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Today's Topics

3 charts for you all today:

  • Spotify just signed a podcast exclusively for $100m. Genius? Or disaster?
  • Lockdowns are gently easing – how much are we all moving around?
  • How high might unemployment go in this recession?
Earlier this week Spotify announced they had signed Joe Rogan's podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, to an exclusive multi-year deal reportedly worth at least $100m. That's a chunk of change for just a podcast with pretty minimal production costs, but when you consider just how big Rogan's audience is you begin to understand why Spotify's share price has risen by >20% this week.
Rogan has been riding the wave of podcasts, which have become increasingly popular in the last decade (source: Edison), better than anyone else. The UFC commentator turned podcast host racks up 190 million downloads a month on the Joe Rogan Experience. As his popularity has grown, so too has the calibre of his guests. In the last month alone guests have included Tony Hawk and Elon Musk.

We crunched the numbers above and worked out that it's conservatively the equivalent of signing an artist that gets their songs streamed more than 4 billion times – every month.

Rogan vs. Malone

For some extra context here, Post Malone was reportedly the most streamed artist on Spotify last year, racking up more than 6.5 billion streams. If our estimates are even in the right ballpark, that should only take Joe Rogan a couple of months to surpass (in terms of total listening time). A simplified analogy would be that this is like Spotify signing the world's most popular pop star – by far – totally exclusively for a few years.

Economics ain't that easy

The economics of the deal are still quite murky. The WSJ reported the deal was worth $100m, but it's unclear whether that's in total, or per year, and whether it includes any performance related bonuses.

For Spotify, it's another huge investment into the world of podcasting. Last year Spotify bought 3 podcast companies, and they added Bill Simmons' The Ringer earlier this year. Spotify execs will be hoping Rogan brings millions of new listeners to Spotify, and that they will be able to insert unskippable ads into the podcast – something Rogan alone wouldn't be able to do. Cue every media company starting a podcast in 3, 2, 1...

P.S. Sign up for our podcast "Data Stories" launching soon.
Lockdowns are only just beginning to gently ease in many areas, but anecdotally it feels like people are moving around a lot more. We dug into the data from Apple, which has been tracking the amount of routing requests on Apple maps, to give a sense of how people's behaviour is changing.
Driving is back

We've plotted the daily routing requests for driving, walking and public transit relative to pre-COVID averages (February). In the US the data suggests driving patterns are almost back to normal, with the most recent data showing driving is down just 13% relative to normal. Similar trends in Canada and Australia can be seen as well, while the uptick has been a bit gentler in the UK.

Are people ignoring the guidelines?

Obviously guidelines and rules are regional, but for the most part this data suggests a few things about how people are adhering to lockdowns and restrictions:

1) Route requests for public transportation are still way down on normal usage levels – good news considering the risk of transmission is presumably a lot higher on public transport.

2) Driving with your household is probably the safest mode of transport in terms of risk of transmission. But the increasing number of driving route requests does beg the question... where is everyone going?

3) Canada and Australia's shutdowns have been similarly severe in terms of movement restrictions to those in the UK and USA. However, both have had substantially fewer deaths (~6100 in Canada, and only 101 in Australia) – more evidence that the severity of lockdown is potentially less important than just being early.

Live somewhere else or want to see data for a specific city? Go check out the Apple mobility trends website to explore more.
The number of US individuals filing for unemployment benefit is beginning to slow down, but even this week saw another 2.4 million file a claim.

Just how high could unemployment go?

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published a simplified analysis showing that US unemployment could hit almost 53 million. That would be consistent with an unemployment rate of more than 30%. For some context, it's estimated that during the Great Depression of the 1930s, that unemployment in the US peaked at ~25%. 

Do you have any good news?

Sort of. The good news is that the economy in 2020 is very different to the one in 1930. The stimulus packages are more co-ordinated and substantially larger, and the central banks of the world have much better control over liquidity and credit than they did in 1930 – when everything was pretty much backed by physical gold sitting in a vault somewhere.

On top of that, the frictions to finding new employment or restarting old jobs should be lower with technology, not to mention the fact that information industries dominate a large part of our workforce, which it turns out, can mostly be done remotely these days.

And finally, rightly or wrongly the stock market has yet to really tank, meaning there's not many people looking like this guy from 1929

Data Snacks

1) John Krasinski has sold the rights to his 'Some Good News' show, which has netted around 70 million views on YouTube since starting it.

2) Manchester United have reported that the coronavirus pandemic has cost them a reported £28m ($34m) so far.

3) After growing its economy by 6.1% last year, China has not set a new target for economic growth for this year.

4) The Atlantic has joined the long list of media organisations to layoff staff, cutting 17% of its workforce this week.

5) Dating app Tinder has reported that their were 3 billion "swipes" on the app on March 29th, the most ever recorded in a single day.

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