverman will direct. This is not Kim’s first time in an Audible production, having appeared in original audio thriller The Prophecy last year alongside Kerry Washington and David Oyelowo.
That’s all for now! I’ll be back with the latest in audio next week.
Correction January 18th, 8:15AM ET: The New York Times shifted an RSS feed from Sway to Hard Fork; this story initially referenced Pivot, a different podcast with Kara Swisher run by Vox Media.