The podcast platform Acast has been putting added focus on its Creator Network in recent months and among its moves as been to appoint Tiffany Ashitey as U.S. Director of the Creator Network. In her new role, she will oversee domestic podcast acquisition, partnership management, and growth. Ashitey was previously U.S. Director of Partnerships at Acast, She joined Acast in January 2021 from Essence Communications where she spearheaded the 2019 launch of the Essence Podcast Network. Podcast News Daily caught up with Ashitey to talk about how she plans to bring new talent into the Acast fold.
PND: Tell us about your new role leading the Creator Network in the U.S.
Tiffany Ashitey: I'm responsible for leading the podcast content strategy here in the U.S., so how we approach podcasters, how we serve podcasts, and how we retain podcasters within our network in the U.S. market. We're all about serving the open ecosystem of podcasts. And moving forward, looking at how competitive and how business minded podcasting has become over the past few years, our goal is to continue to serve our creators. Creators have evolved beyond just focusing on audio to leveraging podcasting as just one tool in their branding toolkit. And so it's my responsibility and my team's responsibility to stay on the pulse of what creators are doing, and really figuring out how we can bring them into the fold.
PND: Does that mean you are on the lookout for shows, or you're listening to tons of shows?
Tiffany Ashitey: Yes, but also looking at creators in other spaces too. With YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Facebook, we've seen that creators and the next big podcast can be anywhere. Podcasting has now solidified itself as a digital content medium. And so with that, we want to see where creators are, what their content is, what their message is, and really explore how podcasting can complement that if they're not already.
PND: Do you find you are working more with talent agents today?
Tiffany Ashitey: I would say that we're definitely working with agents more. But it's not a new concept for us. We've been working with agencies since day one. But we're definitely seeing more of it. It's just natural for creators to have representation. And so it's no surprise to anyone that there's more agency representation. The more representation there is, the more the creator ecosystem thrives.
PND: As the industry wants to diversify, does it also need to look like non traditional places like TikTok stars, social media influencers and celebrities?
Tiffany Ashitey: I wouldn't say it's a wide net, but I do think it's an expanded net. If you look at the content it is at the core of everything. We definitely want to see who's in the space and who's doing it in the space already and what podcasters are commanding listenership and building communities through the audio medium. But you also want to see where else this content is flourishing. So it's not negating our existing podcasts, it’s really about exploring where the content is thriving, whether it's in audio, or in other platforms.
PND: A lot of publishers say that signing some of these people now is like an arms race seeing who can offer the most guarantees up front for sometimes unproven shows. It sounds like that's not a game you want to play.
Tiffany Ashitey: At the end of the day, we kind of focus on what our mission is and how we can serve the creator. What are they asking for? What are they looking for? What are their goals? I can't necessarily speak to what everyone else is doing in the marketplace. All we can do is stay true to who we are. And it served us well, up until this point.
PND: You come from Essence, where you built a podcast network there. Will you use you experience there to reach out and bring in more people of color to Acast?
Tiffany Ashitey: Over the past few years, diversity has become more and more of a popular word. But it truly is something that's been top of mind, not just for me, but also for my colleagues here at Acast. We are making sure that we are serving creators of color and bringing in a variety of content, not to just check a box, but as a means to serve the creators and the listeners that support them. So you can't have our mission without wanting to bring more diversity into the fold.
PND: Acast is a global platform. When you look at which American podcasters you want to work with, do you look for a show that will also appeal internationally?
Tiffany Ashitey: It's not necessarily looking for the podcast that must have that international appeal. But it's recognizing that if you're ambitious and you love what you do, you are going to look beyond the borders of the U.S. to figure out where you can go next. And I think that's what serves us really well, because we've had that ingrained in us since day one. But if it just has domestic appeal, whether it's domestic in Canada, or Mexico, or U.K., or in my case, the U.S., having domestic appeal still means that they have an audience gravitating to the host and the content. And that's what we care about more.
PND: Acast talks a lot about the open ecosystem and having podcasts available everywhere. Do you find the conversation around that evolving with podcasters you're talking to?
Tiffany Ashitey: Some of these creators are at different stages of their podcasting journey, and so what may sound great for one is, is not appealing to someone else. If they're at a different point of their journey and where they're seeing their brand, they're seeing their content in a different way. So there is an appeal to having it everywhere. A lot of our creators really want to manage this relationship with their listeners and have this direct relationship with their audience. And the open ecosystem really allows that.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.