Anyway, let the river run — Audacy and Snap try to be more like TikTok, TikTok tries to be more like Spotify, and Spotify tries to make you pay extra for a play button.
Audacy’s new podcast discovery app takes a page out of TikTok’s playbook
Radio giant Audacy has acquired podcast discovery app Moonbeam, according to the app’s founder, Paul English. Discovery has been a massive challenge for the industry, and Moonbeam addresses it by operating less like a traditional podcast player and more like a social platform.
“We developed a feature called ‘Beam’ that started playing an episode immediately. If you didn’t like it, you swiped up and we would then play another show,” English wrote in a blog post. “This approach was very much inspired by TikTok, the best video discovery app.”
Audacy previously acquired top production outfits like Pineapple Street Studios and Cadence13 and has its own app for podcasts and radio streaming. Audacy hasn’t said whether Moonbeam will continue to operate as a standalone app or if its functionality will be folded into the Audacy app.
English declined to disclose the terms of the acquisition to The Boston Globe, and Audacy did not immediately return Hot Pod’s request for confirmation on the deal. Perhaps Audacy will provide the details during its earnings presentation on Friday.
Spotify’s latest premium feature is a play button
Premium subscribers will now have access to separate play and shuffle buttons throughout the app. Spotify’s shuffle default has been the bane of artists and extremely serious playlist makers everywhere, so the development is likely welcome. The company introduced a dedicated play button last year for albums with some persuasion from Adele, who said, “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason.”
I am all about the shuffle, but my Verge colleague Chris Welch has a point that an app-wide play button only for premium subscribers is an odd choice. “It seems a bit ludicrous that Spotify is now using buttons and its user interface as a differentiator between the service’s free and paid offerings, but here we are,” he wrote.
Acast’s investing spree is coming to an end
Swedish podcast distribution and advertising company Acast has made some big moves into the American market of late, announcing its $34 million acquisition of podcast database Podchaser last month and a three-year ad sales deal with WTF with Marc Maron in May. With the economy depressing ad revenue, Acast will cool off its spree, executives said during its mid-year investor presentation on Tuesday.
Emily Villatte, Acast’s CFO, said on a call with investors that the company will “slow that pace of investment.” But it seems that Acast’s expansion strategy may already be paying off, reporting 72 percent growth in North America in Q2, about 2.5 times its growth rate in Europe. It’s also adding podcasts at a clip, representing 66,000 shows, up from about 40,000 at the end of 2021.
But even with the addition of new shows and tools, the softened ad market forced the company to lower its guidance on annual sales growth through 2025 from 60 percent to 40–45 percent. Acast’s stock is down nearly 5 percent on the news, and it may be a warning sign for the industry overall. When the Interactive Advertising Bureau projected the market will be worth $4 billion by 2024, that was dependent on a healthy ad market. If things keep up, that figure could be out of reach.
Snap starts creator fund for indie artists
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Snap, so the company is making a play for TikTok’s music artists. Last week, the company announced the Snapchat Sounds Creator Fund in partnership with DIY music distributor DistroKid.
Snap is offering tempting grants of up to $100,000 to top music creators who distribute their tunes on the platform via DistroKid. Plus, selected artists will be placed in more visible spots on the platform, like Snapchat Lens or in Spotlight. Eligible participants must be based in the US and aged 16 and over.
“We want to support the independent and emerging artists that are driving creation on Snapchat,” Ted Suh, global head of music partnerships at Snap, said in a statement. “By providing meaningful funding and creative support, our goal is for artists to feel empowered to continue creating and pursue a career in music.”
Snap introduced Sounds, which allows users to include music clips in their posts, in 2020. But its impact on the music industry has been pretty minimal so far. TikTok remains music’s single most influential discovery tool, and it may not stop there…
TikTok Music could be the next big podcast app
TikTok parent ByteDance may be coming for Spotify’s lunch. As first spotted by Insider, the Chinese company filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for “TikTok Music” in May. In addition to music and videos, the filing says that the new app would also support podcasts and digital radio content.
If a TikTok Music app comes to fruition, this would not be ByteDance’s first streamer. In 2020, it launched Resso, which is available in India, Brazil, and Indonesia (aka, exactly where Spotify wants to expand). In June, Resso added podcasts to its library thanks to a partnership with Acast.
Despite warnings from the likes of Sen. Mark Warner and Joe Rogan about TikTok’s data practices, it seems basically unstoppable. Perhaps Rogan will change his tune if it becomes a major podcast platform and his Spotify contract expires.
That’s all for today! On Friday, I am heading to Scandinavia, the land of
audio tech fjords and open-faced sandwiches, so you will hear from Jake the next couple of Tuesdays. See you on the other side.