The podcasting enterprise is at an uncommon crossroads; the market, which is ready to see revenues of $1B this yr, has attracted A-list names from The Obamas, Harry and Meghan and Matthew McConaughey and has grow to be one of many main farm methods for IP, however there’s nonetheless a wild west sense to the medium.
While it’s an thrilling place for expertise and creators, there’s nonetheless a chaos surrounding the enterprise of podcasting and arguably outdoors of a handful of largely true-crime tales and superstar interview reveals, there hasn’t been a tradition defining hit since Serial launched in 2014.
Jared Gutstadt, founding father of Audio Up and previously the person recognized for writing theme songs to reveals like Pawn Stars by means of his Jingle Punks enterprise, is a type of who’s strapping on his cowboy hat as he units off on the experience.
Jason Alexander & Lance Bass Lead Scripted Podcast ‘Bedtime Stories Of The Ingleside Inn’ For Audio Up & Sugar23
In a wide-ranging interview, carried out over Zoom from his “Audio Chateau” in LA, Gutstadt tells Deadline how he needs to create a podcast firm that’s one half Andy Warhol’s Factory and one other half Forties Louis B Mayer Hollywood studio, working with characters reminiscent of Bob Dylan, James Elroy and Anthony Anderson, securing funding from firms together with the quickly to be-Amazon-owned MGM, how Hollywood is beginning to perceive the medium and why scripted podcasts can generally be like “jumping into a cold pool”.
Audio Up was launched in 2020 after Gutstadt, who says he’s like a “Roomba robot”, exited Jingle Punks, the music and TV firm that he based in 2008 and offered to Ole in 2015.
It started with an concept that become Bear and a Banjo, a fictional anthology collection that includes Jason ‘Poo Bear’ Boyd and Rosanna Arquette, narrated by Dennis Quaid, produced by T-Bone Burnett and that includes some lyrics by Bob Dylan, who Burnett performed with within the Seventies.
Gutstadt says that the collection turned one of many largest pre-sales of a podcast on the time – near seven figures – because of a presentation at SXSW – which led to iHeartwork snapping it as much as distribute. “I told everyone get out of my way, I’m going to learn how to write, direct, you know, produce, and I’m going to act in this thing. It was a weird Sling Blade moment and I threw myself into it completely,” he provides. “What happened next was it accelerated an interest in the space, from people going what is this? This is cool, you came to podcast with the right kind of intellectual energy.”
He admits that Bear and a Banjo was exhausting, “it’s like reading Gravity’s Rainbow”, particularly in a world that was extra used to the Serial, NPR-style podcasts, however it ignited an concept to throw himself into the medium, largely with musical podcasts in addition to a handful of interview reveals.
He is basically making an attempt to take the ubiquity of music streaming into the podcast area and realized that it has grow to be an “incredible development tool for storytellers”, for manufacturers and creatives, significantly musicians, throughout a time when the pandemic shut down touring.
On the one hand, he has made collection reminiscent of Halloween in Hell (left) with Machine Gun Kelly, Prom In Hell with Jxdn and Stormy Daniels and Uncle Drank that includes Quaid and Gary Busey, and on the opposite he has Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s controversial fixer, Ever After with Jaleel White and Tom Green Van Life.
As Deadline has revealed over the previous couple of months, Black-ish star Anthony Anderson is fronting Sonic Leap, a sci-fi, synth-pop musical with a comedy twist, James Ellroy’s Hollywood Death Trip and Jason Alexander and Lance Bass’ Bedtime Stories of the Ingleside Inn.
Gutstadt says, “This is radio theatre. It appeals to different parts of different people’s brains. For Jason, it’s a chance to act in a real actor way. For Machine Gun Kelly, it gave him a chance to be an entrepreneur, and an executive producer.”
He tells an amusing story of Anthony Anderson coming by his a podcast compound. “He makes so much money in his day job and after he was done recording, the band that we’re working with asked him if he was excited. He said, ‘Of course I’m excited about it, I’m not doing it for the money’. I was crying laughing because he’s not here doing us a favor, he had to really want to be there.”
The pandemic sped issues up, however Gutstadt sees it as a long run play. “We feel like we’re building this weird, Marvel superhero universe of musicals. I hope that when Covid is over, we’re going to have a giant bag of IP, that’s recognizable as signature content. It may take a year. It might take two years or five years, but I believe, much like Bugsy building his casino in the desert, that there’s very, very big, long-term value here.”
One of the businesses to see the long-term worth in Audio Up is MGM, which invested $4.5M within the firm in May 2020. Gutstadt knew Brian Edwards, President of TV Operations on the quickly to Amazon-owned studio and he helped put collectively a deal. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was to find them as a partner, that early on. I think my naivety was that it’s very difficult to get a major company to agree on anything, never mind letting an unproven model into the building, and giving them a few million bucks,” he says.
Other buyers included music publishing and expertise administration firm Primary Wave in addition to quite a few people.
Gutstadt admits that they spent the entire cash from the primary spherical. “We went wild on scripts, and wild on talent deals, and wild on making music, and that’s all we could do, during COVID. It was almost a gamble.”
He has now closed a second spherical of funding, totalling eight figures throughout the 2 rounds.
The cope with MGM has seen it work on quite a few initiatives collectively together with an Are You Smarter Than A fifth Grader collection, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court and comedy collection Unprotected Sets, primarily based on the Epix arise collection.
The studio can be trying to adapt a number of of Audio Up initiatives for movie and tv and something that MGM isn’t adapting, Gutstadt will take elsewhere. He says, as an illustration, Uncle Drank, has a five-to-eight yr plan. “We think Uncle Drank will have coolers, spirits deals, clothing. He’s a lifestyle brand.” He can be eyeing potential unscripted TV collection primarily based on scripted podcasts, which is an uncommon reversal, and hopes that its Missed Riffs collection can grow to be a UCB fashion comedy in a small venue.
“I would like to also find out what it is I have in our trick or treat basket after [Covid] is over. Take a breather, and figure out which [projects] we care a lot about, and which ones can be commercialized on the TV and film side, because as much as the Zoom window world is incredible for us, in this creative, fertile thing, it almost feels like I’m living in the theoretical, rather than the real, right now, and any of these meetings that I have with film executives, or TV, I don’t expect much out of them when it happens like this,” he provides.
Hollywood has been plundering the podcast area searching for reveals to adapt. Shows like Homecoming and Dr. Death are podcast diversifications and there are a whole lot of others in varied levels of improvement throughout the entire networks and streamers.
But this city doesn’t essentially have probably the most affected person method in the case of IP. Gutstadt is unfazed that too many others will be capable to replicate his success in the case of scripted reveals, significantly music-based choices. “Unless I read that Alex da Kid or Max Martin are getting into podcasting, I’m not that worried about a flood happening,” he says. “If [Hollywood] says let’s make musicals, and you’re going to pick up the phone, as a producer, and call up Lin Manuel, or Trent Reznor. First, they’re going to say why? Then, they’re going to say, pay me.”
Scripted podcasting has considerably struggled to duplicate its unscripted success – arguably there hasn’t been a breakout hit of the size of Serial. He admits that it’s exhausting to hearken to them generally as a result of “it requires a part of your brain that you do not engage when listen to music”.
“It falls into somewhere between this infinite Netflix universe that’s visual, and the audio books. [During the pandemic], I gave up on dozens of audible books, I wanted to get through Moby Dick but 40 minutes in I don’t know where I fell asleep.”
But he says there’s an viewers that wishes the “theatre of the mind” and that he’s excited to crack it “otherwise I wouldn’t be here”.
Distribution can be turning into extra of a headline within the podcast area. Previously, creators would primarily work with podcast networks and reveals would go up in all places however now you may have Spotify doing unique reveals, most notably with Joe Rogan, Audible making unique originals and even Apple dipping their toe into exclusivity.
Audio Up has a three way partnership with LiveXLive Media and its PodcastOne service and lots of of those offers are primarily just like a movie or TV first-look deal.
He admits that it’s a little bit just like the wild west proper now however there are new alternatives opening day-after-day with platforms, which all have completely different causes for stepping into the medium, though metrics is usually a bit “lumpy”.
“Money’s not going to help us. A technology shift is not going to help us. Content is going to help us. If we make things that we like that people can share, that people like, that’s really what it’s all about,” he says.
Audio Up is on monitor to supply round 40 reveals this yr and stated, regardless of joking about spending all its funding has generated “some real revenue”. “It’s less expensive to fall on our face with a few little flops in the audio space. We at least now have a better sense of footing of where to go in the future, and confidently have the time wasters stop wasting our time with pitches, and things that we know can’t go anywhere.”
One individual that he would take a name from is Drake. “I have to work with him. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m a teenager, but I consider Drake the most influential artist in the world, right now,” he says.
Even if the God’s Plan singer doesn’t get in contact instantly, Gutstadt is trying ahead to the remainder of the yr. “I am excited, ecstatic, and scared to see what’s going to happen with live, when this is over. It’s going to be a sprint.”