Feb. 6, 2023

Troubles with Podcast Bubbles with guest Lauren Jarvis

This week we look into the spectacular rise and potential plateau of a not so new medium...our very own: the podcast. Staying power or flash in the pan? Hit driven or long tail smorgasboard of choices.

This week we look into the spectacular rise and potential plateau of a not so new medium...our very own: the podcast. Staying power or flash in the pan? Hit driven or long tail smorgasboard of choices.


Richard Kramer: Welcome to Bubble Trouble Conversations between the independent analyst Richard Kramer, that's me, and the economist and author Will Page, that's him. And that's what we do. Lay out the inconvenient truths about how business and financial markets really work. Our new strap line is, "If there's a bubble that burst, we pricked it first." And seriously, it's now become hip to mock NFTs, crypto, tech bubbles and all this stuff, but we've been doing it for nigh on 70 episodes. So you should know by now that this show is countercyclical. This week we look into the spectacular rise and potential plateau of a not so new medium, our very own, the podcast. Staying power or flash in the pan, hit driven or long tail smorgasbord of choices. More in a moment.

Will Page: We're gonna welcome a very special guest to this show, a guest I met during my time at Spotify. And let me preface it with a quick joke. The joke goes, do you know how many people work at Spotify? And the answer is about half of them. Now, of the thousands, the tens of thousands, the hundreds of thousands of people I've met at Spotify, one stands out in particular and she gets a special acknowledgement in my book for her work ethic. Somebody who understands tech is like a bicycle, if it doesn't move forward, it falls over. You gotta get somewhere, otherwise you get nowhere. And to that, I want to bring to this stage Lauren Jarvis, and give you the microphone, Lauren, and just give a very quick whistle-stop tour of your career today and especially where our listeners can follow your work. Lauren, welcome to Bubble Trouble.

Lauren Jarvis: Thanks so much for having me, Will. Yeah, I'm so excited to be here. And we met back in 2016 when I joined Spotify and began building the podcast business over there. Started out doing some of our earliest licensing and when I left the company was overseeing our entire podcast of shows, including the exclusive acquisitions like Joe Rogan and Dax Shepherd. Right now I have departed and am working on dual track, both as a consultant and really helping to build two startup companies, one that's in music and more of a creator tool called Mixed. And the other, which is a new gaming platform for mobile called Backbone. And then I'm also working on managing my own venture portfolio. I have about 23 investments in growing. So keeping really busy, spending a lot of time in the startup space, which is the space that always really excites me. I am mostly active on LinkedIn, not super active on the internet, but if you wanna follow me, I'd suggest LinkedIn. I think it's a great social platform and one that has actually returned value to my career over the years. So my, I like to hang out there.

Will Page: Now, this isn't about the celebration of podcast as a media format. It's about one word and the word I've picked for this is retrenchment. There's a lot of headlines in the press that the bubble may have burst. We've been talking podcasts to a blue in the teeth and now it seems to me that things are kind of plateauing or even collapsing when you read those headlines, I know there's gonna be an element of click-bait, that's just how the world works. But when you read these headlines, we're gonna go through them line by line shortly, but is your gut reaction that it's a blip in the trajectory podcast or is it a bubble?

Lauren Jarvis: I think my gut reaction is blip. So I love pursuing new media frontiers within the context of how I operate and my desire to work on podcasts was as much about seeing it as a new media frontier. And I think we often overlook just how long it takes for new media frontiers or new tech frontiers to truly adopt. I think this word retrenchment, I appreciate it a lot, but it doesn't really speak to me to the holistic nature of what we're really trying to see happen in podcasting, to call it and make it a new frontier. Retrenchment is really just about investment. It doesn't really take into account the underlying consumer behavior that we need to see in order for a frontier to be built. Investment cycles generally support growth, but huge markets are not actually made on linear investment and linear growth. They actually have to be made through periods of growth and then periods of building of scale, predominantly on the consumption side of scale in order for them to be huge markets.

I think SaaS is a really great example of this. You need to spur breakaway growth, but you don't actually want the adoption of the product to scale alongside that upfront investment. You want to be able to pull back the investment in order for the company or the product category to grow. I think when you think about the consumer side of podcasting, it is still incredibly healthy and it's not just looking at the growth in consumption of the shows, which is definitely an underlying behavior, but it's also looking at the broader macroeconomic indicators that this medium will continue to grow. Fewer and fewer people are buying radios today than they used to be. And particularly if you look at the youngest cohort, the 12 to 34 age cohort, in 2022, 57% of those people had zero radios in their home. I think as you look at sort of the adoption inside cars of new software systems to listen to content on, those are all being leveraged from digital platforms.

And so there is this natural trend towards consuming talk audio digitally. And that to me in, su- suggests that there will be growth inside the category of audio, which we have been calling podcasts, but may extend to be much more than podcasts. I actually think the more important of this moment question, so you know, those consumer behavior trends are really long-term, but the more important question to me in this moment is where revenue is headed less so than the inve- investment side into the content. Um, you know, I think we need to really understand inside of this recessionary environment that we are approaching or already in what is gonna happen to digital ad spend and whether digital ad spend, which is actually largely projected to be an opportunity area, particularly when you look at subscription and the fact that subscription has saturated itself in many markets. But if we're gonna look at audio, we need to ask to what extent these increases in focus on digital ad spend will find their way into podcasting.

Will Page: That does make me think real quickly there just about the horse and cart, we've had the explosion in podcasts and to your point, students graduating from university this year will never use a radio in their lives. The car still needs to adapt to this modern format. So maybe we've had the cart before horse, the content before the devices, when the devices catch up, it could release a second bout of growth of the podcast as well.

Lauren Jarvis: Yes. And I also think it's less about whether there's a growth in podcasts, the number of podcasts, and it's more about the underlying behavior. I think there's a little bit of a misnomer in podcasting. People have often followed the creation cycle of podcasts and early on that made sense, you know, how many more podcasts are being created? Is there an active creator ecosystem? But I was actually always a little weary of that as the thing that was focused on how many podcast feeds are there because you don't actually need an infinite number of feeds. You need great quality content made by a vast array of creators who touch all different genres and industries. And then people on the flip side who are choosing to listen to more of that content.

Richard Kramer: So I wanna pick up on two things you said there. I think first one, and it's a bit of an obsession of mine, is what happens to the old media? And we had an explosion certainly in America 20, 30 years ago of talk radio, the Rush Limbaughs or the Howard Sterns, and they took over a space in public consciousness. And what you're describing is simply the distribution changing for those sort of voices. They still wanna reach a mass audience. How does someone in this era of fragmentation in the digital world build the following that, especially among the mass market that a Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern built 20, 30 years ago when we were in university and growing up in the States?

Lauren Jarvis: Yeah. Content to me is about entertaining and educating people. And I think we often wanna believe that because something is distributed in a different way, the formats are going to fundamentally change. And to some degree they do. You never had behind the scenes listening, viewing pre-internet because one day you could suddenly take photos of anything or show videos of anything and people chose to show things about their lives that they didn't previously show. But on the flip side, a lot of the underlying content formats, a great interview that unveils important facts that weren't previously unveiled, A wonderful documentary, a great narrative piece of content, whether it's in the form of a TV show, a film, or even a book, those things have stayed the same.

So what it means to grow audience is what it has always meant. It's just that the channels for connecting and finding your audience are different. And there are some small tweaks to then how you might market yourself or speak to your audience, but creating great content and being authentic in your connection with the people who wanna have it with you, that to me is an enduring behavior. Culture will change around you, things will change around you, but sometimes I think we take it one step too far when we try and think that the content inherently is really adjusting. To me, if you look at someone like a Rush and a Rogan, they are obviously two very different people, but I don't necessarily think what they were doing and what they are doing is all that different from one another.

Richard Kramer: I guess I wanna put my finger on one specific point, which is we grew up, our generation grew up with radio in the background, you might call it a lean back experience. And yet this digital world of enormous, you know, four or 5 million, however many there are podcast times, the number of episodes is something you have to choose, you have to lean into, you have to make some selection. You don't have that background where you get in the car and the radio's playing all the time or the radio's on in the backyard and it just happens to be tuned to the same station. The mass market will transition from these background behaviors, the TV on all the time, or the radio on all the time to where they select and choose very specifically the types of content they want to lean into.

Lauren Jarvis: I think as much as selection, I see this again as a little bit of a difference in digital, the digital media of delivering content versus the traditional medias of delivering content. So traditional medias were scarce in how much programming they could have-

Richard Kramer: Yeah.

Will Page: Yeah.

Lauren Jarvis: ... and digital is not scarce in how much programming it can have, and that means that you as an individual may choose to find and go deep into a catalog and select what it is you listen to. But it also, when machine learning technology and personalization tech- technology is built at scale means that you can deliver the right thing to the right person at the right moment. And I think you see that already with YouTube. You don't see that yet today with podcasts not on YouTube. So I think there's more of a question there in where the technology goes as it relates to presenting interesting content to people that's relevant to what they're looking for.

Richard Kramer: Right. The algos haven't taken over the radio programmers just yet.

Lauren Jarvis: [laughs] or podcasting. B- because-

Richard Kramer: Yeah.

Lauren Jarvis: ... podcasting is still a word of mouth medium for the most part.

Richard Kramer: 100%.

Will Page: And now let's go back to that, that quality quantity point. I got some newspaper headlines that I wanna throw at you and I want you to address, not ask in the studio, but our audience in terms of, you know, Bubble Trouble is about reading beneath the Line, getting to the detail of the headlines. The first one I think was came into version then click-bait headline goes like this, "New podcast creation has fallen off a cliff, exclamation mark. Get the Razor Blaze." When you read a head like that fallen off a cliff, are you thinking that's something technical to do with Anchor a feature that Spotify has? Or is that just a genuine realization that there was just too much supply in the first place?

Lauren Jarvis: Yeah, to me a headline like that doesn't matter very much.

Will Page: [laughs], thank you.

Lauren Jarvis: Um-

Will Page: That's what we need to hear. That's what Bubble Trouble's about. Call BS and spell out-

Lauren Jarvis: I don't think-

Will Page: ... BS for us.

Lauren Jarvis: ... I don't think a headline like that is very indicative of the industry. So to me, you need great shows out there. You don't need hundred million shows maybe, or maybe-

Will Page: Two new-

Lauren Jarvis: ... you do.

Will Page: ... podcast every minute, two new podcasts every minute is a ramp rate we're dealing with.

Lauren Jarvis: The creation, the speed with which content gets created is less relevant to me than the consumption time that someone spends listening to great content. It does not matter that they have a broad dispersion of shows. In fact across many different media formats, you don't see that behavior. In gaming, most people have one hero game that they play and maybe three games-

Will Page: That's true.

Lauren Jarvis: ... the, and the two-second ones are casual. In television, Netflix has built its subscription model on launching single shows that people will subscribe against and retain sometimes for many seasons against those shows. In podcasting, you see very clearly that people return to these week-on-week shows over and over again and they become very loyal listeners to these shows. So what matters to me as it relates to the success of podcasting is whether the consumer is consuming something and that consumption time is increasing. You don't want an industry that is stifled creatively and doesn't have new creators coming in. So you do wanna create tools like Anchor that allow people to easily create, and that is what the internet actually offers to people. The chance for anyone to have a level playing field to create and distribute their artwork.

But it doesn't mean that their artwork will get equal airtime to everyone else's artwork. And so creation has fallen off a cliff. We were in a moment where, you know, I remember when I first got to 250,000 podcasts on the platform and it was just shy of 100% of the catalog. I was missing just a handful of shows. And then month over month we were at three and a half million or 4 million shows before I left Spotify and that was probably just maybe three years after I got to the 250K. So you can't really envision that all of that is equal and its quality, but it's a great to know that people can create and that there's a mechanism by which people can lower the cost to creation and have a shot at creating the very best show.

Will Page: Yeah, I remember you got it to 250,000 shows and then the second half of the podcast, I'm gonna ask you to name them all. Now that was creation. So click-bait headline number one was to deal with creation. The click-bait headline number two that I've got for you here comes from the Financial Times Weekend. Not just a fantastic newspaper, not just a friend of the show, but also guests in the show. We've had two of their star journalists come on Bubble Trouble. And this particular writer is Janan Ganesh, who can write, I mean this guy can write. He could write about the price of toothpaste and engross you in the article. And he comes forward with this headline here, which says, "Podcasts aren't as smart as you think. The podcast has replaced a TV drama as a way of not reading and feeling good about it."

He goes on further and said, "It should be obvious as to what's going on. People are willing to do almost anything other than read at length." This is quite emotional. This is le- let's park the economics, let's park the investment theory. This goes back to people and culture and psychology, something you've educated me on over the years that I've known you, Lauren. W- what's going on here? Has he got a point in terms of podcasts a way of deflecting attention, avoiding reading a long form book or is there something else happening here?

Lauren Jarvis: So I don't know Janan, but I think he has a point, but I don't necessarily understand the so what of his point. Podcasts may not have the level of, um, academic integrity that some people assume them to have, or people may be replacing podcast listening for another form of listening, but I don't necessarily know why that matters.

Will Page: Yeah, I'm feeling that in the sense of like-

Richard Kramer: I mean-

Will Page: ... I could listen to Melvin Brag and Radio 4 on-demand ad free and I could be listening to our podcast. The two things are broadly similar. So I think maybe you're right, his article has a bit too much nostalgia in it.

Richard Kramer: But Will, I would go back to another podcast we had where we hosted someone from the publishing industry telling us that there were more books, there were a million books published last year, a record number. Now it may be the case that 80% of those books are bought by people who never read them, but, and that was one of the points made by this, uh, publishing executive. But there are record levels of books being sold, including a shameless plug for Will's, Will Page Pivot, the renamed Tarzan Economics. But I don't buy this, people are willing to do almost anything other than read at length. I think there is a, and I'm curious, maybe we can wrap up on this for the first half. I think there's a very different experience listening to a podcast. It's almost like being part of a conversation versus reading a book where I think you're immersed in a very different way. Is that how you see it? Do you see them as very complimentary media?

Lauren Jarvis: I think podcasting lends to a form of intimacy and you feel as though you are becoming acquainted and maybe even friends with the person who you're listening to. And I think that there is a lot of education to be had inside of podcasts, which is also another area that I may not completely agree with Janan on. I think historically people have wanted to put education into its own category rather than seeing education as something that's a horizontal and lends itself across all different genres.

Will Page: Yeah.

Richard Kramer: Yeah.

Lauren Jarvis: And I think, you know, there is some education that might be more intellectual than others, but if you are learning something, you are being educated. And so to me there is a lot of that in podcast today. Not all of it can be fact checked and that's a very different conversation.

Richard Kramer: And I think we need to wrap up the first half here. And one simple point I'd wrap up on is that one of the heads of one of the larger podcast ad agencies mentioned to Will and I recently, how their grouping shows into category or cohort they call curious minds. And we all wanna learn, we all might be curious and there's a lot of different things we'd be curious about. And it's not necessarily that we're trying to learn a new language or get educated in neuroscience, but we have curious minds. With that dull, I think, well Lauren wants to make, dying to make one more point before we-

Lauren Jarvis: I'm dying to make one more point about curious minds because I think there's an interesting thing that happens when you're talking with a friend and how you approach the learning process. When you're learning something factually, you know, a textbook is great, you get the information, you absorb it. When you're learning from a friend, it might move into the realm of opinion that you have around the topic that you're discussing. And I think this is something that podcasts have that is maybe not pure play academia, but that is an interesting layer to how people learn together as they listen to a podcast, by coming to opinions about things and ideas about things in addition to simply learning factually about things.

Richard Kramer: Yeah. And separating that from how you might feel about the friend that you're listening to or having the conversation with, or the context of being in education. With that, I think we need to wrap up the first half, fascinating conversation and we'll be back with more in a moment.

Will Page: Welcome back to part two of Bubble Trouble with myself, Richard Kramer and our special guest Lauren Jarvis, godmother of podcasting at Spotify. And in, if part one, you were wrapping up your points there talking about fact checking, how publishing might have fact-checking, but podcast don't. I just wanna call that up there because you know, and certainly in the case of my book and most authors, we have to pay for our own fact-checkers so the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side. With that, I'm sure Rich is dying to come in here and ask about content moderation on podcasts, a really thorny topic. Richard, kick it.

Richard Kramer: Yeah. And Lauren, it's a serious topic. Our producer Eric Nuzum is always keeping us from letting crazy ideas seep into what should be a sensible discussion. But how do you moderate the content of 4 million shows? How can it be done? Who listens to all this stuff? And equally, how do you try to separate the wheat from chaff with stuff which might seep into podcasts and create a bad user experience for listeners?

Lauren Jarvis: I think on a tech basis, this is the next challenge of podcasting.

Richard Kramer: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Jarvis: How do you, and it's not just about moderation, it's also about how do you surface quality content to the right people at the right moment. That underlying muscle requires the same technical skill, you know, identifying text within podcasting. There's a second layer to moderation that doesn't require the same skill as recommendation. And that skill is about understanding the context of the conversation because something is not necessarily hate speech if it's an analysis of a topic. You could be talking about something-

Richard Kramer: Context.

Lauren Jarvis: ... and just being able to identify, context. Identifying the word wouldn't necessarily mean pull down that content.

Richard Kramer: Right.

Lauren Jarvis: And then there's also this consideration which the platforms have had to take on or are being asked to take on more and more about what, you know, what should exist on a platform? And the particularly tricky thing about this is that these are now global platforms. So as you-

Richard Kramer: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Jarvis: ... look, even at laws that might regulate free speech or hate speech, they are not necessarily the same on a global basis. And this is where traditional broadcast and, you know, digital global forms of media distribution are very different from one another. If I had the perfect answer to this, I think I'd be CEO of Facebook, Spotify and Twitter combined. And that would be pretty cool but I'm not there yet.

Richard Kramer: Right. I can think of very simple examples of a podcast about religion and how would it play in the Middle East or in, in Catholic, Southern Europe or in different parts of anywhere in the world it might, the same content would be viewed very differently. So I guess the problem here, beauty or quality is gonna be in the eye of the beholder and there's a patchwork of local laws that you need to a- abide by even though you have global content.

Will Page: So yeah. Richard, to your point, there's a, there's another friend of the show and potentially a future guest, Justin Roberts, the owner of Mumsnet, a huge messaging board forum in UK for mothers, surprise, surprise. But the language they used in our discourse as mothers talking about their children would be sent straight to HR t- there was a typical, you know, plain vanilla content moderation scheme. They used words to describe their bodies that is humorous in that context, but you wouldn't use anywhere else. And-

Richard Kramer: Mm-hmm

Will Page: ... I was speaking to her about, you know, podcast initiatives from Mumsnet. They got three quarters of a million mums in this country on that platform. That's jardiance. But yeah, she is very concerned about content moderation and the online harms bill going through just now as picking up on some of those words as dangerous because the rules say they are, but they missed the context of who uses them and what, for what purpose.

Richard Kramer: So I want to ask about something else which you've had an experience both in small companies, big companies, but you've been in that situation where you've welcomed new content creators, new platforms, and tried to pull them all together to march in the same direction. Stepping back, when you think about how to assemble the perfect podcast platform or the perfect slate of content, what is the right approach? Is it to have a network of creators and sort of the Hollywood model where there's a lot of independent producers of content? Is it to have all the content produced under one roof the way Netflix does? How do you preserve value when you have to work with all these disparate networks and try to fend off all the ideas that are getting thrown at you from different directions of what the next greatest show is going to be?

Lauren Jarvis: There's no perfect solution and I think there's always room for a little bit of everything, but I have always worked in new frontiers of media and I think that what I like the most about digital media is that it provides tools where anyone can create and then that content needs to be supported by the platform so that it finds its audience and grows and can exist in a greater way because of the platform working with the creator than it historically did. So what I was always attracted to at Spotify was supporting independent creators. Some of them became exclusive shows to Spotify, but I was always most attracted to going into the catalog, seeing who was making great content because you often can see a breakaway hit rising very quickly. It's actually easier to identify that pattern of behavior than some people give credit to.

And then building a relationship with that person so that they can continue to have their own independent voice, but the platform can support what it is they're making. And that is what I think is the most fun about building a platform. Is there room for originals that you produce yourselves inside of that as well, more like a Netflix model or what Spotify has done with its own studios? Absolutely. But the beauty of a platform to me is this idea that technology gives people tools, those people create and then they can find audiences. And that is also what has created the-

Richard Kramer: Right.

Lauren Jarvis: ... fat, the fatter middle is-

Richard Kramer: Well, it sounds, it sounds to me before I hand it over to Will, like that is your pitch for the next frontier of new media, which is some sort of marketing job at TikTok because that's clearly what's happening on that platform. You've given creators a new medium to work with, you've had the platform algorithmically support many of those creators and some of them have exploded and become, as you called them, breakaway hits.

Lauren Jarvis: I love when new platforms launch because they bring about new forms of creativity and they bring about new cohorts of successful, creative, talented people.

Richard Kramer: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Jarvis: And to me, this is something that just fascinates me on both the level of the creator or the talent, however you wanna think of them, and also on the power of a platform and also on the power of, you know, people who provide tools that might even sit on top of that platform as well.

Richard Kramer: Yeah, yeah. Not to mention crowdsourcing the totality of human creativity, which is always nice to see when it happens. Will?

Will Page: Yeah. It's just to drop a quick exclusive, you mentioned TikTok. I learned this afternoon that TikTok has overtaken Spotify in the UK in terms of monthly active users, which is incredible given they didn't exist five years ago. Shows that markets are contestable, I guess. Now, I wanna come back to the subject of hits, this long tail distribution, the stack from high sale on chief in the head, and a long tail of niche content that sits at the back of the bookstore, the back of the record store at the end of the distribution. And Joe Rogan's clearly, I think the thing that Joe Rogan is reaching more people in America than the entire newspaper subscription population combined. And he's got a staff of four and newspapers have got unions, fixtures, fittings, buildings in Manhattan. Quite incredible that he has achieved that audience with that much attention.

But from a platform's perspective, not the podcaster themselves nor their publisher, but the platform, the Apples, the Spotifys, the Amazons, the Wonderys, these people. Are we actually looking at podcasts as a long tail market? That is, they're just a sea of niches. I- it's not like the blockbuster models of old and my fingerprints are all over the cover story of The Economist this week talking about Disney struggling with what is a hit these days. I think podcasts are like a microcosm for where media is going, which is hits don't matter like they used to. And then especially podcasts, it's not about hits at all, it's about finding that niche content that you can share with an intimate group could be a big niche, but it's still a niche group. Am I offering [inaudible 00:28:43].

Lauren Jarvis: We've been talking about this a lot, Will. We've been talking about this a lot and I'm still thinking about it. But where my brain sits right now because I think it works for music in addition to podcasts, is that global distribution means that you can find a niche audience that actually is larger than what a previous audience would've been-

Will Page: Right.

Lauren Jarvis: ... in a constrained market, geographically.

Will Page: That resonates.

Lauren Jarvis: And so you end up with these niches, but the niches, and they're niches in the sense of the topics they cover or the genre of music and who is attracted to that genre of music. It has some constraints. It doesn't need to be everything to everyone, but it's now global. And so it can find an audience that is larger than historically what you would've thought of as the biggest audience out.

Will Page: To that point, the top 10 songs in Britain last year were all British bands for the first time ever. Uh, to which we all thought, wow, having British music done great. And then I pointed out that the top 10 in Germany were all German bands. The top 10 in Italy were all Italian bands.

Richard Kramer: Yeah.

Will Page: So for the English-speaking media exporting market model, I think there's a bit of a hangover that we've got coming up here, which is, it's not gonna work like it used to.

Lauren Jarvis: But did those top 10 songs in the UK were they larger than what radio would've led to the size been previously?

Will Page: I guess. But it's just, for me, it's fascinating to see just all these European countries, we had global stars like Taylor Swift in the past, but I don't think we're gonna have them in the future. I just, I think these independent markets, quick example, Brazil. Brazil doesn't need to import English-speaking content from Britain or America anymore. Those days are over. They can stand on their own two feet with regards to music, regards to podcasts, regards to Netflix setting up a stall there as well. So yeah, it is great for local, it's a little bit trickier for the global media model.

Richard Kramer: And I think there's something that Will, and I debate quite a bit on the podcast and it sounds to me like you're saying much the same thing about podcast content as a whole, which is it's not binary between it's all niche long tail or it's all hits. And Brazil might still have the Bad Bunnies or the Dua Lipas or a few of these big stars, but it's not exclusively big stars anymore because it's just not about distribution and promotion through the record labels. Whereas you've enabled this long tail, it's not gonna completely take over the market, but it has a bigger presence. And I'm just, maybe as the last one before we move to smoke signals, I'm curious, did you see over your time, over your many years, if you had to buckets on the one side, the hits, the originals, the big names, and on the other side that long tail, did you see a shift? Or did we just have always some stars that we, star shows that we wanted to listen to and some long tail content we discovered?

Lauren Jarvis: Stars are born and then they get made over time. So it's not a binary outcome where everything is stars and then there's the long tail.

Richard Kramer: Right.

Lauren Jarvis: The stars come from the long tail. The question is, are they moving?

Richard Kramer: Right.

Lauren Jarvis: If something stays on the long tail for a very long time, it is very hard to move it to a star.

Richard Kramer: Right.

Lauren Jarvis: But to find a star that will be made [laughs] and come from the long tail, this is what I love and this is what excites me the most about-

Richard Kramer: To riches-

Lauren Jarvis: ... supporting creators.

Richard Kramer: Rags to riches. Yeah.

Lauren Jarvis: Yeah.

Richard Kramer: So-

Will Page: I love it.

Richard Kramer: ... let's move on to the last section of our, we do every week, which is we call smoke signals, which we ask our guests for these sort of uh oh moments, dissecting all the hype and hysteria bubbles, when you hear terminology or pitches and you just go, "Uh, it just doesn't work that way." A couple of warnings-

Will Page: Our favorite one so far is a metaverse of pets. That was like our favorite [laughs].

Richard Kramer: Yeah. You know, something that causes you to just face-palm and, and just say no, it's just, no. And two things in about your experience in the podcast industry that you could warn people, "Hey, it just doesn't work that way."

Lauren Jarvis: Well, one thing I'll say about podcasting, and this is another reason I love the creator side of podcasting, is when you present to someone what it takes to build a podcast, you always wanna feel like they're gonna go and do it, regardless of whether you invest in them or not. And you know, it is possible that we were in a moment of podcasting where people could give a pitch and get invested in. And I always, you know, liked to kind of hang back and see where people took the sort of first conversation, whether they started to put the building blocks in place and build it themselves. So I think investing on first pitches is something to always be a little weary of about possibly a bubble being created.

As it relates to my current life where I'm doing a lot more of private market investing, I think a huge smoke si- signal to me there has been this idea of follow the money that we were in. So a lot of investors I think kind of espoused just investing in the things that other big name investors were investing in. And I'm a big believer in having contrarian viewpoints, not for the sake of-

Richard Kramer: Yes.

Lauren Jarvis: ... being a contrarian, but just doing your own research. Whether that research is on a macroeconomic view, an operational view, a fundamental market-based view, coming to an opinion about where things are headed and following your own conviction for the sake of it being rooted in your own fact finding, not just rooted in, similar to sort of investing on first pitch, following the person who's currently a shiny object. Because going back to this idea of hits and stars being made, not just born, there is always someone else coming to eat your lunch. And things don't stay static forever.

Richard Kramer: And I'll tell you one, one of our great smoke signals we keep coming back to is the, the way in which upper middle class educated people's behavior gets extrapolated to the wider economy. And I think we saw many instances of that in the last few years where, "Oh, people like us do this, so won't everyone." The creator economy. Will may feel passionately about musicians and be willing to throw them all a five or a ten or, in the street. But let's face it, the evidence shows that creator economy pitch that there were gonna be millions of people making a living off the spare change thrown at them in the streets hasn't worked out. So I think that extrapolation, I think you're hitting on that specific point that everybody thought, if it works in this one instance, it'll work for everybody across the board. And it's proven that just hasn't played out like that.

Lauren Jarvis: There are no perfect solutions to your point, but one of the things that attracted me to working inside of the internet was the Internet's ability to democratize. And-

Will Page: Absolutely.

Lauren Jarvis: ... for me, Google was the first thing that I, as a fairly young person, thought to myself, "Wow, I can now access any set of information that I want and I can build and act upon that set of information that is as equal to me, me as it is to anyone else." And I love that power of the internet. And that is one of the reasons that I choose to continue to work in the internet.

Richard Kramer: 100%. Will, do you wanna wrap us up?

Will Page: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, there's that famous joke, which is what's the best way to keep a secret? Put it in the second half of a podcast. And I hope that Lauren Jarvis has refuted that joke and you've stayed the course because this has been 100% dynamite. And Lauren so much more I wanna discuss with you. Another one would be attention, which is, what is this doing to our attention spans? Like asking for 45 minutes of a podcast as opposed to four and a half minutes of a song, there's all these rabbit holes, we're gonna have to get you back. But with that, it's been one of the best Bubble Troubles we've had in a long time. Thank you so much, Lauren, for coming on the show. Thanks to my co-host Richard Kramer and we're gonna catch you next time.

Lauren Jarvis: Thanks guys.

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 Nuzum, Jesse Baker and Julia Natt at Magnificent Noise. You can learn more@bubbletroublepodcast.com. Will Page, and I will see you next time.