15. The 100-Million Podcast

Hello hello!

Trust all you are safe, happy, well-fed, well-slept, well-podcast-heard at your places in these crazy times!


Homer Go Crazy GIFs | Tenor

That’s the only word I can think of right now.

To explain the times we live in. From the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to the cyclones pounding our friends in East India to the impending rains in Mumbai. Wow! If there anytime human life was disrupted, it would be this!

No one seems to be working, no one seems to be getting things done. Nothing seems to be moving and despite that, as I lamented on Twitter the other day, time’s flying! I think the following image seems to reflect how things are in India.

Anyhow. Time for the weekly letter from The Podium HQ.

Something crazy dropped a couple of days ago in our neck of the woods and we are still reeling from that impact! Joe Rogan, THE JOE ROGAN, just signed a deal with Spotify to take his show exclusive on that platform.

For a fee of USD 100 million.

This is as much as the most celebrated movie stars in the world make!

Joe Rogan Experience #1309 - Naval Ravikant - YouTube

Joe is the person that single-handedly redefined what podcasting could be!

As one of the tweets pointed out, Joe is to podcasting as Tiger is to Golf, and Mike is to Basketball. The. Single. Biggest. Public. Star. His show is downloaded 190 million times, per month!

The deal is a key landmark in the podcasting business where all the acquisitions were limited to companies (from tech to content to tools to distribution etc.) This is the first time when such a big financial deal has happened in the content space!

I think it makes immense sense for Spotify. After all, Joe is so big that once he goes to Spotify, all his fans and followers and more would have to sign for a Spotify account. And even if a tiny fraction of those convert to a paid membership, Spotify stands to win big!

Plus unlike music where the content is owned by the music companies (and licensed to streaming companies for a fee), podcasts are owned by creators. And Spotify will NOT have to pay any royalty to stream the music. This, a lot of insiders say, is the reason why every music streaming company is keen on podcasting. Akshay and I wrote about it on Ken. And this is why Spotify is willing to pay the top dollar to Joe! Oh, and if you believe that Mr. Market moves around when such news comes out, Spotify’s stock shot up about 15% in two days after the deal was announced and added about 3 BILLION dollars to the market cap!

You know, it’s like Nike signing up the best athlete there is in the market. Imagine every teenager wanting to buy a shoe endorsed by a Sachin. Or a Kohli. Or whoever is the biggest name in the sport these days. It’s like SRK saying that he’d do films only if they are made by Yashraj Films! It’s like Xerox saying that we make photocopiers. So on and so forth!

Of course, Joe has been at it since 2009. Like all other overnight successes, Joe took at least a decade! Of course, he is an outlier and 99.99% of others would not get anywhere close. But as a builder and doer and a podcaster, this gives me hope!

So, lemme further investigate why is this a big deal. I did some reading and here are some thoughts (and my comments) from various voices around it…

AdAge says

Recent figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau show that more than $678 million was spent on podcast advertising in the U.S. last year, up 42 percent year over year. That figure is expected to climb to $1 billion next year, the IAB says.

Thing is, once the business of podcasting starts getting serious dollars from clients willing to spend on it, there would be a wave of creators and those creators would make sure that their listeners are hooked onto podcasts!

From BBC

From "Joe Rogan just got paid the equivalent value of over 26 billion streams for a podcast licence," wrote Tom Gray, director of the royalties, music copyright and licensing society, PRS for Music.

Before I talk about this, here’s a trivia.

Guess the most-watched video on YouTube of all time? It’s been watched some 6.7 billion times!




If we were to do a like-for-like comparison, the creator of the most-watched video of all time will have to make 4 more videos (that reach similar success) to be able to earn as much as Joe has made with this one deal!

Apart from these two, some pieces that you MUST read, if you are interested in the world of podcasting and this deal, are 500ish, AdAge, BBC, The Verge, WSJ. In that order, please :)

Oh, not all is rosy.

Some people are not happy about this. While I do understand their grief, I am leaning on the side that like the deal :D

So, here are some voices that do not appreciate this…

a, The founder of Overcast, a popular podcasting app, says…

b, Advocates of open standards like RSS feeds (that podcasts use) are up in the arms and believe that this deal would kill the RSS, and Spotify would go on to dominate the market once it gets the bulk of the listeners on the platform. For that to happen, Spotify will have to ensure that its the largest and the most dominant podcasting app in the world (you know, like Google is dominating Search and FB is dominating Social?). This deal (and the previous ones) hint that Spotify is moving in that direction. Read this piece by another podcasting app for more context.

c, Building on the market domination theme, this EXCELLENT piece talks about this deal can tilt the power of the podcasting world to Spotify. I loved loved loved reading this one. My pea-sized brain could not even understand that implications of such “simple” deals could go so far! You MUST read this one.

So, to end this, our little world had its crazy moment and I am still reeling from the shock!

And here’s a question for you.

Do you now need any other reason to get into podcasting? :D Once you have a podcast, you get to talk to interesting people, you get to learn from them and you create your personal brand. And maybe, you get paid for it! And the best part? You can do it from home and maintain all the social distance that you wish to!

In fact, these very things made AD and I start The Podium.

And since we’ve started The Podium, we’ve been able to build a team that teaches us every day (yay!) and we have spoken to more than 20 guests and each conversation has been very very enriching (yay again!).

Oh, we’ve also signed up a few friends to become hosts. Mudit, for example, is coming up with a show where he would narrate rare gems from the literary world! We are starting with the legend, Saadat Hasan Manto.

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With Ayushi and our friends at Purple Pencil Project, we are launching a podcast on books. We are in the early stages of conversation around a podcast on films. We want to do a podcast on cricket. Know anyone there? I am working on a podcast around Storytelling!

It is incredibly easy! And if you want to start a podcast of your own, talk to us! Happy to help :)

Till then, keep listening, keep safe, keep sane!

Gratitude and Regards,

Saurabh, on behalf of thePodium.in team.

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