Sony Music Enters Joint Venture With Laura Mayer & Adam Davidson to Develop Original Podcasts

Sony Music Entertainment has entered a new joint venture with podcast developers Laura Mayer and Adam Davidson to find and develop original podcast talent and programming, the company announced Thursday (May 16).

The joint venture will “create and distribute original scripted and unscripted programming across multiple podcast genres and subject matters,” according to a press release. In their roles as co-leads, the Brooklyn-based Mayer and Davidson will utilize Sony Music’s “expertise in content creation and supporting new technologies for monetization.”

“It is a thrilling time to be in podcasting with major media and tech companies paying increasing attention to the industry as it quickly grows,” said Mayer and Davidson in a joint statement. “Sony Music so impressed us with their focus on supporting artists and the creative process. They understand what it takes to attract the best people and create the conditions where they can do their best work.”

Mayer is a leading podcast and public radio producer whose previous experience includes roles at Stitcher, Panoply Media and WYNC. Davidson is the co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money and an award-winning contributor to This American Life. He also previously co-hosted the Gimlet Media podcast Surprisingly Awesome with filmmaker Adam McKay.

“Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer are acclaimed, visionary journalists and leaders in the podcasting industry and they share our creator-first approach to content development,” added Sony Music Entertainment CEO Rob Stringer. “We want to enhance opportunities for talented storytellers in this rapidly evolving audio entertainment segment. This partnership will help creators grow their brands and share their work with global audiences across a variety of services and platforms.”

Today’s announcement follows recent moves by other major labels to penetrate further into the podcast space. In February 2018, Atlantic Records (a subsidiary of Warner Music Group) launched a dedicated podcast production team and podcast studio out of its New York headquarters under the leadership of Atlantic VP Tom Mullen. WMG's Rhino Records also launched its own podcast last year called The Rhino Podcast, and this past April Universal Music Group (UMG) struck a deal with the podcast company Wondery to develop original podcasts drawing from the label’s roster.

Additionally, streaming platform Spotify has been making an aggressive push into the podcast space as of late with the recent acquisition of podcast networks Gimlet Media and Parcast as well as Anchor, a provider of podcasting-related tools. Last October, the company also announced the beta launch of its Spotify for Podcasters initiative, designed to make podcast content available for streaming on the platform when podcasters give Spotify access to their feed.

According to Edison Research and Triton Digital's 2019 Infinite Dial study, one-third of the U.S. population -- or 90 million listeners -- reported listening to a podcast in the last month. Among the portion of the U.S. population aged 12 and up, the portion that reported that they'd ever listened to a podcast also passed 50 percent for the first time. Additionally, the study reported that the percentage of Americans who listen to online audio has doubled since 2012.