WME: As Podcasting Mega Deals Flourish, Agents Discuss Shifting Landscape & Opportunities For Talent - Deadline
Jun 23, 2021 2 mins, 42 secs

The podcasting business used to be considered the Wild West of the entertainment industry but as mega deals such as Joe Rogan’s $100M deal with Spotify and Amazon’s $300M acquisition of Wondery show, it’s quickly maturing.

WME represents the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Ronan Farrow and new stars such as Bailey Sarian in this space, and three of its podcast agents — Travis Dunlap, Marissa Hurwitz and Chelsea Kreps — are overseeing the talent agency’s drive into audio.

In a wide-ranging interview, the trio discuss the current state of the podcasting business, the growing appetite for exclusivity, increasing opportunities and new buyers moving into the market, consolidation, the potential for scripted stories and A-list talent entering the space.

Last week, sex and relationship podcast Call Her Daddy, a show repped by UTA, became the latest audio series to sign an exclusive deal with Spotify for around $60M!

A lot of traditional A-list talent that we work with here are seeing this is a great opportunity to incubate IP and working with one of these premium distribution places makes most sense for them to get involved with their business.

“We felt when we spoke with her it was a real priority to build this Latin force and iHeart was the company at the moment that was really breaking into that and wanting to help amplify Latinx voices because it’s underrepresented at this time,” says Kreps.

Hurwitz says, “There are sometimes fewer rules in the podcast space and one of the most interesting things is there’s a little bit of a democratization of who can build an audience in podcasting.

We work with a lot of talent who are endemic podcasters who the majority of them have full time jobs and the podcast is a secondary business that they’ve built and have become celebrities in their own right based on the audience they’ve accumulated.

Then we also get to work with our traditional talent who want to do something new and different in audio, where there’s a lot of experimentation happening.”.

He says, “You have to be mindful of the type of project, whether it’s a heavy lift [production wise], so if you take it out with a production company attached some of the distributors are ultimately going to say we would have done this if we could have produced it ourselves.

Every deal has a different set of terms around it, each situation is unique and that’s been incredibly fun, to work through this ecosystem and develop what the precedent is and develop what these deals look like, to protect and get the best deals for our clients and push the boundaries of what can be done in dealmaking in the audio space, which makes it a really exciting time to be part of podcasting,” she adds.

“The notion that massive traditional players in these other areas can end up with really lucrative audio business is really exciting for all of us and there are a lot of incredible clients that we represent that want to be involved in the podcast space,” she says

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