It seems like 2018 and 2019 has been marked with huge media company sales and mergers. Just a few weeks ago, we were all worried about Digital First’s offer to Gannett, and we’re still hearing about shifting staff sizes in Buzzfeed, McClatchy, Vice and more.
But other areas of media are just beginning to boom. As made clear by Spotify’s purchase of Gimlet Media earlier this month, podcasting is reaching the center of attention in the audio media and journalism renaissance. Podcast audiences have known their worth for years now. But the broader marketplace is finally taking notice, and we can see that with Spotify’s interest in buying Gimlet. It proves to us that they don’t want to be just a music distribution company; they want to be an audio giant. It’s time for them to step into journalism.
Vulture’s article “What Spotify’s $230 Million Gimlet Deal Means for the Podcast Industry” says just as much. It notes that before this sale, podcasts made money however they wanted. They were whatever they wanted. Anyone could do them. Soon, that might change. Spotify’s purchase signals that times are changing and people — both audiences and publishers — are going to demand certain qualities: “As a result, we could see an arms race of some sort, as Spotify’s rivals consider making similar moves and as podcast publishers work to raise their profile in whatever way possible.”
But finding ways to make money without selling your company is a different challenge, or it might not be enough. Fortune CEO Alan Murray told Recode that after selling the media organization to Thai billionaire Chatchaval Jiaravanon, it needed to diversify its revenue stream. How’d they do that? Mainly through live events and increasing attempts to diversify ad revenue. They also looked to monetize things like live video and other digital content.
All of this says to me that journalism may be heading to a direction that we have to pay for almost everything. We may reach premium or “freemium” business models to ensure we can produce quality content to people who want it.
While that presents ethical dilemmas that could fill an entire blog post, it is still worth considering the positive monetary aspect.