Spotify funded an entire team of researchers to work on its Decode podcast

Executive producer espouses benefits of working with a well-resourced platform

Spotify’s approach to adapting its popular Dissect podcast for UK audiences included significant integration of research staff, the team behind the UK offshoot have revealed.

Speaking to Rhianna Dhillon at Podcast Day 24, the main team behind Spotify’s Decode podcast talked about their relationship with the audio streaming platform. Decode is a two-time award-winning Spotify original podcast that analyses UK hip hop and rap albums track by track, which has included Dave’s ‘Psychodrama’ album in the first series and Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’ in the second. 

The podcast is an adaptation of the 10-season US podcast Dissect which has analysed albums such as Tyler, The Creator’s ‘IGOR’ and Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’. Decode is produced by audio company Reduced Listening who will be also behind podcast series Pod Save the UK which is coming in 2023. 

Joby Waldman, managing director at Reduced Listening and executive producer of Decode, said in the interview that working with Spotify helped make the podcast well-resourced and allowed for them to bring in four researchers to work on the project with himself, the presenter Kayo Chingonyi, sound designer Axel Kacoutié and other producers for the show. 

“We had a really passionate commissioning executive, Rob Fitzpatrick, who has deep love for Dissect and really wanted to get this right,” Waldman said. “...We are able to be in a really substantial team behind a script. There’s really important collaboration between experts from different fields.” 

Outside contributors that were a part of the Decode research team included TRENCH editor-in-chief Joseph Patterson, musicologist Shara Rambarran, cultural historian Dr. James McNally, and archive researcher Raymond Tannor.

Each of the researchers provide their own input on different iterations of the script and discuss themes with the producers in order to provide different points of views and make sure that there’s enough attention to detail. 

“There's probably about four iterations of the script after which point the script goes back to the researchers and they review it,” said Waldman. “It's grounded in sort of expertise and… it doesn't necessarily take a huge amount of their time, but it just means that what goes in there - there's some nuanced readings of music and it gets very detailed - and we need to make sure that it’s right.”