Sony Music discovered Alicia Keys, Lil Nas X and Beyoncé. Its next big hit may be a podcast.
The world’s second-largest music company plans to release nearly 40 podcasts this year and is developing more than 100 original programs, according to a statement Wednesday. Through five joint ventures, Sony Music has already released shows such as Morally Indefensible, as well as the true-crime program Smokescreen: Fake Priest.
That slate of shows represents the biggest investment in podcasting to-date by a major music label, according to Dennis Kooker, the global head of Sony Music’s digital business. Kooker is eager to cash in on a booming audio business that could siphon away listeners — and advertisers — from radio and streaming services.
Record labels have seldom strayed from their business of identifying and developing new musicians. But they have grown more interested in podcasting as listenership has soared. More than 100 million people in the US listen to a podcast every month, according to Edison Research. Ad sales grew 48 per cent last year, reaching $708.1 million, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Sony’s music division and its peers have become even more interested as Spotify Technology SA, their biggest partner, has invested hundreds of millions in the industry. Founded as a music streaming service, Spotify now identifies itself as an audio company and has argued that podcasting will grow into a multibillion-dollar advertising business.