Buzzcast

SiriusXM Buys A Podcast Host, Spotify Signs Kim Kardashian, and Ximalaya Threatens Chinese Podcasters

June 19, 2020 Episode 28
Buzzcast
SiriusXM Buys A Podcast Host, Spotify Signs Kim Kardashian, and Ximalaya Threatens Chinese Podcasters
Chapters
0:00
The Finn house supports podcasters
1:29
Podhero here to help podcasters monetize
12:36
SiriusXM acquires a podcast host
26:22
The problem with tech monopolies
32:28
Ximalaya shakes down podcasters for sponsor data
Buzzcast
SiriusXM Buys A Podcast Host, Spotify Signs Kim Kardashian, and Ximalaya Threatens Chinese Podcasters
Jun 19, 2020 Episode 28

In this episode, we weigh the pros and cons of the new Podhero app (will it actually help podcasters make more money?) and work our way through the recent spate of podcast company acquisitions to discuss their impact on independent podcast creators.

Check out Rabbit Hole, our new favorite podcast at Buzzsprout HQ.

Articles referenced in this episode:


Join the Buzzsprout Podcast Community on Facebook, so you don't miss out on the "Free Year of Descript" contest we plan on running soon.

Review Buzzcast in Podchaser to let us know what you think of the show.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we weigh the pros and cons of the new Podhero app (will it actually help podcasters make more money?) and work our way through the recent spate of podcast company acquisitions to discuss their impact on independent podcast creators.

Check out Rabbit Hole, our new favorite podcast at Buzzsprout HQ.

Articles referenced in this episode:


Join the Buzzsprout Podcast Community on Facebook, so you don't miss out on the "Free Year of Descript" contest we plan on running soon.

Review Buzzcast in Podchaser to let us know what you think of the show.

Kevin :

I definitely would have questioned this until last night. When I was at a baseball game and in between innings I walked over to say hi to my wife who was sitting in the stands. And she had her earbuds and I was like, What are you listening to? And she's like one of my podcasts. I said, I was at one, but we do we host it. And she goes, No, I listen to all my podcasts on Patreon. I was like to pay for him. She's like, Oh, yeah.

Alban :

To be clear, Kevin is a coach of the baseball team, right? So that's why you are not sitting with your wife. I think I got a piece that together like wait, you saw your life in the stands of a baseball game, but you were also flat.

Travis :

Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of Buzzcast We're so happy to have you here we got the usual suspects. We all are going by aliases today in our squad cast window. So we are graced with the presences of Mark Marin, Joe Rogan. And Ira Glass say Hello, everybody.

Alban :

Try to like impersonate their voices is gonna be a big mistake. So I think I'm just gonna pass on that. More non exclusive podcast so I have

Kevin :

to change my alias.

Alban :

Well, I got Ira Glass. I think I went out on this thing.

Travis :

Yeah, I'm supposed to be visibly visibly frustrated at all times. That's that's, that's my role as Mark Marin.

Kevin :

Well, and we need to hear you smoking.

Travis :

It's just been one of those one of those days, but we have a lot to get to in this episode. So let's go ahead and jump right into it. Let me know if you've heard this one before. There is a new company promising to help podcasters make money.

Kevin :

Whoo, nice. Who is that?

Travis :

So there's a new? Well, it's actually not a new company, but a pivot from an existing company to this new app called pod hero, which is trying to, at least on the surface, seem like it's bridging the gap between luminary, which is an app that's trying to be the Netflix of podcasts where you pay for a subscription, you get exclusive content, trying to bridge the gap between that and Patreon, where it's like purely listener supported. But you have to do a lot of extra work to make that happen. So they they walked through this, they're approaching a medium article that I'll link in the show notes. But it just, it raises the question yet again. podcasters trying to either supplement the costs of putting their podcasts together, or trying to make a little side hustle out of it. What's the best way to do that? And is asking your podcast listeners to directly support your podcast content, a viable option?

Alban :

Yeah, one of the things that we read and prepped for this was variety had an article about, you know, the pod hero stuff. And one of the things that was super interesting to me, was they actually have have you actually paid for a podcast at some point. They did like a there's like a yougov study. And 17% of people said they've actually paid so that seems kind of high 70% of people who listen to podcasts have paid

Travis :

Well, and that number was even higher for daily podcast listeners. It was something like 37%.

Alban :

Oh, yeah, I didn't see that part.

Kevin :

Yeah, I definitely would have questioned this until last night. When I was at a baseball game. And then between innings I walked over to say hi to my wife, who was sitting in the stands, and she had her earbuds in, like, what are you listening to? And she's like, one of my podcasts. I said, I was at one, but we do we host it. And she goes, No, I listen to all my podcasts on Patreon. I was like, do you pay for him? She's like, Oh, yeah. And I had no idea that that was part of our family budget. We're supporting a lot of podcasters on their Patreon.

Alban :

To be clear, Kevin is a coach of the baseball team, right? So that's why you are not sitting with your wife. I like that. I got a piece that together I saw your life in the stands of a baseball game that you were also

Kevin :

I'm an assistant coach. It was walking over to coach first base, and I started listening to something and I'm always curious because we should not be listening to any project. Guests that aren't on Buzzsprout. Right?

Travis :

Of course, especially that podcast we were all talking about before we jumped on the air. We're definitely

Alban :

gonna promote Rabbit Hole, a new podcast by New York Times

Kevin :

and it is jumping ahead to jumping ahead.

Alban :

Okay, well, alright, so going back to paying for podcasts. One of the things I thought was hilarious is, so 78% of people said they've never paid anything for a podcast. 17% say yes, I have 6% say, I don't know if I've paid something for a podcast, which is just an obvious lie.

Kevin :

That's a hard No.

Alban :

You did not pay anything for a podcast. It's like, did you donate to this charity? Like, oh, maybe I did. Maybe I did support your charity already. Like No, you did it.

Kevin :

That's people who when you're walking into the grocery store, and they're ringing the bell around the holidays, and you walk in on the way and you're like, I'll give you something on the way out and on the way out. You're like I gave you something on the way in that's Be on

Alban :

the way out. You're like, I think I think I gave money on the way in. That's it.

Travis :

Kevin, that's a very well thought through strategy. Did you just come up with that on the fly just came up with

Kevin :

it. Yeah.

Travis :

So So bringing this back to podcasts, pod hero, what makes them different than some of these other solutions is rather than you setting up something on your own and saying, Go support me on Patreon and creating all this bonus content, essentially creating a part time job just to support your Patreon subscribers, or trying to get picked up in a deal by luminary, every single person that downloads the app pays $5 a month to use the app. But that $5 is allocated to the podcasts that they follow. So if one of your followers jumps on the app and says, I listen to your podcast, and I listen to these three others, that $5 a month gets distributed between those four podcasts. And so it's a way for your listeners to directly support both you and the other podcasts that they like. Right, minus pod. What does it home pod hero, pod hero, which is zero dollars? How do they survive? So they offer the opportunity to donate in additional $1 a month to support app development. So it's 499 nice of them to use the app. And if you like the app, and you want them to keep making it better, you can pay 599. And that extra dollar goes to pot hero. Cool, nice model. So I think the broader conversation is, is this like, we finally cracked it, we discovered the secret code to support podcasters. Financially, it's this pot here a model? Or is it just another small pebble in the jar of rocks that we're putting together if you know how to how to figure out what's gonna be best for you?

Kevin :

Yeah, my personal take is I'll be surprised if this catches on, like gets a ton of traction, but I think it could get some and I like the the imagery that you just described of a jar with lots of pebbles. Like lots of different ways for independent podcasters to monetize, and then some independent podcasters find that these pebbles over here work better for me and somebody else finds these over here work better for me. So I like that. I'm not sure how big of a rock this one's going to be. Because I know that Marco arment, the guy who creates He's the owner and developer of overcast, he experimented with the idea of putting something like this into overcast. So you could buy some sort of overcast premium subscription. And then he would see all the podcasts that you played. And if the creators of those podcasts kind of opted into this little idea that he was he was putting together then he would distribute the money. But then he has a lot of podcaster friends, and he spoke with all of them. And they were all kind of like, well, I want people to listen to my podcasts on overcast or Apple pocket, wherever they want to listen, I wanted to listen, I don't want to kind of force them all to go to one place. And I would feel compelled to do that if I was in this world because I wouldn't Want the benefit of getting paid for those listens? And so at the end of the day, Marco was like, Yeah, they just none of the podcasters I spoke to were super hot to trot on the idea. So he hasn't built it yet. In this kind of feels like that, you know,

Alban :

do you guys remember the brave web browser?

Kevin :

Yeah. still around?

Alban :

Yeah, well, brave. The whole idea was it was actually I'm pretty sure it's a crypto project. But it was supposed to be a browser that based on where you went on the web, for every, you know, certain amount of reads, it actually was blocked. I think it blocked all ads and to put in its own ads, and then it would like distribute that money among all the people that actually, like have the articles. So it's a little bit scammy in that way, but the idea was that they were actually going to like distribute money via cryptocurrency to be able to create content online. And there is definitely maybe a Like 2017, some hype about it, and people thought it might take off though it has not, to my knowledge really done anything in this kind of feels similar to the idea of, hey, we'll get people to pay into us. And then we will distribute the money to everybody, where, you know, I've given money to quite a few podcasts, like, the way I would do that is just give the money directly to the podcasters that I want to give it to, or sign up to pay them through, you know, something recurring through their own set or service or Patreon or something else. So I don't think I would be super attracted to it. But I do like, it's always a good idea when people are trying new monetization models, especially around podcasting, because the hope is that there are some that we have not really found yet. And there will be some companies to kind of lead the way.

Kevin :

Yeah, for these apps that are trying these different models. For me, it very much comes down to the like the podcast app listening experience. So I want I have a big I'm very kind of particular around the feature set that I want in a podcast player, like it has to have. For me, it has to have Apple CarPlay compatibility. So when I get my car, it's gonna pop up on my CarPlay screen apps that don't have that it's very hard for me to go all in on that being my listening app. But other things like being able to customize how far you seek ahead, or how far you rewind back, or can I, every time you play this podcast, skip the first minute for me, because it's always a recap of the previous episode that I've already listened to. And so the app that I use has those features built into it. And anytime there's a new one that comes out like this, this might sound great, like I would love to support the podcasts that I listened to, I'd love them to get a piece of the $5 that I pay. But if I load it up, and then I get my car and it doesn't have a CarPlay you know functionality, then the chances of me actually sticking with that long term are pretty low. And so that's it's a tough market to get into, because you have to build a full featured Excellent podcast player first that competes with all the other podcast players. And then I'm interested in your unique business model after that, just as a consumer as a listener,

Travis :

right. And it has to be so good that people are willing to leave the convenient option, which is typically Apple podcasts or Google podcasts or Spotify, the thing they already installed, and like go out of their way to learn a new app and a new way of listening and stuff like that, even though I would probably bet money in that pod here. His app is considerably better than two of the three options. Yeah, maybe. But But you have to convince people that don't even necessarily know that there's more than three podcast playing apps that it's worth trying to find and do that.

Alban :

Yeah. But then you would have to not only just that, you've got to also want for $5 you're also paying $5 a month to use that app. Yeah, supposedly you're doing it because you're saying like I really want to support creators, but you don't trust your yourself to like send the money to the creators that you like the most, you know, and so that's why I really like we've got the support the show link in all of our RSS feeds. And I know overcast supports that and a few other players now support it. I really like that because then it actually provides a way for anyone, even if it's a normal, just a standard podcast to start getting direct donations from listeners so that when people are saying like, I want to give $5 to the podcast that I love, they can give it to you. In the last 24 hours, there's been a couple big announcements, big ish announcements in the podcasting space. One, Sirius XM has acquired a podcast host in looks like they're going to be getting into the podcasting space. And then at the same time, Kim Kardashian just signed a big deal. I assume a big deal with Spotify to launch her own podcast. And I think it's kind of interesting to kind of take these two together and just talk about some of the moves and consolidation we're seeing in the podcasting ecosystem.

Travis :

Yeah, especially after we talked about the Joe Rogan deal a couple episodes ago. Last episode, we talked about the Amazon podcast rumors. And we're just seeing this kind of acceleration of acquisitions, right, this acceleration of outside companies wanting to buy their way in. It's very reminiscent of like, when self driving car tech was kind of new. And these car companies were spending like a billion dollars to buy a company that had seven employees and was like six months old, right, or Facebook, acquiring Instagram, when it was less than a year old to try and accelerate their path into that kind of social media platform. It feels a bit like that. It feels a bit like these big dogs are chomping at the bit to get pieces of the podcasting space to try and get in and start competing before Before it's like one person or one company has gotten too much of the pie to really do anything else.

Kevin :

Yeah, and Sirius XM. This isn't their first push into the podcasting space. They own ads Wiz and they own Pandora. Right? So both of those. They've been around, they're just kind of expanding their footprint and their offerings and how much like their suite of services they're going to be able to offer so they wanted to be able to start hosting shows. They found a small podcast host they bought them. And now they're they've kind of have the, the entire suite of tools.

Alban :

I didn't actually make the connection between Pandora and Sirius. So that's interesting that you said that cap, but you know, my read on it is this Joe Rogan deal? I don't know. I mean, I don't know how much this has actually been affected. Obviously, these talks would have had to been in place for months before, but there is a bit of me that kind of wonders if some of these deals kind of happened a little bit. faster because of Joe Rogan moving to Spotify kind of came out of the blue shop Spotify as stock price up and got everyone kind of opening their eyes to maybe Spotify actually could pull this whole ecosystem together into their own house. And so it makes me think like then, you know, it was like right after that we heard Amazon rumors it was right after that we heard now this deal, Sirius XM seems to be taking podcasting more seriously. And then the next day. Spotify is like, Oh, yeah, we've got another deal. So not only do we have a deal to do podcasts with the Obamas we have a deal with Joe Rogan. we've acquired gimlet and we've acquired the ringer. We've also got one of the biggest celebrities in American culture now joining in starting her own podcast.

Kevin :

Yeah, it's shocking, how, how fast and how well their strategy is is being executed. Like you everyone's heard me criticize, like, I've got a lot of concerns about what they're doing and the amount of power that they're acquiring. But you can't like it's hard pressed for me anyway to criticize how well they're executing on what seems to be a really smart strategy. So if you're a Spotify, shareholder, congratulations. They're, they're doing well. And on the heels of all these announcements, their stock price keeps taking pretty big jumps.

Alban :

Yeah, well, it's up quite a bit today. And I don't know if that's connected to the Kim Kardashian thing, but I kind of want to I think it is because they got jumped up a ton when they announced the Joe Rogan deal. And those two combined do make it look like there's going to be some content that they were able to get onto the Spotify podcasting platform. That groups like luminary we're not so like luminary got some big celebrities to try to launch new podcasts. But they weren't celebrities that already had podcasts. And they weren't podcasts that were already, you know, actually doing well that listeners. So they're able to grab Trevor Noah and say, come to a show Russell Brand come to the show. But now, we're talking like next level celebrities. Obviously, performer President Obama is not just a celebrity, and the Joe Rogan, the biggest podcaster, probably in the world, bringing all those together is pretty remarkable.

Travis :

So what would you guys say that if we can contextualize this for somebody who's an independent podcaster seeing all this stuff happening, wondering what it means for them what it means for their show, and kind of the future of what podcasting may look like.

Alban :

What do we want to say about that? One of the positives is You don't want to have just one giant in the room. And for a long time podcasting was all Apple space. And for a long time, I kind of was like, Apple's gonna do something here and just totally own the space. And they always like it probably Apple had bigger fish to fry with like launching the iPhone and like making billions of dollars. So they weren't really super focused on podcasting. Then Spotify kind of took a very strong interest in podcasting and started getting stuff moving. And I think it is a good thing for the industry. There's an argument he made, it's a good thing that it's we're getting, maybe we're getting Amazon, we're definitely getting XM Google podcasts has made quite a bit of moves. There's rumors of Apple doing their own branded content. All of that combined kind of makes me think, well, at least there will be one giant in the room, there'll be six and that'll at least make it less than likely that one is able to totally consolidate the entire market. And, you know, kind of squeeze all of the value out of it. That'll if as long as it stays open and diffuse, there's a lot more power that's still in the hands of independent creators.

Kevin :

Yeah, I agree with that. I think it's, that is a benefit for sure. I mean, I'm a little bit bummed that I don't want. Maybe I'm just being a spoiled child. But I don't want to have three or four different apps that I have to load up on my phone to listen to different shows. So I'm not excited about this big push and trend towards exclusive content, I don't want to have to listen to I mean, I was never a huge Joe Rogan fan in the in the beginning, but there were times when he had people on the show that I wanted to hear that show. Now the idea that I'm gonna have to load up Spotify just to hear that one episode. It's probably means I'm not gonna listen to that show anymore. And the same thing if Apple moved into that space, if XM starts doing it, it's kind of like where we are. Right now in the in the TV and movie world, it's like, I don't know if you want to watch Seinfeld, but who has Seinfeld right now? Is it Hulu as Seinfeld? Is it Netflix? Is it amazon prime? I don't know. But I have to, you know, now there's these other services that are coming out like the new Apple TV supposedly just tells, you know, if you search for Seinfeld here, you can listen, you can watch it on stars or Hulu. And it's like, Well, great. I don't have stars or Hulu, so I can't watch it right now. It would be nice if we could figure out some sort of technology that all these things could work together in the podcasting space. But one of the things I like the most is that there's this big market, we talked about the beginning the show of all these independent podcast apps, so you can find the one that matches your habits and your style. But now more and more, it seems like the industry is moving in a direction where I'll be able to use that app for, you know, 60 or 70% of the podcasts I listened to but there's more and more that are going to be outliers that I'm not going to be able To listen to and that app. And again, we'll tease it even further. Like we've all just started listening to the rabbit hole, The New York Times podcast, The New York Times is creating really great shows. But are they going to be able to remain open and independent? Or are they going to get brought into one of these, you know, silos where now I have to listen to the New York Times podcasts in the New York Times podcast app, or a Spotify gonna license that content? Or is luminary going to license that content? Or is Apple going to license that content? And now you're locked into their player if you want to listen to it?

Alban :

Yeah, I mean, there's a few reasons to not like it. Obviously, the creators, you know, some of them are being paid pretty handsomely. And so that's a positive for them. Especially when you have multiple big groups bidding for your content and your audience, you're able to get a better deal. So that's a positive. The downside is, whenever you go exclusive, you are obviously limiting your audience size and your growth potential. And I wonder this as well for like podcasts that go behind a paywall, as you limit your audience, the attractiveness of going on to your show is like a guest. It has to be diminished.

Kevin :

Again, I might be old school here, but I like like what Mark Marin did with WTF and he was a stitcher premium podcast. So you got specific benefits of being a stitcher premium subscriber, it was 499 a month, I think you got access to his entire back catalogue. But if you didn't, you could still like an overcast listener. And I also like good pods. If I want to listen to the mark Marin WTF podcast, I can find it on those apps. Now I don't have access to his whole back catalogue. I think he only has one or two episodes out at a time. And then if I do want the whole back catalogue, I can pay and have a separate app for that. But it's kind of like the old school thinking in the podcasting world was like, let's serve the largest audience that we can. And then one monetization option would be for premium things and whether that be your back catalogue or bonus episodes or something like that. That was how they Did it more and more as the bigger companies are coming in, they're buying shows like Joe Rogan just got paid. You know, we're speculating, but they the reports are over 100 million dollars, they have to make that money back at some point. Now lucky for them, they made that back immediately, like in the one day stock jump. But realistically, like on paper, there has to be a business model to be able to make that back. And they're probably it's a lot harder to make that back just by trying to sell access to bonus episodes or a back catalogue than it is making the entire show exclusive. And saying you have to install the Spotify app and there's and then once they have you in that loop, now they're gonna upsell you on Spotify Premium, that's a much faster way for them to make that investment back.

Alban :

It's funny that you actually I didn't know that about stitcher premium, but that was actually the same model that This American Life had for a long time. They had like the This American Life app where you paid some amount I don't remember how much it paid, but you got it and you got access to all this back catalogue of Great shows, and you think would mean Rogan has over 1000 episodes. So they could have like thought about going that way. Like we have to, you know, the last two episodes are in the feed. And if you don't listen to them, or you want to go back and listen to an older episode, jump into Spotify. And that's where it's exclusive.

Kevin :

Yeah, or new shows. One of the things Reply All is doing now I think their new shows are dropping, like for the first week exclusive on Spotify, but then they're going into their standard feed for everybody. Which is fine for me, because I'm not a Spotify guy. So but I do like reply all. So I'm just a week behind, you know, and I'll pay that price. That's fine. to not have to install Spotify on my phone. But you do miss out like if you're in a circle of friends that you all talk about listened to reply all every week, and you talk about the latest episode. Well, now the cost that you're paying is that you're a week behind everybody. And so sooner or later, you might break down. But I love the freedom that that model brings. It's like if you want to support the show in this way, or support the app in this way you can you still have access to the content. Other ways. If you don't, maybe there are some additional ads or something in the feed version versus the premium version. They're all interesting. They're all different. My least favorite of all of these is completely locking it all up into one provider and one app and one experience. That's my least favorite.

Alban :

Yeah, I think it'd be kind of helpful to bring this back a little bit for people to understand. It isn't just complaints about like, now I'm gonna have to install two to three apps on my phone. Like, it's not just, you know, like, I don't know, app petulance or something. We're just like, tired of this. It's also like, the more that we do this, the more it is these big groups trying to say we want to have complete control over the podcast ecosystem. And I feel like there's a couple things that happened in the last week where We've seen exactly what we've kind of preached for a year. You know, there bad things happen when a single tech company has complete control monopolistic control over a platform. So we kind of want to go into that to kind of talk about what's a little bit at stake right here.

Kevin :

Yeah, it's a good transition.

Alban :

One of the things that I think is interesting is just in a small area, um, we all are big fans of Basecamp. And we follow all their stuff and read all their books. And they also launched a email service this week called Hey, and it was just like, it's an app. it organizes your email differently. It looks kind of cool. You actually pay and I got Alvin, Hey, calm, so shoot me an email. I'm excited to see comes in. But you know, you get a different email experience. What happened to those they got an app into the app. App Store. And Apple has now said like you cannot update the app, and you'll probably be removed from the app store because you've not enabled in app purchases. in app purchases, they're actually saying should be required in this app. And if anyone does an in that purchase, then you owe us 30% of that cut. And, you know, so this has kind of been a big story kept you don't want to jump into this explain like, well, the more what's happening.

Kevin :

Yeah, I'll do my best job. But Alvin's done a pretty good job. Apple provides the App Store for anyone who runs an iOS device. And they've slowly but surely over the years continued to be more and more aggressive on the rules that they put around. payments that are made through apps provided in the app store, and how much Apple what is their fair share, or so that's the argument that they're making. And so it started off with pretty much nothing like you didn't have to pay them anything, and then as they built better and better tools to be able to collect in app purchases, and Apple Pay and all this other kind of stuff, they've demanded more and more that app builders build the or utilize these API's to build the functionality into their apps. And then if you utilize it, then Apple gets a cut. The Basecamp story is that Basecamp has had apps in the app store for a long time. And they've just never given people the ability to make a purchase. And therefore they never have to pay apple. They're 30% because they try to keep their prices as low as they can for their customers. Right. And so if you have to charge your customers, or if you're going to give 30% of your your revenue to Apple, then you're gonna have to charge your customers more, which they don't want to do. Amazon does the same thing if you've ever used amazon prime video, I think is the name of the app. If you go onto amazon prime video and you find a movie that you want to rent on your iPhone, you can't actually rent it through the app. You have to close the app, you can open up a web browser and you can go to Amazon You can log in, you can rent the movie there and add it to your queue. And then you can go back into your app, and then it'll be available to watch. But that's a hoops you have to jump through because of the policies that are in that Apple has made in their store. And so Amazon saying, hey, the going price to rent the movie is 399, we've got to pay so much to the movie studio and everybody else, that we can't afford to pay you 30% or there's, we're gonna lose money on the deal or not having enough money to provide this service. And Apple has not backed down off of that. So if you want to run a movie on your iPhone through Amazon, you have to do this extra step of going to a web browser to do it.

Alban :

And so this kind of highlights what's at stake here because there is no way to get an app onto your iPhone, which is a really large portion of all the phones sold, especially in the United States. It but around the world is really large number of phones. And there's no way to get apps on it except through the app store. They've all Have that restriction. And now they're saying, if you're actually selling something in this app helps that service, we want to cut it in. We want you to make it so that we can make money off of your business. And this is the kind of thing that would never fly in anywhere else, especially an area where people had options.

Travis :

It's very much like a mob Shakedown. It's like, Oh, do you want us to protect your business from unscrupulous characters who may or may not want to harm you and your family will take our collection now, you know, it definitely feels like right.

Kevin :

Just to be clear, we are not equating Apple to the model. But one of the lead developers and co founders of Basecamp does do that publicly on Twitter. So if you want to read all about that opinion, you can go to Twitter slash DHH. You will see those analogies that Travis but just

Travis :

that it's not like it is not the official opinion of Buzzsprout or its subsidiaries, nearly quoting a public figure, right?

Alban :

But it does highlight like this is something would never happen if there were options. And the reason that this is even a possibility that there's even a shadow of a chance that people I mean that in that small app developers get into it, and they give up the 30% is because Apple is so powerful, they have so many phones. And the only way to have an app, which is what everyone expects you to have, the only way to have that is to give up 30% to Apple. And so people give into it. And that's, you know, they, they accept those terms, but it's only because there's so much pressure put on them and there's no other real option. And this is consistently what happens when someone owns a platform and they have monopolistic control. They do squeeze everybody else. So the most of the value rolls to them. So it's not even the indie developer who's getting the value. It's apple. It's not the YouTube creator. It's YouTube. It's not going to Being on the podcasts on Spotify, it will be Spotify. And that's why it is actually valuable to have these open ecosystems where if one group starts abusing their power or just something you don't like that people are able to say, yeah, I'm out of here, I'm going to bounce over to the other app, and do something and do things differently. And when we kind of commit to one platform, that option disappears.

Kevin :

And so that takes us right into the next news article. Because the question becomes, well, Has this happened in podcasting, or could it happen in podcasting? You guys are saying Spotify is getting a lot of power. Could they do this? Well, the largest podcast host in China is a company called ximalaya. They have a US version of the app called Himalaya and they they made a move this week to try to do something very much like that. They've since backed off of it because there's been a lot of backlash, but the headline for article says, hand over your advertiser info or be taken down Shimla shocks podcasters. And so what they did was they sent out an announcement to everyone that was on their platform. And they said, Hey, if you're monetizing your platforms, you have sponsors. We need to know everything about that deal, how much they're paying, how much you're making all that stuff. And I think with the intent of that they are entitled to some of that revenue.

Travis :

Yeah, I think it was if it crossed a certain threshold, then you had to pay them a percentage beyond that.

Kevin :

Yeah. And so I don't know exactly. Again, there's we have limited information that's been translated in English for us to be able to read and dig into it. But it does sound like they backed off because some of the biggest creators on the platform have said, this is not happening and we're pulling out. And so in the wake of that Fallout, they've backed off of it. But it does sound like they they're going to do something like they're going to sit down with the creators and figure out well, how far can we push you? You know, like without you pulling out and that's pretty where they're going to try to land. So this absolutely could happen in podcasting, it is happening in podcasting in China. That system is a little bit different in the way things work over there. And what people are used to is a little bit different than what we're accustomed to in the States. But it's not unreasonable to think that this could be something that Spotify positions themselves to be able to do or have the power to be able to do a few years down the road. There are other podcast hosting companies, I don't want to call any of them out specifically. But if you're on a different host, other than Buzzsprout, read the Terms of Service. Because there we are aware, there are podcast hosts that say in their terms of service that if you make money, if you do brand deals or have sponsorships on your podcast, that don't go through our ad department, we're entitled to some of that revenue. Now, just because it's in the terms of service. That doesn't mean that they're actually enforcing it. But I do know that it is in certain companies terms of services. I've never heard about their customers actually saying that they're coming after them but It's still there. So it makes you wonder like, why is it there if you're not going to enforce it? Or are you waiting to get a certain amount of influence or power before you start enforcing it?

Alban :

Well, there's definitely the app with the apple stuff. As soon as you know, the Hey team started making a big stink about it. You started seeing a lot of other developers and least privately, this was Ben Thompson doing reporting, saying like dozens of people are reaching out to him saying, yes, this has been happening to very big apps. to all of us. This has been a shift in Apple's policy, and they're really pushing it. And they didn't want to talk about it because they thought it could lead to them getting kicked out of the store or getting some sort of retaliation. And so you know, the fact that you don't hear about it doesn't mean that it's not happening. It means that the companies are kind of being silenced that they don't want to say anything because they know, I guess I have to pay the 30% tax or the 15% tax or whatever it ends up being, because I don't want to be the person to get kicked out of the store and have my business. This ruined,

Kevin :

right. That's the power that iOS and the apple team has right now over iOS app developers is that you could have a great business going. And then you violate a policy or something. They say your your latest app update has been rejected, you need to fix this. If you push back and make a public fight about it, you threaten your entire livelihood, your entire business, right? As opposed to just saying, I don't love this, but I've got to do it, I've got to give them 15 to 30% of my revenue that gets sold to the store. It's a bummer. But it's either that or nothing like, right. And so what this team at Basecamp is doing and we're proud of them for doing it is they're standing up and saying, like, this isn't right. And we're gonna take a stand, it might mean that our app is not available in the App Store anymore. But somebody has to stand up to this. Somebody has to fight for the smaller app developers and the team at Basecamp are saying, like, We're finally in a position where we're big enough where if if they kick us We're not gonna go out of business. And so we'll take this fight on.

Alban :

Well, one of the real benefits that they have is that they're building, hey, is an email service, which has like a map and what what are the other like, you know, the other technologies that email is based on, they could just say, okay, for people on iOS, you're just gonna have the normal mail experience. And you can use the Apple Mail app, and we won't have an App Store app, then it won't be as cool as having our own branded app and some of the unique features there, but you still would have something. And the reason they have that fallback is because it's built on a protocol, the all the emails at all email has been built on forever. No one owns email. And that's why they actually have that fallback option where if you were a true just an app, like telegram or something just built on the actual app experience, well, then you kind of have to get in between Your entire business is reliant on Apple letting you have that app.

Kevin :

Right. So just to be clear, this is what's happening in the app space, not necessarily the podcasting space, but we see that Apple has a ton of power. And so and it's not working out great for everybody in that world. In then we brought up the Shimla example of what is happening in the podcasting world, but is happening in China. And then we bring that all the way back to, hey, we need to keep an eye on Spotify. This is somebody who has a lot of power and is getting more and more power. And it's super concerned. It's great right now, because we can log in and we can look at our podcasts and the audience size and how it's continuing to grow and grow and grow. And a lot of it coming through Spotify, and it feels great. But we should also be concerned that they are starting to get a lot of power. And so when Spotify says hey, we are do 15 to 20% of whatever revenue you're making on your podcast. Are we going to be in a position to stand up and fight against that? Or are we going to say, Nope, they've got too much power. I can't risk my entire podcast and everything I've built around it to stand up and publicly fight against them.

Alban :

Yeah, exactly. This is not an actually in our notes, but it is something that's kind of popped into my head is YouTube has actually started doing more of this as well. They purchased FameBit. I don't remember what it was called before that, but they called purchased FameBit, which was the best way for people to connect brands, to individual creators on YouTube. And so you'd go on, you know, chat somebody and do a sponsorship deal. And that was actually done outside of YouTube. YouTube could sell you know, serve up ads, but there could be a sponsorship baked into the video. Well, YouTube bought it, and then in the last month has now shut it down. And they're saying FameBit is no longer self service so that you can't just go directly to somebody. We're launching a new service. Which is where we are helping match you. And it's full service, which means somebody from Google will like talk to you and say, Oh, I understand what you want, and then go and do the work. So that you actually don't have that per I mean, my belief is they are adding some value probably by having a person. NET figure out who to help you connect to. But the other benefit is for YouTube is that you now are not connected and not talking to the Creator. So even if you run a couple campaigns with them, you'll never have a you know, one to one talking point. And thus, you could never set something up without YouTube and Google knowing about it. And yet is just like, example 1000 when somebody has monopolistic power, they make decisions that are good for them. When Amazon when they started getting more and more sales because of Coronavirus. What do they do? They drastically cut the affiliate earnings for everyone sending them people why Because there's only one real great place to buy stuff, one true great place to buy stuff online. And that's what everyone used for their affiliate revenue. And they didn't diversify. And then they got they're all earning slashed the minute that Amazon said, Hey, we don't need you anymore. Yeah.

Kevin :

Feels like 1001. Example 1001. Let's talk about example. 1002 because this is a nice transition into the podcast that we teased earlier, which we've all started listening to the rabbit hole, which is a New York Times podcast, it's been going on for like eight or 10 weeks or something like that. But I think are they finished now with episode eight? Was that their final?

Alban :

Yeah, I think it is. And I will say New York Times I will pay for his podcasts. Get it. Keep it going. This is so good.

Kevin :

Yeah, they need to find some another rabbit hole to go down. Now. They've kind of wrapped up this one. But one of the things that they talked about, and I don't know if we're going to be ahead of you here, Travis, you said you're on episode three or four, but they bring in PewDiePie. And they talked about his YouTube experience. And I don't want to do any spoilers. But let's talk about that a little bit because PewDiePie got to the point where he was they were speculating because he never fully disclosed, but they're speculating. He was making around $15 million a year through his this YouTube channel that he built. And then YouTube basically shut down his monetization. Like overnight. Yes,

Travis :

I remember that in the greats was at the YouTube ad purge where they they said, This questionable content brands don't want to sponsor it anymore. So we have created an internal set of guidelines for what we deemed to be monetizable. And if you don't fit into that, you cannot have access to our ad platform anymore.

Alban :

Yeah, and that's not really a we're not taking a stand with PewDiePie on this, we're saying like, this is this the next example of Hey, when everything you're doing is being run through a platform, you are not truly independent creator. If you're on YouTube and all your money comes from YouTube. You're actually A contract worker for YouTube. And you think you have this connection with the audience and you do you have a true create connection with your audience. But when you don't have an alternate and you can't go somewhere else, well, now you are actually more similar to just a contract worker for that company. And they pay really, really well. But the minute that they say, Hey, we want to change the deal, when you have no ability to switch and move somewhere else, then you're kind of stuck. And if somebody as big as the biggest, or one of the two biggest youtubers in the world, can't leave the platform or doesn't feel the ability to leave the platform, then you're very unlikely you with, you know, your smaller YouTube channel will be able to do the same podcasting, if Buzzsprout ever tried to do something shady like that with you. The first thing you do is just redirect your feed somewhere else and you'd be done with us in 15 minutes. If a different host did something bad. You could flip over here in 15 minutes, and you could move every two months to To get the best deal and if you wanted, and that is what's good about this is that it keeps everyone honest when nobody has this strong control. Everyone acts decently because they know you have great alternatives. As soon as there was only one option, well, now people start trying to exert their power a little more, because they feel they're entitled to more the share of the earnings.

Travis :

Yep. So we'll definitely keep keep you guys in the loop on industry news that we think is relevant. And, as always, you know, our biggest goal is to help you be successful with your show. And so when we talk about this stuff, it's not to scare you. It's not to, you know, be sensational about something. But it's just to make sure that you're well informed so you can make decisions about your show that benefit the long term health and growth and success of what you're trying to build. That's what's most important to us. Well, that does it for this episode of Buzzcast. thank you as always for tuning in. And listening to us talk about podcasting. If you want to be a part of a community of other podcasters that are trying to help each other and sharing tips and strategies and valuable insights and encouragement, the best way to do that is to join our Facebook group, the Buzzsprout podcast community. It's a fantastic place to get all of your questions answered, and to celebrate your successes and get any support that you need. That does it for this week, and we'll catch in the next one.

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