Record Labels

Sony Music Beefs Up Podcasting Strategy by Acquiring Major UK Producer

Jez Nelson, Steve Ackerman
Courtesy Photo

Jez Nelson and Steve Ackerman

Somethin' Else executives Steve Ackerman and Jez Nelson will jointly spearhead the label's podcast content and business development strategy.

Sony Music Entertainment announced Wednesday (June 16) that it has acquired U.K.-based podcast, TV and social media producer Somethin’ Else, marking the latest acceleration in the company’s aggressive podcasting push. The acquisition follows a previous global deal the companies struck in February 2020 to develop original podcast series across multiple genres.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Somethin’ Else chief content officer and vice chairman Steve Ackerman, along with its executive chairman and CEO Jez Nelson, will jointly lead Sony’s global podcast content and business development strategy. Ackerman will take on the role of executive vp, co-head global podcasts, overseeing operations out of New York, while Nelson will run U.K. podcast operations as Sony's executive vp, co-head global podcasts. Both will report to Sony Music president, global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker and Tom Mackay, Sony Music president, premium content A&R.

Outside of podcasting, Somethin’ Else’s TV and social media business will be integrated into Sony Music U.K.’s 4th Floor Creative division, broadening the company’s ability to provide creative and commercial opportunities for its artists, labels and partners.

In a statement, Kooker said that Sony Music’s podcast division “is key to our plans for a fast-paced expansion in the market, diversifying our creative abilities and providing a home for exciting content that will benefit millions of podcast-lovers around the world.”

Since first getting into business together, Sony Music and Somethin’ Else have partnered on podcasts including David Tennant Does A Podcast With…, Power: The Maxwells, The Fault Line: Bush, Blair & Iraq and Cheat!.

“Having collaborated with Somethin’ Else on a number of hit podcasts, we know how impactful their work has been on shaping the marketplace," added Mackay. “Under Steve and Jez’s leadership, we can now provide a range of expanded collaboration opportunities for the podcast community globally and focus on growing a robust slate of new in-house projects.”

The deal fits into Sony Music’s increasingly ambitious podcast strategy, highlighted by an announcement at last September’s IAB Podcast Upfront presentation that it would be launching 40 new podcasts over the coming year. Previously, the company formed joint ventures with Audible veteran Renay Richardson (Broccoli Content) and podcast developers Laura Mayer and Adam Davidson and in December 2019 made a strategic investment in podcast producer Neon Hum.

Added Ackerman and Nelson, “We’re delighted to be joining Sony Music at what feels like a critical moment in the growth and acceleration of the global podcast industry. Somethin’ Else is known as the leading premium podcasting production company in the UK and our ambition is to harness that drive and creativity to make Sony Music a global market leader. Sony Music is renowned for always putting the artists first in everything they do, and we’ve seen that culture fully embedded in their podcast offering too. That global expertise, artist first culture, and ability to cut through the noise has huge appeal to podcasting talent and we look forward to harnessing that in this new chapter of our business.”

Though Sony has stood out among the big three record companies in its podcasting push, Universal and Warner have also been ramping up their strategies in the growing space over the past couple of years. In April, WMG struck a deal with Spotify to develop original podcasts centered around the company’s artists, while UMG signed a partnership with the podcast company Wondery (now owned by Amazon Music) to develop original series in 2019. All of these deals amount to a play by labels to compete in a podcast market that has come to be increasingly dominated by global streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tencent.