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It's Thursday, December the 31st 2020.
I'm James Cridland the editor
of pod news here in Australia.
I'm Sam Sethi the editor of Sam
Talks Technology here in the UK and
I'm Steve Pratt from Pacific content.
I'll be talking about
predictions for 2021.
And in fact that we're doing that
right now, 10 years ago, I first met
Steve Pratt while he was running CBC
radio three or station playing new
Canadian music from Vancouver in Canada.
A few years later, he left.
It turns out he'd left to start
up a business that helps brands
tell stories on podcasts.
Steve is co-founder of Pacific content.
One of the cleverest Podcast companies
out there, and every year Pacific
content posts, an eagerly awaited blog,
post the predictions for podcasting.
year, we'd gather all these
predictions from all sorts of different
people across the Podcast industry.
And it's really interesting because
most of these people are running.
Companies are in senior roles and they're
in different areas of the business.
And so when you kind of see
all these things in aggregate,
they're pretty accurate.
Like, cause these are people like this.
This is where my area of
the, of the world is going.
Um, or these are the things that I'm
seeing, or these are the things we're
planning on doing in the year ahead.
They're eerily accurate.
I'm I'm kind of not surprised
by the Spotify piece.
Knowing that some people from Spotify
and things were actually part of the
people making predictions last year, your
compilation got that, right.
Uh, obviously consolidation,
although you didn't need to be
Einstein to work out that there'll
be rather more consolidation,
which is, um, I think both of those
trends are back for this year as well.
So it's a consolidation shocker.
Who'd have thought.
Although, my favorite thing
from this year, uh, around the
consolidation piece, I think it was from.
Fellow Australian Sharon Taylor at
Omni studio, basically saying like, I
we're kind of running out of companies
for people to buy at this point.
Like at some point there'll be.
Yeah, I think so one of the other
things that you spotted last year, it
was, or you predicted last year was
major new players entering the industry.
And I think Amazon music was
the biggest major player, I
guess, entering podcasting.
Um, How'd you think Amazon music's going
I think part of it, uh, depends on what
happens with the rumors of whether they're
acquiring Wondery, uh, immediately or not.
Um, I mean, I think it, it takes a long
time for anybody to change behavior
patterns and lots of people are used
to certain Podcast ops or certain.
Services that they use.
I think they were, they're gonna have
to do some pretty interesting stuff to
get people to change behaviors, but in
terms of growing new audience members
or introducing them to podcasts like
men, like our, our, our whole business
is, uh, is kind of based on working
with brands, um, and helping them turn
into media companies are thinking,
act like media companies by making
shows and learning how to market them.
And one of the things we always
do is think about what are the,
what are the superpowers that
brands have to be able to market.
Shows or kind of grow
the overall industry.
I can't think of, you know, many companies
that have more superpowers than Amazon.
If they decide to want
to push into a space.
I certainly wouldn't bet against them
Uh, Amazon, we're the largest
advertiser in the world.
In 2021, which I thought was interesting.
And also here's an interesting
fact that I learned the other week,
the entire size of the Australian
economy is smaller than Amazon.
Was that on your
citizenship test should have been.
What do you think about it?
It should be interesting
seeing what happens with Amazon.
It's not in Canada yet.
Um, or it is, if it's not, it
is very close to being it's it's
either here or coming, so yes.
I am surprised a little bit, like, I
feel like there are huge opportunities,
you know, I think, I think last year
we said like, you know, I would not be
surprised to see bigger efforts from
companies like Facebook or LinkedIn
or Twitter or something like that.
And for all of those companies,
I'm still kind of surprised.
That there hasn't been anything in there.
When you think about the opportunities
for these companies that have
targeted advertising options, to be
able to like introduce a medium that
you can use when the screen is off
and provide advertising solutions
that the industry is looking for.
Um, it still seems like a.
Maybe it's not a big enough industry
for them yet, which sounds crazy.
Uh, but maybe that's the piece,
but I'm surprised that some of them
haven't entered into the audio space.
There's always been this
sort of thing around audio, not
necessarily being as sexy as video.
Uh, so I, I wonder whether that is
a worry to companies who are getting
into a space that doesn't sound
sexy enough for their investors.
Like I, I mean, I got to say, as we're
wrapping out a pretty surreal year, Audio
has been really resilient and it's been,
you know, remarkably good for remote
production where we can produce really
high quality stuff without having to have
people gather in the same place together.
And it's the, the amount of time and
engagement that audio provides compared
to almost every other medium that is
kind of moving more into kind of short
attention span that you can still get.
Huge completion rates
on long shows and audio.
It still feels pretty great to me,
for anybody who's thinking about it.
I, and if they haven't come around to
it, I feel I do kind of feel like it's
a little bit inevitable that people
are going to have the light turn on
at some point in the near future.
I think you're right.
The one thing that you missed
last year was of course, nobody
said that there would be a global
pandemic, which was a mistake.
So there we are, uh, this time around you
have consolidated the various thoughts
of the great and good from the industry,
Oh, well, thank you.
It was a, it was a great pleasure to be
asked, um, into four different themes, um,
consolidation, uh, new content strategies,
tech innovation, and diversity.
And there's look at
consolidation for a bit.
Cause I mean, obviously there is
consolidation still about to happen, but
it probably in a bit of a different way.
It was interesting seeing Bob
Pittman from iHeart radio talking
about the importance of scale.
I mean, he would say that wouldn't,
he is one sort of side of it, but
how important do you see scale,
you know, large businesses?
Getting involved in this space
consolidating with smaller companies.
How important is scale, do you
think to where podcasting is going?
I wish I w I mean, I'm sure
everybody in podcasting wishes this,
but I wish I was in the boardrooms
of some very big companies right
now, hearing how they're thinking
about the future of podcasting.
I've mentioned this in the article,
you and I have talked about it.
There's this the most fascinating
podcast interview that I listened to
this year around audio strategy was an
episode that had the head of R and D
of Spotify talking about where they're
going in their different strategies.
His name was, uh, Gustaf Soderstrom,
and it was just really fascinating
to think about where the.
Power of having kind of like the F a
full stack of, of all the different
Podcast technologies and the pieces
of the Podcast puzzle to be able to
create a unique and differentiated
user experience or where you can create
innovation or where you can create
better business results for advertisers.
Like I know there's like a huge
tension between open and closed
and podcasting as it started.
And as an long celebrated
as an open ecosystem.
I love the open ecosystem.
I love the democratization of, of being
able to produce and distribute out there.
But it's, you know, if you kind
of want to hear about the point of
view of consolidation and why it's
important for moving things forward.
And I think there's a lot of companies
that are, you know, if I think about
Sirius XM with Pandora and simple
cast and Stitcher, and AdsWizz.
It feels like you're kind of building out
everything from the same sort of strategy.
And I'm guessing same with iHeart and
Vox nest and the content that they've
acquired over the last couple of years.
You kind of want hosting, you want
content, you want an app, you want ad
serving, you want metrics, the whole deal.
And when you have all of those, I think
that's where interesting innovation on
the user experience is going to be the
strategies of, of how they're going to
experiment in the next several years.
And that'll be, I think, where I'm
interested to see where they take Podcast.
Yeah, I think you're right.
And I think, you know, that
that consolidation now is.
Not necessarily, you know, one
large company buying another large
company, but actual companies
buying a portfolio so that they have
everything from the technology to
the content, to the ad sales and
everything else that they actually need.
And you can so clearly see that in
Sirius's case, you know, as one example.
Who do you think we'll get wondering.
I don't know if I have any insight
into it other than I, you know, I probably
everything I get, I read in pod news.net.
Um, so I really don't like, I don't, I
don't have any insights into it other
than, you know, I, I, I think you're
the last place I, I, uh, first and
last place that I read that it's, uh,
inexclusive negotiations with Amazon.
So we'll see, uh, it would be,
uh, that'd be a big game changer.
I get there instantly a
player if they do that.
Yeah, I think so.
It was interesting looking at Paul tracks
data, which came out recently, which
had a bunch of information around the
most popular new podcasts of this year.
And 10 out of the top
20 were from wandering.
So they are a massive, massive company.
When you look at the amount of listens
that they get, but you also look at the
very capable way that they can launch
They're the best marketers.
Like I got to say, they
like, they make great shows.
They know exactly who their audience is.
They know what their, their sweet spot
is for the type of shows they make.
And they market them really, really well.
And they use their existing audience
really, really well in terms of like
using the network to cross promote and.
Yeah, there's it's, it's just
a really well, well done.
It'll be really interesting seeing
whether Amazon are buying it because of
their prowess in podcasting or whether
Amazon are actually buying Wondery
because of the IP that they own, that
they can then turn in terms and prime
content, uh, and other things as well.
But, uh, fascinating to watch.
What is interesting?
One of the predictions in here is, uh,
from Hernan Lopez, the CEO of wonder,
he talking about the importance of
diversity of revenue, streams for
podcasting and how twenty-five percent
of wonders revenue is coming from TV,
audio, and book licensing, as well as
direct summer segment for Wondery plus.
So, yeah, certainly for an Amazon,
if you're, if you've got Amazon
prime and you're looking for
an IP pipeline, Wondering would
be a pretty good bet there too.
one of the things you talked
about was new content strategies, um,
and particularly, you know, uh, firstly
there's, you know, crying out for
different types of content, but also, uh,
very much focusing on short form content,
which is a, a subject close to my heart.
Given that I make a podcast that's about
four minutes long, every single day.
That does really well on the
places where podcasts don't.
So things like smart speakers
in particular, which are the
biggest consumption method of
listening to the pod news podcast.
What's your sort of thoughts around short
form content, where you work at Rogers,
which is a big Canadian broadcaster that
makes a lot of short form content as well,
kind of obsessed with
short form audio right now.
COVID obsession has been tick talk.
I've just been fascinated by the
growth of it and seeing my kids use
it and I've kind of dug into it.
And it's just really, really
fascinating to have a something
that is so friendly for creators
and so many easy ways to create.
You know, I think that the phrase
I heard in one of the podcasts I
listened to about this year was,
you know, that they've solved the
blank canvas problem for creators.
And I think one of those issues is the
fact that it's short and they've got
the ability to jump on memes and do at
other creators and do dances, whatever.
Like there's so many easy ways to do that.
And it feels like audio.
It doesn't have that yet.
And it feels almost inevitable in a way.
I think another one that I, it just
may have been a 16 Z as well, but like
talking about how the camera on the
phone unlocked video creation for places
like tech talk and Snapchat and the
microphone really should be unlocking
everybody's phones into a creation device.
Also, if you have the right creator
tools to make it easy and fun.
So I, I, it feels like that to me is
just something I'm super excited about.
The other really weird thing.
And I mentioned this in the blog post,
but I, I love Sam Harris's meditation
app called waking up and they introduced
this weird thing this year, where you
can just sign up for these things called
moments and randomly during the day.
You agree to have a notification on
your phone and just this things as
like there's a new moment and you tap
on it and it's less than a minute.
And just like this little mindfulness
prompt or an insight, or just something to
think about has been kind of delightful.
And I think I've been thinking just
about how many uses there are for really
short things in audio that I would be
quite grateful for and be excited about.
And then, you know, I think the
other piece is just thinking.
As we are all time challenged, you know,
and to your point, like smart speakers,
I'd be just really curious to hear what
I, a feed of short form stuff that is
not like not 30 minute shows, you know,
30 seconds to five minutes or something
like that, what that would actually
sound like and whether we would actually
enjoy listening to that or not, uh, But
I think there'll be some experimentation.
The weird thing is that people
have experimented with this and
it just hasn't gone anywhere yet.
You know, Twitter was first audio anchor
was first kind of short form audio.
And that, you know, Google
acquired this company called 60 DB.
That was specializing in short form audio.
I remember even when Pacific content
started like six years ago, you
know, we would do a full show in may.
It was kind of a magazine show.
You know, for slacker or Shopify and they
would have five or six stories in them
and we put it out as a full episode, and
then we would have like a single servings
feed of just the short form stuff.
And we made a couple short form.
Podcast seem to make lots of
sense different at the time.
And it never like there, there was no
tech talk like explosion of this stuff.
I wonder if the, if a bunch of that
stuff is too early and maybe it'll be.
Maybe I saw something from there,
the NPR station in Chicago, which
again, just takes individual stories
from one of their shows that they do.
It's their sort of major
morning show the idea of that.
Book-ended short form content that,
I mean, to be honest, would fit
really well in a Spotify playlist.
And I think that's one of the
difficulties with the Spotify
playlist that I see is that, you
know, you've got a couple of your
favorite tunes followed by a 45 minute.
About something or other.
No, that's not, that's not,
that's not, that's not a thing.
Here's my favorite song of tech
talk and then three hours of Joe Rogan.
And by the way, Joe Rogan is another
really good example that I am
beginning to give now, now of Podcast
apps that haven't got it yet, where
they're still promoting Joe Rogan to
audiences in spite of the fact that
there's no Joe Rogan on open RSS.
but anyway, let's not get there.
Let's talk about tech innovation,
because that's another part of the
prediction blog posts that you wrote.
There's lots of tech innovation going on.
I think my contribution
to that was to point it.
Um, Adam Curry and, uh, Dave Jones
who are doing some Sterling work with
the Podcast index and particularly
the Podcast, the podcasting namespace
adding additional functions to.
Podcasting in time.
I wonder how many of those will actually
take off or whether we'll all be consuming
podcasts in Spotify, in the future.
Like I, you know, we talked about a
little bit about the, some of these
companies trying to consolidate and.
Likely build closed ecosystems.
I feel like there is a, there, there are
going to be multiple different Podcast
industries in a way going forward.
And one of them will still be a very
thriving, open Podcast community.
And, you know, Adam Curry coming back
into the spaces like the, the original
pod father, um, with Dave Weiner who
kind of made this whole universe coming
back into this, this gets exciting.
And I feel like podcasting is still, you
know, I, I know this is a bit silly to
say with all the hundreds of millions.
Being spent on it, on the, all these
acquisitions, but it still feels like a
relatively small industry that is still
relatively young and there's still the
opportunity to experiment and invent the
future of it in a lot of different ways.
And some of them are going to be
closed experiments and some of
them are going to be really fun and
exciting and smart, open experiments.
And I I'm, I'm just
really happy to see it.
I think that's a very good point.
One of the other themes that came
out from all these industry leaders
is not just short form, but just
experimentation with different types of.
Uh, formats of shows and I feel, yeah.
You know, to your point, like, I
don't think anybody wants to just
here, this is what a podcast is.
Uh, and that there's so much
creative ground that is still
fertile and, uh, and, and farmed.
Um, Laura Meyer, who's just,
I love her, her writing and,
and point of view on stuff.
She's one of the co-founders
of three uncanny for really
interesting podcasting company.
Just the way she wrote about new formats.
It was like, it got you excited.
Hearing her the way that she writes
about it, uh, like the first four
words are like entirely exclamation
Mark, new exclamation, Mark sounding,
exclamation, Mark stuff, exclamation Mark.
Um, there's a lot of
hunger to go try stuff.
And I think that is going to lead to
some really, I think it's going to be
a really fun, like, it's your point?
Fun year in 2021 for this stuff.
And yeah, even to the point of saying
like, 2020, like good riddens for so many
reasons, but it was a really heavy year.
And so much of that was really consumed
by like a lot of very, very important and
very, very well done news and information
and current affairs programming
across a wide variety of like, just.
Enormously important issues.
A big theme that came up was like, there's
going to be a counter reaction in 2021.
And we are going to be focusing
on escapism or things that are
a little bit lighter or more
fun or playful or creative.
They're still going to be a lot
of really important journalism and
work covering big media issues.
But we'll see where, whether the
tone or the trends move into a
different universe a little bit.
You know, as, as, as a trend for 2021,
where can people go to find
out more about, uh, Pacific content
and the other work that you do?
Uh, Pacific hyphen content.com.
you own the version
without the hyphen?
Uh, when we were, when we first
started, it was one of those things.
It was like, it was a company that
wasn't even using it, but it was still
something like $10,000 to buy it.
And we're just anyways.
What are you going to do?
What are you going to do?
Um, yeah, just Google Pacific content.
If you want to see the
predictions piece, uh, it's huge.
It's, it's, it's ridiculously long,
but there's so many smart people with
smart thoughts that are better than
anything I've been able to share.
Verbally with you here today.
And of course, you'll find
that in the show notes as well
and reported recently, along with
many of the other blog posts that
you email@example.com as well.
Hey, thank you.
It's great to talk to you
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