Podcasts for everyone

February 5th, 2024

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About last night. The Grammys were certainly eventful, from random wins to new historical records to even an arrest. One memorable moment was Jay-Z’s acceptance speech for the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award when he mentioned that Beyoncé holds the record for the most Grammy wins (32!) but has never took home Album of the Year. In his words, “Even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work.” P.S. Taylor has won Album of the Year four times. Just sayin’.

In other news… podcast deals aren’t so exclusive anymore, Disney has high hopes for the Vision Pro, and TikTok continues its feud with UMG.

Top Trends

YouTube → The Ones Who Live

Google → Carl Weathers

Reddit → Usher

TikTok → “Unstoppable”

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Everything, everywhere, all at once // Illustration by Kate Walker

Podcast deals turn off exclusivity

The Future. Podcasting is taking a page from film and TV streaming and shifting to a licensing model where shows can live anywhere — an acknowledgement that there’s more money to be made from advertisers than chasing more subscribers. If audiences and advertisers are willing to follow these shows wherever they go, expect some big names to go back to being fully independent.

Spread the chat
2024 is finally the year when we can listen to shows “wherever you get your podcasts.”

  • Just this past week, Call Her Daddy, The Joe Rogan Experience, and SmartLess not only struck rich renewal deals but also became available on every platform without exclusivity.

  • As part of the deals, Spotify (Call Her Daddy, Joe Rogan) and SiriusXM (SmartLess) will have the right to sell ads and distribute across any platform, allowing them to extract big licensing fees.

  • That also lets the companies negotiate lower upfront fees with talent and focus more on revenue sharing to, well, share the risk — i.e. “if we succeed, you succeed.”

The deals come as the podcast market has plateaued, and even the biggest shows have seen a substantial drop in listenership. That initial burst of activity right around the start of the pandemic put a lot of wind in Spotify’s sails (and some major debt), but everyone’s shifting their model to something more sustainable now that subscribership has peaked.

So, now we want to hear from you…


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

What podcast do you listen to?

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67% of you voted No in Friday’s poll: Do you want AI to search the internet for you?

“I want to be able to choose the source and see the details that help me determine if it’s nonsense or not.”

“No way! I search for myself. Who knows what AI could use against me?”

“Not no... but hell no!”

“I wouldn’t trust the results, so I’d double my work by having to check it.”

“I’d prefer it make the dinner reservation for me, too.”

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Courtesy of Disney

Disney wishes upon a star that the Vision Pro finds an audience

The Future. When it comes to apps on the Vision Pro, Disney wants its streamer to be the conversation piece right out of the gate, taking a much different approach to competitors like Netflix and YouTube. If Disney is able to conjure a new kind of magic on the headset, it may be the “killer app” for families that makes the Vision Pro the next iteration of the home computer.

Face theater
Disney’s been plotting its programming for the Vision Pro for “a few years,” said Jamie Voris, CTO of The Walt Disney Studios.

  • Disney+ in VisionOS has a “true spatial interface,” allowing users to toggle buttons seemingly floating in air, per Fast Company.

  • It has a dedicated menu for 40 movies that are available to watch in 3D. Also, when you watch any movie, the lights around the screen dim as if you were in a theater.

  • It has four 3D immersive virtual environments, including the Scare Floor from Monsters, Inc. and the Manhattan headquarters from The Avengers.

These first offerings are just the beginning for Disney. The studio is also working on a Vision Pro version of Marvel’s What If…? series, which will be “the first real mixed-reality, emotional, immersive story that people have ever experienced.”

It looks like the Mouse House isn’t viewing the Vision Pro as just another screen but potentially as a new way to tell stories… and a massive new revenue stream.

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Why hire an animation studio when you can AI it?

Grammy-winning artists do.

Introducing Kaiber — an AI creative lab and generative video platform used by more than five million creators, including Linkin Park and Kid Cudi. 

Kaiber is made for artists who aren’t able to pay an animation studio hundreds of thousands for a music video. It offers a range of advanced AI tools, including text-to-video, image-to-video, and video-to-video.

Who's behind the development of all this? STRV. That’s who. And Kaiber found them on ChatGPT. (Crazy, huh?) STRV built the Kaiber iOS and Android apps and designed the mobile experience together with Kaiber’s Head of Design.


Unplayable // Illustration by Kate Walker

TikTok wrestles with UMG’s “mute-pocalypse”

The Future. Universal Music Group made good on its promise to pull its music from TikTok after a new licensing contract fell apart. The sudden song pullback has sewn chaos across the platform, with user videos suddenly stamped with copyright infringement. UMG’s decision may not just set a precedent for other labels but also change how the music industry shares revenue with TikTok and their in-the-works music app.

Swiftly deleted
TikTok users aren’t happy about the disappearance of artists like Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, and Fleetwood Mac from their videos.

  • Videos featuring music from UMG artists have gone silent, accompanied by either a note reading “sound removed due to copyright restrictions,” or “this sound isn’t available.”

  • UMG’s one million pre-cleared songs have also started to disappear from TikTok’s own library.

  • Additionally, artist profiles have lost the tab where users could sync videos with their tracks.

While most users have been left in the dark, TikTok Shop sellers did receive a step-by-step guide to change their videos’ sound (the company is not going to put that revenue in jeopardy), and users who used a track from that pre-cleared list received a prompt to change them.

UMG is also responsible for distributing music outside of the label and representing songwriters signed to other companies, so the fallout hasn’t hit rock bottom yet.

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The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • Microsoft said Palworld is the biggest-ever third-party game launch for Game Pass, selling seven million copies. Read More → engadget

  • Dead & Company was announced as the next act for residency at The Sphere in Las Vegas, scheduled for 18 shows starting this May. Read More → variety

  • Netflix hopes to give the Drive to Survive treatment to Nascar with the release of the Nascar: Full Speed docuseries. Read More → fastcompany

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Amazon is getting its own shopping chatbot with the release of “Rufus.” Read More → nyt

  • Six sneakers worn by Michael Jordan during championship-winning games sold for $8 million at auction — the most ever paid for game-worn sneakers. Read More → forbes

  • Louis Vuitton is adding diamonds to its luxury offerings, and the gems are traceable from mine to storefront via blockchain technology. Read More → hypebeast

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • Meta posted a new stock market record last Friday after its market cap skyrocketed $200 billion — a 20% increase. Read More → deadline

  • Australian computer scientist Craig Wright claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the father of Bitcoin… and he’ll have to prove it in court. Read More → wired

  • The White House has signaled that legislation could be incoming to protect copyright holders from generative AI systems. Read More → insider

Creator Economy

  • YouTube has hit 100 million paying subscribers across its Music and Premium platforms. Read More → tubefilter

  • The new Gen Z trend on TikTok is “loud budgeting” — sharing how broke you really are and showing how you save money. Read More → axios

  • Kick is opening up its Creator Incentive Program to all of its users, which lets them keep 95% of earnings. Read More → tubefilter

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Today’s email was written by David Vendrell.
Edited by Boye Akolade. Copy edited by Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar.

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