November 28, 2023

Selena Gomez is reportedly developing one Working girl restart, and I don’t know how to feel about it. As the daughter of a Staten Island girl who worked on Wall Street in the 80s, the original is very close to my heart.

Anyway, let the river run — Audacy and Snap are trying to be more like TikTok, TikTok is trying to be more like Spotify, and Spotify is trying to make you pay extra for a play button.

Audacy’s new podcast discovery app takes a page out of TikTok’s playbook

Radio giant Audacy has acquired podcast discovery app Moonbeam, according to the app’s founder, Paul English. Discovery has been a huge challenge for the industry, and Moonbeam is tackling it by acting less like a traditional podcast player and more like a social platform.

“We developed a feature called ‘Beam’ that instantly started playing an episode. If you didn’t like it, swipe up and then we’d play another show,” English wrote in a blog post. “This approach was very inspired by TikTok, the best video discovery app.”

Audacy has previously acquired top productions such as Pineapple Street Studios and Cadence13 and has its own podcast and radio streaming app. Audacy has not said whether Moonbeam will continue to operate as a standalone app or if its functionality will be folded into the Audacy app.

English declined to disclose terms of the acquisition to The Boston Globeand Audacy did not immediately return Hot Podshis request for confirmation of the agreement. Perhaps Audacy will provide the details during it earnings presentation on Friday.

Spotify’s latest premium feature is a play button

Premium subscribers will now have access to separate play and shuffle buttons throughout the app. Spotify’s default shuffle has been the bane of artists and ultra-serious playlist makers everywhere, so the development is probably welcome. The company introduced a dedicated play button last year for albums with some persuasion from Adele, who said: “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought put into our track list for no reason.”

I’m all for the shuffle, but mine Lip Colleague Chris Welch finds an app-wide play button only for premium subscribers to be an odd choice. “It seems a bit ridiculous that Spotify is now using buttons and its user interface as a differentiator between the free and paid offerings of the service, but here we are,” he wrote.

Acast’s investment spree is coming to an end

Swedish podcast distribution and advertising company Acast has made some big moves in the US market lately, announcing its $34 million acquisition of podcast database Podchaser last month and a three-year ad sales deal with WTF with Marc Maron in May. With the economy reducing ad revenue, Acast will ease its spending spree, executives said during a midyear investor presentation on Tuesday.

Emily Villatte, CFO of Acast, said a call with investors that the company will “slow down that rate of investment.” But it looks like Acast’s expansion strategy may already be paying off, reporting 72 percent growth in North America in the second quarter, about 2.5 times its growth rate in Europe. It’s also adding podcasts at a clip, accounting for 66,000 shows, up from about 40,000 at the end of 2021.

But even with the addition of new shows and tools, the soft ad market forced the company to do so lower its guidance in annual sales growth by 2025 from 60 percent to 40-45 percent. Acast’s stock is down nearly 5 percent on the news, and it may be a warning sign for the industry as a whole. When the Interactive Advertising Bureau predicted that the market would be worth $4 billion by 2024, that depended on a healthy ad market. If things keep going, that rate could be out of reach.

Snap launches creator fund for indie artists

It was a about two weeks for Snap, so the company is making a play for TikTok’s music artists. Last week, the company announced the Snapchat Sounds Creator Fund in partnership with DIY music distributor DistroKid.

Snap is offering attractive grants up to $100,000 to top music creators who distribute their tunes on the platform through DistroKid. In addition, selected artists will be placed in more visible places on the platform, such as Snapchat Lens or Spotlight. Eligible entrants must be based in the US and be 16 years of age or older.

“We want to support the independent and up-and-coming artists who drive creation on Snapchat,” said Ted Suh, global head of music partnerships at Snap. “By providing meaningful funding and creative support, our goal is for artists to feel empowered to continue creating and pursuing a career in music.”

Snap introduced Sounds, which lets users include music clips in their posts, in 2020. But its impact on the music industry has been pretty minimal so far. TikTok is still music single most influential discovery tooland it may not stop there…

TikTok Music could be the next big podcast app

TikTok parent ByteDance may be coming for Spotify’s lunch. As first spotted with Knowledgeable, the Chinese company filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for “TikTok Music” in May. In addition to music and video, the filing says that the new app will also support podcasts and digital radio content.

If a TikTok Music app comes to fruition, it wouldn’t be ByteDance’s first streaming venture. In 2020, it launched Resso, which is available in India, Brazil, and Indonesia (aka, exactly where Spotify wants to expand). In June, Reso added podcasts to his library thanks to a partnership with Acast.

Despite warnings from people like him Senator Mark Warner and Joe Rogan about TikTok’s data practices, it seems basically unstoppable. Perhaps Rogan will change his tune if it becomes a major podcast platform and his contract with Spotify expires.

That’s all for today! On Friday, I head to Scandinavia, his country audio technology fjords and open-faced sandwiches, that’s how you’ll hear Jake next Tuesdays. I’ll see you on the other side.

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