Julie McNamara Exits as Head of Spotify Podcast Studios

Julie McNamara, one of Spotify’s top podcast content execs, is leaving the company, Variety has confirmed.

McNamara, who joined the company in 2021, most recently served as VP and global head of podcast studios. She oversaw Spotify Studios, which consolidated the Parcast and Gimlet groups producing original podcasts, as well as licensed podcast deals with partners including Joe Rogan, Alex Cooper (“Call Her Daddy”) and Emma Chamberlain. McNamara had reported to Sahar Elhabashi, head of Spotify’s podcast business.

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In a May 9 internal memo, McNamara said she was leaving Spotify and will be “returning to her creative roots,” Bloomberg reported. It’s not clear who will be filling the role with her departure. Spotify declined to comment.

Prior to joining Spotify, McNamara had spent 15 years at CBS and Paramount Global. She most recently was head of programming at Paramount+, the service’s first originals programming chief.

Spotify steamrolled into the podcast business in early 2019, spending hundreds of millions of dollars buying up properties including Parcast, Gimlet and Anchor, as well as inking exclusive podcast deals with the likes of Joe Rogan, host of its No. 1 podcast.

The company has since pulled back on its podcast spending. In January 2023, Dawn Ostroff, who had overseen Spotify’s podcast business as chief content and advertising business officer, stepped down. Shortly afterward, Max Cutler, Parcast co-founder, left as Spotify’s head of talk creator content and partnerships; he recently announced a new venture, the creator-focused Pave Studios.

In mid-2023, Spotify laid of 200 employees in a reorg of the podcast division. Under the new strategy, it has pivoted away from acquiring exclusive platform rights and instead has adopted a strategy of widely distributing shows to maximize audience reach. For example, earlier this year the company announced a multiyear deal renewal with Rogan worth as much as $250 million. Under the pact, “The Joe Rogan Experience” ended its three-year exclusive run on Spotify to be available on Apple Podcasts and other platforms, while Spotify is managing distribution and ad sales for the popular podcast.

CEO Daniel Ek told analysts last month that Spotify’s podcast business remains on track to achieve profitability in 2024.

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