Spotify has evolved from a pure music-streaming service to an ‘audio-first’ platform including podcasts and live audio. Perhaps major labels will go down a similar evolutionary path.
Sony Music is the latest to beef up its podcasting activities. It has acquired UK-based radio, podcasts and TV producer Somethin’ Else for an undisclosed amount, as part of an expansion of its global podcasts division.
The deal will see Somethin’ Else MD Steve Ackerman and co-founder Jez Nelson joining Sony Music, both with the job title of EVP, co-head global podcasts, reporting to the group’s digital boss Dennis Kooker and its president, premium content A&R Tom Mackay.
Meanwhile, the production company’s TV and social media teams – the latter recently ran a high-profile campaign for the Brit Awards – will be integrated into Sony Music UK’s 4th Floor Creative division.
Sony Music and Somethin’ Else have been working together for a while already on podcasts including ‘David Tennant Does A Podcast With…’, ‘Power: The Maxwells’, ‘The Fault Line: Bush, Blair & Iraq’ and ‘Cheat!’. In February 2020, they signed a global production partnership deal.
What about Somethin’ Else’s radio production business? The company makes a number of specialist music shows, particularly for the BBC, so it remains to be seen how being owned by a major label will affect those relationships.
As things stand, the radio business will sit under Sony Music’s new global podcast division, a spokesperson told Music Ally.
Somethin’ Else was founded as a creative agency in 1991, expanding its business over the last 30 years across radio, TV, social media and most recently podcasts. It is well connected on the latter front, too: Ben Cave, a senior producer and then head of development for the company between 2003 and 2010, is now director of Apple Podcasts.
Sony Music’s podcasts expansion is part of a wider trend for the major labels, who increasingly see spoken-word shows as an original content business, not just a promotional tool for music. Sony has already launched joint ventures with podcast execs Renay Richardson, and Adam Davidson and Laura Meyer. It made a series of podcasting hires in late 2019, and unveiled a slate of nearly 40 new shows in September 2020.
Universal Music Group forged a partnership with podcasts production firm Wondery in 2019, with the first show released the following year, shortly before Wondery was acquired by Amazon Music. Meanwhile, Warner Music group’s podcasts expansion includes a co-production deal with Spotify, announced earlier this year. Both labels are also investing in their podcasting teams, technology and shows.