The Podcasters Leaving Amazon for $100 Million 💸

‘SmartLess’ heads to SiriusXM

Good morning. TikTok and Universal Music Group are duking it out. The music label threatened to pull its vast catalog of licensed songs from the platform today if they couldn't reach a new deal around issues like artist compensation and AI. 

TikTok clapped back, calling UMG "self-serving." Given that TikTok's CEO is also testifying before congress today about its child protection's gonna be an eventful day for the platform.

‘SmartLess’ Podcast Heads to SiriusXM in $100 Million Deal

The guest list of comedy podcast SmartLess includes Selena Gomez, Stephen Curry, Emma Stone, and more / SmartLess

SmartLess Media has signed a $100 million deal with SiriusXM, bringing its popular flagship podcast (hosted by comedians Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes) to the satellite radio company, according to Bloomberg.

The new three-year partnership means SmartLess Media’s shows will no longer operate under Amazon, which acquired the podcast company in 2021.

Why it matters: It wasn’t that long ago that Spotify spent $60 million on Alex Cooper’s Call Her Daddy and $20 million on content from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But in 2023, the mega-expensive, exclusive audio deals largely stopped flowing.

Many outlets attributed the industry-wide strategic pivot to a slowdown in podcast listenership after explosive growth during the pandemic.

Yet SmartLess appears to have weathered the storm. The weekly show has remained remarkably consistent since its 2020 launch:

  • SmartLess has uploaded an episode for 187 consecutive weeks, always featuring high-profile guests from Greta Gerwig to Stephen Curry.

  • Its hosts went on tour in 2021, selling out ten shows while filming a six-part HBO docuseries.

  • SmartLess frequently hovers at the top of podcast charts and is currently ranked No. 7 globally, according to podcast analytics tool Chartable.

Zoom out: Exclusive deals are falling out of favor across the creator industry—Twitch and YouTube both said last October that they were slowing their million-dollar offers to top streaming talent. 

Still, this SmartLess deal suggests that audio creators have distribution options outside of the tech giants. SiriusXM recently launched a new app to host its growing number of podcasts and plans to continue adding talent to its roster in the near future.

Roblox Creators Now Keep 100% of Their Creator Store Sales

Roblox says its vision for its economy is that “it models and reflects the real world, but with the ability to go above and beyond by overcoming physical limitations” / Roblox

Online gaming platform Roblox will now allow creators to keep 100% of the sales they make selling in-game models and plug-ins (minus taxes and payment processing fees). Previously, Roblox gave creators 70% of their earnings.

For perspective: Nearly every creator in Roblox’s top 500 highest-earning creators earned at least $140,000 last year, according to the company. 

Fine print: The new setup, which goes into effect in March, will only apply to sales in the Creator Store, where creators sell game development assets like buildings, fonts, audio, and video. Sales of avatar-related goods on the Roblox Marketplace will continue to be subject to a 70/30 split. 

What creators are saying: While the announcement is currently limited to models and plug-ins, artists and developers on Roblox see the news as a net positive.

“Being able to sell assets in USD is super enticing,” environment artist Fluorlite said on X. “I’m refreshed to see that Roblox is adding more ways to earn on their platform without being forced through [Roblox’s Developer Exchange program.]”

Creators Review: Apple Vision Pro

Creators like Brian Tong (left) and iJustine (center) test run the Apple Vision Pro / Illustration by Moy Zhong with photography by Brian Tong and iJustine

Apple released its $3,500+ Vision Pro “spatial computer” this week. 

We’ve rounded up our favorite creator reviews of the new Apple tech.

iJustine tested what it’s like to do things like walk on a 3D map and slide through apps by just pinching the air. “It feels just like real life,” iJustine said in the video. “I can see what’s in front of me, but it does have that slight feeling like you’re looking at a screen.”

Brian Tong ran through features like immersive video and making a persona. “The comfort, the price...there’s still barriers but as this gets smaller and lighter it’ll take us to new places,” Tong said. “The experiences that this has are already changing my brain. This is wild stuff.”

Big picture: Creators see this as just the start for next-gen computers. “So many headsets will go in this direction,” iJustine said in her video. “Not only for content creation, but for advertisers and marketers. This is a whole new world and it’s here, so buckle up.”

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