Spotify gives NYU students the chance to learn podcasting like a pro


Taught by WNYC Studios and Vox veterans Audrey Quinn and Julia Furlan, “Podcasting and Audio Storytelling” began with an overview of history before delving into formats, genres, business and more. Several classes included guest speakers with extensive experience, and not just as facilitators or journalists. Dawn Ostroff, Content Director of Spotify, Vice President and Global Director of Spotify Studios Courtney Holt, Gimlet Co-Founders Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber and several others participated in the learning sessions.

As the head of Spotify Studios, Holt explained that the company recognized a gap during the hiring process. He noted that the challenge is to select people from different disciplines and make them understand how to work with audio, or vice versa.

“When I was in school, the best part of any class is the guest speakers who have experience that you can learn from,” Holt said. “So I was like, ‘How do you bring together experienced people with students interested in the media? ”

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Through existing relationships with various schools, Spotify began discussing potential partnerships for podcast-specific courses and seminars. Holt said the process was “really organic,” and although the company has had conversations with a number of universities about what a podcast program could be, NYU suggested taking a course for the January quarter. . The condensed class has therefore become a kind of proof of concept. Spotify worked with the Dean and his staff at NYU to determine key elements, set the three-week schedule, and choose guest speakers.

“We want to be more present in podcasting,” said Antonio Merlo, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at NYU. “One thing that was very clear is that if you look at the list and all of the people who came in as guest speakers, it’s a rarity.”

The aim of the course was to help students refine an initial idea for a show and develop an effective pitch for it. In fact, they were required to submit a proposal before the first class. Halfway through, a 250-word written pitch explained why the idea for the show was valid and who the audience was. At the end of the course, they had to record a three-minute audio pitch – with help from the engineers at Spotify. These projects were like a teaser that you probably heard at some point for an upcoming show. During that last class, Holt, the manager of Spotify Studios, was one of three professionals who offered direct feedback on the projects.

In addition to meeting every day of the week for three weeks, the students had the opportunity to learn more about a certain aspect of podcasting. These sessions covered editing software, data and distribution, as well as careers in audio. The idea was to take a multidisciplinary approach, but not to get bogged down in niche aspects of the industry. In the future, these additional courses, including some that could span an entire semester, will expand the range of courses.

“One thing that was very clear is that if you look at the list and all of the people who came in as guest speakers, it’s a rarity.” —Antonio Merlo, dean of the NYU Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Although part of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism, the course was open to all majors. Since he has covered topics such as monetization, production, and sound design, there is some appeal to other fields beyond journalism. And Merlo sees an opportunity to expand what the university offers with a podcasting certificate program – also created with help from Spotify.

“The vision we have is a world where NYU, in partnership with Spotify, could offer a podcasting certificate,” he explained. “We would add a three course sequence with an overview of aspects of the industry and more in-depth courses.”

Merlo made it clear that the certificate program is still in the early stages of planning and will need a series of approvals before NYU can offer it. However, this is really part of the university’s immediate future and such a program was already part of the conversation with Spotify. For now, it is a question of refining this initial course which will serve as an introduction or presentation of the three courses.

“We don’t mean ‘well done, we took this course and played it over and over again’,” he added. “We certainly want to continue, but we want to incorporate all the lessons we learn and help refine our vision moving forward.”

Not only was Holt impressed with what the students managed to produce in such a short amount of time, but he says some of the pitches were so good the streaming service can offer to help students turn them into one. real show. In addition, these students had to tackle a new course and program while learning at a distance all the time.

“I went into this hypothesis that it would be next to impossible to create a workable sound, in a three week course, from people who hadn’t really done it before,” said Holt. “The result was amazing, and there were shows in there that could really help the creators get started.”

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