Podcasting

Spotify debuts new podcast top charts across 26 markets

Posted by | Media, Mobile, Podcasting, Podcasts, Spotify, streaming music, streaming services | No Comments

Spotify is today introducing a new feature aimed at helping people discover interesting and popular podcasts. The company this morning announced the launch of two brand-new podcast charts, Top Podcasts and Trending Podcasts, which will showcase both the overall most-listened to and the biggest movers, respectively. The new feature will arrive in the Spotify mobile app across 26 markets. In addition, category-level charts will be available in 7 of the 26, including the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Germany and Australia.

The new charts will replace the existing “Top Shows” chart to offer a better discovery experience that separates popular from trending and offers, in some cases, category-level detail.

Music services have long since used top charts to help users find new music and discover artists, and Spotify hopes the same will be true for podcasts. Like its music charts, Spotify’s podcast charts will also be updated regularly to help users keep up with which podcasts are seeing the most engagement and growth.

Image Credits: Spotify

The Top Podcasts charts will include the overall most popular audio programs, geared for stability and integrity, as determined by recent listener numbers, Spotify explains. This chart will be updated on a daily basis, giving users a look at which shows have longer-lasting influence. Users will also be able to view the top podcasts for any market where they’re available, not just their own.

Meanwhile, the Trending Podcasts charts use an algorithm that will blend for discovery of newly-launched shows along with the fastest-climbing shows. This will be focused more on helping creators secure a place on the charts to help reach a new audience.

In the seven markets where category-level data is available, Spotify will also separate out the Top and Trending Podcasts by genre — like True Crime, Comedy, News, Lifestyle & Health, TV, Educational, Business & Technology, Celebrities, Sports & Recreation, and others. At the category level, the Top Podcasts charts will list the top 200 overall shows in the selected region and the Trending chart will show the top 50 rapidly rising shows.

Image Credits: Spotify

Related to this, podcasters will also see an updated experience in Spotify’s online dashboard, Spotify for Podcasters, which will now alert them when their podcast is charting. They can then turn this notification into a visual card to share across social media to help further market their podcast.

Podcasts have been of significant interest to all streaming services, and particularly Spotify, in recent years. The company has acquired podcasting software and studios, made deals to secure exclusive and original content (including Joe Rogan) and it has invested in software features like podcast playlists and algorithmic recommendations to introduce podcasts to Spotify’s millions of users.

Today, the service offers over 1 million podcasts, up from the 700,000-plus it was reporting in March. And despite the coronavirus impact on where users listen to podcasts, Spotify said podcast consumption was up by “triple digits” in the first quarter of the year, compared with Q1 2019.

Updated 7/14/20, 11:20 AM ET: Spotify PR originally told us the Top Podcasts chart was “updated monthly.” They corrected this later to say daily. We’ve also updated the article to reflect this change. 

Powered by WPeMatico

With feature updates and new accessories, the RODECaster Pro is a podcaster’s dream come true

Posted by | audio equipment, Audio Recording, Gadgets, hardware, microphones, podcast, Podcasting, Reviews, rodecaster pro, RØDE, TC | No Comments

You might have been considering — or have already started — picking up a new hobby this year, particularly one you can do at home. Podcasting seems to be a popular option, and RODE is a company that has done more to cater specifically to this audience than just about any other audio company out there. The RODECaster Pro ($599) all-in-one podcast production studio they released in 2018 is a fantastic tool for anyone looking to maximize their podcasting potential, and with amazing new firmware updates released this year, along with a host of great new accessories, it has stepped up even further.

The basics

The RODECaster Pro is a powerful production studio, but it’s not overwhelming for people who aren’t audio engineers by trade. The deck balances offering plenty of physical controls with keeping them relatively simple, giving you things like volume sliders and large pad-style buttons for top-level controls, and then putting more advanced features and tweaks behind layers of menus accessible via the large, high-resolution touchscreen for users who desire more fine-tuned manipulation.

RODECaster Pro includes four XLR inputs, each of which can provide (individually selectable) phantom power for condenser mics, along with four 1/4″ headphone outputs for corresponding monitoring. That’s great, because it means if you have guests used to recording podcasts and high-quality audio, they can listen to their own input, or you can opt to just have one producer keeping track of everything. There’s also a left and right 1/4″ audio out for a studio monitor speaker or other output, as well as a USB-C connector for plugging into a computer, and a 3.5mm in for connecting a smartphone or other external audio source. Smartphones can also be connected via Bluetooth, which is very handy for including a call-in guest via wireless.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The main surface of the RODECaster Pro includes volume sliders for each available input and pre-set sound effects; volume knobs for each headphone and speaker output; buttons to activate and deactivate inputs; large buttons for playing back pre-set audio files and a large record button. There’s also a touchscreen that gives you access to menus and settings, and which also acts as a visual levels editor while recording.

RODECaster Pro is designed so that you can use it completely independently of any computer or smartphone — it has a microSD slot for recording, and you can then upload those files via either directly connecting the deck through USB, or plugging the card in to a microSD card reader and transferring your files. You can also use multitrack-to-USB or stereo USB output modes on the RODECaster Pro to effectively turn the studio hardware into a USB audio interface for your Mac or PC, letting you record with whatever digital audio production software you’d like, including streaming software.

Design

The RODECaster Pro’s design is a perfect blend of studio-quality hardware controls and simplicity, making the device accessible to amateurs and pros alike. I was up and running with the deck out of the box in just a few minutes, and without making any adjustments at all to the sound profile or settings, I had great-sounding recordings using the RODE PodMic, a $99 microphone that is optimized by RODE to work with the RODECaster Pro out of the box.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

All the controls are easy and intuitive to manage, and you shouldn’t need to read any instruction manuals or guides to get started. The eight-button sound effects grid is likely the most complicated part of the entire physical interface, but even the default sounds that RODE includes can be useful, and you can easily set your own via the RODECaster companion app for Mac and PC; in the box you’ll find guides you can use to overlay the buttons and label them to keep track of which is which.

The sliders are smooth and great to use, making it easy to do even, manual fade-ins and fade-outs for intro and outro or pre-recorded soundbites. Backlit keys for active/inactive inputs, mute status and the large record button mean you can tell with a quick glance what is and isn’t currently active on the track.

RODE has smartly included a locking power adapter in the box, so that you won’t find the cord accidentally yanked out in the middle of a recording. Each of the XLR inputs also includes a quick release latch for secure connections. And while the RODECaster Pro definitely takes up a lot of space with roughly the footprint of a 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’s light enough to be perfectly portable in a backpack for on-location recordings.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The touchscreen display is another design highlight; it’s high-resolution, with a matte cover that makes it viewable in a wide range of light, and very responsive touch input, It’s a great way to extend the functionality of the deck through software, while still ensuring nothing feels fiddly or hard to navigate, which can be the case with hardware jog controllers like you’d find on a Zoom recorder, for instance.

Features

Balancing simplicity and power is the real reason RODECaster Pro works so well. If you’re just starting out, you can basically just begin using it out of the box without changing anything at all about how it’s set up to work. That’s especially true if you’re using any of RODE’s microphones, each of which has built-in profiles included for optimizing sound settings instantly.

I mentioned above that the RODE PodMic is optimized for use with the RODECaster Pro in this way, and the results are fantastic. If the price tag on the RODECaster Pro is a deterrent, it’s worth considering that the PodMic is a fantastically affordable dynamic podcasting mic, which produces sound way above its class when paired with the deck. So the overall cost of a RODE podcasting setup using both of these would actually be relatively reasonable versus other solutions.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

If you’re ready to dive in and customize sound, you can toggle features like built-in compressor, de-esser and other audio effects. You can also manually adjust each of these effects, as the release of Firmware 2.1 earlier this month lets you adjust the processing of each included sound effect through the RODECaster Pro companion app for a totally custom, unique finally sound.

The ability to pre-load and call up sound effects and other audio tracks on demand on the RODECaster Pro is another killer feature. It’s true that you could achieve a lot of this in editing post-recording, but having it all to-hand for use in live recording scenarios just feels better, and it also enables genuine interactions with your guests that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. That 2.1 firmware update also brought the ability to loop clips indefinitely, which could be great if you want to place a subtle backing track throughout your recording.

One final feature I’ll highlight because it’s fantastic, especially in a world where it might be hard to consistently get guests in-studio, is the smartphone connectivity. You can either plug in via cable, or connect via low-latency Bluetooth for terrific call-in interactivity, using whatever software you want on your smartphone.

Accessories

RODE has done a great job building out an ecosystem of accessories to further extend the capabilities of the RODECaster Pro and enhance the overall user experience. Among its recent releases, there’s the RODE PodMic, mentioned above, as well as colored cable clips that correspond to each input backlight color for easily keeping track of which hardware is which, 1/4″ to 3.5mm stereo jack adapters for using standard headphones as monitors, a TRRS-to-TRRS 3.5mm audio aux cable for smartphone connections and a USB power cable to replace the adapter for easier plug-in power on the go.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The small plastic cuffs for your XLR cables are simple but smart ways of keeping track of gear, especially when everyone’s using the same mic (as they likely should be for sound consistency) — and it helps that they enhance the look of your overall setup, too. And the USB power cable in particular is a great addition to any RODECaster Pro kit that you’re intending to use outside of your own recording studio/home, as you can use it with any USB charger you have to hand — so long as it can provide 5V/2.5A output.

The real must-have accessory for the RODECaster Pro, however, is the RODE PodMic. It’s a no-fuss, well-built and durable microphone that transports well and can work flexibly with a wide range of mounting options, and in a wide variety of settings, including open air and in-studio. Yes, you can get better sound with more expensive mics, but with the PodMic, you can afford a set of four to complement the RODECaster Pro for the same price you’d pay for one higher-end microphone, and most people won’t notice the audio quality difference for their podcasting needs.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Bottom line

The RODECaster Pro is a fantastic way to upgrade your at-home podcasting game — and a perfect way to take the show on the road once you’re able to do so. Its high-quality hardware controls, combined with smart, sophisticated software that has improved with consistent RODE firmware updates to address user feedback over time, are a winning combo for amateurs, pros and anyone along the spectrum in between.

Powered by WPeMatico

Spotify mimics Apple’s design with new podcast show page updates

Posted by | Apps, Media, Mobile, Podcasting, Podcasts, Spotify, streaming, streaming music | No Comments

Spotify’s ongoing investments in the podcast-streaming side of its business helped boost podcast listening on its service by 200% last year. But today, only 16% of Spotify’s monthly listeners are engaging with podcasts — a number the company today hopes to nudge higher by redesigning the podcast side of its streaming app. The new layout now makes it easier to view information about podcasts and improves discovery of new shows.

In particular, Spotify has given podcast show trailers a more prominent position in its app.

Show trailers help podcasts find new listeners by offering a concise introduction to the podcast and its creators. A good trailer hooks listeners on the show’s concept by selling its strengths, or even by offering a snippet of content that makes listeners hungry to hear more.

In the updated version of Spotify’s app, these trailers are labeled “trailer” and are highlighted at the top of the episode list, separated from the content as Apple does in its own podcasts app.

The belief here is that listeners need an easier way to check out the different podcasts out there, without having to commit to full episodes. That’s more important than ever as Spotify’s podcast library expands. The app’s catalog now has more than 700,000 podcasts across all sorts of topics — a figure that’s growing quickly. In January, Spotify was at the Consumer Electronics Show touting its “over 500,000” podcasts. By the time of this month’s earnings, it was using the higher number.

Also to aid in discovery, Spotify is adding descriptive show categories underneath the show’s description. These will be simple labels, like “true crime,” “personal stories,” “travel,” “relationships” and more. This change is also focused on catching up with market leader Apple Podcasts, which already categorizes its podcasts in a similar way.

The other major change is to the landing page for podcast shows in Spotify, which are getting a revamp to be more readable at a glance.

The updated layout has moved the descriptions up to the top of the page, so you don’t have to swipe on a show to read about it. Before, Spotify would display the podcast’s thumbnail image at the top, and you’d swipe left to view the description. Now, the layout looks more like — yes, you guessed it — Apple Podcasts.

The combined changes do make Spotify’s app more usable for podcast listening and discovery — especially for people who are used to Apple Podcasts’ design and layout but are now making the jump to Spotify. However, Spotify’s real advantage in podcasts isn’t just how it can mimic Apple’s better design, but how it’s catering to creators, investing in originals and exclusives, personalizing its recommendations and, now, its ads.

Spotify says the redesign is rolling out to its mobile app starting today.

Powered by WPeMatico

Spotify’s increased focus on podcasts in 2019 includes selling its own ads

Posted by | ad tech, advertising, CES 2019, Media, Mobile, Podcasting, Podcasts, Spotify, TC | No Comments

Having established itself as a top streaming service with now over 200 million users, Spotify this year is preparing to focus more of its attention on podcasts. The company plans bring its personalization technology to podcasts in order to make better recommendations, update its app’s interface so people can access podcasts more easily, and broker more exclusives with podcast creators. It’s also getting into the business of selling ads within podcasts, as a means of generating revenue from this increasingly popular form of audio programming.

In fact, Spotify has already begun to dabble in podcast ad sales, ahead of this larger push.

Spotify, we’ve learned, has been selling its own advertisements in its original podcasts since mid-2018 year, including in programs like Spotify Original “Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith,” “The Joe Budden Podcast,” “Dissect,” “Showstopper,” and others. With more exclusives planned for the year ahead, the portion of Spotify’s ad business focused on podcasts will also grow.

The company appears to be taking a different approach to working with podcasters than it does with it comes to working with music artists.

Today, Spotify gives artists tools that help share their work and be discovered – it invested in distribution platform DistroKid, for example, and now lets artists submit tracks for playlist consideration. With podcasters, however, Spotify wants to either bring their voices in-house, or at least exclusively license their content.

“Over the last year, we become very focused on building out a great podcast universe,” said Head of Spotify Studios Courtney Holt, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. “The first step was to make sure that we’ve got the world’s best podcasts on Spotify, and integrated the experience into the service in a way that allowed people to build habits and behavior there,” he said.

“What we started to see is that the types of podcasts that really were working on Spotify were ones where they were really authentic voices…so we just decided to invest more in those types of voices,” Holt added.

Spotify’s collection of originals has been steadily growing over the past year. Last August, for example, Spotify nabbed an exclusive deal with the “Joe Budden” podcast, which is aimed at hip-hop and rap culture fans, and launched its first branded podcast, “Ebb & Flow,” focused on hip-hop and R&B. Its full original lineup today also includes “Dissect,” Amy Schumer’s “3 Girls, 1 Keith,” “Mogul,” “The Rewind with Guy Raz,” “Showstopper,” “Unpacked,” “Crimetown” (Its first season was wide, second season is exclusive to Spotify), “UnderCover,” and “El Chapo: El Jefe y su Juicio.”

At CES, Spotify announced the addition of one more –  journalist Jemele Hill is coming Spotify with an exclusive podcast called “Unbothered,” which will feature high-profile guests in sports, music, politics, culture, and more.

In growing its collection of originals, the company found that podcasters who joined Spotify exclusively were actually able to grow their audience, despite leaving other distribution platforms.

For example, the Joe Budden podcast had its highest streaming day ever after joining Spotify.

This has led Spotify to believe that influencers in the podcast community will be able to bring their community with them when they become a Spotify exclusive, and then further grow their listener base by tapping into Spotify’s larger music user base and, soon, an improved recommendation system.

There are other perks for Spotify, too – when users come to Spotify and begin to listen to podcasts, they often then spend more time engaged with the app, it found.

“People who consume podcasts on Spotify are consuming more of Spotify – including music,” said Holt. “So we found that in increasing our [podcast] catalog and spending more time to make the user experience better, it wasn’t taking away from music, it was enhancing the overall time spent on the platform,” he noted.

While chasing exclusive deals to bring more original podcasts to Spotify will be a big initiative this year, Spotify will continue to offer its recently launched podcasts submission feature to everyone else.

With this sort of basic infrastructure in place, Spotify now wants to help users discover new podcasts and improve the listening experience.

One aspect of this will involve pointing listeners to other podcast content they may like.

For instance, Spotify could point Joe Budden fans to other podcasts about hip-hop and rap. It will also leverage its multi-year partnership with Samsung to allow listeners pick up where they left off in an episode as they move between different devices. And it will turn its personalization and recommendation technology to podcasts – including the ads in the podcasts themselves.

“Think about what we’ve done around music – the more understand you around the music you stream, the more we can personalize the ad experience. Now we can take that to podcasts,” said Brian Benedik, VP and Global Head of Advertising Sales at Spotify, when asked about the potential for Spotify selling ads in podcasts.

The company has been testing the waters with its own podcast ad sales since mid 2018, Benedik said. The sales are handled in-house by Spotify’s ad sales team for the time being.

Benedik had also appeared on a panel this week at CES, where he talked about the value of contextual advertising – meaning, ads that can be personalized to the user based on factors like mood, behavior and moments. This data could be appealing to podcast advertisers, as well.

But to scale its efforts around podcast ads, Spotify will need to invest in digital ad insertion technology. We’re hearing that Spotify is currently deciding whether that’s something it wants to build in-house or acquire outright.

Spotify’s rival Pandora went the latter route. It closed on the acquisition of adtech company Adswizz in May 2018, then introduced capabilities for shorter, more personalized ads in August. By November, Pandora announced it was bringing its Genome technology to podcasts, which allowed for a recommendation system.

Now Spotify aims to catch up.

The addition of podcasts has reoriented Spotify’s focus as company, Holt said.

“We’re an audio company. We’re trying to be the world’s best audio service,” he told the audience at CES. “It’s a pure play for us. We’re seeing increased engagement; there’s great commercial opportunities from podcasting that we’ve never seen on the platform…And, obviously, exclusives are to give us something that makes the platform truly unique – to have people come to Spotify for something you can’t get anywhere else is the sort of cherry on top of that entire strategy,” Holt said.

Image credits: Spotify

Powered by WPeMatico

Podcasting app Anchor can now find you a cohost

Posted by | anchor, Apps, audio, Mobile, mobile apps, Podcasting, Social, Startups | No Comments

Fresh off its relaunch as an app offering a suite of tools for podcasters, Anchor today is rolling a new feature that will make it easier for people to find someone to podcast with: Cohosts. As the name implies, the app will now connect you – sometimes immediately, if people are available – with another person who’s interested in discussing the topic you’ve chosen.

The result is a more engaging podcast where a conversation is taking place between two people, rather than a monologue.

“We give people the ability to choose a topic that they want to talk about on their podcasts, and the product will get to work trying to match you up with someone who wants to talk about the exact thing,” explains Anchor CEO Mike Mignano.

At first, Anchor will try to match you with someone who’s also currently in the app, he says. If it’s not able to do that, then it will notify you when it finds a match through an alert on your phone.

“We’ve developed an intelligent matching system to make sure there’s a high likelihood that you get matched up with someone that wants to talk at the same time,” Mignano notes.

The topics users select can be either broad – like politics – or narrow and hyper-specific, the company says.

One you’ve been offered a connection to a cohost, you have 30 seconds to meet in the app and decide how you want to get started. The recording will then start automatically, and will continue for up to 15 minutes. Both users will receive a copy of the recording and can choose to publish it to their own podcast right away, or save it for later.

After the recording, podcasters rate each other with a simple thumbs up or down. (If down, you’ll need to select a reason in case Anchor needs to step in and review bad behavior. Bad actors will no longer be permitted to use the service.)

If both give each other a thumbs up, though, they’ll automatically be favorited on each other’s account, so they can find each other again. Next time they want to record, they’ll have the option to team up through Anchor’s “Record with Friends” feature, where there’s no time limit.

Those who are highly rated will also get better ranked in the matching algorithm, Anchor notes.

If a podcaster has a particular topic in mind – like wanting to discuss Stephen King novels, for example – Mignano continues, they’re very likely to return to the app when they get a match, the team found during testing.

The Cohosts feature was beta tested with a small subset of users prior to today’s launch, but the company declines to share how many users tested it or how many people are currently using the app to create podcasts.

However, the app’s big makeover which took place in February basically turned Anchor into a different kind of app – so it’s still establishing a new user base.

While before, the app was focused on recording audio, Anchor 3.0 is meant to be a podcasting suite in your pocket. The new version includes recording features with no time limits, a built-in library of transition sounds, tools for adding music, support for voice messages (a call-in like feature), free hosting, and a push button experience for publishing to share your podcast to all the top platforms.

Matching cohosts in teams of two may just be the start.

Mignano hints that a future version of Anchor may include more flexibility on the number of cohosts. “You can imagine us doing something like, if the user specifies the topic, they can indicate how many people they want to have a conversation with,” he teases.

The new feature recalls Anchor’s roots as a platform for social audio.

“It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while, says Mignano. “If you think back to Anchor 2.0 – and 3.0, as well – we’ve always wanted to make Anchor a little more interactive than a standard podcasting platform. To us, democratizing audio doesn’t just mean making it easier to create. It also means modernizing the format by making it more shareable, easier to interact with, short form, etc.,” he says.

The Cohosts feature is rolling out today in Anchor’s app.

Powered by WPeMatico

Sick of SoundCloud? Anchor offers podcast transfer with free hosting

Posted by | anchor fm, Apps, Media, Mobile, Podcasting, Social, soundcloud, Startups, TC | No Comments

 SoundCloud is on shaky financial footing, saying it only has enough money to last a few more months unless someone buys or invests in it. That’s sure to cause anxiety in content creators with their life’s work stored on SoundCloud. Now some new startups are nipping at SoundCloud’s heels by focusing on podcasting in ways the music streaming service never did.
Anchor is a… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Can podcasting save the world?

Posted by | digital audio, digital media, Mobile, podcast, Podcasting, Startups, TC, technology, world wide web | No Comments

 As writers resort to attention-getting headlines to maintain readership it’s clear that the educated, mobile, and bored reader is now turning into a listener. While written news continues to flood us from every conceivable angle there is one small, quiet voice still speaking to us from our earbuds: the podcaster speaking truth to power, bullshitting about movies, or spinning long… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico