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. Since 2018, we’ve expanded the program from the U.S. across continents, to South America and Europe, and have focused on engaging prospective podcasters who might otherwise not have had a chance at the mic.
Earlier this year, we shared that we’d be launching Sound Up LatinX to directly address the disparities present in the podcasting community. Today, we invite aspiring U.S. LatinX podcasters to apply for the program.
Sound Up LatinX is divided into two parts. First up is a virtual training program in 2021, which will take place over the course of eight weeks. The 10 participants who are short-listed by Spotify will attend workshops for a comprehensive introduction to the art of making a podcast. Ultimately, participants will create and submit a podcast trailer and pitch proposal for the opportunity to be selected as a finalist to attend part two: in-person Sound Up sessions in 2022.
Participants will be in good company: Past alumni of the Sound Up program globally have received podcast development deals, connections to industry leaders, and production grants to take their concepts to the next level.
We spoke with Fernando Spuri, Manager, Sound Up, about why it’s so important to bring more LatinX creators to the podcasting space and his prediction that Sound Up U.S. LatinX podcasts will go global.
Why did Spotify create this additional Sound Up U.S. program?
The podcast ecosystem is developing fast in the U.S. and it’s already one of the most consolidated in the world. However, when we check the podcasts charts, there’s a lot to be improved regarding diversity of creators. And with more than 60 million LatinX living in the U.S., it became clear that the LatinX community was the next to address with the program.
The consumption of podcasts by the U.S. LatinX community is growing fast, and the community over-indexes in podcast consumption compared to the general audience in the U.S.—56% of the U.S. LatinX population has ever listened to a podcast, compared to 55% of the U.S. total population. But there’s still a lack of representation in the industry, even among LatinX creators. We believe that bringing new voices to the table will unlock an even bigger growth opportunity, add some fresh perspectives to the general audience, and even stimulate other potential creators to start producing their own shows.
How will this program be unique from the existing Sound Up U.S. program—or any existing Sound Up program, for that matter?
We have a global framework for Sound Up that we use as a starting point, but after that, each Sound Up is unique, even different editions in the same country. Every Sound Up has a selected cohort, with specific needs and backgrounds, and the solutions are not replicable.
For the U.S. LatinX program, for example, we’ll have specific facilitators, guests, and content addressing issues like defining the language of the shows, how and if the creators want to address immigration issues, and even discussing what it means to be LatinX in the U.S. All these specific discussions are fundamental to this cohort but wouldn’t necessarily be for a broader group. This underlines the uniqueness not just of Sound Up U.S. LatinX, but of all Sound Up editions.
How do you think aspects of bilingualism and immigration—two topics with unique elements within this population—will be incorporated into the podcasts that come out of this program?
Naturally, bilingualism—or plurilingualism, common among U.S. LatinX—and immigration are common issues amongst the community and will probably be part of most shows. But it’s important to point out that Sound Up is not necessarily looking for projects that address these matters directly.
We’re looking for creators with powerful ideas that want to tell whatever stories on whatever subjects resonate with them best. Of course, those subjects are an intrinsic part of almost all LatinX, but how and with what intensity they want to address them is up to them.
Why are you excited to work with this community in particular?
First, because of how diverse the participants will be, considering the term LatinX is so inclusive and flexible. LatinX is this multidimensional community that’s not just struggling to be heard, but also to define itself while it expands. This is an amazing opportunity to bring in new, diverse voices and maybe help course correct the podcast landscape regarding diversity.
Everyone that self-identifies as part of the LatinX community living in the U.S. is invited to apply, regardless of their origin or status. That will also bring potential creators that don’t have the opportunity to develop their vision in other traditional educational programs.
Secondly, we’re really thrilled about the potential of the ideas that we’ll receive. For example, a show in Spanglish about K-pop made in Los Angeles from a second-generation Salvadorean podcaster can find an audience in a Dominican first-generation kid in New York, but also in Santiago, Madrid, and Oaxaca. And we don’t say that to oversimplify the community, but to show an example of powerful intersections that we might find among listeners in the U.S. and abroad—and that’s truly global and exciting!
All LatinX U.S. residents age 20 or older—regardless of immigration status—are invited to apply to Sound Up U.S. LatinX now. Sign-ups close October 1, 2021. Please apply as an individual, rather than as a show or group. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
Update as of September 10, 2021: Maria Murriel and Isis Madrid, co-founders of Pizza Shark, will be facilitating Sound Up U.S. LatinX. Maria has been a Sound Up facilitator for the US program already in 2020 and 2021, after participating as a speaker in 2019. Maria and Isis have both delivered our global training in how to deliver the curriculum to new Sound Up facilitators in new markets globally.