As a Black woman over 40, do you ever feel invisible when it comes to podcasts? Where are all the podcasts that speak to you and your interests? Perhaps it’s time to be the change you want to see?
Sound Up, Spotify’s accelerator training programme for aspiring podcasters is back, and calling out for fresh new voices and viewpoints from Black women and non-binary people.
Over the last few years, the podcasting industry has exploded into a billion-dollar industry, but new research from Spotify, which questioned 1,000 Black and Asian women, showed that not everyone feels seen in the industry, with 74% saying that they feel underrepresented in podcasting.
Illustrating the probable root cause of why they feel this way, a highlight of the study showed that Black and Asian women, along with non-binary people host fewer than 5% of the current top 100 podcasts in the UK.
“Sound Up is one of the many ways we are looking to amplify underrepresented voices, and tackle inequity.”
Now in its third year, Spotify’s Sound Up is working to do something about these stats and it has curated a free training programme specifically aimed at encouraging the ‘hidden voices’ within podcasting.
During a virtual press briefing last Friday, Spotify Sound Up Global Manager Abi Ogunmwonyi shared the compelling details of this year’s programme and outlined some of the stats which motivated the focus on Black, Asian and non-binary audience groups.
Up to 84% of those questioned agreed that they would more likely listen to a podcast if it was created and voiced by someone who looked like them. Interestingly, the area of Business and Technology is the podcast genre in which Black and Asian women feel most seriously underrepresented (21%), followed by News and Current Affairs (14%) and Celebrity (12%). If any of these areas are your specialty, now’s the time to explore whether podcasting could be for you.
This year’s programme will look a little different due to the challenges of gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sound Up programme will be divided into two phases. First up is a virtual four-week course that will take place from 12 October to 6 November 2020. To ensure everyone has equal access to technology, Spotify will be providing computers, WiFi access, and podcast recording equipment to participants. At the end of the four weeks, delegates will be expected to deliver a two or three-minute podcast trailer and pitch proposal.
The group will them be whittled down further to 10 participants, all of whom will be expected to attend in-person training in 2021 where they will get to further develop their ideas. Last year, it was in Manchester, as Spotify describes, “to improve accessibility and in recognition of the fact that there are important stories to be told by Black women and non-binary people up and down the country.”
Natalie Tulloch, Sound Up Global Lead, Spotify said: “Sound Up is one of the many ways we are looking to amplify underrepresented voices, and tackle inequity. Sound Up gives underrepresented communities the right resources and support to get their voices heard and pave the way for the next generation of podcasters. We’ve seen incredible success stories emerge since Sound Up’s start in 2018, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings us.”
“Podcasting felt like it was for white middle-class men talking about football! Not for someone like me.”
If you’re tempted, but still not sure, Sangeeta Pillai, Sound Up UK 2018 winner and host of Masala Podcast explained what taking part in the training and ultimately winning, did for her: “Sound Up gave me the confidence to create Masala Podcast. Before then, I literally knew nothing about podcasting – it felt too technical and overwhelming for me. Podcasting felt like it was for white middle-class men talking about football! Not for someone like me.
“Creating Masala Podcast has helped me reach other South Asian women, creating a huge supportive community where we explore taboos in our culture. Winning a silver at the British Podcast Awards was the ultimate affirmation that Brown voices like mine matter!”
Spotify UK/IE is now accepting applications for the 2020 Sound Up programme, at spotify.com/SoundUp. The deadline for entries is 4 August 2020. The four-week virtual programme will run from 12 October to 6 November 2020.