Podcast Wars: Spotify vs Apple

Spotify thinks its algorithm can find your next favorite podcast ...

Earlier this month, Spotify signed a deal with Kim Kardashian to co-produce and co-host a criminal justice podcast that will air exclusively on the platform. The deal with the reality TV megastar is only the most recent installment of Spotify’s investments in podcasts. In 2019, it acquired podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor for just under $340 million combined. In February 2020, it purchased The Ringer, Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture publication and podcast network, for nearly $200 million. Last month, Spotify signed an exclusive agreement with podcast star Joe Rogan worth reportedly more than $100 million. Rogan’s show, The Joe Rogan Experience, consistently tops the podcast audience charts globally, with nearly 200 million downloads a month.

So, why is Spotify investing so heavily in podcasts? The largest reason is probably that its core business — music streaming — is an inherently low-margin business. This is due mainly to three factors.

1. Spotify doesn’t own the songs we listen to

Whenever we hit “play” on a song on Spotify, the company has to pay the rights of each song back to music labels, like Universal or Warner Music Group. That means, on average, Spotify spends spends 70% of its music revenues on royalties. Unless Spotify branches out from streaming music, this is a dangerously tight margin to manage long term.

2. There is intense competition from tech giants

As music streaming services have become the most popular way to listen to music, it would make sense for Spotify to slowly and marginally increase its price, similar to what Netflix did with its video streaming service.

The main issue with raising prices is that Spotify’s main competitors — namely Apple Music and Amazon Music — are funded by behemoth companies that can afford to lose money on streaming music. It’s not a core service for Apple or Amazon, but rather a sweetener they offer their users to increase customer loyalty. Apple and Amazon have the money to go cheaper for longer than Spotify if Spotify doesn’t diversify from music.

3. It’s easier than ever to find your favorite music anywhere

This threat of competition is especially relevant to a company like Spotify, because the majority of its songs are available for streaming or purchase on other platforms. Aside from a few exceptions — like Tidal’s HiFi subscription streaming plan — music will sound the same on Spotify as it will on other music platforms. That decreases the switching costs (or, rather, the pain) for customers hopping from one platform to another and makes it harder to build a devoted longtime user base.

The power of exclusivity

What makes podcasts a particularly inviting medium for Spotify to invest in is that it can sign exclusivity deals with top creators. Unlike music, where you largely can listen to everything anywhere, Spotify is ensuring with its Joe Rogan and Kim Kardashian deals and its Gimlet and Anchor acquisitions that the content will be available only on Spotify. Meaning that if you are among the many who regularly listen to The Joe Rogan Experience or The Ringer, you are virtually forced to download the app and potentially make Spotify your go-to audio service. Rather than juggling multiple audio apps, Spotify is hoping new adopters who come for the podcasts will stay for its music streaming features as well.

This is something that, at least to date, cannot be replicated on the music side of the business and mimics Netflix’s shift in recent years toward producing original content. To decrease the company’s dependence on third-party content, Netflix began building a library of original shows and films that you can’t find anywhere else, making it more enticing to buy subscriptions or renew subscriptions than if the platform offered only curated content from existing movie and TV studios.

A podcast advertising machine

Spotify’s pitch to woo established and rising podcast stars is simple: It already has a very successful advertising studio and tech-supported ad operations, and the company can leverage its infrastructure and advertising staff along with its large user base to monetize content better than if creators were to go out on their own.

The first evidence of Spotify’s added value as a podcast advertiser is already visible. Many podcasts offer promo codes on air, but it isn’t convenient for listeners to pause a podcast just to write these offers down with the intent to use them later. Spotify is trying to fix that by creating a link to the sponsor’s website within the app, making the promo redeemable at any time in a much more user-friendly way.

As was the case with internet advertising, the emergence of an aggregator (Google) enabled the growth of ad revenues like never before. Spotify aims to replicate the same effect in podcasts.

Is Spotify’s investment in podcasts paying off so far?

Although it’s too early to make a judgment on Spotify’s return on investment, one important group of people agree that this is the right move for the company: its shareholders. The company’s share price popped more than 10% when the deals with Kim Kardashian and Joe Rogan were announced, and the stock price is up more than 250% since April.

Operationally, Spotify also seems to be moving in a positive direction — podcast consumption of Spotify grew 200% in Q4 2019 and more than 19% of its users listened to non-music content on the platform in the first quarter of the year. The latter happened despite an unprecedented lockdown that changed commuting habits globally.

Skeptics could argue that Spotify is overpaying for its bet in podcasts, as podcasting remains a relatively small industry compared to music; podcast ad sales in the United States will likely hit the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2021. The first signs are certainly encouraging, but Spotify still has a mountain to climb to displace Apple as the world’s #1 podcast platform and establish itself as a supplier of podcasts that helps grow the size of the overall market.

Original article: Manuel Medeiros

Be Aware of the Quiet Ones like Keanu Reeves — They Are the Ones That Actually Make You Think

The Legend of Keanu Reeves | GQ

The smarter you become, the less you speak.

The world doesn’t need more loud guys full of too many words, with buff arms, in tight shirts, and huge egos to match. The world needs quiet people. Why?

Quiet people make you think.
Thinking brings clarity.
Thinking can lead to change.

I’ve always been intrigued by Keanu. He is a quiet person who keeps to himself and still hasn’t figured out how to be famous after twenty-nine years of being one of the most iconic Hollywood Actors of all time.

Keanu doesn’t get fame, attention or noise. Instead, he prefers to be quiet and insert silence in his speeches and TV interviews.

When he does choose to speak, he drops short sentence bombs like this interview with Steven Colbert:

Stephen: “What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves?”

Keanu: I know that the ones who love us will miss us.

In eleven words, Keanu summed up the entire meaning of life. It was a moment of sheer brilliance.

Take Time to Answer a Question

In a relatively unknown interview with Keanu back in 2000, RollingStone writer, Chris Heath, picks up on how Keanu uses silence.

I ask him why he acts. For forty-two seconds, he says nothing. Not a word, a grunt, a prevarication, or a hint that an answer might come. For most of that time, his head is angled at ninety degrees away from me, as if that’s where the oxygen is.

“Uh,” he finally says, “the words that popped into my head were expression and, uh, it’s fun.” A few minutes later, I lob a vague question about whether he ever wants to write or direct. He lets out a kind of quiet sigh.

At its worst, it’s like this. You ask Keanu Reeves a question and . . . just wait. Out in space, planets collide, stars go supernova. On earth, forests fall, animals screech and roar. People shout and rant and weep with anger and joy and just for the hell of it.

5 times Keanu Reeves proved that he is too good to be true | The ...

And, all this time, Reeves sits there, entirely silent.

On this particular occasion, the silence lasts seventy-two seconds.

Rather than answering a question, Keanu waits to see if he has an answer worth giving. He then attempts to edit down his response in his head so that it can be understood. Many of the interviews with Keanu contain huge chunks of silence. That’s why his TV interviews aren’t that in-depth because it takes him time to respond and a three-minute TV interview just doesn’t do it.

The real answers to life’s toughest questions take time to answer.

Softly Spoken Brings People Closer

Billie Eilish does this with her music. Many of her songs contain lyrics that are softly sung and you have to lean in to understand what she’s saying.

Keanu uses softly spoken words in interviews to bring people in and take them on a journey. Hollywood wants him to be loud and fancy, but that’s not how he rolls, and he’s intentional about it.

We’re told to be loud. Social media teaches us to use caps, emojis, hashtags and big, bold captions on our videos to get people to listen.

What if doing the opposite of loud was really the answer to being heard?

A soft voice like Keanu’s draws you in, and then, only then, can you hear what he is trying to say.

One-liners that Break the Room

Keanu Reeves Showdown: The Matrix 4's Release Date Is The Same As ...

Journalist, Miki Turner, shares this thought about Keanu in her story titled “Keanu is a man of a few soft-spoken words.”

It’s not that Reeves is difficult because sometimes he’ll go completely left and deliver a one-liner that will break up the room — like when a reporter asked Reeves if he felt his career was being defined by his “Matrix” experience.

“I am the ambassador for the ‘Matrix’ trilogy,” Reeves said in a deep, robot-like voice. “My operating hours are…”

When you speak less and sit back and listen, during the rare times when you do talk, you have the space to deliver one-liners like Keanu that blow people’s minds and help them to think deeply.

Silence Breeds Curiosity

Keanu uses silence brilliantly in speeches and public performances. The silence helps the listener become curious about what he’s going to say. It breeds suspense and that helps you put your phone away and listen.

Silence breeds curiosity and curiosity leads to a conversation where someone will listen to you.

Being Quiet Interrupts the Pattern

Hollywood actors are typically loud and have large personalities. By being quiet like Keanu, you interrupt people’s thought patterns.

Try this: attend a work meeting that you’re supposed to be contributing to. Say nothing. Sit there and actively listen with an engaged look on your face. Continue to be quiet and resist the urge to fill up time with your voice. Watch what happens. At some point, your silence is going to break the pattern of the meeting. Somebody is going to ask you for your point of view and it’s during that moment that you will be “properly” heard.

The typical pattern of meetings and human conversation is to talk a lot. Try being quiet to break the pattern and help people think with your words.

People can’t resist the urge to talk — they also can’t resist the urge to hear from the people who are extremely quiet.

Pauses Allow Time for Reflection

The quiet ones like Keanu always seem to use strategic pauses.

Between each point they’re trying to make, they add a pause. When giving a compliment or expressing gratitude, they add a pause to ensure the maximum effect is felt by those listening.

Pauses in human dialogue allow our minds to think at a deeper level.

The challenge is often we um and ah our way through pauses rather than intentionally leaving a few.

A pause is a tool you can use to get people to think.

The Smarter you Become, the Less You Speak

This is the key lesson Keanu has taught me: You’re not smart by talking a lot. You’re not having an impact by increasing your speech volume or trying to be important. You’re smart when you do the following:

  • Let people talk first
  • Listen with intention
  • When your face shows you’re engaged in the conversation
  • You practice saying less
  • You lead with empathy

Quiet People Make us Think

Silence is not only golden; it makes you think. And we need more time to think during these uncertain times.

Conversely, you can’t think about what someone is saying if you’re lost in thoughts of what you’re going to say next.

It’s okay to be quiet so you can think.

Quiet people change the world.


By Tim Denning

How Nikola Tesla lived out the final decade of his life

12 Interesting Facts About Nikola Tesla You Probably Didn't Know | Vintage  News Daily

By the time he retired in the 1930s, the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla had successfully ushered in the modern era of electronics with the invention of hundreds of devices, thereby permanently altering the course of human civilization from that point on. His unparalleled ability as an engineering savant who could harness electricity in strange new ways had changed the fate of the world forever, and he knew it. As such, Tesla had made very powerful enemies like J. P. Morgan and Thomas Edison who always wanted to discredit everything he did. Fortunately, on January 2nd of 1934, a settlement was reached with the Westinghouse Corporation which would pay for Tesla’s monthly living expenses for life, so Tesla promptly moved into the Hotel New Yorker. Being a destitute gambling addict who was terrible with personal finance, he was happy to be able to move in somewhere with all expenses paid for the rest of his life, especially in the midst of the Great Depression. It was truly a godsend for the poor old man.

Since Tesla suffered from OCD, he was obsessed with the number 3, so he requested to live in room 3327 on the 33rd floor because both numbers are divisible by 3. Regardless, a few years later, since FDR was keen on knowing the whereabouts of Tesla and his research during WWII, the FBI and OSS (now the CIA) got rooms on the 33rd floor, right down the hall from Tesla. So, he was under constant surveillance, which exacerbated his paranoia. Little did Tesla know, his protege Bloyce Fitzgerald was a private in the army and a spy working for James Murphy in the OSS. The federal intelligence agency was interested in Tesla because, in his cramped little room, he had a safe and dozens of trunks filled with decades worth of invaluable scientific notes. After all, Tesla was a visionary engineer, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. To put his genius into perspective, when Albert Einstein was once asked, “How does it feel to be the smartest man alive?”, he replied, “I wouldn’t know. You’ll have to ask Nikola Tesla.” That statement speaks volumes about the importance of Tesla as a historical figure.

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison: The war of currents and the search for  truth - Education Today News
Nikola Tesla (left) and Thomas Edison (right)

This is important because shortly before Nikola Tesla died he told Fitzgerald about there being 80 some trunks of notes regarding his decades of research, many of which were there in the Hotel New Yorker with them. As such, Tesla had countless theories and schematics that the government was quite eager to keep secret, to say the least. Tesla was way ahead of his time and the US didn’t want his work to leave the country, so they watched him closely and constantly. After all, Tesla patented several hundred inventions, so who knows what he might come up with next. Just as one example of his many life-altering achievements, he helped give us the modern miracle of alternating-current (AC) electricity, which has dramatically changed the lives of people ever since. Tesla’s design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system was far better than Edison’s direct current model. The point is that Tesla more or less singlehandedly ushered in the modern world, so his radical new ideas had to be closely monitored, especially during the Second World War.

In line with his eccentricities, every year on his birthday, Tesla loved to give an over-the-top press conference about his latest work and predictions for the future. Tesla loved to play into the media mania that made him out to be a mad scientist. In line with that rather twisted tradition, during his 78th birthday press conference in 1934, Tesla told reporters that he had designed a superweapon that he claimed would soon end all war. The media instantly dubbed it the “death ray”. Nikola Tesla envisioned it to be a defensive weapon that would be put up along the border of a country and used against attacking infantry or aircraft. Tesla never revealed detailed plans of how the weapon worked during his lifetime. He did, however, try to sell it to the US, but the government declined. So, he offered to sell the superweapon to other countries instead. In his sales pitch, Tesla proposed that with his device a nation could “destroy anything approaching within 200 miles” and “make any country, large or small, impregnable against armies, airplanes, and other means for attack”.

Tragically, in the fall of 1937 at the age of 81, after midnight one night, Tesla left the New Yorker. While crossing a street a couple of blocks from the hotel, he was unable to dodge a moving taxicab and was thrown to the ground. His back was severely wrenched and three of his ribs were broken in the process. Of course, Tesla almost never sought medical attention, and this was no different. As a consequence of this, Tesla never fully recovered from the accident. He soon became a bedridden recluse, and rarely received any guests. In the end, Tesla preferred the company of pigeons to people, even growing to love one in particular. He did, however, have special vegetarian-style meals prepared for him daily by the chef. He was a posh kind of a hermit, in that way, but he was also really sick, both physically and mentally. In addition to suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tesla had paranoid delusions and he occasionally experienced visual hallucinations. So, by the time he reached his eighties, Tesla’s genius had all but completely given way to madness.

Sadly, he was becoming more deluded and demented with each passing day. Working long hard days for years on end with only a couple of hours of sleep each night, Tesla’s work eventually took a toll on him. So, Nikola Tesla finally died at approximately 10:45 pm on January 7th of 1943, at the age of 86. Then, Bloyce Fitzgerald found Tesla dead in his room. At which point, he put out a do not disturb sign on the door. Then, he pried open the safe and took Tesla’s keys and his Edison Medal. Fitzgerald even impersonated being a hotel manager in order to take trunks out of Tesla’s room, without raising any suspicions. In this way, the OSS was able to get their hands on Nikola Tesla’s most important documents. His body was later found by a maid named Alice Monaghan. Following that, assistant medical examiner H.W. Wembley examined the body and ruled that the cause of death had been coronary thrombosis.

IEEE - IEEE Edison Medal Recipients
Thomas Edison Medal

On January 12th of 1943, two thousand people attended a state funeral for Tesla at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, which is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. After the funeral, Tesla’s body was taken to the Ferncliff Cemetery in Ardsley, New York, where it was later cremated. The following day, a second service was conducted by prominent priests in the Trinity Chapel in New York City. Two days after Tesla’s body was found by the maid, the FBI ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize everything in Tesla’s room. Three weeks after Nikola Tesla’s death, Dr. John Trump, President Trump’s uncle, was tasked with evaluating Tesla’s notes to determine whether or not they contained anything useful. After a three-day investigation, Dr. Trump’s report concluded that there was nothing that would constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands. Little did he know that the OSS had already taken everything of value for themselves, hoarding away secrets that could forever change the world.

Who is Donald Trump's 'brilliant genius' nuclear Uncle John? - BBC News

Later, Tesla’s estate went to his nephew, Sava Kosanovic, who at the time was the Yugoslav ambassador to the US. Back then, the FBI feared Kosanovic was trying to wrest control of Tesla’s technology in order to “make such information available to the enemy,” and the bureau even considered arresting him to prevent this. Finally, in 1952, after a US court declared Kosanovic the rightful heir to his uncle’s estate, Tesla’s remaining belongings were sent to Belgrade, Serbia, where 60 trunks now reside in the Nikola Tesla Museum. This means, some of Telsa’s trunks are still apparently unaccounted for. Nonetheless, in 1957, Kosanovic’s secretary Charlotte Muzar transported Tesla’s cremains from the United States to Belgrade. Therefore, his ashes are still displayed in a gold-plated sphere on a marble pedestal, more importantly, his legacy lives on in the devices all around us. With that being said, in the decades and centuries to come, people will always have Tesla to thank for lighting the way to the future.

Article by Joshua Hehe