Oct. 4, 2021

James Cridland on Hyper-competition in Podcasting

This episode we're back into hyper-competition, speaking with Podnews editor James Cridland. We have some real-time thinking, some real-time podcasting about a problem that we've yet to solve...that problem being, is there too much choice? And to...


This episode we're back into hyper-competition, speaking with Podnews editor James Cridland. We have some real-time thinking, some real-time podcasting about a problem that we've yet to solve...that problem being, is there too much choice? And to reiterate the mantra of some choice is better than none, but it does not necessarily follow that more choice is better than some.

Transcript

Will Page: Welcome back to Bubble Trouble, conversations between the economist and author, Will Page, that's myself and independent analyst Richard Kramer, where we lay out some inconvenient truths about how financial markets really work. Today, we're in conversation with our second special guest, the source of truth in the wild west of podcasting, Mr. James Cridland, and we're going to be discussing hyper competition in the world of podcasts, that point where quantity goes up, and quality goes down. More in a moment.

We're back with Bubble Trouble. Welcome along Richard Kramer.

Richard Kramer: Hey, Will.

Will Page: So we're back into hyper competition. And we think we've got something here some real time thinking, some real time podcasting about a problem that we've yet to solve, that problem being is there too much choice? And to reiterate the mantra of some choice is better than none, but it does not necessarily follow that more choice is better than some. And last week, we discussed with Paul Sanders, the person who coined the term hyper competition, whether it applies to music. Do we actually need 75,000 new songs being onboarded onto streaming platforms every day? Is there a cost to having too much choice? Are there limitations? This week, we flip it to podcasts, and we've got the best person in the world to speak with, James Cridland, the author of the Pod News newsletter and the fantastic Podland podcast. And James, welcome to Bubble Trouble. And thank you so much for giving us your time.

James Cridland: Oh, it's a great pleasure. It's excellent to be here.

Will Page: So to introduce James Cridland to the stage, I have to stress uh I subscribe to the many podcasts. I have now listening to one, which is Podland, his weekly summary of what's going on in the wild west of podcasting. I subscribe to many newsletters and I'm reading only just one, which is Pod News, his newsletter. So let me ask James to firstly introduce the work that he does, which is so crucial in helping this business, which is literally designing our plane whilst it's in flight, but not just introduced the work that's available for free to consumer. He's doing incredible work that he's producing, but also James, maybe just start off by explaining to me what's in a word the syntax of podcasts. As far as I can work out, it's a merge of two things, an iPod which can we buy in a cash converter in Kensington High Street, and a broadcast, which is the opposite of what podcasts are. They're narrowcast, not one to many. They're many one to ones. So firstly, the work that you produce, and secondly, the definition of a podcast.

James Cridland: Well, firstly, yes, I, I write a bunch of different things around podcasting, and I've been in the audio space for the last 30 years and being in the audio space for the last 30 years, in February 2004, that is when another British person came up with the word podcast, uh a man called Ben Hammersley who was a journalist at The Guardian at the time. And it's exactly that. It's a portmanteau between iPod and broadcast. And you're, you're absolutely right that that is two things that podcasting isn't. If you talk to old gold podcasters, they will talk to you about audio files and MP3s and [inaudible 00:03:05] DRMs and distributed via an RSS feed and lots of technical-

Will Page: [laughs]

James Cridland: Mumbo jumbo, which is completely pointless. From my point of view, a podcast is on demand audio. It's like a radio show, but it's on demand.

Will Page: Now I want to get to you by revealing a stat that you introduced me to, which is at the current ramp rate, we're looking at two new podcasts being launched every minute. Now this may not be true, since Encore has changed its tone a little bit. But for a while, two new podcasts, not new episodes, two new shows were being launched every minute. So in about four minutes I've been talking here, that will have been eight new podcasts onboarding our platform. Do we need that much choice? Is there a problem with that much choice?

And I want to get into sort of long tail introduction to this discussion here by just citing a 2008 study I did on the download market on iTunes. There was 13 million tracks on the digital shelf in 2008. And I worked out that 10 million didn't have a single click. So the long tail was very long. But it's also very dormant, a lot of dormant tracks out on the shelf. Can you just open this conversation up by talking about the long tail of podcasts when we're looking at two new shows every minute getting produced?

James Cridland: Yeah, I mean, uh there are a lot of new podcasts being made all the time. There are 4.2 million podcasts out there. And one of the things that is I think a little bit concerning is if you have a look at the best research that we have, which is Edison Research's Infinite Dial. And that says that the average amount of podcasts that people listen to is eight. So that's eight different shows a week. But when you start diving into this, it's skewed by the super listeners, people who are listening to loads and loads and loads of them. Actually, a third of people listen to three podcasts or under. So three podcasts or under, but 4.2 million podcasts out there. That's uh quite a difference in terms of numbers, I think.

Will Page: And we're looking at a land of niches, I guess. I mean, there's, when we talk about hit podcasts, how big are those hit podcasts hitting it? What's the popularity of the head?

James Cridland: Well, I, I think when you look at the amount of downloads that you need to make a hit, then you are looking at actually a very small amount of podcasts. You're looking at the top 1%, the top 2%. Half of all of the podcasts out there get less than 28 downloads per episode in their first week. So as long as you're doing more than 28 downloads for this particular show, then you are doing better than half of the podcasts out there. But having said that, you need to launch an awful lot of great content in order to find some of those hits, because some of those hits will naturally bubble to the top and naturally give people the hits that they're looking for. So I think it's not necessarily a concern that there are so many podcasts out there. It's probably just making sure that the search algorithms, that the recommendation algorithms, actually make sure that the recommendation algorithms just make the hit podcasts the most successful on those platforms.

Richard Kramer: I'd like to step in here and, and challenge one of the things that you said, which is that these podcasts will naturally and you use the word bubble.

James Cridland: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Richard Kramer: But sort of rise to the top or come to the surface. And what we've seen in other media, certainly is that you've got to put a lot of effort into marketing. And certainly in the record industry and the music industry, I think Will will nod along to this, it's all about the marketing that's put behind particular artists. And with so many podcasts out there, how does one know what should get marketed? How do you pick the wheat from the chaff?

James Cridland: Well, I think that's one of the problems that Spotify is running into, because Spotify is launching a bunch of new individual podcasts every single week, every single month. And of course, it's actually very difficult to promote more than one or two of these shows. Uh if you're going to promote them, you know, a lot, if you're going to really shout about them, how can you possibly shout about 30 or 40 individual shows? And I think that's one of the hardest jobs that any large publisher has, whether it's Spotify, whether it's a luminary, of course that we've seen trying to do this sort of thing in the past. You know, if you're launching 20 or 30 different shows in a month, how do you promote all of those at the same time? And that is, I think, quite hard to end up doing.

If I look at um streaming TV, for example, Amazon in the UK, at least is known for the Grand Tour. It's the place where the stars of Top Gear went to do their replacement show. HBO is known as the place where you watch Game of Thrones in the U.S. or Foxtel has Game of Thrones here in Australia, where I'm talking to you from. And really, those are the tent pegs. And there are very, very few of those that are actually holding up the whole edifice, holding up the whole tent of Amazon Prime or HBO. Joe Rogan is perhaps doing that for Spotify a little bit. But there are very few other really large exclusive shows that Spotify has that are actually delivering an awful lot of uh new customer acquisition.

Will Page: We'll come to [inaudible 00:08:42] in the second half of this podcast. But you are reminding me of something we discussed last week, which is when you have an increasingly long skinny tail of content where you have hyper competition, there's more noise in the market. Therefore you need more relative investment to stand above that noise. And that favors a few, not the many. And it's almost like the inequality widens with a more democratization of access a market has.

James Cridland: I think really, one of the things around podcasting that, that we're seeing a lot of now is Hollywood signing up big stars to appear in a podcast because that is at least a hook to get you in. I think what they've not necessarily understood is that a Hollywood personality is a personality because they get scripts written for them by amazing writers. That's where a Hollywood personality gets their personality from. So actually, if you stick a Hollywood personality in front of a microphone and say talk about your life, then there's actually quite little life to actually talk about. But clearly, bringing in a big staff for your podcast is something that should certainly, you know, in, in their minds help a new podcast get established.

Richard Kramer: Can I zero in on again, something that we like to talk about in this podcast? Since it's about bubbles and Bubble Trouble, there's a clearly a cost to producing all of these podcasts with all of these stars. And it's got to be commercial at some point. And a lot of the folks who advocate for a giant market in podcast advertising look over to the radio world.

James Cridland: Hmm.

Richard Kramer: And they say there's a huge market in radio advertising. The figure is almost surely out of date right now. But they point to $17 billion of radio advertising in the U.S.

James Cridland: Yeah, 17 billion. That used to be bigger than the global music industry.

Richard Kramer: [laughs] So that's supposed to be the natural home of advertising shifting to podcasting. But when you dig into that local radio advertising market, it is hyperlocal. It is the local Chevy dealer, the amusement park, the Rib Shack in the local market, and it's sold by a local sales team. Do you think it's realistic that podcasts can tap into that huge market? Or do you think it's, it's going to be uh a difficult ask for them to come up with kind of targeting that, that finds that three or five or 10 or 28 listeners in that local market for the global podcast that only has a few 1,000?

James Cridland: I think you've got two questions there. You've got is it technically possible for podcasts to do targeting? And on the other side, how can you go out and sell local advertising to local advertising clients? And I think if you were to take both of those separately, firstly from a technology point, yes, it's absolutely possible for the ads that you hear in a podcast to be hyper locally targeted to individual people, and not just locally targeted, but targeted to people's individual communities of common interest. You look at radio, and you assume that it's local radio, it's local communities and everything else. Actually, it's not.

Radio is all about communities of common interest. The fact that we have been talking about local radio in the past, is only because an FM transmitter only reaches about 60 or 70 miles. And that's about as far as it'll go. That's very different to when you look at communities. And clearly, what we're seeing now is we're seeing internet, radio and podcasting, which is specifically for communities that aren't just local communities, but communities of common interest, whether that's communities of the people who are interested in, uh in economists talking about bubbles, to people who are interested in what uh Joe Rogan has to say, or indeed podcast about underwater knitting or whatever that might end up being.

So I think podcasts work very, very well in terms of that. I mean, it was interesting, I was listening to the podcast that you did recently about sacks. And in it was a very impassioned ad read from you, Will, about Policy Genius. Now, Policy Genius sounds like a great sponsor and a great product. I live in Australia. And that talk about Policy Genius made me jealous that I didn't live in the U.S. where I can actually use this particular product, targeting ads to individual countries, and indeed, individual towns and individual streets is really easy. And that's a real opportunity, I think.

You've then got the other side, of course, which is, well, how do you go out and sell. And I think that's um one of the interesting things, looking at people like SiriusXM, who owns Pandora, but also Stitcher. They have pulled all of their ad sales uh teams together, so that uh they can use the local ad sales teams that Pandora have to go out and sell podcasts as well. And I think that makes a, a bunch of sense. And similarly, you know, Spotify has its own self service model, which allows you to do that sort of thing as well. So I think there are opportunities in terms of local sales, although local sales is quite expensive, having worked in um commercial radio in the past, but there are also opportunities, I think, certainly in terms of the technology, and the targeting of communities of common interests.

Will Page: That gets us to the halftime whistle here, what I'm working out in my head so far is there's a whole ton of choice in podcasts, two new shows every minute, over 4 million on the platforms already, but not a whole ton of money to support that choice as well and that's gonna create some bubble troubles in the future. We're back in part two to discuss the exclusive content, the anchor content, contents which draw you in to listen to podcasts as well. Back in a moment.

Richard Kramer: We're back for part two of Bubble Trouble with James Cridland, one of the best informed commentators on the podcast industry that we know. And James, we want to have a chat with you about this notion of exclusives, the trade offs behind them and whether they work. Obviously, when a popular podcast goes exclusive on one or another platform, it massively reduces the potential audience. But obviously increases the value to the platform of having content that people might come specifically to hear. And could you walk us through some of the examples you've seen as to whether exclusives make sense or not? And are they the way forward in the podcast world?

James Cridland: Yeah, sure. I think exclusives in terms of audio are very different to exclusives in terms of, you know, big budget TV shows, or big movies and things like that. I think that audio is far, far harder to talk up the benefit of an exclusive particularly since you've got so many other choices out there. But one of the things that I'm certainly seeing is that there are some exclusives that work. Most of them probably don't work too well. But it's a slightly different kettle of fish in the podcasting world. Because pretty much all of the podcasting that you find aren't exclusive to a platform. Some of them are, but they're certainly not paid.

So you don't have a paywall, with the, the very small exception of Audible, you don't have platforms that you actually have to pay for. So you end up with uh Joe Rogan is an exclusive. He's on Spotify, but he's not behind the Spotify paywall. Anyone can still listen to that podcast, you just have to download the app first. Uh and the same goes for a number of different exclusives on a number of different platforms as well. There is a question as to whether or not that is a good acquisition of a consumer. Is this the only exclusive thing that that particular platform has to offer?

And I kind of look at Spotify. And I think Spotify in terms of music, there is nothing exclusive in terms of any of the music that you find on Spotify, that you can't also get on Apple Music or on Tidal, or on YouTube Music or on any of these other services. So Spotify has to sell itself on two things. Firstly, really good algorithms. And I think they're now being beaten by YouTube in terms of music algorithms. But secondly, they need to sell them on other content. And that other content might be Joe Rogan and Brene Brown and Barack Obama, and maybe Prince Harry, who knows? And I think that that is probably one of the things which is keeping Spotify looking a bit different to the competitors, because they've actually got this content in there.

Will Page: I think Prince Harry's provided around 36 minutes of content so far, which means he's got the highest paid stream in music history.

James Cridland: [laughs] He's done pretty well out of it, I think. But on the other hand, Prince Harry's stuff is exclusive either in a, an exclusive time window, or exclusive, full stop on the Spotify platform. But anybody can still have a listen. They just need to download the free Spotify app and hear some of the ads around it.

Richard Kramer: So I think from what you're saying, and from our discussion on the first half, there's just too much substitutability in the total volume of podcast content out there to shift someone into a platform or out of a platform based on one exclusive show.

James Cridland: I think there needs to be a really good exclusive show. Joe Rogan is a really good example of a show where fans will follow him around. And they may not be entirely happy about being bullied to, you know, download this particular app, but they will follow him around. I'm not sure that there are 20, 30, 40 of uh, of those individual shows in that same way.

Will Page: Just on Joe Rogan, James, I'd be interested to hear your view on the fact it's now a visual experience in Spotify. You watch it on your screen as well as listening through your headphones. And we talked about podcasts as being audio content. How important for marquee content like Joe Rogan is the visual experience as well, seeing the guests in the studio?

James Cridland: I mean, Joe Rogan's always been a visual experience in that you've been able to experience that on YouTube. And one of the things that Spotify did in their uh deal was to stop Joe Rogan from putting the entire show onto YouTube. And by the way, YouTube is the number one podcast platform in many different countries. It just comes back to what is a podcast anyways. We were talking about right at the beginning. So I think the interest in terms of Joe Rogan for being a video podcast is actually that it makes it shareable. It makes it more of an experience. You're not probably going to sit there for three hours and look at the two locked off cameras and think that that's a great TV experience. It's not. It's a great audio first experience. But there are those shareable things that happen in every one of those podcasts where you can actually share something that isn't just a wiggly uh waveform on a screen. Uh you can actually share the video of that particular bit. And I think it's great, therefore, for marketing and that sort of thing, but probably not how most people are consuming it.

Will Page: So it'd be interesting to find out how many people have watched a clip of Elon Musk smoking a spliff with Joe Rogan, versus how many people listen to the three hour interview in its entirety?

James Cridland: Oh, I, I would completely agree with that. And I think there are whole podcasts to be made of how long a podcast should be and uh whether three hours is too long. There's a very good radio consultant called Valerie Geller who has a catchphrase of, "Don't be boring." And maybe there's something to be learned uh from that. But I'm sure that a lot of people were both watching the show on YouTube, but having it on in, in the background, but also using YouTube comments, to feel as if they were part of that community of common interest that I was talking about earlier. And those comments don't exist on Spotify. So Spotify has this problem where they've actually taken a community of people that really enjoyed that Joe Rogan show. And they've dumped them somewhere where they can't actually continue to function as a community anymore. And that's a bit of a concern.

Will Page: So let's wrap up too. We want to get to smoke signals soon. But I just want to frame one last question on this hyper competition in podcasts. So in part one, we established there's a ton of choice, but there's not a ton of money. And in part two, we're seeing how platforms are resorting to exclusives as a strategy towards driving their podcasts business forward. When I was taught exclusives, the textbook example is called the Howard Stern effect, who left FM radio, which had massive reach, went to SiriusXM, which had less reach, but from quantity to quality had a core audience which is worth more. So he reduced his reach and increased his value. Do you see Howard Stern examples happening in podcasts? Or to your earlier point, the fact they're available for free, does it kind of undermine Howard Stern's strategy of an exclusive in himself?

James Cridland: Yeah, I think there's a big difference there in between exclusives that help consumers sign up to a service. There are lots of people who have signed up to Amazon Prime Video in the UK because they wanted to watch the Grand Tour. And I think there's a big difference there to making a podcast, which is available free, but you have to download a specific app to end up getting that. Now there's a particular example in the UK of the BBC Sounds app where they are actually doing exactly that. They have a free app. They're putting a bunch of content that license fee payers like you are paying for. But the only place that you can have a listen to them is on the BBC Sounds app. And that seems to be a successful strategy for the BBC. But then they do have 23,000 people working for them. And they do have some pretty good content on there as well. And I think if, if we've learned anything over the last 15 years, is that people coming into the podcasting industry really underestimate what hard work it is to make great audio.

Will Page: Right, and this is just like banging my head against the table here. Because what is a podcast?

James Cridland: Well, there are arguments going on around should we call radio radio anymore.

Will Page: [laughs]

James Cridland: I'm a big fan of calling things by what the audience calls it. You know when you're listening to the radio. And you know when you're listening to a podcast. A podcast is a piece of on demand audio, which is like a radio show, but on demand. That's all the podcast is. And I'm a real fan of listening to what the audience is calling something and not arguing with them and just getting on with the [laughs] with the job.

Will Page: Well, we're getting to the end of this week's episode, let's get smoking some signals. Richard?

Richard Kramer: James, what we do on this show is look for smoke signals or warnings of bubble trouble, things that make you go, "Uh oh, that's not going to end well." Can you give us a few of those with respect to this burgeoning area of I'm not even sure I can call it podcasts anymore?

James Cridland: [laughs] Now you can call it podcasts. I think I've spotted uh a number of things which make me worried. I mean, quite apart from the amount of money. Spotify has paid more in terms of acquiring podcast companies than the entire podcast industry is worth, uh which is really weird to me, but I'm sure it makes sense for somebody. But I think there are a lot of VCs wading into this space, and they don't understand the technology behind it or the culture behind it. Uh and you can have a look at for example, Mark Cuban's Fireside Chat. He is making something which is a closed system, which doesn't have the same culture, the same technology as podcasting, and he's standing there and saying this is podcasting 2.0.

No, it's not. It's a different thing. It's a different thing that probably won't be very successful, because you don't really understand what you're coming into. So I think that's one side. It's VCs and money, who don't understand the technology and don't understand the culture. The other side is people coming in, not understanding how to make great audio, and instead assuming that they can just buy a Hollywood name or a musician or something. And then you have people who end up making, you know, really dull podcasts that don't really move the needle for anyone. But it's a big name. And so therefore, they've commanded a big fee. And I think that's a bit of a worry, uh as we move forward.

Will Page: So some of the ones that you I think you've suggested anyone who says that they're going to be the Netflix of podcasting.

James Cridland: Yes, if you see, it's two things in, in a press release, and I get an awful lot of uh press releases every day for the podnews.net newsletter that I write. One of them is, you know, our new platform is the Netflix for podcasting. What you're basically saying is that you have built something which is completely different, and you do not understand what makes podcasting podcasting. And the other thing that really worries me when I say in a press release is, anyone who promises you that this particular podcast with a minor celebrity is going to be you know, no holds barred, uh is going to be the unexpurgated, uncensored version of what this celebrity ends up saying. And if you have to rely on the fact that there are no broadcast laws in the world of podcasting to promote your content, then I worry about what that content is actually going to be.

Richard Kramer: Absolutely. And just to wrap up and back to your first point there about Netflix, when someone's prepared to spend $17 billion a year, which is what Netflix is planning to spend this year on, on video production content and licensing content. And uh next time someone sends you that press release, you should ask, "How large is your funding behind your business? And how do you plan to uh spray and pray it around the industry?"

James Cridland: [laughs]

Richard Kramer: You're going to be spending a heck of a lot of money to get that position. And a couple other points that I've always come up with is just how much of podcast content is ephemeral or time based. It's commenting on, on yesterday's news, which in a week's time is not going to be that interesting and/or coming from areas like where our producer Eric used to work from National Public Radio, which simply can't go exclusive on one or another platform. It has to by public mandate be available to everyone. And same with the BBC Sounds app. It's available to everyone for free. And I don't think they ask you if you're a licensed payer when you download the app.

Will Page: That's right, Richard. If I can just jump in on that point, Richard, is that's the other P word in this discussion is not just a podcast, what is a podcast, but the perishability.

Richard Kramer: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Will Page: When you buy a music catalog, people are paying 18, 20 times multiples the annual income to acquire that catalog for its future value. When you buy podcast companies, surely that constantly produces perishable and if it is, what do you actually buy?

James Cridland: But I would argue that the content, some of it is perishable, but some of it isn't.

Will Page: Sure.

James Cridland: And when you have a look at the serial podcast for, you know, if you're ever going to talk about podcasting, you might as well talk about serial, people are still downloading that in tens of thousands of downloads every single month. And that is a six, seven year old show, because it's a great show, because it isn't perishable, because it is there all the time. And there are countless examples as well. You know, whether you're having a look at the West Cork podcast, whether you're having a look at archive shows from in our time from the BBC, uh or from other things, there are countless archive stuff that works in a very evergreen way. And there are an awful lot of stuff, which is all kind of throwaway too. But then what is the New York Times if it's not a throwaway medium with some stuff that you will never come back to, but some stuff that you might do in the future?

Richard Kramer: Sure, I guess it raises the question of catalog value. And it's much harder to define in this audio space than it is in the traditional media space where you'd have to assume the back catalog of MGM or Disney or FOX Studios has a certain demonstrable value, whereas we haven't yet learned how to value the back catalog of podcasts.

James Cridland: Again, I would, I, I would argue against that. I think one of the reasons why Wondery was purchased by Amazon wasn't that it had a great set of podcasts. Their podcasts are fine, but it wasn't just because of that. It was because they've bought Wondery because of the IP that they own in those formats, and what they've been able to do, for example, with the Business Wars podcast. In America, that would have been about Pepsi versus Coca Cola. They've sold the format and the idea to a Japanese broadcaster who did Sega versus Nintendo. They've sold it to a podcaster in the UAE, who's produced an Arabic version of that show as well. So I think that there are opportunities once you move past the is a podcast just Joe Rogan, you know, having a spliff with Elon Musk, and is the more to the medium than that. I think there is. And I think that's where the real value is.

Will Page: Yeah, music, we like to say the brand is bigger than the band. And perhaps that's what you're getting at there.

Richard Kramer: So James, let me talk to you about one of my sticking points or great bugbears about the notion of podcast advertising, which is if I'm a subscriber to a premium service, I'm expecting to get no ads. And yet, I would be the most attractive audience to advertise to. So how does it work with the people who pay to recuse themselves from all that bothersome advertising, and the notion of paying for exclusives that you can drop ads into for the audience that you really ought to be bothering with those ads?

James Cridland: Well, I mean, when I pay for uh cable TV, or satellite TV, I still get ads in there. I'm sure that there are many other examples. When I pay for the New York Times, I still get ads in there as well.

Richard Kramer: Sure.

James Cridland: It is one of the things that I've always been a little bit concerned about. If you are a company who is selling advertising, uh for you to basically then turn around and say you are but you can also pay to get rid of the ads. Because to me, that means that you end up being a company that is selling low quality audiences, audiences that aren't interested in paying for those particular uh shows. And so therefore, we'll uh happily hear the ads. And those audiences, if you're trying to sell a BMW, well, the BMW driver is probably going to be paying to get rid of the ads in the first place. So how on earth do you actually get him to buy a BMW or an Audi? That's going to be very, very hard. So I'm, I'm always slightly nervous about companies that are both selling advertising, but also selling the opportunity to get rid of advertising, too.

Will Page: But James, let me come on this. There's people who are placing huge bets on podcasting. We can see that hundreds of millions of pounds on podcasting companies with perishable content, I get that. We still don't know whether the ad money is going to migrate over to podcasts. And now we're seeing hit content go direct, which is presumably without adverts. What signal does that send to the advertising market, which might be pondering whether it should allocate 5% of its budget to podcasts, or 25% of its budget to podcasts. If it starts to see a long tail distribution, where the head says, "We don't want ads.", and the tail says, "Nobody's listening to us." I'll be going into a bit of a cul de sac here.

James Cridland: Well, but I also think that we are over exaggerating Spotify's place, paid podcasting's place in the industry. I think when you have a look at podcasting, in total, Spotify is between 15% and 20% of all of the plays, and Spotify seems to excel in younger audiences and also more occasional audiences as well in terms of podcasting. And the only other way of getting rid of the ads is to go for somebody like, you know, Apple podcasts paid services. And those again are fine, but I think actually what we're beginning to see there isn't getting rid of the adverts. It's a different funding model to make content that actually is quite difficult to make. You can look at the obvious example, which is true crime. Not that many brands want to advertise around conversations around, you know, people's head being cut off with a carving knife and all that kind of stuff. Because funnily enough, people are a little bit concerned about their brand reputation and their brand safety. So it could well be that that sort of content works far, far better if you can ask your audience directly for some cash instead.

Richard Kramer: Hang on, I thought that was an attribute for, for content in Australia.

James Cridland: [laughs] No, that's just, that's just the animals who live here. Yeah.

Richard Kramer: All right. With that, I think we need to bring this exhaustive discussion about podcasting and its many varietal forms to a close, and thank our guest, James Cridland, uh who knows as much or more about the space than anyone for joining us and, and enlightening us on this episode of bubble travel.

James Cridland: It's a great pleasure. Thank you so much for asking me.

Richard Kramer: If you're new to Bubble Trouble, we hope you'll follow the show wherever you listen to podcasts. Bubble Trouble is produced by Eric Newsom, Jesse Baker and Julia Natt at Magnificent Noise. You can learn more at bubbletroublepodcast.com. We'll be with you next time.