A good number of people in the podcasting industry were quite surprised last week when, at Podcast Movement’s Evolutions, a new organization called The Podcast Academy was announced. Along with the new non-profit organization, a new awards ceremony – The Golden Mics – will launch in 2021.
We reached out to members of The Podcast Business Journal Editorial Board to get their take on the new organization and the new awards. Every member of our Editorial Board has been a long-time podcaster. Some were around since the early days, when it was fairly difficult to figure out how to listen to a podcast.
As more responses come in from those we reached out to, we will update this story. Our early responses come from Rob Greenlee, Todd Cochrane and Rob Walch, three of the most respected podcast executives in the industry..
Rob Greenlee says generally, the formation of the Podcast Academy and Golden Mics Awards is a positive development for the industry. “But, I am concerned that the independent and open nature of the podcasting medium could be suppressed in favor of larger media companies setting arbitrary standard quality bar expectations for inclusion in award nominations and acceptance in the membership-based organization.
“Big money and corporate scale tends to create an environment where the economics inside these larger companies leads to a focus on scarcity priorities around content popularity. These economic models drive promotion of content that is seen as most popular instead of being open to many types of content creation and genre models and success.
“I am concerned that the current governance board is not broad-based enough to represent the entire podcasting industry. The board needs to represent every major area of the medium. I fear that if they do not do the heavy lifting to get the correct folks on the board then the organization will face continued criticism. It is a safe bet to make sure the board is significantly comprised of new and old independent podcasters from entry level, advanced podcasters that many others in the medium trust to represent the interest of indie podcasters.
“I also think this organization needs to embrace the 15-year strength of the podcasting medium that defends the roots of the medium as an open and RSS standard based medium.
“I am not writing this or being outspoken here with a goal of being on the board of governance. I just hope the independent podcast community is represented in a significant way.”
Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane tells PBJ he needed a little time to digest what he heard and weigh the follow-up conversations. “At this point, I’m going to take a watch and see position. I’m in a weird position being the founder of the People’s Choice Podcast Awards, which is independent of Blubrry. There is always room for more awards, but I hope that it does not become self-serving. As an independent podcast creator myself and based on the feedback so far, they feel a bit excluded, let’s hope they do not make joining the academy complicated and arbitrary. If they fill the remaining governor’s board with some genuinely independent podcasters outside of their bubble, I think that will go a long way. I have no desire to serve on the governor’s board as I have too many irons in the fire as it is. My 15 years of running the Podcast Awards has not itself been without controversy, so I understand the challenges they will face that they have not even considered. They state they will also provide training to podcasters in doing so will those guidelines be what molds independents into thinking it is the formula for winning. Netflix spent millions to get 21 Oscar nominations and walked away with two. Will the show with the most prominent PR firm be the ones that get nominated. I wish them the best of luck in navigating this. It will be tough to please everyone, regardless of what they decide.”
Libsyn’s Rob Walch asked the question “Do we really need another podcast awards? Which is the same thing I asked after iHeartRadio announced their awards. I am not saying anything specific to these awards – just in general do we really need another podcast awards? This is at least the 15th to 20th or more podcast awards group formed since 2005.”
The launch at Evolutions included these founding members: Donald Albright (Tenderfoot TV), Erik Diehn (Stitcher), Anya Grundman (NPR), Kerri Hoffman (PRX), Courtney Holt (Spotify), Hernan Lopez (Wondery), Christy Mirabal (Sony Music), Rekha Murthy (Independent), Lauren Spohrer (Criminal), and Alia Tavakolian (Spoke Media).
You cannot join The Podcast Academy as of today. You can only join their mailing list. We understand it will cost about $100 to join, although we were told yesterday by Wondery that cost is not cast in stone.