Yet another music company is hopping on the podcast bandwagon. Universal Music Group has joined forces with independent podcast publisher Wondery to develop original podcasts drawing from the major label’s music roster.
Under the agreement, the new podcasts will be available globally on any platform Wondery content is linked to, which now includes Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. Launched in 2016, Wondery is home to hit programs like Dirty John (which was recently adapted into a limited TV series for Bravo), Dr. Death, Business Wars and Gladiator.
In a release, the partners clarify that the new podcasts “will serve as an extension of the compelling narratives and content that UMG is already creating around its artists, labels and catalog,” and “will provide fans and new audiences alike with deeper perspectives on artists, music and events that influence and shape culture.” UMG also intends for the podcasts to become an “incubator” for its film and television projects, and include short and long-form programming from the company’s Polygram Entertainment and its numerous label imprints around the world.
UMG joins what is turning into an industry-wide push into the podcasting realm. Spotify has acquired three podcast firms since the start of 2019 — Gimlet, Anchor and Parcast — and in a recent interview, CEO Daniel Ek named podcasts as one of the streamer’s biggest priorities, with veteran television exec Liz Gateley hired to lead the charge. Back in September 2018, iHeartMedia acquired podcast company Stuff Media. And just yesterday, SiriusXM announced that it will make nearly two dozen of its programs available to Pandora listeners as podcasts, including content hosted by Andy Cohen, Jenny McCarthy, Kevin Hart and more.
These companies may be onto something. Podcasting now has a grip on the majority of Americans, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital’s recent 2019 Infinite Dial study, which found that the portion of the U.S. population aged 12 and up who have ever listened to a podcast has passed 50 percent for the first time. And roughly one-third of the population — or 90 million listeners — reported listening to a podcast in the last month.