Podcasting for Marketing

Podcasters say Kast Media’s Colin Thomson owes them tens of millions

This story initially appeared in Sizzling Pod Insider. Join Sizzling Pod right here.

A number of creators who’ve left the podcast community Kast Media say the corporate owes them important sums of cash — amounting to 6 or seven figures for promoting offered on their exhibits. A number of creators have gone public on social media, and others have individually confirmed to Sizzling Pod that the corporate has not paid them for a number of months.

As an alternative of constructing the delinquent funds, Kast CEO Colin Thomson formally or informally provided creators a deal the place they might be paid a partial quantity of the cash owed in money and the remaining in shares of PodcastOne on the situation that they signal an settlement to take their podcasts to the brand new firm as part of a proposed IP acquisition, a number of creators instructed Sizzling Pod. PodcastOne, a former subsidiary of LiveOne, has since spun out right into a separate public firm and went stay on the Nasdaq final week.

Comic Whitney Cummings, who hosts the podcast Good For You, instructed Sizzling Pod that she believes Kast Media owes her at the very least $350,000 for advert sponsorships — although the quantity could possibly be extra.

“The entire thing is a nightmare,” Cummings wrote in an e mail. Cummings, who signed a multiyear partnership with Kast again in December 2021, left the community in June. A number of different high-profile creators have left Kast, together with Theo Von, Logan Paul, Jason Ellis, and Tony Hawk.

First launched in 2016, the Santa Monica, California-based Kast Media rapidly stood out as an unbiased podcast community with a watch towards video podcasts in addition to movie and TV improvement. As not too long ago as final December, it ranked No. 10 in Edison Analysis’s record of podcast networks with the best attain. Kast Media was damage by this yr’s mushy advert market, although, and like many different audio firms, went via layoffs.

In Might, Kast and LiveOne introduced a proposed IP acquisition the place greater than two dozen podcasts within the Kast Media community — together with Good For You — would be a part of LiveOne’s ranks.

However Kast not noted a vital element: Kast’s podcasters must conform to this. Cummings and various different creators have but to signal a cope with PodcastOne in any respect. A number of creators in Kast’s community instructed Sizzling Pod that they weren’t consulted earlier than the press launch was printed.

One factor that’s essential to notice is that LiveOne by no means actually acquired Kast — the previous entered into what’s often called a “letter of intent” to accumulate sure belongings of Kast’s IP portfolio. The press launch contained a caveat that plainly said the proposal was removed from a positive factor: “The letter of intent with Kast Media is non-binding … There might be no assurance that the proposed acquisition can be accomplished and/or throughout the anticipated timeline.”

Whereas points at Kast began changing into obvious to some creators as early as fall 2021, individuals who labored on each the enterprise facet and the narrative podcast facet of Kast inform Sizzling Pod that they didn’t notice something was amiss till the spring of this yr. Three creators instructed Sizzling Pod that they reached out to Thomson about lacking checks, however when he didn’t reply, they started reaching out to others within the Kast workplace, together with chief enterprise officer Mike Jensen — who oversaw all sponsorship advert gross sales however didn’t usually work with creators.

Michael Ojibway, the creator of the true crime podcast Invisible Choir, who signed an unique adverts gross sales cope with Kast within the fall of 2021, mentioned he received into the behavior of anticipating late funds from Kast. His very first examine from Kast arrived late, and so did each fee that adopted. He famous that if he couldn’t attain Thomson, he would communicate with both Jensen or Kast’s senior accountant, Michael Calabretta, neither of whom appeared to know when he can be paid.

“There have been various factors the place I had a intestine examine. I used to be seeing the purple flags, particularly with Colin however extra broadly with how the corporate dealt with accounting particularly that led me to aggressively and proactively inquire about fee,” Ojibway mentioned.

Points with Kast escalated over the summer time, as a number of creators started sharing that they weren’t getting paid. Then, issues got here to a head this month, when one of many greatest podcasters within the nation spoke out. Former Kast podcast community host Theo Von posted a roughly 10-minute video on YouTube on September sixth entitled “This Man Defrauded Our Podcast” through which he alleged that Kast Media owes him and a bunch of different creators over $4 million for adverts served on their exhibits. Von, who hosts the chart-topping podcast This Previous Weekend, left Kast at first of the yr and joined Rooster Enamel’s podcast community again in March.

“Our podcast was defrauded. We had been stolen from. We had been taken benefit of — there are numerous methods to say it. The corporate that did it’s Kast Media, and the person that did it’s Colin Thomson,” mentioned Von. He estimated that Kast owed This Previous Weekend a six-figure sum, although he mentioned he spoke to creators who allege that the corporate owes them seven figures in again pay.

Von’s video, which has been seen over 1.5 million instances, was posted two days earlier than PodcastOne debuted its itemizing on the Nasdaq. Shares of PodcastOne fell shortly after buying and selling opened on September eighth, dropping from $8 per share to over $4. On the time of publication of this text, PodcastOne is listed at $2.78 per share.

In an e mail to Sizzling Pod, Von mentioned that he personally knew of six completely different creators who had been owed quantities that ranged between $1.5 million and $600,000. Von mentioned Kast owes his present an quantity that’s within the six figures.

A few different hosts have gone public about their dealings with Kast on social media. Jason Ellis, who co-hosts the Hawk vs Wolf podcast with Tony Hawk, posted a tell-all video on Instagram final week the place he referred to as the duo’s two-year cope with Kast “certainly one of my greatest regrets in podcasting.” He said that Kast nonetheless owed the duo cash from host-read adverts that ran on their present.

“If you happen to see Colin Thomson named on any podcast, simply know that’s who you’re coping with.”

“If you happen to see Colin Thomson named on any podcast, simply know that’s who you’re coping with. And if you happen to’re a podcaster and any of these guys attain out to you, simply know that I haven’t met a much bigger piece of shit,” Ellis mentioned within the video.

In an Instagram message, Ellis confirmed to Sizzling Pod that each Hawk vs Wolf and his personal podcast, The Jason Ellis Present, signed with Malka Media. “We aren’t getting any a refund haha,” Ellis wrote.

Jim Cornette and Brian Final, co-hosts of The Jim Cornette Expertise, have additionally gone public about Kast owing them cash. Final and Cornette have posted a collection of YouTube movies over the previous two months the place they recount their interactions with the corporate, throw insults at Thomson, and spill largely unverified tea. Cornette and his podcasts at the moment are a part of Rhapsody Voices, a brand new podcast community launched by Jensen, who left his position as Kast’s chief enterprise officer this summer time.

Scott Porch, the founding father of Large IP Media, which incorporates the podcasts The John Campea Present Podcast, The Large Factor, Dan Murrell Podcast, and Star Wars Defined, signed a multiyear distribution cope with Kast again in February. However he left shortly after and signed an unique advert cope with Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast in July. The primary fee from Kast was the one one which arrived on time, Porch famous. He mentioned in a textual content message to Sizzling Pod that Kast owes Large IP Media over $150,000.

All instructed, PodcastOne has solely secured offers with a handful of former Kast podcasts: Brendan Schaub’s community of podcasts, The Schaub Present, The Fighter and the Child, and The Golden Hour, in addition to Some Extra Information and spinoff podcast Even Extra Information, hosted by Cody Johnston and Katy Stoll.

Thomson was concerned in some early talks to hitch the ranks at PodcastOne. However the firm is not planning to convey him on, based on each Thomson and LiveOne CEO Rob Ellin.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance final week, Ellin indicated that the corporate knew Kast was in dangerous situation — and that turning its belongings round was the purpose of the deal. “We’ve purchased a … very distressed, troubled asset,” he mentioned of the still-in-the-works IP acquisition of Kast’s podcasts, including that it “owed some huge cash to its podcasters and couldn’t actually afford to pay them.”

Thomson responded to the quite a few allegations in opposition to him in a cellphone name with Sizzling Pod on Tuesday. His model of occasions is that this: Kast received underwater resulting from this yr’s mushy advert market, and the corporate fell behind on its funds to creators. Thomson met with traders in March and claimed that none had been occupied with investing in podcasting. He lastly met Ellin in late April, and so they started exploring a method for PodcastOne to function a possible lifeboat.

“PodcastOne has pretty much as good of a fame as anybody within the area. They had been arising with offers for Kast exhibits that had been sturdy,” Thomson mentioned.

Whereas Thomson acknowledged that PodcastOne initially wished to supply him a place on the firm, he careworn that it wasn’t his precedence. “I ought to say that was explored early on, but it surely was by no means a spotlight for me. I by no means tried to barter something,” he mentioned. Thomson’s actual precedence, he insisted, was the creators.

“I don’t deserve a number of the issues that had been mentioned about me, however I do deserve a number of the issues that had been mentioned about me too.”

As to the movies by Von and the hosts of The Jim Cornette Expertise, Thomson has a blended response. “I don’t deserve a number of the issues that had been mentioned about me, however I do deserve a number of the issues that had been mentioned about me too,” Thomson mentioned. He acknowledged that some creators could have been “sad” with the offers provided by PodcastOne or being left in the dead of night about Kast’s monetary standing for therefore lengthy. He understood that creators had been offended with him and guessed that lots of them felt “led on” by him. He denied all allegations of fraud, although he careworn that there have been “enterprise selections” he regretted.