As Spotify invested heavily in podcasting in 2019 — including a deal with Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground production company reportedly worth over $10 million — labels were also getting in on the action. In April, Universal Music Group announced a partnership with Wondery to produce original audio content based on its catalog; the following month, Sony Music Entertainment unveiled a partnership with renowned podcast producers Laura Mayer and Adam Davidson to create shows across a variety of formats and genres.
“It’s still early days as far as revenue is concerned,” says UMG executive vp content strategy and operations Barak Moffitt, “but we’re really interested in what’s happening in the space as an opportunity for our artists and their visions, personalities and stories to reach fans in new ways.”
Perhaps no figure dominates the music-podcast conversation quite like Joe Budden, the retired rapper whose wildly popular The Joe Budden Podcast became a Spotify exclusive in 2018 and frequently makes headlines for his unfiltered takes on other rappers. Yet all kinds of artists have used talk programming to grow their audiences. Thanks to her award-winning food podcast, Table Manners, British soul singer Jessie Ware will release her first cookbook in March. Last year, indie singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman rolled out his topical album Peace of Mind as a nine-episode series that featured interviews with thought leaders about the songs’ lyrical themes. “Because of the popularity of political podcasts and society/culture podcasts, it kind of fits in there,” he told Billboard in 2019.