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Spotify Opens Doors for More Underrepresented Podcasters Through New Sound Up Programs

March 31, 2021

Diversity has long been a weak point for podcasting. Yet in order for this golden age of audio to truly shine, it has to include all of us. That’s why, several years ago, Spotify created Sound Up, a global program that gives underrepresented podcasters the tools to boost their platforms and build their own shows. 

You may already listen to some of these beloved shows, perhaps getting your science fix from Dope Labs by U.S. grant recipient Titi Shodiya and cohost Zakiya Whatley or exploring topics you’ve been too shy to look up yourself on Search Engine Sex by Indigenous Australian creator Rowdie Walden. Most recently, plenty of listeners flocked to play You Heard Me Write from U.S. participant Kacie Willis, propelling the creative new format to the 17th slot on Spotify’s Trending Podcasts USA chart.

And there’s plenty more where those came from. A few weeks ago during Spotify Stream On, our Sound Up Global Lead, Natalie Tulloch, announced that in 2021, we’ll be growing our program from 6 to 14 countries—enabling us to support an additional 140+ emerging creators this year alone. 

“The bigger the Sound Up alumni group grows, the more powerful we become,” Sound Up alum and Dope Labs cohost Titi said. 

The new programs include a Latinx U.S. program focused on creating Spanish-language or multilingual podcasts for an ever-growing Spanish-speaking U.S. audience, female creators in India, and lower-income youth from large urban centers in Argentina. Sound Up will also launch in Mexico, Spain, and Italy later this year. 2021 will mark its third year in Germany as well.

But these new programs aren’t the only news for podcasters to get excited about. Spotify also wants to offer opportunities and support to members of underserved communities aspiring to careers as podcast producers, sound engineers, and other behind-the-scenes roles in podcasting. So today, we’re also announcing Behind the Mic, a new apprenticeship program coming later this year to support aspiring Black podcast producers. 

The year-long paid apprenticeship will be led by Behind The Mic Lead Christabel Nsiah-Buadi, an award-winning radio producer, podcaster, and writer. She will oversee the three Black producers chosen for the program. They will get to enjoy a rotational program among show teams and producorial roles, as well as attend a weekly virtual class to refine skills and get exposure to the business and industry. Finally, they’ll each create, produce, and edit a podcast about their experience in the program. This year, two apprentices will be placed: one at Gimlet Studios in New York and another at Spotify Studios in Los Angeles. After the rotation, they will become permanent Spotify employees. 

“I am so thrilled that we will be able to support a yearlong education program and support more creators globally,” says Natalie. “We hope to expand the numbers of participants in the Behind the Mic program and the studios they’re able to work in. This is just the beginning.” 

Speaking of expansion, we’ll also be rolling out a version of Behind the Mic in Australia to Indigenous and First Nations producers in the coming months. But ahead of that, the Sound Up program in its original form is also returning to Australia in 2021. 

Aspiring podcasters who identify as First Nations (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander) are invited to apply for the four-week virtual podcasting program to be held from May 31 to – June 25, 2021. The Sound Up 2021 program will be facilitated by Travis De Vries and Brooke Scobie from Awesome Black. 

Do you have a great idea for a podcast? Apply now. No experience necessary.