Welcome back to Insider Weekly, a roundup of some of our top stories. I’m Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider.
What do Barack and Michelle Obama, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Kim Kardashian, and Ava DuVernay have in common? What if I add Joe Rogan to the list?
The addition of Rogan might have given you the strongest hint: The cast of A-list stars have all signed podcast deals with Spotify in recent years. And the reason Rogan might be the strongest hint is telling. It’s likely because he’s the public figure you most closely associate with the audio giant, for better or worse.
In contrast, as Natalie Jarvey and Steven Perlberg reported this week, many of the superstars who have signed with Spotify have released little, if anything, on the platform. In the case of Markle and Harry, there’s just one 33-minute holiday special to listen to since a reported $25 million deal was signed in late 2020.
Natalie and Steven’s story provides an inside look at why. They report that a creative “bottleneck,” a shifting strategy, and internal tumult have curtailed Spotify’s splashy deals. Read on for a Q&A with them both.
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Inside Spotify’s rocky attempt to produce hit podcasts
Our reporters Natalie Jarvey and Steven Perlberg take us inside Spotify’s podcast deals.
What prompted you to dig into what’s going on at Spotify?
Natalie: I’ve been covering Spotify for years, so I always try to keep an ear to the ground about what’s going on with the company. In January, it came to light that Spotify was just starting to hire for its first series with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who signed a deal to make podcasts for Spotify back in 2020. At that point, I realized that a lot of the Spotify Podcast deals I had previously written about — with big-name Hollywood talent like Jordan Peele, Ava DuVernay, and Kim Kardashian — hadn’t actually yielded any shows.
What was the most surprising thing you learned while reporting this story?
Natalie: It was really interesting to review the details of some of Spotify’s podcast deals. That helped me understand what kind of an investment Spotify was making into podcasting. It turns out, many of these deals are a relatively low financial risk for Spotify, even with the high-profile talent involved.
What do you think the future holds for Spotify’s podcast strategy?
Steven: I think our reporting shows that Spotify’s efforts to develop shows in-house has at best had mixed success and that signing splashy development deals with big-name stars — who have no audio-storytelling experience and many other simultaneous projects — guarantees you a press release , not a hit.
A more reliable strategy, and one that Spotify is already pursuing, is to sign proven podcasters to exclusivity deals, like they’ve done with Alex Cooper for “Call Her Daddy” or Joe Rogan. The recent Rogan controversy will likely push Spotify to reach more deals like these, not fewer. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said it himself in a recent town hall with employees: “The real thing here is to try to go for an even broader set of exclusives that represent even more voices.”
Read the full story here: Spotify’s splashy deals with stars from Ava DuVernay to Kim Kardashian made headlines, not podcasts. Insiders and leaked deal memos revealed a creative ‘bottleneck,’ shifting strategy, and internal tumult.
Who’s the next Jeff Zucker?
2022 is off to a rocky start for CNN, with the resignation of Jeff Zucker, its longtime leader, and Allison Gollust, its head of marketing and chief spokesperson, who both departed amid a flurry of headlines after disclosing their romantic relationship.
Zucker’s resignation, in particular, left a void that can be filled only by a seasoned and steady-handed news executive. Insider talked to 13 senior news-industry insiders, agents, and experts to get their thoughts on who might fill Zucker’s shoes and lead CNN into the next decade.
See who could take the reins at CNN.
The NFT ‘crypto coven’ is exploding in popularity
Created by a group of five friends, the collection of witch NFTs — or the “crypto coven” — has become a magical and lucrative project in the fast-growing digital-token space.
The 9,906 witches have whimsical features like swooping hats, horns, crowns, and tattoos. The collection, which is sold out, has already generated over $20 million in sales, with the cheapest nonfungible token reselling for over $5,400.
Here’s how five friends created the “crypto coven.”
How the public cloud will affect finance jobs
Cloud technology has percolated through nearly every nook and cranny of Wall Street, from investment banking to risk management and marketing. Increased adoption of the public cloud has allowed Wall Street to cut costs and innovate like never before.
But more reliance on the tech will force change upon finance workers — and could come at the expense of some people’s jobs.
Read how the cloud could upend the sector.
More of this week’s top reads:
Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.