James Cridland's PodNews: Your Daily Briefing

➽From podnews.net, your complete daily briefing for podcasting and on-demand. Subscribe to get the full newsletter free.


➤Pacific Content, the company behind the new Facebook Podcast Three and a Half Degrees: The Power of Connection ▸, has written up nine marketing lessons for your podcast, working with Facebook's team. The post includes some savvy use of offline media (coffee cup sleeves, aimed at commuters) and some extra-clever use of Facebook itself.

➤Another form of marketing: paid-for ads on the popular iOS app Overcasts. A Redditor posts their experience of booking ads, and gives some hints on how to get the most out of it.

Podfest in Orlando FL, USA - March 7-9 - is one of the big podcasting events of the year. Podnews is in Malaysia on March 7th, but trying our hardest to be there for the other two days. Whisper: 15% discount code? You'll want to use NEWYEAR19.

➤Amazon Alexa has unveiled "a professional newscaster voice", which they plan to use for news briefings and other similar pieces of work. The post includes excerpts of the voice, which contains all the right cadences for news broadcasts.

The Pod is an interesting new product - a pop-up soundbooth to give recordings better acoustics.

➤Voxnest has launched Spreaker Enterprise, described as "enterprise-level podcast hosting".

➤The Boston Globe covers the history and the present day of podcasting, calling it "a juggernaut".

➤Tribune Media, a US television and media company, is launching the Tribune Audio Network. They're working with ART19, promising "podcasts produced by Tribune Media’s local and national brands, while also serving as a talent and subject matter incubator".

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➤Podcast host Anchor claims that the number of podcasts carrying ads doubled last month, thanks to Anchor Sponsorships. The company is also keen to point out that they power 40% of all new podcasts (and it's estimated that they have 70,000 shows). However, according to recent data analysis seen by Podnews, over 93% of Anchor shows have already "podfaded", and haven't had a new episode in the last month. (Question: is it good to have over 60,000 abandoned shows from Anchor in podcast directories?)

➤What bitrate is everyone else using? And how loud are they ? To get a view of the industry, we're now monitoring technical parameters like bitrate, filetype and LUFS values for recent podcasts. This page will update daily; we check a new podcast every hour. Thanks to our supporters for helping us do this.

➤Podtrac has released their monthly US podcast publisher rankings for December 2018. December's a rogue month for stats, and most publishers saw fewer downloads; podcast downloads for the top ten publishers did show a 56% increase year-on-year (although we're not sure how reflective this is of the industry as a whole).

➤Podtrac's current #4 podcast producer, Wondery is the focus of a Poynter article. Of interest: three Wondery podcasts are now available on American Airlines flights.

➤Spotify has added podcast recommendations - "you might also like" - to their podcast pages for some users. This was discovered by James of MySpotifyIdeas, a man who Spotify should be employing.

➤Podcast host Buzzsprout has added a redesigned podcast player for people who host with them.

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➤Spotify now has 200m global active users, up by 10% over the past six months. 87m of those are paying customers. Morgan Stanley says users listen for 4.4 hours a week - Apple Music is 3.7m. However, 50% of Spotify users say that all the podcasts they want aren't on the service. Notwithstanding this, it's the #2 most popular podcast app. (Search for a podcast, and we'll show you a Spotify link if it's there.)

➤Meanwhile, is music streaming service Tidal cooking its numbers? The company (owned by Jay-Z, who is Beyoncé's husband) was accused of artifically increasing the amount of streams for Beyoncé's album to such an extent that every subscriber would have played the album eight times a day. A Norwegian authority, the excellently noir-sounding Økokrim, is investigating.

➤FastCompany writes about how podcast apps are making money, focusing on Castro and also encompassing many others. The app, owned by Candian investors Tiny, declined to share usage figures.

➤"Hey, Pandora" - Pandora now has voice control. The initial information doesn't indicate how it works with podcasts.

➤Podchaser is now integrated with TeePublic, allowing podcasters to add merch directly to their podcast page. Podcasters that link their pages can get a free t-shirt with their podcast artwork.

➤Whooshkaa, an Australian podcast host, is automatically applying audio normalisation for uploaded podcasts by a subset of users, with the aim of making this optionally available to everyone in a few weeks. "The feedback has been positive," the company says. Aussie competitor Omny Studio has had the feature since March. We ran analysis a year ago of podcast loudness, and have a full LUFS FAQ on the subject.

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More podcasts were launched in 2018 than ever before, says Pacific Content's Dan Misener after examining the numbers. He adds that the number of podcast episodes has doubled every year since 2016.

iHeartMedia and Panoply's Megaphone have done a deal for distribution. After an original deal with Stuff Media, which iHeart purchased in September, Megaphone will now be used "to distribute select podcasts across its iHeartPodcast Network." iHeart has been using ART19 for many of them.

➤Are YouTubers migrating to podcasting? Podchaser gives four reasons why.

➤"Vox Pods is a new, free, podcast app for finding and listening to new podcasts" (iOS only), which has a matchmaker function to find podcasts that match your taste. It's a free app, with no visible monetisation.

The New York Times talks to Dan Sanchez, the editorial lead of their new smart speaker products. Worth a read for where they see speakers going in future.

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➤Close-captioning is coming to Google Podcasts: a forthcoming version of the app will include the option to produce an automatic live transcript on-screen, enabled with a "CC" button - good for noisy places or for those with hearing difficulties. Website 9to5google have enabled the feature on the beta version of the Google app, and report that it works well. Also, the new app will highlight major items in the show notes and offer search terms to learn more. New features prepped in beta versions can take months to arrive, though.

➤"Here's what else you need to know today". The New York Times has launched a 3-min weekday flash news briefing hosted by Michael Barbaro for Amazon Alexa devices, as well as a weekly interactive news quiz from the producers of The Daily ▸, and other services. None of these services work on Google speakers - the briefing, which is a nice change from a radio bulletin, is sadly unavailable in Google's news briefing service. It's sponsored by Audi.

Stephen Goldstein went to CES, and reports back about Spotify's exclusivity announcements, 5C, smart speakers, and a toilet with Alexa built in. Alexa? Use the air freshener.

➤Hunter Walk, a partner in a VC company, writes about podcast discovery. Podcast discovery is a problem, he writes, but attempts to fix it "are at best features, not products or companies."

These iOS Podcast Apps Are Way Better Than Apple's Default App, claims Lifehacker. Pocket Casts, Overcast or Castro gets higher scores than the purple one. Meanwhile, 9to5mac carries "Four new features Apple Podcasts should add in iOS 13".

➤Headliner, a popular social media promotion tool for audio, now has a Facebook group.

➤PC Magazine gives us tips how to make your podcast sound better. This is actually an indepth article about microphone technique, and much of the advice is quite sound. <-- see what we did there

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