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There’s a podcast festival to raise money for GiveDirectly and COVID-19 relief—and you’re invited

This ambitious audio experiment for a good cause will feature live guests and exclusive drops from some of the world’s most popular podcasts.

There’s a podcast festival to raise money for GiveDirectly and COVID-19 relief—and you’re invited
[Photo: Glow.fm; rawpixel
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In the context of the COVID crisis, a good ol’ fashioned music festival feels like a relic from a long time ago, in a non-socially-distanced galaxy far away.

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Thousands of people gathered together to experience a wide variety bands over an entire weekend.

When’s the next time we’ll be able to safely do that?

But starting today and continuing through the weekend, Glow.fm, the Seattle-based startup which seeks to do for podcasters what Shopify has done for merchants, is taking the concert festival concept to podcasts, in order to raise money and awareness for pandemic relief efforts. Podapalooza will feature live talks by such popular podcasters as Kara Swisher, LeVar Burton, Andy Slavitt, Deray McKesson, and more, as well as exclusively curated podcasts from some of the world’s most popular shows across a wide variety of genres, topics, and formats.

“Seattle was one of the first cities really affected by the crisis, and early on, it was clear this was not business as usual,” says Glow.fm CEO Amira Valliani. “So we took a few days to brainstorm ideas around, if we were to do something positive in the face of COVID, what would that look like?”

[Photo: courtesy of Glow.fm]
The festival includes live sessions that will be hosted on the Podapalooza website, along with curated drops from guest podcasts in a dedicated Podapalooza feed. Like a big music fest, the pods are split among seven different “stages.” The Popcorn stage features such shows as LeVar Burton Reads, The NoSleep Podcast, Meet Cute, and Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com. Over on the Eyes On The World stage is Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway’s Pivot, Techmeme Ride Home, Axios Pro Rata, and more. There’s even a Kids’ Corner, with pods like Tumble, Brains On!, and Unspookable.

“There hasn’t been a really big podcast festival, and this feels like a really good time to try and find out what that might be like,” says Valliani. “Just like a music festival, you get together a bunch of acts, some big names, others you maybe haven’t heard before, you have different stages, and various options for interacting. We looked at people from different genres, and wanted create this occasion where people can get a pass that will get them access to these podcasts, which are curated versions of what the podcasters want to put in front of fans. We told them to submit a piece of content where your fans will like it, but also people who don’t know you might be interested in or represents what your show is about.”

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Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with 100% of proceeds (after fees and setup costs) going to the charity GiveDirectly, to help vulnerable households in Seattle impacted by COVID-19.

Valliani says that it’s been a steep learning curve putting it all together, but could prove to be a model for future projects and podcasting events. “We’ve never done anything like this before, we’re really excited, and we’re working furiously to make this an excellent experience for both listeners and podcasters, but we’re going to learn a lot over this weekend,” she says. “We’re already learning a lot through this process. One is just seeing what happens when you try to put all these elements and people together. There will be things we’ll learn over the weekend that may inspire future products, but it’s also worthwhile to do right now, to get people excited and raise money and awareness.”

The only thing missing so far are the festival t-shirts.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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