Sony Music Entertainment has acquired Somethin’ Else, the biggest independent producer of audio programmes in the UK, as the record label accelerates its push into the fast-growing global podcast market.
The takeover of the company behind The Sun King and Power: The Maxwells is the latest in a series of podcast deals that have seen small producers swept up by big tech companies and music groups.
Sony said the deal, which was completed for an unspecified sum, will be used to expand its global podcast division under the stewardship of Somethin’ Else’s management team.
Jez Nelson, the founder and chief executive, and Steve Ackerman, chief content officer at the production company, will become co-heads of global podcasts for Sony, with the two men running the UK and US units of the business respectively.
A once overlooked niche of the media sector, podcasting and audio has become a hot area of investment for groups such as Amazon, Spotify and Apple as the format became one of the front lines of the music streaming wars.
Amazon’s acquisition in December of Wondery, the maker of shows such as Dirty John and American Scandal, followed a burst of mergers and acquisitions in podcasting last year, through which audio groups such as The Ringer, Serial Productions, Stitcher and Megaphone all changed hands.
Podcast revenues remain modest, with about $1bn of advertising spending expected this year according to eMarketer. But the format has become a crucial differentiator between music streaming services that largely sell access to the same catalogues of music.
Apple on Tuesday launched a podcast subscription service while Spotify has experimented with allowing podcasters to offer subscriptions to their shows.
Founded in the early 1990s by Nelson, Sonita Alleyne and Chris Phillips, Somethin’ Else has gradually expanded from radio into television, podcasting and producing social media content for brands and events.
It is the biggest independent supplier of audio programmes to the BBC and developed a partnership with Sony on specific podcast projects in recent years. Shows made by the group include David Tennant Does a Podcast With . . . and The Immaculate Deception.
Somethin’ Else’s holding group reported a loss of £197,000 in the 2020 financial year and net assets of £752,000. The company does not report its revenue. It disclosed on Tuesday that it had raised £142,000 of new capital, although the sum is not understood to reflect the size of the overall deal.
Sony has spent more than $3.5bn in the past two years under chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida to amass video and audio content for its entertainment business, which generates more than half of its profits. The investments have helped the Japanese maker of consumer electronics recast itself as a supplier of films, music and games.
Dennis Kooker, president of Sony Music’s global digital business, said the deal would help Sony’s “fast-paced expansion in the market”. Ackerman and Nelson said they were “delighted to be joining Sony Music at what feels like a critical moment in the growth and acceleration of the global podcast industry”.