Jordi Oliveres, who spent nearly a decade at Spanish-language media giant Univision, has been struck by how few podcasts speak to Latinos. This week, he — along with the former heads of Universal Music Group and Fonovisa Records — debuted their Latino podcasting company, hoping to tap a market that's largely been overlooked by some of the larger podcast studios.
"There isn't any content that speaks to [U.S. Latinos'] culture and interests," Oliveres said. "So we just thought there was a huge opportunity there to create content that genuinely speaks to the Latino community in podcasting."
L.A.-based Pitaya Entertainment launched with six new podcasts hosted by popular personalities including Puerto Rican actress Giselle Blondet and her daughter, Gabriella Pabón. For now, most of the podcasts are in Spanish, but the company will produce in both Spanish and English, as well as a mix of both.
Created by Oliveres, the former Universal Music Group President Zach Horowitz, former head of Fonovisa records Guillermo Santiso, Slate.com's podcast founder Andy Bowers and Campanario Entertainment Vice President of Spanish Development Diana Mejia-Jones, the company aims to produce shows about Latinos in the burgeoning new media form.
"[U.S. Latinos] are a community that's really engaged with media and entertainment, but they lag behind in podcast listening," Oliveres said. He added that Latinos overindex on all forms of media consumption, and podcasts will be no different.
According to the first-ever Latino Podcast Listener Report from Edison Research in 2020, 45% of U.S. Latinos ages 18 and over have listened to a podcast at some point in their lives. The study also found that podcast listening for over half of adult U.S. Latinos has increased since the outbreak of COVID-19.
"Podcasting companies are definitely paying attention to trends observed in video content," said Alejandro Rojas, executive director of Parrot Analytics, a global content analytics company. "In video, we're seeing demand for Spanish language content growing rapidly and gaining share."
Pitaya's six initial series launched over the last two weeks, all hosted by well-known Latino personalities with a large and devoted fan base; together, they have a combined social media following of more than 27.5 million. Among them are Blondet and Pabón, who cohost "¡Ay, Mamá!," a podcast on motherhood, and actress Alejandra Espinoza her sister Damaris Jimenez, who cohost "Entre Hermanas," a podcast series on self-improvement and female empowerment.
"Sin Rodeo," a podcast run by Jomari Goyso, debuted at number one on the Apple Podcasts U.S. Entertainment News chart. "Ana Patricia Sin Filtro," hosted by Ana Patricia Gámez, debuted as the highest-ranked Spanish language podcast in the U.S. on Apple's top 200 podcasts chart.
Pitaya also released an English-language podcast named "Hyphenated," in which Latina comedians Joanna Hausmann and Jenny Lornzo discuss the connections of Latino and American culture.
"We thought it was important to find hosts who are already very well known and respected in the community, and that had things to say that were meaningful and interesting," said Oliveres. "We looked for figures that already have large followings on social media and that have a presence in Latino media in general. And then we work together with them to build a show that represents their interests and the things that their followers are interested in, so that it's just a very organic extension of who they are and what their followers care about and want to hear about."Pitaya's podcasts are free and available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Pandora and Pitaya Entertainment's website, pitaya.fm. The company got its name because of pitaya fruits' origins in Latin America, their unique color and shape, and the ease of spelling and saying "pitaya" in both Spanish and English, said Oliveres.
Universal Music Group has provided TikTok rights to its extensive music catalog in an agreement announced Monday that gives more muscle to the short-form video app that's been selling itself as a tool of music discovery.
One of the world's most popular social media apps, TikTok has catapulted artists like Lil Nas X Olivia Rodrigo into the mainstream. Under the agreement, the company has pledged to work with the UMG to build new features including "A&R insights and models" that will presumably help to identify songs and artists poised to break out.
The news comes days after the music group pulled its entire catalog from Triller, a TikTok competitor, citing Triller's withholding of payments and refusal to negotiate a renewed deal. That means that, at least for now, while TikTok users will be able to make videos with songs by UMG's entire roster of artists – which includes superstars Drake, Eminem and Arianna Grande among numerous others – Triller users will not.
The agreement also has the potential to offer UMG valuable insights into the role social media is playing in promoting its artists. The deal covers songs associated with performing artists from UMG as well as songwriters from Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG).
"This alliance sets an industrywide example of social media companies acknowledging, respecting and compensating the music creators whose songs are instrumental to their platforms," said UMPG chief operating officer Marc Cimino in a statement.
David Israelite, head of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA, of which Universal is a member), an advocacy group for music publishers and songwriters, said, "We've been pleased that with TikTok, they've made broad licensing deals with the music community, including an NMPA-brokered deal that involved a settlement looking backward. With Triller, it remains a company that is largely unlicensed as of today."
Triller claimed last week that it didn't need a deal with UMG, but Israelite disagreed.
"Social media companies like TikTok and Triller absolutely need the permission and licenses of the copyright owners of the music that they use to build their businesses," he said. "What's been disappointing among many social media companies is that they will focus on building their business first and worry about licensing their music later, which is not a good way to do it."
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Universal Music Group lashed out against L.A.-based short-form video app Triller on Friday, pulling its extensive music catalog of artists, including Drake, Post Malone, Arianna Grande, Selena Gomez, Eminem and hundreds of others from the app.
The app has yet to take down the entire song catalog.
UMG claims Triller has withheld payments to artists and has refused to negotiate a new deal, while Triller said it remains in the process of renegotiating its expired contract with the music giant.
"We will not work with platforms that do not value artists," UMG said in an emailed statement. "Triller has shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists and refuses to negotiate a license going forward. We have no alternative except to remove our music from Triller, effective immediately."
Triller has previously touted its music licensing deals as an important factor in its competition with similar apps like TikTok, Snap and Instagram. In July, executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht told dot.LA that "what differentiates Triller is we've always had music licenses in place."
Triller said that its contract with UMG expired a week ago and that it already has relationships with artists, so it no longer needs a deal.
"We have been negotiating since then in an attempt to renew. The renewal, however, was just a formality and a courtesy to UMG, as a shareholder of Triller," the company said in a statement. "Triller does not need a deal with UMG to continue operating as it has been since the relevant artists are already shareholders or partners on Triller, and thus can authorize their usage directly. Triller has no use for a licensing deal with UMG."
"Triller's statements are removed from reality," said a UMG spokesperson.
Triller's original deal with UMG expired about a year ago but the two companies had continued working under a series of short-term contract renewals, according to a source familiar with the matter. A couple months ago, Triller stopped paying UMG and eventually told UMG that it no longer required a license. UMG then told Triller's music distribution partner, 7digital, to stop delivering music to Triller, according to the source, and UMG sent notice to Triller to remove all UMG content from the app.
This is not Triller's first scuffle regarding copyright licensing. In November, Wixen Music Publishing House filed a $10 million copyright infringement suit against Triller claiming it had illegally used Wixen's songs by Weezer, The Ramones, Styx and hundreds of other artists in the music publisher's 50,000-deep catalog. Triller's CEO Mike Lu at the time called Wixen's actions a "baseless shakedown." In January, Triller filed a motion to dismiss the case and in February Wixen filed a notice of opposition to dismissal; the case remains unsettled.National Music Publishers' Association President and chief executive David Israelite has called out Triller multiple times for being loose with its copyright licensing.
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