Podcasts

Where is voice tech going?

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Mark Persaud
Contributor

Mark Persaud is digital product manager and practice lead at Moonshot by Pactera, a digital innovation company that leads global clients through the next era of digital products with a heavy emphasis on artificial intelligence, data and continuous software delivery.

2020 has been all but normal. For businesses and brands. For innovation. For people.

The trajectory of business growth strategies, travel plans and lives have been drastically altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a global economic downturn with supply chain and market issues, and a fight for equality in the Black Lives Matter movement — amongst all that complicated lives and businesses already.

One of the biggest stories in emerging technology is the growth of different types of voice assistants:

  • Niche assistants such as Aider that provide back-office support.
  • Branded in-house assistants such as those offered by BBC and Snapchat.
  • White-label solutions such as Houndify that provide lots of capabilities and configurable tool sets.

With so many assistants proliferating globally, voice will become a commodity like a website or an app. And that’s not a bad thing — at least in the name of progress. It will soon (read: over the next couple years) become table stakes for a business to have voice as an interaction channel for a lovable experience that users expect. Consider that feeling you get when you realize a business doesn’t have a website: It makes you question its validity and reputation for quality. Voice isn’t quite there yet, but it’s moving in that direction.

Voice assistant adoption and usage are still on the rise

Adoption of any new technology is key. A key inhibitor of technology is often distribution, but this has not been the case with voice. Apple, Google, and Baidu have reported hundreds of millions of devices using voice, and Amazon has 200 million users. Amazon has a slightly more difficult job since they’re not in the smartphone market, which allows for greater voice assistant distribution for Apple and Google.

Image Credits: Mark Persaud

But are people using devices? Google said recently there are 500 million monthly active users of Google Assistant. Not far behind are active Apple users with 375 million. Large numbers of people are using voice assistants, not just owning them. That’s a sign of technology gaining momentum — the technology is at a price point and within digital and personal ecosystems that make it right for user adoption. The pandemic has only exacerbated the use as Edison reported between March and April — a peak time for sheltering in place across the U.S.

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Spotify launches video podcasts worldwide, starting with select creators

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

Spotify today announced the global launch of video podcasts. The new feature at launch will allow users, including both free users and paid subscribers, to watch the video content from a select group of creator podcasts. But unlike on YouTube, where only paid subscribers can listen to YouTube video content in the background while they do other things on their device, Spotify says its users will be able to seamlessly move between the video version and the audio. When multitasking, audio content will continue to play in the background, as you use other apps or even if you lock your phone.

The video podcasts are supported on both the desktop and mobile app — and video will serve as an additional component, not a replacement for the audio. That means you’ll still be able to stream the audio or download the podcast for offline listening, if need be.

For creators, the launch of video podcasts represents an opportunity to grow their audience, says Spotify. Often, podcasts already have a video option — but until now, Spotify offered no way for creators to share it on its platform. That meant podcast creators would distribute their audio podcast on Spotify and other podcast distribution services, but would publish their videos to YouTube. They may continue to do, of course — especially if they’ve built a YouTube fan base for their work and no deal prevents it.

But being able to publish directly on Spotify means creators will be able to connect more directly with podcast listeners, rather than having to compete on a broader platform that pits their shows against a wide variety of other content. Video also gives Spotify a new place to sell advertising, but the company declined to comment on its ad strategy, saying it was still in the “early stages” of its video efforts.

Only a handful of podcasts are offered starting today, including Book of Basketball 2.0, Fantasy Footballers, The Misfits Podcast, H3 PodcastThe Morning ToastHigher Learning with Van Lathan & Rachel Lindsay and The Rooster Teeth Podcast. These are only available in the markets where podcasts are already supported, Spotify says.

These podcasts include a combination of originals, exclusives and third-party podcasts. Their creators are the only ones that today have the ability to upload their own video content. In the future, Spotify will continue to expand the feature.

The company’s move into video was almost inevitable. In February, Spotify acquired The Ringer to boost its podcast sports content. The deal came with a YouTube-based video operation, which signaled an interest in an expanded media footprint.

Spotify has since inked high-profile podcast deals that could also easily translate to video, too, including one with Warner Bros. focused on DC superheros, which Spotify said in June could later include “new programming from original intellectual property.” It also landed an exclusive deal with Kim Kardashian West, The WSJ reported last month. It brought The Joe Rogan Experience in-house, in yet another exclusive. And just yesterday, Spotify booked a podcast deal with TikTok star Addison Rae.

Spotify didn’t announce video plans in these areas today, but it definitely has access to talent — and offering video could allow it to better negotiate future deals, as well.

Spotify was spotted testing video podcasts earlier this year, but it was with YouTube stars Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar, of Zane and Heath: Unfiltered, who weren’t mentioned in today’s news announcement.

Video podcasts will begin rolling out today in supported markets. So you may not see the addition immediately, but should soon.

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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. 

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Spotify tests in-app offers, an interactive ad format for podcasts

Posted by | ad tech, Ads, advertising, Apps, Media, Mobile, Podcasts, Spotify | No Comments

Spotify is testing a new, more interactive ad format designed for podcasts: the in-app offer. Instead of prompting listeners to remember a coupon code or visit a specific website address, the in-app offer allows users to redeem an offer at a time that’s convenient for them. This is done by way of a visual reminder within the Spotify app, which displays the sponsors on the podcast episode’s page.

Below the podcast and description, a new section titled “Episode Sponsors” will appear, allowing listeners to then click through on the offer to redeem the coupon or other special deal. This will open the user’s browser to the advertiser’s landing page for immediate redemption, says Spotify.

“The average podcast listener has heard a countless number of ads ending with promo codes or show-specific websites, carefully repeated three times so as not to forget it. In-App Offers makes it vastly simpler for listeners to redeem deals whenever they come back to the app, and we can all benefit from one fewer ‘w-w-w-dot’ spelling lesson from our favorite podcast creators,” says Joel Withrow, senior product manager of Podcast Monetization at Spotify, in a statement.

The product is designed to better fit with the way users actually listen to podcasts — usually, while they’re doing something else, like cooking, cleaning, working out or driving for example. That means they often have to make a mental note of the offers they hear and want to research later. But this can be challenging.

The new product is in early alpha testing in the U.S. with Harry’s in Last Podcast on the Left and in Germany with HelloFresh in Herrengedeck. There isn’t yet a way to sign up to participate.

Image Credits: Spotify

The new feature builds on Spotify’s existing Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) technology, introduced at the beginning of 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. SAI technology makes key data — like ad impressions, frequency, reach, plus anonymized age, gender and device type — available to podcasters and advertisers on Spotify for the first time. This sort of data was more difficult if not impossible, to collect via podcasts that were served only as downloads from RSS feeds.

The company explained at the time of launch the problem it aimed to solve was on the advertiser’s side — they didn’t know whether or not the ad they purchase is being consumed by the user.

SAI will be widely available to advertisers in the U.S. starting this summer, and is now available to select advertisers in Germany.

The addition of in-app offers to Spotify’s suite comes following a continued heavy investment in podcasts, podcast tools and podcasting ad technology on the company’s part. The company recently announced an exclusive audio partnership with DC & Warner Bros. and the launch of podcast playlists, for example. Spotify also just landed a podcast deal with Kim Kardashian West, focused on criminal justice, and brought top podcast The Joe Rogan Experience to its platform exclusively.

Meanwhile, Spotify says it’s seeing triple-digit growth in podcast consumption, year-over-year, on its platform, while podcasts, more broadly, are reaching 1 in 3 or 100 million Americans every month.

Spotify didn’t say when the new in-app offers ad experience would be publicly available.

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Original Content podcast: We have mixed feelings about Quibi

Posted by | Apps, Media, Mobile, Original Content podcast, Podcasts, Quibi, Startups | No Comments

Quibi, the short-form, mobile-focused video service that Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg first hinted at in 2017, officially launched on Monday.

After years of star-studded content announcements, not to mention $1.75 billion in funding, it might have been impossible for Quibi to live up to expectations. And indeed, it divided the hosts of the Original Content podcast.

None of us was totally won over, but Anthony and Jordan saw something to admire in Quibi’s ambition, and thought there was promise for the initial lineup of shows — particularly the reality programs like “Chrissy’s Court” and “Punk’d,” which actually seem to benefit from the constraints of the short episode format.

There are some interesting scripted titles too, but even the shows we liked — particularly the Liam Hemsworth thriller “Most Dangerous Game” — felt like they’d be better on a bigger screen, with a more traditional running time.

Darrell, meanwhile, enjoyed some of the content, but he was more convinced that the whole enterprise is a massive folly. In his view, the only way to make Quibi work is to take a looser approach to length and to bring the app to other devices.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:27 “Star Trek: Picard” listener response
6:04 Quibi first impressions

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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.

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Spotify turns its personalization technology to podcasts with launch of Your Daily Podcasts

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

Spotify is taking the personalization technology that powers its music playlists, like Discover Weekly and Daily Mix, and turning it to podcasts. The company announced this morning the launch of a new podcast playlist called Your Daily Podcasts, that allows users to discover new shows and keep up with their favorites. In other words, it’s a discovery mechanism for finding new podcasts — similar to how Discovery Weekly will recommend new music.

The playlist will only appear when you’ve listened to at least four podcasts in the past 90 days, Spotify says. It will be available in the “Your Top Podcasts” shelf in the Home tab or in the “Made for You” hub in the app.

As with Spotify’s music playlists, algorithms will be used to analyze your podcast listening behavior like what’s you’ve recently streamed and what you follow. It will then recommend what episode to listen to next based on this history and what sort of podcasts you like. This could be the next episode in something you’re already listening to, a standalone evergreen episode from a popular podcast, or a more timely episode from a daily updating podcast, the company says. It also promises it won’t skip ahead if you’re listening to a story-driven sequential series.

After a few recommended episodes from your own subscriptions or history, Spotify will suggest new shows and begin playing their episodes after a brief intro that says, “And now, something new based on your listening.”

But unlike Discover Weekly, where the main goal is to keep users engaged and subscribed to Spotify’s service, Your Daily Podcasts has a secondary motive as well — to point users to Spotify’s own, in-house programs. While the new playlist at launch doesn’t appear to be favoring Spotify’s shows over others, it certainly is including them.

Over time, Spotify’s playlist could help grow the fan bases for its own programming, which listeners can’t get elsewhere. That also keeps them subscribed. Plus, podcasts are another surface against which Spotify can advertise, and they don’t have the hefty licensing fees associated with streaming music — especially when their creation is handled in-house.

In the third quarter, Spotify launched 22 original and exclusive titles from Spotify Studios, including The Ringer: The Hottest Take and The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet in the U.S. It also launched a number of originals from the studios it recently acquired, Gimlet and Parcast, the company said. As a result of its efforts, it’s seeing exponential growth in podcast hours streamed (up 39% from the prior quarter).

However, podcast adoption among the overall user base lags…just under 14% of users are listening to the audio programs. A new playlist like this could help, but it also misunderstands how some people listen to audio shows. They don’t necessarily want to hear any ol’ program they like at any time. Much like selecting something to watch on TV, people will be in the “mood” for one type of podcast over another at different times. Sometimes, it may be true crime, sometimes news, sometimes pop culture, sometimes comedy, etc. Throwing all those genres into the same mix is a disjointed experience.

If anything, Spotify should be trying to design a podcast experience that looks more like Netflix than a music app. Perhaps with rows where there are different grouping by genre or topic, or rows featuring short-form quick bites or longer, in-depth shows. A row with clips where you could check out new shows then click “subscribe” to keep following them. It could even put easy-to-access buttons next to these rows in order to launch a stream of favorites from a given genre. Basically, personalize the whole podcast interface so it feels like your own rather than trying to do that within a single playlist.

This is not Spotify’s first attempt at a podcast playlist. It also recently launched “Your Daily Drive” which combines music and podcasts. And it now allows users to create their own playlists using podcasts.

Spotify says the new playlist is available free and Premium users in U.S., U.K., Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

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Knowable launches its ‘not a podcast’ $100 audio classes

Posted by | Andreessen Horowitz, Apps, Connie Chan, eCommerce, Education, Entertainment, funding, Fundings & Exits, Media, Mobile, Podcasts, Recent Funding, Snackable Media, Startups, TC | No Comments

Books on tape were the lifeblood of self-help. But e-learning startups like Khan Academy and Coursera demanded our eyes, not just our ears. Then came podcasts that make knowledge accessible, yet rarely focus on you retaining and applying what they teach.

Today, a new startup called Knowable is launching to provide gaze-free audio education at $100 per eight-hour course on topics like how to launch a startup or how to sleep better. The idea is that by layering chapter summaries and eventually interactive activities atop premium, long-form, ad-free lessons, it can become the trusted name in learning anywhere. With always-in Bluetooth earbuds and smart speakers becoming ubiquitous, we can imbibe content in smaller chunks in new environments. Knowable wants to fill that time with self-improvement.

The big question is whether Knowable can differentiate its content from free alternatives and build a moat against copycats through savvy voice-responsive learning exercises so you don’t forget everything.

To evolve beyond the podcast, Knowable has raised a $3.75 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz’s partner Connie Chan, and joined by Upfront, First Round and Initialized. “The market is ready for a company like Knowable. Their timing is right and their team possesses the rare combination of product expertise and creative media experience necessary to win. That’s why I’m not just hosting Knowable’s first course, Launch a Startup, we’re also one of the earliest investors in the company,” says Initialized’s Alexis Ohanian.

Knowable Courses

There’s certainly a market opportunity, as 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, up from 26% in 2018, with 74% of those citing the desire to learn. Half of Americans have listened to an audio book. The e-learning market is $190 billion today, but projected to grow to $300 billion as bloated and expensive higher education succumbs to cheaper and more focused options.

But to score consistent revenue, Knowable must build up its library and execute on plans to offer a subscription service with access to updates on prior lessons. A major challenge will be bundling classes on the right topics that don’t exhaust users so they keep listening and paying.

Building a school from sound

“My first-generation immigrant parents came here without college degrees. Great teachers let me move up the socioeconomic ladder pretty quickly,” says Knowable co-founder Warren Shaeffer. “The genesis of the idea came from our shared interest in education and the value of great teachers.”

Knowable ChaptersShaeffer and his co-founder Alex Benzer have already been through the struggles of startup life together. After meeting at MuckerLab in LA and splitting from their respective co-founders, in 2007 they created SocialEngine, a community website builder that sold to Room 214. Next they built up a video platform for independent creators called Vidme that raised $9 million but never became sustainable before selling to Giphy in 2018.

The pair had glimpsed how great content could rope in an audience, but felt like the true potential of the podcast hadn’t been explored. Why did they have to be produced on the cheap, distributed on generic platforms and supported by ads? Knowable emerged as a way to create luxury audio, delivered through a purpose-built app and paid for with direct sales or subscriptions. Instead of recording unscripted discussions as episodes, they mapped out course curriculum and filled them with structured advice from experts.

I’m a few hours into the Ohanian-hosted Launch a Startup. It’s certainly a lot more efficient than trying to learn the basics just through storytelling from podcasts like Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale or NPR’s How I Built This. One chapter breaks down the top ways startups die and the traits you’ll need to persevere. From optimism and resilience operating in unstructured environments to a refusal to make excuses why you can’t succeed, Ohanian cooly recaps the learnings at the end of the chapter. Open the app and you’ll get a written summary plus suggested blog posts and books for diving deeper. An accompanying 95-page PDF workbook collects all the key learnings for rapid review later.

The topic is huge, though, and Knowable is at its best when it’s distilling knowledge into neatly packaged lists and frameworks. The course’s weakest moments are when it feels most like a podcast, with somewhat meandering conversations with random founders discussing how they dealt with problems. Meanwhile, it currently lacks some basic tools like in-app notetaking and sharing, or as wide a range of playback speeds and rewind options as you’ll get on Audible. “We don’t think of ourselves as a podcast company,” Shaeffer says, but that’s still who he’s competing against.

pic.twitter.com/ZAC4oI5N1p

— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) May 28, 2019

What’s also missing is any true interactivity. The downside of audio learning is that if you’re not paying full attention, it’s easy to zone out. Knowable needs to develop voice and touch-controlled exercises to help users apply and retain the lessons. There are plans to launch learning communities where students can confer about the classes, akin to Y Combinator’s “Bookface” forum.

However, Shaeffer says that “we’re on a mission to make education more accessible and quizzes might be an impediment to that,” which leaves questions about what the learning activities will look like, even though they’re crucial to users coughing up $100 per class. It’s easy to imagine Spotify/Anchor, Gimlet Media or other major podcast players developing their own interactive features and classes if Knowable doesn’t get there first.

Snackable audio education

The startup’s bid for virality is the ability to give a friend a code to take the class with you. Knowable is also hoping big-name experts and quality driven by a team cobbled together from NPR, The Washington Post, William Morris Endeavor, Masterclass and Vice will set it apart. They’ve got a lot of work ahead to grow beyond the six courses currently available on topics like climate change activism and real estate, especially because there’s a 100% money-back guarantee if classes fall short.

For the moment, Knowable feels a bit late with its homework. It has the potential and demand to reinvent audio learning but currently sounds too similar to what’s already everywhere. I was hoping for a Bandersnatch for education that made a broadcast experience feel more like a game.

But the opportunity will only continue to grow as we spend more of our lives in earshot of AirPods and Echoes. With a broad enough library and clever editing, one day you might tell Knowable “teach me something about venture capital in eight minutes” as you walk to the coffee shop. That’s going to have a much better impact on your life than just scrolling through another feed.

 

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Pandora puts its personalization powers to work in a revamped app

Posted by | Apps, curation, Media, Mobile, Music, Pandora, personalization, Podcasts, streaming, streaming music | No Comments

Pandora is doubling down on personalization and revamping its app in order to better compete with rivals like Spotify and Apple Music. Today, the company is introducing a new mobile experience that includes a dedicated “For You” tab where a continually updated feed of content is presented to users, including both music and podcast recommendations (and more). This content is personalized to the individual, based on factors like the day of the week, the time of day and Pandora’s predictions about your mood, among other things.

The new personalized feed will also help the company to better showcase more of its exclusive content — like its music-and-podcast combos, called “Pandora Stories,” for example. Or the dozens of SiriusXM talk shows that became Pandora podcasts following its acquisition.

“Our listeners have told us that they love the utility of Pandora — it’s drop-dead easy, it works, it knows me, it’s really simple,” explains Pandora’s Chief Product Officer Chris Phillips. “But what they haven’t been able to understand and have easy enough access to is all the content and programming that we have available on Pandora — the new content, new programming and the unique content that you can’t get other places,” he says.

The For You tab aims to change that by turning Pandora’s personalization capabilities onto its broader catalog and exclusives, then crafting a scrollable feed with dozens of ways to listen.

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Here, you’ll be able to tap into Pandora Modes, for example, which is a new way to listen to Pandora Stations. The feature was previously available on the web, and has now come to mobile for the first time with today’s launch.

Pandora Modes let you toggle between ways to customize your stations. You can opt for modes that will tweak the station to play things like the most popular songs (“crowd faves”), the deep cuts, new releases, artist-only tracks and more. You also can opt for a “discovery” mode to have Pandora introduce you to new artists you may like, as related to the station in question.

Another section in the For You tab lets you browse by categories, including genre, new music, podcasts, moods, playlists, decades and trending.

The “Moods & Activities” section, meanwhile, will present collections of music based on current trends — for example, one of the available “moods” is “fall,” and another could be “rainy day,” matched up with the day’s weather. You also can dig into this section for moods to match your activity, like workout, gaming, studying, family time and more.

As you scroll down the For You page, you’ll come across your podcast recommendations and personalized playlists. And Pandora can create some 80 different versions of the latter, which include playlists by moods, activities, genres and more, all powered by its Music Genome.

Plus, the combined Pandora and SiriusXM editorial team of around 25 creates hundreds of human-curated playlists, too.

PandoraModes BlogImage

In total, there are some 35 different modules in Pandora’s new For You feed, some of which are shown to every user while others appear dynamically based on time of day and day of week. Its suggestions will also be tailored to your own likes and interests, thanks to your own listening behavior and explicit signals, like thumbs up and thumbs down.

That means your For You tab will be unique to you, and you can later be targeted with specific promotions — like the content to emerge from that deal between SiriusXM/Pandora and Drake, for example, if relevant to your interests. (Hey, it’s better than that time when Spotify put Drake’s face on every playlist.)

Despite the personalization, the feed will still include some insights powered by the larger Pandora population, so you can see what’s popular and trending more broadly across the service.

In time, Pandora plans to roll out even more modules to build out the experience further.

100 billion thumbs are what’s powering all this,” adds Phillips, speaking of Pandora’s recent milestone, which measured the number of thumbs up and down clicks from users. Until now, he says, Pandora “hadn’t really brought together the community…and the power of our personalization, but not just for stations — for all the playlists, albums, songs and artists,” Phillips continues. “And then the idea that we lay on top of all of this…the idea of what time of day it is, and what might be interesting based on what we predict your mood is right now,” he says.

The “For You” tab and other features are arriving today on Pandora for iOS and Android.

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Spotify now lets you add podcasts to playlists

Posted by | Media, Mobile, playlists, Podcasts, Spotify | No Comments

Spotify this morning announced a new feature that will allow users to add their podcasts to playlists. With the addition, users can create their own custom playlists of their favorite podcasts, or even those that combine music and audio — similar to Spotify’s own newly launched “Your Daily Drive.”

With “Your Daily Drive,” Spotify put its personalization engine to work to combine both music and news from select sources. But with the ability to now build your own podcast-filled playlists, you won’t have to rely on Spotify’s curation as much.

Instead, you can build your own podcast playlists by tapping the three-dot menu to the right of the podcast episode and then “Add to playlist.” You either can choose to add it a playlist you’ve already created, or you can build a new one from scratch. You can continue to add more content to this playlist, including music, if you prefer.

The company says this functionality is something users have regularly requested since the integration of podcasts to its streaming music service. However, it’s not necessarily the easiest way to tune into the latest episodes of your favorite programs, as it involves manual curation.

Many podcasts release new episodes every week or so — and don’t want to get stuck constantly building playlists for those. Instead, the feature makes more sense for curating a set of podcasts around a theme, or preparing yourself to binge your way through a few programs on a long commute or road trip, for example.

Spotify says today there are more than 3 billion user-generated music playlists on its service, so it believes that its users will embrace this new curation ability, as well.

Once a podcast playlist has been created, it can be shared with friends or the public, just like music playlists can be. This could make for an interesting marketing tool for podcasters, who could put together playlists of their best episodes or those with high-profile guest stars, for example, as a way to introduce newcomers to their shows. But it also could serve as a way for friends to recommend their favorite shows to others, by putting together a list of their all-time favorite episodes.

For those interested in tracking news and entertainment, they could build playlists of podcast episodes from different sources all focused on the same topic. For instance, a playlist offering everyone’s reviews of the new iPhone.

Over the past year or so, Spotify has heavily invested in the podcast market, including through acquisitions like GimletParcast and Anchor — as well as in its programming, like the deal with Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, for instance, and a quickly growing number of exclusives, windowed-exclusives and originals. It also hired former Condé Nast president of entertainment Dawn Ostroff to lead its content efforts.

Today, Spotify says it has “hundreds of thousands” of podcasts available to stream on its platform.

The new podcast playlist-building feature is mobile-only for now. On desktop, you can only stream the playlists you made, but can’t build them yet, Spotify says.

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