Soundtrap for Storytellers is Spotify's latest play for podcasters

Spotify has been snatching up companies left and right. One of the odder acquisitions was Soundtrap, an online music production tool. It just didn’t really seem to fit with the rest of the company’s moves. With Soundtrap for Storytellers, though, things are finally starting to come into focus. It’s taken its audio editing and cloud-based collaborative chops, and used them to build something specifically for podcasters. Which, obviously, is something Spotify has become quite obsessed with. See: its recent purchases of Gimlet, Parcast and Anchor.

If you’ve used Soundtrap before, or any DAW (digital audio workstation) for that matter, the “for Storytellers” version should seem familiar. But even if you haven’t, don’t worry: It’s clean and intuitive. There’s a timeline along the top, along with a couple of pre-populated tracks for recording audio from your microphones. What makes the service unique, though, are various conveniences and features catering directly to would-be podcasters. For one, there’s a dedicated preset effects chain for podcast vocals. And your episodes are mastered on Soundtrap’s servers with an EQ, compressor and limiter tailored for podcasts. Of course, if you want to do the mastering yourself, you can always download the individual audio files and do the final mix using your audio editor of choice.

More importantly, there’s a built-in video chat feature that lets you dial in a guest and easily record their vocals. Often, in order to remotely record guests, podcast hosts have to resort to third-party apps that record Skype sessions. That or synchronized local Audacity sessions. During a demo hosted by Soundtrap this worked flawlessly. Unfortunately, in my own testing this remote interview feature was often a little messy. Often all I captured was a high-pitched distorted approximation of a human voice. That being said, we were testing a beta version of the service; hopefully the company irons out some of the bugs in the final version.

Perhaps the most exciting thing for many podcasters will be the transcription tool. With just the push of a button, Soundtrap will automatically turn your recorded vocals into a document that’s editable right from the DAW. But, more impressively, you can actually use the transcript to edit the audio. For example, you can remove an unnecessary digression simply by deleting the text. Or you can rearrange a conversation by cutting and pasting the text — which will in turn cut and paste the audio. The UI is a little rough around the edges; it can be tough to tell when you’re just editing the text of the transcript, but not the audio. Selecting multiple lines of dialog can be finicky, too. But when it works, it’s pretty exciting.

soundtrap for storytellers

There’s also a built-in tool for managing shows and episodes and publishing them directly to Spotify. (Of course.) And there’s a library of musical loops and sound effects built in that you can use to spice up your podcast. As you’d expect, you can also easily drag and drop any audio from your PC right to the Soundtrap window if you want to use your own theme music.

Soundtrap for Storytellers is available now for $14.99 a month. But you can also opt to get a bundle of Soundtrap for Storytellers and Soundtrap Supreme for music makers for $17.99, which unlocks all of the effects, virtual instruments and loops.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

After a brief stint in the IT industry, Terrence made the transition to tech journalism and never looked back. Early in his career he took a particular interest in the intersection of technology and politics. Now, as managing editor of Engadget, he helps lead an impressive team of reporters that explores how that tech permeates our society. He’s appeared on RT, NY1, The Brian Lehrer Show, WSJ Radio and ABC Radio. In his downtime Terrence brews beer and collects hobbies at an alarming rate.

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What we're listening to: 'The Comedian’s Comedian' and 'Up First'

In this month’s installment of our audio IRL, we’re back to podcasts. Senior Editor Daniel Cooper explains why Stuart Goldsmith’s show is a delight and Senior News Editor Billy Steele expresses gratitude for the short pod that keeps him up to speed on the world outside of tech.

The Comedian’s Comedian with Stuart Goldsmith

Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper
Senior Editor

When I started regularly writing and performing comedy, my friend Claudia insisted that I start listening to The Comedian’s Comedian with Stuart Goldsmith. It’s a podcast, unsurprisingly hosted by Stuart Goldsmith, in which he interviews other comedians about comedy. And yes, I’m aware that the genre is beyond tired out, but this podcast is well worth falling in love with.

Since 2012, Goldsmith has produced 276 episodes of the show, which often run a lot longer than an hour. He has spoken with some of the most revered names in comedy but gives equal time to up-and-coming performers on the circuit. Based in the UK, there’s a British skew to the show, but Goldsmith has spoken to plenty of big American names in his time.

Part of the show’s conceit is that Goldsmith, as a working comic, tries to understand how his compatriots work, and why. He then says that he looks to take that knowledge and use it to improve his own stand-up material, and by extension, ours too. Not that Goldsmith isn’t already an adept comic in his own right, and one that regularly tours the UK.

Unlike a lot of his podcast-host contemporaries, Goldsmith has a genuine interest in the mechanics of comedy. And since he’s not a semiretired ex-superstar, he’s less interested in running through old war stories and mutual back-slapping. Consequently, the show has a very practical focus, and he interrogates his guests on the nitty-gritty of how they write their material.

And, because he’s up there, night after night on stage, he’s a wonderfully empathetic interviewer. It enables him to tease some fantastic nuggets out of his guests as they slowly let their guard down during the show. The two marathon shows with James Acaster, the second of which was recorded shortly before the release of his four Netflix specials, are revelatory.

Similarly, one of the more recent episodes was with Chris Addison, the standup and actor who has directed Veep and The Hustle. There was plenty about how he made his transition, and the academic way he would build his stand up shows, and his regrets about those same shows.

Recently, I’ve begun working my way through the show from the start, and some of the tidbits Goldsmith teases from his guests are brilliant. Take Sarah Millican, who reveals that, starting out, she would have a minimum of 50 — 50! — gigs in her diary at a time. That wasn’t paying work; those were open spots, little five-minute windows for amateurs to work on their set.

Even if you think that the Comedians Interviewing Other Comedians About Comedy format is tired, I’d suggest you give this a go. And some of the advice I’ve gleaned has already helped me refine my own act. Hell, it might even inspire you to grab the mic for yourself.

Up First

Billy Steele

Billy Steele
Senior News Editor

My life can be pretty insane at times, and it can be really hard to keep up with the news on a daily basis. That’s mostly because I quit Twitter, so I’m not privy to a constant barrage of current events, but I digress. Even though we work on the internet here at Engadget, keeping tabs on the non-tech world isn’t easy.

I do have a 20-minute window every day when I have time to catch up on the biggest stories of the day: the car ride back from preschool drop-off. Ah yes, those 20 sweet minutes of solace. Also the perfect time to figure out WTF is going on in the world since I last checked in. The natural move would be to turn on the radio and take in a section of whatever morning show happens to be on. That’s fine, but it’s far from ideal. Thankfully, NPR has my back with Up First.

Up First is an ultra-condensed version of NPR’s daily show Morning Edition. It features the same hosts and covers some of the same topics you’ll hear if you have time to catch that two-hour show each morning. NPR has hosts stationed on both coasts to ensure you’re properly covered with context for all the big stories, no matter where they may be happening. For Up First, the biggest stories of the day are condensed into a podcast you can listen to in 10 minutes. Hear something you want to know more about? Morning Edition is also available in archive form on the NPR website. And those episodes are divided into convenient clips, so you don’t have to sit through a full show if you don’t want to, or don’t have time.

There are also special installments of Up First when major stories hit that just can’t wait until the next day. The release of Mueller Report is one example. New episodes are up by 6:00AM ET as well, so if you have an earlier commute or hit the gym before work, the latest podcast should be waiting for you in your player of choice.


IRL” is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they’re buying, using, playing and streaming.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Engadget is the original home for technology news and reviews. Since our founding in 2004, we’ve grown from an exhaustive source for consumer tech news to a global multimedia organization covering the intersection of technology, gaming and entertainment. Today, Engadget hosts the archives and expertise of early digital publishing players like Joystiq, TUAW and gdgt, and produces the Internet’s most compelling videos, reviews, features and breaking news about the people, products and ideas shaping our world. After 14 years in the game, we’re leveraging our history to bring the future into focus.

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Bill and Chelsea Clinton are starting a podcast

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The Clintons are getting into podcasting. Former president Bill and his daughter Chelsea, the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, have revealed they’re starting a show called Why Am I Telling You This?. It’ll include conversations with the Clintons, foundation staff and guests. They’ll “share their unique experiences and stories to help explain the factors shaping our interconnected world — and why we should be optimistic about its future,” according to the podcast description.

The podcast will explore some of the issues the foundation is involved with, including hurricane recovery efforts, climate change, the opioid crisis and childhood literacy. It will also include conversations about “global leadership, reflections on the Clinton Administration, and President Clinton’s wide range of interests and well-known intellectual curiosity,” according to the foundation. Former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won’t officially be a part of the series, but she may make appearances, Variety reported.

“Launching a podcast is a natural extension of President Clinton’s mastery of using storytelling to explain complex issues and his belief that once you know someone’s story, you better understand them as a person and your differences become less important,” said Craig Minassian, chief communications and marketing officer at the Clinton Foundation, said in a statement. “President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have always sought new ways to create a deeper understanding of how to make an impact which is particularly crucial and challenging in the current media environment.”

There aren’t any episodes yet for the ad-free podcast, save for a two-minute preview clip. Why Am I Telling You This?, which the Clinton Foundation is producing with At Will Media, will officially debut this summer.

The Clintons aren’t the only presidential family to embrace new media — Barack and Michelle Obama are working with Netflix on several projects. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently started his own podcast.

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Spotify is testing podcast suggestions for your commute

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In the past couple months, Spotify has doubled down on its podcasting efforts. It’s invested hundreds of millions and acquired Gimlet, Anchor and Parcast. One thing the company lacks is a way to recommend podcasts to its audiences. But, according to The Verge, that could be changing. An early test shows podcast recommendations alongside personalized music suggestions in a new feature called Your Daily Drive — hinting that Spotify wants to secure a spot in your commute.

While our editors weren’t able to access the test, it looks like there may be a few kinks to work out. The podcasts that showed up for The Verge editor Dan Seifert were in Portugese, a language Seifert doesn’t speak. And as he noted on Twitter, there’s no way to fine tune Spotify’s podcast suggestions. Spotify hasn’t announced plans for the feature yet, but it would make sense. The company is clearly committed to podcasting, and it will need a way to promote its new content with its 217 million users.

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Overcast makes it easy to turn clips from podcasts into viral clips

The popular iOS podcasts app Overcast wants to make it easier for people to share across social media clips from their favorite shows. The feature will likely be well-received by podcasters looking to expand their show’s audience, as they’ve previously been limited to sharing their podcast by way of links or audio-only snippets, for the most part. Overcast’s solution, meanwhile, allows anyone to share either an audio or a video clip from any public podcast, the company said in an announcement.

That means a show’s fans can get in on the action — giving their favorite podcast a viral boost by promoting it on social media, where it could reach new listeners.

To use the clip-sharing feature in Overcast, you first tap on the “share” button at the top-right corner of the app. You can then pick either an audio clip or a portrait, landscape or square video. In the clip-editing interface that appears, you can locate and select the audio clip you want to share. Clips can be up to one minute in length, the company says.

The variety of video formats is designed to appeal to those tasked with marketing a podcast across social media — including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat — where the supported video aspect ratios may vary. In addition, podcast marketers will be able to remove the Overcast branding from their shared clip to give it a more professional feel.

Overcast’s new feature competes with existing tools for marketing audio across social media — like those from Wavve, Headliner, Spotify-owned Anchor and others, including, perhaps, SoundCloud. Some of these services offer captions, as well, which podcasters may prefer to Overcast’s clips.

But unlike other rival tools, Overcast’s clip-sharing feature isn’t meant only for podcast creators and marketers — it’s for listeners, too.

Of course, that also could present a problem. Listeners who have an axe to grind could pull a clip that presents a podcaster in a bad light — perhaps, taking out of context something they said in hopes of manufacturing social media outrage. Or maybe they just catch the podcaster on a bad day saying something dumb. Small gaffes that in the past could have been overlooked could now be used against a podcaster because these viral clips are so easy to create and share.

Time will tell to what extent the feature is adopted and how it’s used, or if the idea makes its way to other apps to become more of a standard.

According to Overcast founder Marco Arment, the clip-sharing feature was inspired by a remark on the Unco podcast by Stephen Hackett, where the problem was discussed in more detail.

In addition to the launch of clips, Overcast’s public sharing page got a small refresh, too. It now features badges to other podcast apps and the RSS feed to the podcast for any show listed in Apple Podcasts.

“It’s important for me to promote other apps like this, and to make it easy even for other people’s customers to benefit from Overcast’s sharing features, because there are much bigger threats than letting other open-ecosystem podcast apps get a few more users,” Arment said.

That “much bigger threats” comment refers to the new trend of podcast “exclusives” — like those on Luminary or Spotify, which aren’t available to the public. Arguably, these aren’t podcasts in the strictest sense of the word — they’re audio programs.

The clips-sharing feature takes the opposite position. The podcasts this feature helps to promote are open and accessible to the public — and now all of the content inside each episode is more accessible, too.

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