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Spotify speaks on Sound Up Bootcamp

ONES TO WATCH: Femi Fagunwa and Kym Oliver

LAST WEEK, Spotify hosted its first Sound Up Bootcamp in London, following the hugely successful launch of the Sound Up Bootcamp in the US earlier this year.

Ten finalists were selected from hundreds of applicants to attend the week-long intensive workshop for aspiring female podcasters of colour in London. The aim of the program, which was designed and facilitated in partnership with the ShoutOut Network, was to bring more diverse and talented voices into the field of podcasting.

Across the week, the daily workshops were led by various podcast industry experts who coached attendees on the art of podcast creation; from learning about their audience and formulating a concept and story arc, to legal and licensing, graphic design, and technical studio skills.

At the end of the intensive course, each finalist pitched their podcast idea to a panel of experts, who selected Femi Fagunwa, Kym Oliver and Sangeeta Pillai to receive support to further develop and record their podcast idea.

We spoke to Alexandra Adey, UK Podcast Partner Manager at Spotify, about the bootcamp, the future of black British podcasting plus more.

Q: Tell me more about the podcast bootcamp and how it came about

Alexandra Adey: The Spotify Sound Up UK bootcamp follows on from the Sound Up bootcamp we did out of our New York office earlier this year which was a resounding success, and after looking at the data around UK creators, we realised that something similar was needed in the UK as well!

We wanted to look at ways we could highlight diverse voices in podcasting and give some aspiring podcasters tools to create their shows - the only criteria for applicants were that they had to identify as a woman or non-binary person of colour.

Q: Why did Spotify decide to specifically highlight people of colour within podcasting?

A: I think it's fair to say that podcasting is a very white male dominated space - but this is a global thing, not just in the UK. There was an American study done a couple of years ago that suggested around 85% of podcasts had at least one white host, with 66% having a white male host.

Only 18% of podcasts had a non-white host. When we look at the numbers for non-white female or non-binary hosts, they're even smaller. There are so many diverse voices that aren't being heard and we felt this was a way of highlighting and addressing this issue.

Q: There seems to be a rise in black podcasters specifically from London. Why do you think that is?

A: There's a burgeoning podcast scene across a lot of the UK but you're right in highlighting London as a hub. As with media in general, podcasts seem to be centred round the capital and there's lots of amazing black podcasters doing great things here - Shout Out Network, who we worked closely with on the bootcamp, are a great example of a network making fantastic content from POC.

Q: Are there going to be more podcasting events in the future?

A: Yes. We'd definitely like to do this, and similar events, in the future. Podcasting is such a diverse and exciting space, especially in the UK, it'd be remiss of us if we didn't work to try and amplify those making amazing content, as well as giving people the tools to make amazing new podcasts.

We've just launched an LGBTQ+ Spotify Original podcast out of the UK and one of the projects I'd love to get sorted for next year is a festival celebrating LGBTQ+ podcasters - there's lots of ideas floating about at the moment though!

Q: What can we expect from Spotify podcasts in the future?

A: We're currently putting together our plans for Spotify Originals out of the UK in 2019 and we're looking closely at comedy content whilst ensuring we hear from a range of diverse voices within everything we're making.

We've recently launched a UK original called David's Out for a Good Time which is an LGBTQ+ pop culture podcast, and we've also welcomed the return of Who We Be Talks which is the companion podcast to our hugely successful Who We Be playlist.

Q: Are there any people who attended the bootcamp who we should look out for?

AL All of them! I was so impressed by the creativity and passion from all 10 of our bootcamp attendees - we had such a fantastic group who were all so willing to learn and so engaged with the course.

There was such a diverse range of ideas in the room too - from an economics podcast to a spiritual motherhood podcast to an audioplay to a podcast aimed at plus size women! I'm so excited to see what everyone on the bootcamp will create going forward and I'm really proud of them all - it was such a great event to be a part of.

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