In this episode, Zach and Rock speak with Agnes Kozera, SVP and founder of Podcorn, an Audacy Company that matches podcasters with brands for native advertising opportunities. Before founding Podcorn, Agnes ran FameBit and later sold it to Google. In this chat, she shares her ideas with Zach and Rock about the creator economy, forming partnerships with other creator-centric companies, and the future of podcast advertising.

If you’re thinking of starting the process of going after sponsorship deals for your podcast, this is a can’t-miss conversation. Learn the difference between native ads and dynamic ads. Find out how Podcorn can help match you with advertising partnerships that’ll establish you as a leader in your field.

Podcorn and SquadCast recently co-hosted a live event on how to monetize your podcast. We outlined some key markers in determining price per ad, at what point you should seek advertisers, and more. SquadCast and Podcorn will continue to bring more events like these to the podcast space. We want to empower creators to grow and monetize their shows.

Show Notes

Episode Transcription

Deadair Dennis: [00:00:00] Hey, before we get to this episode of Between Two Mics, we want to tell you about another show we think you’re really going to love, and it’s recorded on SquadCast. I’m Deadair Dennis and I’m the host of So What Do You Really Do? A podcast where I interview artists and entertainers about their day jobs… Because why not talk about what we have to do during the day to support what we want to do at night? We’d love if you give it a listen anywhere that podcasts are podded. Now back to Between Two Mics. Thank you.  [00:00:24][24.7]

Agnes Kozera: [00:00:29] I think we can learn a lot from the world of YouTube and I hope that a lot of the big tech companies, you know, want to help the independent ecosystem thrive and invest dollars in those tools that help them shine and help expose them.  [00:00:41][12.4]

Zach Moreno: [00:00:43] Welcome to Between Two Mics, the podcast that brings you remote recording resources from SquadCast.fm. [00:00:49][5.6]

Rock Felder: [00:00:51] I’m Rock Felder, co-founder and CFO of SquadCast.  [00:00:54][2.9]

Zach Moreno: [00:00:55] And I’m Zach Moreno, co-founder and CEO.  [00:00:57][2.3]

Rock Felder: [00:00:59] On Between Two Mics, we bring you interviews with podcasters, experts in the field of remote recording. We discuss current events in podcasting and so much more.  [00:01:08][8.8]

Zach Moreno: [00:01:08] Twice a month you’ll hear a Founders’ episode. That’s just the two of us chatting about all things remote recording, updates to SquadCast, what we’re up to, and what we’re listening to.  [00:01:19][11.0]

Rock Felder: [00:01:20] The other two weeks of the month, we’ll bring you interview episodes. Zach and I will sit down with experts in the podcast space to discuss their companies, their podcasts, their thoughts on podcasting, creating content and more.  [00:01:32][12.2]

Zach Moreno: [00:01:33] The most exciting part? We’re recording all of this on SquadCast, the best place to record remote audio and video interviews in studio quality.  [00:01:43][9.2]

Rock Felder: [00:01:44] So let’s get Between Two Mics.  [00:01:46][2.8]

Rock Felder: [00:01:48] Hey there, Rock here. Thank you for tuning in to Between Two Mics. In this episode, Zach and I are speaking with Agnes Kozera. Agnes is currently the SVP and co head of Podcorn, an Audacy Company. Here at SquadCast, we’re big fans of Podcorn, a marketplace connecting unique voices to unique brands for native advertising. Before starting Podcorn, Agnes co-founded FameBit, which was acquired by Google in 2018, where she worked as a product manager. Total force of nature. Agnes provides her unique insight into what makes podcasters such great partners for brands, what are native sponsorships, and why podcasters should consider them as an option for monetization versus traditional ads. Thanks again for listening. I hope you enjoy.  [00:02:37][48.8]

Rock Felder: [00:02:39] Before we get into the interview, we wanted to acknowledge Agnes’s audio being a little distorted at the beginning, we just felt this interview was way too good not to share with you. Fortunately, we were able to resolve the issue midway through the interview. Thanks again for listening. Hope you enjoy.  [00:02:55][16.1]

Zach Moreno: [00:02:59] So tell us the story about being an entrepreneur. What was your first exposure to entrepreneurship?  [00:03:04][5.2]

Agnes Kozera: [00:03:05] Yeah, well, I’ve never really expected to be an entrepreneur. I thought that I would be a lawyer, and that’s what I was studying in school. But while I was studying, I decided to pursue a little side passion project, a subscription commerce company. At the time, I loved curating products and experiences. It was very early on in the start of Birchbox and I was inspired by that. And I was I mean, growing up in Canada and living in Canada, I was really inspired by seasons and loved seasons and how differently every season made you feel. So I wanted to put that in a subscription box. And and so Seasons Box was born. That was my little side hustle to school. And that’s actually what ended up leading me to drop out of law school and build FameBit, because that’s where I sort of discovered the power of creators to to move my product and be influential for my brand. And I discovered the power of creators of all sizes, not just sort of the big, big stars, but creators who who were small. Because the way I sort of came onto it is that I didn’t have the big budgets of a brand. I was a starving student. I didn’t have the budgets to work with, like big studio creators. But YouTube, I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time. YouTubers made me buy a lot of things. I was very influenced. And so but I was watching a lot of the smaller creators, not the really big mainstream ones, just ones that really interested me. And so I thought to myself, well, you know, there’s no way to work with them through these agencies. They’re not represented. So I decided to put my own little network of creators. Before I knew it, that was like majority of my time in the business was managing these creators. And I thought, wow, like, this is so messy. There’s a manual process. Something’s got to give. So that’s when my co-founder and I, he was doing another startup and so he quit. I dropped out of law school and we built FameBit and and that was sort of like our first real big company, I suppose, because we’re required by Google, which was very fun. But yeah, that’s sort of how I, I ventured into it. It was completely by accident.  [00:05:14][129.1]

Rock Felder: [00:05:15] Yeah. Super impressive resume. It must have been interesting. I’m definitely interested in hearing more about your experience at Google, but it seems like you were pretty early on to the creator space and that’s something that we here SquadCast love to do. That’s a big reason why we get up every every day in the morning and dance to work is because we love serving creators, specifically podcasters. So what was that space like? Because now all the talk is creator tools, the creator economy, the passion economy. But what was what was the space like when you first had your idea for FameBit?  [00:05:45][29.8]

Agnes Kozera: [00:05:45] Yeah, I mean, it was very much a lot of investors at the time when we pitched them the idea. Everyone sort of thought of YouTube as a place for cat videos. No one really thought of it as a place of influencers. You know, the videos that you see now that include brand integrations, whether that’s like hauks, look books, tutorials, get ready with me’s, unboxings, that didn’t really exist. I mean, that got cultivated with the creator community and very much a lot of the content came out of brand partnerships with creators and creators being creative. Yeah, we were very early on in this space. We saw the power of creators. Obviously, from my personal pain point, I saw the move product for me. I saw them move product for other brands. So I, I kind of knew that this already worked. And when when we built FameBit, creators were very positively responsive and and we were able to do a lot of good for the ecosystem and helped a lot of creators make a career out of YouTube and do YouTube full time, which which is something that they didn’t have a way to to do before unless they signed with an agency. And, you know, for most creators, that was like signing away their channel. And a lot of times they didn’t get the help that the multichannel networks would promise them that they would get. So we really set out to democratize the ability to to monetize your your channel with YouTube. And and that’s sort of when we got into podcasting, we really saw a lot of the same problems emerging as we saw in the early days of the video influencer. And so we wanted to to solve for that as well, because majority of podcasters have not been monetizing through podcasting. The ones that have been monetizing through traditional ad formats were monetizing pennies per listener hour, unless they’re like huge Joe Rogans, you know, of podcasting. And there also was no infrastructure for brands and creators to do something native. With FameBit, we really saw the power of the integration, what it means to be spoken about as a brand through the creator’s voice. Right. And so with podcasting, there’s such a bigger opportunity for storytelling, the content is longer. You can do something so much more engaging, also the content creators create and podcasting dives a lot deeper. The YouTubers that I know that have moved over into podcasting or have diversified their content, they did it because they wanted to go deeper. And so that’s the same for brand sponsorships. It just takes authenticity to a whole other level. You can be more journalistic. It’s more conversational storytelling. It’s incredible, incredibly powerful stuff. And and our advertisers success is is a testament to that.  [00:08:28][162.8]

Rock Felder: [00:08:29] Yeah. And I love to hear… It’s amazing to me how far we’ve come and because it’s been so quick. But you’re right. Like it was not too long ago that YouTube wasn’t taken seriously. And that’s something that Zach and I were kind of battling, or going up against when we first started SquadCast was there. There was a lot of like if you were a listener or creator in the podcast space, you got it. And you realize that this thing was it was inevitable. It was only going to get bigger and more mainstream. It was just a matter of time. But, you know, when you talk to some of the money people, the VCs, they’re like, oh, podcasting, you can’t make money in that. It’s a small it’s a small business, small tam. And it’s like, well, thank goodness. People like you and your co-founder and Zach and me didn’t listen to those folks because here we are now and it’s it’s all the talk. But I am curious for you and for the Podcorn team, what was the unique insight specifically for podcast advertising that made you want to create another startup that that became Podcorn?  [00:09:19][50.2]

Agnes Kozera: [00:09:20] Well, we love creators. We love the creative economy. We love helping brands and creators connect. So I think that passion and seeing the power of alternative monetization, we had unique insight from a monetization lens in the creative economy. And so just seeing the struggles that podcasters were having and the fact that nobody when we got into the space, nobody was really talking about or thinking about podcasters, the next wave of influencers or next wave of celebrities. And so I think that was a lot of the inspiration. And what we wanted to change is to show like, no, there’s incredible experts within so many different verticals and niches and fields within podcasting that brands can tap into. We wanted to to give podcasters the tools to be influencers and tap into that power that they have with the brands versus just like running traditional ads against your podcast, which, of course, is scalable and provides a source of income as well. And it’s scalable to the brands, but it’s the less authentic podcasters don’t have the ability to, don’t always have the ability to choose what ads run against their podcast. They don’t have the creative control to choose which sponsors they work with. They don’t get products to review and test and sort of be adversaries and influencers within their community that their listeners trust. So, yeah, we we really wanted to to change that and really be spokespeople for the independent ecosystem that for a long time, I think, in podcasting has been ignored as sort of like the small potatoes that no one no one’s paying attention to. But we knew through experience that they were incredibly powerful and really interesting.  [00:10:59][98.8]

Zach Moreno: [00:11:00] To unpack that a little bit further, like what is it about podcasters that makes them such great partners when it comes to brand relationships?  [00:11:07][7.0]

Agnes Kozera: [00:11:08] That’s a good question. I mean, podcasters have incredible community of fans, right, who love them and trust them. It’s it’s sort of like a friendship relationship. You don’t really necessarily accidentally listen to a podcast. You choose the creator. You choose the content that you’re going to consume as a listener. So that community that you can tap into as an advertiser is incredibly valuable for you. Many podcasters, as I said, are considered experts in their field, whether that’s like self-help or education or fashion or crypto, whatever it may be. Right. And with the right creators, brands can very often get everything that they would get with a coveted creative agency, but on a much more affordable level and with a lot more authenticity. So creators are everything in one way. I mean, from production, the creative direction to audience building to relationship building with the community, you sort of get everything in one with a creator that you you would have to pay a lot of money for an agency to get. And that when you amplify it at scale, when you not just work with one creator, but when you work with 10, 20, 30, you amplify so many voices so you get so many different creatives. Like one of the things that brands love that they get with us is the fact that they get access to discover these creators that they would never normally be able to discover. Because, I mean, like, what do you do if you’re a brand and you want to work with a podcast? Or if you go to Spotify, for instance, you won’t have any contact information even if you come across someone. And then there may not be that interest. Right. Whereas like we allow creators to send proposals to brands so we minimize the rejection. Brands can choose who they want to work with. Creators can choose the opportunities that they pitch themselves for. They can price themselves. And to brands, it’s the fact that you’re getting so many different types of content from host reads to interview segments to topical discussions to unboxings to product reviews, how to’s, anything and everything that creators want to come up with, we allow them to collaborate on and brands get brand ambassadors. Right. Like a lot of the times, podcasters are the first people who are testing the product out before it even goes out for a launch so they can give product feedback in a really efficient way. And then it’s lots of different content, as I said, and you’re tapping into different communities. You can test different target markets, different verticals. And that’s not something you can do when you, you know, go to the agency and then you buy two or three creators and that’s it. And you put all your dollars in there. When you’re doing it at scale, when you’re doing it with the broader ecosystem, it’s it’s much more powerful  [00:13:44][156.2]

Rock Felder: [00:13:45] Well, we’re big fans of that mission. It’s something that we at SquadCast here are supporting as well. Like the more creators being able to get paid and have just paths to monetization I think is good for for the space in general. So it’s great work that you all are doing. But, you know, on the product level, like we’re big fans of it to our community manager, Arielle Nissenblatt, has used it for her podcast. We’re going to start using it for Between Two Mics, this podcast. And, you know, a lot of the folks in our community, the SquadPod community, which is a private SquadCast-based community that Arielle is running now. We let folks know about that we’re going to be talking to you and that we’re going to be have some other collaboration plans with Podcorn. Everyone got really excited. It was really fun to see the reception. So it seems like folks are getting a lot of enjoyment out of the product. Now, I’ve heard you talk about this concept of native sponsorships before, so I was wondering if you could talk to us about what those are and why podcasters should consider native sponsorships as an option when it comes to monetization as opposed to traditional ads.  [00:14:43][58.2]

Agnes Kozera: [00:14:44] Yeah, so everything that Podcorn focuses on is native advertising. So with native ads, you’re more of a brand ambassador than you are sort of running a traditional ad. So with traditional ads, podcasters don’t often, as I said, have that control over what brands run ads against their content. Whereas with native ads, you’re choosing the brands. You are developing more of a relationship. You have more creative control of how the content is integrated. You integrate it into your episode more natively as part of the content that you’re creating. It’s a lot more authentic to the listener, more effective for brands, because, again, it personalizes that relationship between the creator and brand and it comes across as a lot more authentic. And also, you know, for creators, it opens up a lot more monetization opportunities because you can charge a lot more because you are producing the content. So you can charge not just on the basis of how much downloads you have. And it’s not very impression-based, you can actually charge on your influence and the creative and the expertize that you have in the particular field because you’re creating that association with the brand. You know, you also get products from brands through native because you have an opportunity to touch and review and to have a real experience with the brand and product. It’s not sort of just like a blind promotion most of the time. And your audience can benefit obviously from that a lot more because you’re putting your personal touch on it. If you’re doing, for instance, an interview with a brand, you can ask them more difficult questions that you would want your listeners to potentially know about. So it takes authenticity to a whole other level. You can also give back a lot more to your community because you can ask the brands for unique coupon codes and discounts for your listeners. And you can also establish you more as an influencer and can open doors to a lot more unique opportunities. With YouTube, especially, we’ve seen this where creators who started out small and developed these great relationships with the brands over time, they got they got to co-develop product lines with brands and do something really unique or they got show deals or book deals. So I think working with the right brands can open a lot of doors even to your career outside of podcasting. You know, some creators within YouTube that we worked with, they ended up working for some of the brands that they ended up building relationships with on FameBit. So the sky’s the limit. The fact that it’s native, it’s more personalized, you can charge more. And brands have a huge benefit from it, too, because they’re tapping directly into the conversation. They’re not just a disrupting ad. They’re actually in the conversation with the creator.  [00:17:27][162.4]

Zach Moreno: [00:17:28] We’re going to take a quick break, but we’ll be back soon with more from Between Two Mics.  [00:17:33][4.9]

Zach Moreno: [00:17:36] Hey, SquadCasters, thanks for tuning in to Between Two Mics. While we’ve got you here, we want to tell you a little bit about our YouTube channel.  [00:17:42][6.8]

Rock Felder: [00:17:43] Since we released our video feature in January, allowing podcasters to record both their audio and video on SquadCast, we’ve been working hard to walk the walk ourselves.  [00:17:52][8.8]

Zach Moreno: [00:17:53] So what does that actually mean for listeners of this podcast?  [00:17:56][3.2]

Rock Felder: [00:17:57] Well, Zach, it means that in addition to listening to this podcast, Between Two Mics enthusiasts can also watch snippets of our show.  [00:18:03][6.0]

Zach Moreno: [00:18:04] We’re working with our friends, Tristan and Justin at Motion Agency.io to bring you highly produced, colorful and exciting video elements to further illustrate the points that we make with our guests on the show. We encourage you to check out our YouTube channel and to see how we’re experimenting with video and how you might be able to experiment with video, too,  [00:18:25][20.8]

Rock Felder: [00:18:26] So just head over to YouTube.com And search SquadCast dot FM in the search bar and please don’t forget to hit that subscribe button.  [00:18:32][6.2]

Zach Moreno: [00:18:32] Now, let’s get back to the show.  [00:18:33][0.9]

Zach Moreno: [00:18:36] And I got to share my appreciation from multiple perspectives, from from a listener perspective, from a creator perspective, and also as a brand working with creators, the level of thought you’ve put into those those relationships is really, really powerful. And I think it’s really worth recognition. So thank you for that contribution, Agnes. To the continued professionalization of podcasting and the whole industry overall. I think that’s a that’s a tremendous contribution.  [00:19:03][27.0]

Agnes Kozera: [00:19:04] No, that’s very sweet. And honestly, it’s you guys are amazing, too, which is why we’re so excited to be partnering with you, because great brand relationships start with great content. Right. And and having the right tools to create grand content interviews are such a big part of what we do here at Podcorn. And brand interviews play such a big role. And having the right tools to record and make amazing content is is critical. And so we are huge, huge fans of you guys as well. And so it’s just the synergy is of the roof. And so we’re very excited to be doing things together.  [00:19:40][36.5]

Rock Felder: [00:19:41] Thank you. Yeah, you said Synergy. The word that comes to mind for me is sympatico. So either way, it’s a lot to look forward to.  [00:19:47][6.2]

Agnes Kozera: [00:19:48] That’s better.  [00:19:48][0.2]

Rock Felder: [00:19:49] Well, thank you.  [00:19:50][0.7]

Zach Moreno: [00:19:50] I’ve seen you say that you believe podcast advertising is more about quality versus quantity and and sidenote, we agree. But can you unpack why you believe that and give an example of someone doing that on Podcorn really, really well?  [00:20:05][14.8]

Agnes Kozera: [00:20:06] Yeah. So what I mean by that is that it’s more impactful for brands to choose to work with, with the right podcasters and doesn’t matter their size as long as they’re within the brand’s industry or they reach the brands target market. That’s a lot more impactful, not impressions, versus brands going after a podcaster who has the most downloads or the most impressions. You know, for instance, if you have if you’re a brand and you have a more expensive or complicated product that requires some education, or if you’re looking to reach consumers within a specific target market such as moms or other creators within a specific niche, it’s a lot more impactful to to work with the right creators who can speak to that listenership or who are passionate about your product and can give you unique insight or have expertize within within that field and can be really strong brand ambassadors. And and that’s sort of how how we’ve seen for a lot of brands success. For example, one of our companies I love to talk about this one all the time are Lumen. They’re a device that helps you measure your metabolism. They worked with podcasters who are experts within like nutrition, fasting and other health and fitness expert podcasters. Melanie Avlon, biohacking podcast and the intermittent fasting podcast comes to mind. She did a fantastic job for the brand. She pulled them into an interview. She asked really expert questions that dove deep that you wouldn’t be able to probably do unless you understand the industry. And also just her listenership is already coming there for that type of content. They want that recommendation. They want to learn. And she was so thoughtful. And you could tell, like she did the research on the brand, she knew this was someone in that she wanted to partner with that suited her content, suited her expertize. And so part of what we really strive to do at Podcorn, is really that matchmaking and really help brands discover the right creators for their brand. We’re not an agency. We’re not a network. We don’t have a roster of 30 creators. We have over 45000 podcasters. So we’re able to to really hone in on who the right creators for the brand. We within popcorn, because we are a tech platform and not an agency, we’re able to provide a lot more choice in terms of who brands work with. We consolidate both independent and network talent under one roof. So that that makes a huge difference because we’re not just pushing creators, because we have them within our network. We really strive to help brands discover the right ones.  [00:22:47][160.9]

Zach Moreno: [00:22:47] That alignment is like a lot of people recommend, like when you’re starting a podcast like niche down, you know, a combine two niches to get even more niche. And that is often like the keyword that stuck out to me is like the skill is matchmaking that that Podcorn really facilitates here and that being with the niche that fits with this brand. Right. And that connection is very meaningful in both directions. It’s not it’s not just like, oh, I, I found a brand. Now, you know, I can I can have ads on my show. It’s like those ads are meaningful to my listeners and it stops feeling like an advertisement at that point. And it’s actually bringing something new to the equation, whether that be a product or something that, you know, is is is recommended. So that is I think that that alignment is really critical and a win win in any kind of partnership and this doing doing this work at scale is even more impressive.  [00:23:40][53.2]

Agnes Kozera: [00:23:41] That’s awesome. Yeah, we think so, too. And that’s the scale aspect of it is really important. Like, for instance, another client of ours, Usual Lines. You know, they were able to use Podcorn to hire 100 creators for a campaign. Like that’s scaling the unscalable because it’s native. Right. So having the tools to streamline everything from creator discovery to hiring to post campaign reporting makes a difference in how many creators you’re able to work with at a time. And also, it really helps brands in a way, because if one creator doesn’t convert for you, you take that as a learning right. And you’re able to then or if a few don’t convert for you, you’re able to learn why and see who is converting. And then we’re able to recommend other creators to you that are that makes sense. And our look alike for the ones that are successful. And we’re collecting a lot of that data and learning on what is working for brands and which creators are are doing a good job for them and able to drive more success over time.  [00:24:41][59.7]

Rock Felder: [00:24:42] I love that story that you used about that. An ad doesn’t have to be boring. I think we’ve been conditioned to like hate ads and think that they’re a waste of our time and just ruins the experience. Right. But with a podcast, what we’ve seen, I think the creative people, is they they use that as an opportunity to create actually engage in content that is more relevant to the audience. So, yeah, the story that you just mentioned is a perfect example of that. I guess what’s inspiring to me is that that’s a that’s an indie creator who’s doing that. Most of the examples that I can think of are like on shows like Masters of Scale, where the ad is like a mini show within the actual episode. But that’s you know, Reid Hoffman is the host of that podcast. He’s a billionaire like he can he can pay for that kind of thing or align himself with brands that have that type of ability to create that much easier. But to hear that example of an independent creator just being just embracing it and being creative, I think that’s a really good story. And I look forward to hearing more of those. And that’s what we love to highlight on this podcast is on Between Two Mics, it’s all about highlighting the folks in the podcasting space that’s pushing the boundaries forward in podcasting and, given your experience working at high tech like like Google, you know, how is podcasting different or looking podcasters learn from other type of high tech media creators and companies? [00:25:55][73.6]

Agnes Kozera: [00:25:56] Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, podcasting is so intimate. I think you hear that everywhere. It’s more intimate, I think, than any other medium. I was very excited, obviously, about video, drank that Kool-Aid for a long time and I still do. I love video, but with YouTube we get excited about ten minutes. With podcasting, it’s like, what, 15 seconds that you are interacting with a post. But then with podcasting it’s like 30 to 40 minutes on average, right, that you’re that you’re pulling someone in to a story or a conversation. And it’s that ability to again, like go above and beyond to dive deeper on topics. So many people that I know are listening to podcasts to learn to be better, whether it’s like self-help or education or news and information. It’s such a trusted source for us, especially these days and the state of the world that we’re living in. And podcasters play such an important role in being a source of information and entertainment. And I think it’s just a lot more mature, it’s a lot more engaging. And that’s why I think it also is a perfect space for for advertisers to tap into.  [00:27:07][71.3]

Zach Moreno: [00:27:08] On the flip side, right. It is still early days for podcasting. So I’m sure that you have some ideas for what do you think could be changed or improved in podcasting? I mean, you mentioned the lack of infrastructure for matchmaking brands with content creators a little while ago, but what else? And that was your move to have a a contribution. [00:27:26][18.1]

Agnes Kozera: [00:27:27] Hopefully were solving that. Yeah.  [00:27:28][0.9]

Zach Moreno: [00:27:30] Respect you there. But what else do you see kind of in the space that we think that should be changed or improved better?  [00:27:34][4.5]

Agnes Kozera: [00:27:35] Yeah, I definitely think podcasting lacks a sense of community coming from the YouTube space and seeing how powerful it is to have that interaction with your fans and and have the ability to interact with other creators. I think that is very much missing within podcasting and very much so to the detriment of the independent podcast ecosystem, because that’s what makes it harder to go viral. Right. Like if you’re part of a big tech distribution channel, if they’re putting money behind their partnered creators and they’re promoting that content and discoverability is not yet figured out, which is like, I think another big issue for podcasters. Right. Like lack of community, lack of discoverability of content. Like all those things are hurting the independent podcast ecosystem because the content that these independent podcasters are creating is so incredible. You can learn so much from experts, whether it’s like an editor at an incredible, like, magazine. Right. That. Has created a podcast to dive on like styling or editorial advice that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. Right, like you could. It’s difficult to find out on a podcast unless someone is putting dollars behind you and promoting you. It’s just makes it a lot harder to go viral and break out than on Tik Tok or or YouTube, which is why we’re seeing these stars blow up overnight. I’d like to see that in podcasting. So I think we can learn a lot from the world of YouTube. And I hope that a lot of the big tech companies, you know, want to help the independent ecosystem thrive and invest dollars in those tools that help them shine and help expose them.  [00:29:09][94.4]

Rock Felder: [00:29:10] So something fun to share that I think might be a little bit encouraging for all of us here about what you said, Agnes, I don’t know if either of you have seen the show. It’s a it’s a I think it’s aimed for kids. So, you know, it’s probably not, I’m not the audience either. The show, the Mighty Ducks show that came out Mighty Ducks Game Changers in the first episode. There’s like two of the kids are podcasting together. And I was like, oh, my gosh, that’s amazing. Like, that’s how it starts off. Right. And it’s a podcast following the kids’ hockey league or something like that. And then one of the kids, they ask him to join the hockey team and he goes, oh, I got more of a podcaster body. And I was just like, all right, we’re almost there. We’re almost there.  [00:29:49][39.1]

Agnes Kozera: [00:29:50] Oh my gosh, that’s so funny.  [00:29:51][0.3]


[00:29:51] 
So podcasting is is breaking through to pop culture. And I think you’re absolutely right, Agnes, that podcasters are the next influencers. And I think, you know, a lot of kids nowadays, they’re not wanting to become, you know, firemen or firefighters rather excuse me, or police enforcement officers or anything like that, like they want to be YouTubers. And I think podcasting is probably coming right down around the corner for that as well.  [00:30:14][23.3]

Agnes Kozera: [00:30:15] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And from that angle, I’m also like such a proponent of free content. Right. And access to that just goes back to the whole point of discoverability, just access to these creators. I think I’m not a big fan of podcasting and a lot of companies wanting to have subscription based style content within podcasting. I think it’s a democratized platform. Like there’s so many tools like you guys are providing where everybody can create amazing content, everybody can distribute content. We’re trying to democratize monetization. I think from that same angle, content should be free and and accessible. I think it’s a different story where you are working with a studio to create like an original show or something like that. I think that that totally makes sense, that it’s only on a certain platform. But even then, I think that should be free. Right. Or so I think that’s that’s a shame that there’s still that like a battle about whether it should be free or subscription.  [00:31:15][60.6]

Zach Moreno: [00:31:16] Yeah. And I love that it’s a distributed community, industry, all of those things as well. And like you said, like we don’t as an example, SquadCast, like we’re not we don’t have opinions about what you do with your content. It doesn’t have to be published to the SquadCast only listening app. And things along those lines is is something that because podcasting has been around for a while and was you know, I’ve said a lot of things on the show about like RSS feeds kind of holding things back. But this is where I think actually it’s been an asset to to podcasters, where it’s kind of been that backbone that’s kept things distributed and free. I think that’s a fantastic point you raise.  [00:31:53][37.0]

Agnes Kozera: [00:31:54] I just think it’s different. You know, when you’re like a Hulu or Netflix and everything is paid for and behind a paywall, then like having a platform where, like, certain things are inaccessible because those are paid for. And then and then again, I think that harms all the creators who are independent on that platform as well, so.  [00:32:10][16.0]

Zach Moreno: [00:32:10] Yeah, it can lead to these weird places of double standards, right. Where it’s like, well, this show’s not set up this way. And I that mental model is harder to form from like a listener perspective as to what’s free, what’s subscribed, what’s, you know, and it’s different for each show. And very curious to see how that experiment plays out.  [00:32:27][16.9]

Agnes Kozera: [00:32:28] Because it can also alienate. Right. I think we’ve seen a lot of things that I think also podcasting can learn from the MCN era and the mistakes made there where creators who, for instance, would like create amazing free content would then be pulled and then their channels would now be owned by someone else. And then now, like all of a sudden, for instance, the audience now has to pay to access the creator that they helped to develop and not creator’s only like so big because of the audience that the creator had. So I think there’s yeah, there’s things to learn there. And in order to help creators thrive, but in a way that doesn’t also hurt the listeners.  [00:33:04][36.3]

Rock Felder: [00:33:05] Yeah, that’s what I love about podcasting, is that it’s been around, but it’s still early days. And I think a lot of us in the space seem to be doing our best to, like, learn from examples like you mentioned, to avoid those those same pitfalls. And I think not trying to rhyme history on the bad things is definitely something that it seems to be that the space is embracing overall. So it gives me a lot of encouragement that we are going to a better place.  [00:33:29][23.9]

Agnes Kozera: [00:33:30] Yeah, absolutely.  [00:33:30][0.4]

Zach Moreno: [00:33:31] So, Agnes, looking forward, Podcorn recently became an Audacy company and congratulations, by the way, what can podcasters expect to come from Podcorn and the rest of the Audacy team?  [00:33:41][10.0]

Agnes Kozera: [00:33:41] Yeah, so this is also very much a match made in heaven, you know, going through an acquisition the second time and seeing the power of it through Google and how it can propel you as a startup and just having access to more resources, being able to realize your vision a lot more quickly, you’re able to do a lot more. So we’re so excited. We have so much synergies with the leadership at Audacy, like very early on about our vision and about wanting to help the open independent creator ecosystem, wanting to make advertising more native for brands. We’re all very aligned. So I think what first and foremost what creators can expect is a lot more opportunities, a lot more deal flow. You know, Audacy’s a major company, we’re able to to tap in a lot of resources on the sales side and a lot of their brand relationships and bring those over into Podcorn, which is really exciting. So that’s our number one. Number one goal is to drive the opportunities for creators. Yeah. And also just building we have a lot of in-store on the product side in terms of like creator tools and brand tools to help advertisers measure their results. I can’t divulge too much yet,.  [00:34:52][70.9]

Rock Felder: [00:34:53] We understand.  [00:34:53][0.3]


[00:34:53] 
But there’s a lot of there’s a lot of things in the works in terms of creator tools and brand tools that we are working on. So very excited for that. And it’s just speeding everything up which which, as you know, is is amazing. It’s what a startup. We want to move quickly and break things. So we’re able to do that.  [00:35:11][17.7]

Rock Felder: [00:35:12] Well, that’s exciting. And a little mystery never hurt anybody. But matchmaking seems to be a theme and a core competency for you and Podcorn internally and externally to you know, not only does your platform match make, but you’re finding your matchmaking on a on another level, too, with finding a great partner like Entercom and now Audacy. So, yeah, that’s great. And something that we’re really excited about, too.  [00:35:33][21.0]

Agnes Kozera: [00:35:34] Yeah. I mean, partnerships are huge for us. I think, you know, even previously with Google and FameBit, like even before we were acquired, we partnered with Shopify to help creators build their own e-commerce stores to help expand beyond YouTube. And so partnerships have been huge for us, too. I mean, obviously we’re partnering with you guys because it just were all about driving as much value to creators. And you’re always stronger together. And there’s other experts that you can bring in to help make your ideas better and give more access of tools that you yourself don’t have. So partnerships are are very important aspect to us along all the startup journeys. And I’m a huge believer in partnering and finding the right partners to helping you do more things better.  [00:36:22][48.2]

Rock Felder: [00:36:23] I didn’t think I could be any more excited about our collaborations, but I am because you seem to have a knack to finding good partners. So a lot of things to look forward to. Yeah, we’re very excited.  [00:36:31][8.5]

Zach Moreno: [00:36:32] Thank you, Agnes, so much for this great conversation. And joining us on Between Two Mics, and as I said, respect tremendously the contributions that your company and you personally have had on the independent creator ecosystem, podcasters finding ways to matchmake podcasters with brands and, you know, earn a living from their art and their craft is is just a really beautiful combo. So thank you for that contribution to the whole ecosystem and and also for this fantastic conversation that we’re excited to share with our audience.  [00:37:00][28.4]

Agnes Kozera: [00:37:01] Likewise. Thank you, guys. Also for for all your contributions and I’m excited for all the great things we’ll be able to do together in the space.  [00:37:10][8.8]

Rock Felder: [00:37:11] It’s going to be a great year and beyond.  [00:37:12][1.3]

Rock Felder: [00:37:15] Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of Between Two Mics. [00:37:17][2.2]

Zach Moreno: [00:37:19] We hope you enjoyed our conversation. If you learn something or are we intrigued you a bit, let us know on social media,  [00:37:24][5.7]

Rock Felder: [00:37:25] You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn by searching for SquadCast.fm. [00:37:30][4.7]

Zach Moreno: [00:37:32] And if you want to show the podcast some love, you can leave us a rating or review wherever it is you’re listening right now.  [00:37:37][5.6]

Rock Felder: [00:37:38] This show is put together by us, Zach and Rock. It’s mixed and produced by Vince Moreno with help from Arielle Nissenblatt. Our logo is designed by Alex Whedbee.  [00:37:48][9.3]

Zach Moreno: [00:37:48] Since we’re a podcast about our podcast, we want to shout out the brands and products that we trust. We’re recording using SquadCast.fm. And here’s our current stack. For recording, we’re using ATR2100 mics, Apple AirPods Max headphones and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interfaces. [00:38:05][17.1]

Rock Felder: [00:38:09] We edit the show on Adobe Audition in our hosting site is SimpleCast.  [00:38:12][3.0]

Zach Moreno: [00:38:14] That’s it for us this week. We’re back next week with more from between these mics.  [00:38:14][0.0]

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