There was a bit of a hullabaloo last Friday afternoon, when The Information’s Tom Dotan and Jessica Toonkel published a report stating that Apple is “discussing launching a new subscription service that would charge people to listen to podcasts, according to people familiar with the matter.” Dotan and Toonkel further report that talks are underway between Apple and production companies about this new subscription offering, but they also note there doesn’t appear to be a solid product timeline in place at the moment — and that, perhaps more importantly, Apple doesn’t always go through with ideas they kick around.
That said, there has been enough recent movement that suggests Apple is seriously considering something with respect to podcasts. Over the past year and a half, Bloomberg has published several reports on Apple’s activities with original podcasts, and though Apple was thought to have been a suitor for Wondery (which ended up going home with Amazon), the company’s adventures in podcast creation to date have chiefly been limited to exclusive productions meant to promote its other media businesses, whether it’s Apple Music (The Zane Lowe Interview Series) or Apple News (Apple News Today). Apple’s original podcast stuff has been fairly benign so far, but the thread of the company actually exploring a paid subscription service hasn’t been meaningfully established or signaled until now.
Here’s my take: I’m not entirely convinced a theoretical “Apple Podcast+” service would be a fruitful gamble for the company. A lot of this has to do with the fundamental puzzle of standing up a paid podcasting service more generally, which is ground I’ve covered plenty already, but I suppose it’s time to reiterate, update, and expand on a few things.
You have to start with the reality that nobody’s really figured out a Netflix-esque paid subscription service for podcasting just yet, which is another way of saying that audiences haven’t sufficiently expressed interest in that kind of relationship with podcasts … or that audiences haven’t been sufficiently conditioned to want to pay for a service that would serve them podcast-like experiences. For all intents and purposes, Luminary went nowhere, notable only for its achievements in raising investment money and driving headlines. Meanwhile, other examples that can be evoked — whether it’s Stitcher Premium or Quake Media — seem largely limited in their respective achievements. We simply haven’t seen meaningful efforts at a true podcast equivalent to Netflix or even something more genre-specific like Crunchyroll, Shudder, or the Criterion Channel.
When it comes to the concept of a paid podcasting service, we’re essentially talking about a venture in the business of extending the promise that it can consistently and perpetually beat the entire universe of free alternatives. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the venture needs to provide better programming than all available alternatives in the open ecosystem — that is, to be entrenched in the highly volatile hits-making business. It can also mean that the venture can simply opt for providing a better overall experience when it comes to interacting with on-demand audio in general. Consider one of the fundamental issues for new listeners trying out podcasts: They are made to navigate the full spectrum of options that spans millions and find content that means something to their given tastes.
To find meaningful comparative examples, you’d have to look at parallel industries: Audible with audiobooks, for instance, which I’ve often thought about as the lone counter-argument against the notion that people won’t pay for podcasts or on-demand audio. But even that comparison comes with caveats. The thing about Audible is that it’s not really in the media business but in the digital retail business, ultimately dependent on the book publishing industry for the actual work of creating the things people want to buy. Sure, Audible has pushed into the original content business over the past few years, but there hasn’t been much public evidence that Audible has been able to pull off original content development just yet.
Neither has Apple, for that matter. Consider Apple’s other media businesses that deal in original content. Apple TV+ might be a decent comp, but the state of that service is pretty ambiguous at this point. The last time the service’s user numbers were widely discussed, it was thought to be around 33 million, though researchers suspected the majority of those subs were not paid for but bundled in as part of a broader distribution arrangement. The fact that Apple just further extended Apple TV+ free trials until July 2021 doesn’t inspire much confidence on the user acquisition front. And hits? Outside of Ted Lasso, I can’t really think of a solid breakout, though I did moderately enjoy The Morning Show, and yeah, of course I’ll watch Sofia Coppola’s latest, but the portfolio doesn’t feel like something that can match up against the deep libraries of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max or the gravitational pull of Disney+’s preexisting IP holdings just yet.
You might also look at Apple Arcade, the company’s premium mobile gaming service originally meant to curate critically and aesthetically pleasing games. That example is somewhat fraught. The service launched in September 2019 to positive fanfare, but it took less than six months for some corners of the gaming press to harbor doubts about Apple Arcade’s commitment to its original value proposition. Within that same time frame, some Apple observers began noticing that the service wasn’t being marketed as prominently any more, and by June 2020, there was a Bloomberg report finding that Apple had started canceling development contracts with game studios and shifting its overall creative strategy, with the company finding that its initial premium approach had yielded a service that wasn’t able to keep its users coming back.
And insofar as Apple Music might be a potential model, it makes for a fairly thin comparison. Apple Music’s programming is chiefly organized around one superstar talent, Zane Lowe, and there simply aren’t many planetary talents like that in podcasting. Some of them are already with Spotify.
I’m not saying that Apple shouldn’t do this. Let’s be real — who am I to say anything about a trillion-dollar corporation housed in a spaceship? I am but a humble blog boy. What I am saying, though, is that if Apple is truly considering building out a subscription podcast service, I hope it’s not a situation where that service might be built up at the expense of the existing Apple Podcasts infrastructure, whether that means crucial resources diverted away from that team or the plug being pulled entirely. Because that scenario has a very high likelihood of ending badly for everybody in podcasting. Apple Podcasts, after all, is the foundational pillar propping up open podcasting to this day, and that open ecosystem is itself the thing that’s already well proven its value to podcast creators, audiences, and advertisers alike.
But if this theoretical Apple Podcasts+ is meant to be a standalone complement, not unlike how Apple Arcade stands separate from the rest of the games section of the Apple app store … sure, why not? I get it: Podcasting keeps growing, and if you’re Apple, it definitely feels some kinda way that you’re not directly financially benefiting from all that growth, plus there are all these other platforms trying to benefit from this thing that you’ve helped cultivate all these years. It makes sense that you should definitely try something. I just don’t think it makes for a paid podcast service to be that thing.
On a related note… An Apple PR rep wrote in to tell me about Apple Podcasts Spotlight, a new monthly editorial feature on the platform meant to “celebrate rising podcast creators.” It should be visible on the platform sometime today.
I asked the rep if they had anything to offer about The Information’s report. They decline to comment. Womp womp.
➽ Almost three years after Pocket Casts was acquired by a consortium of public radio organizations, the podcast app appears to be in the process of being sold off again. Current’s Tyler Falk has the report on this.
➽ Pour one out for WNYC’s Trump Inc, which ends its run this week as the Trump presidency comes to a close. This is also presumably the end of the Trump podcast era… maybe?
➽ This open-letter initiative by Celeste Headlee went live yesterday: “An Anti-Racist Future: A Vision and Plan for the Transformation of Public Media.”
➽ Freakonomics Radio, the flagship show in Stephen Dubner’s growing podcast network, has made its entire ten-year archive free over the open podcast ecosystem. Previously, only its latest episodes were made easily accessible, with the remainder of the show’s catalogue kept behind Stitcher Premium’s paywall. Here’s Axios on the matter.
➽ Follow up to the last blurb in my preview column last week. From the AP: “Extremists exploit a loophole in social moderation: Podcasts.”
➽ From Reuters: “China’s Tencent buys audiobook platform Lazy Audio for $417 million.” Lazy Audio also distributes podcasts and radio shows in addition to audiobooks.
Some public radio stations have dropped The Daily from their schedules. Over the past week, at least four stations — including Houston Public Media, KUT in Austin, Marfa Public Radio, and KCRW in Los Angeles — suspended broadcast of The New York Times’ popular daily news podcast in response to the scandal around Caliphate.
I first wrote this development last Friday, and it’s unclear to me if more stations have joined the list since then. Also worth noting: The decision of these stations to drop syndication did not come with a specific ultimatum or request for remedy.
Over the weekend, The Daily host Michael Barbaro posted an apology on Twitter, chiefly for his behind-the-scenes attempts to influence how other journalists framed the Caliphate story in their writings and public speech. Those efforts, and the way it clouded the Times’ management of the Caliphate aftermath more broadly, were previously reported by NPR. “At a moment when I should have been open to examining our shortcomings and hearing out those who had concerns, I failed,” Barbaro wrote. “I’m sorry.”
Whether any of this will affect Andy Mills, the Caliphate co-lead and producer on The Daily whose professional behavior came under renewed scrutiny in the fallout of the scandal, remains unclear.
The Pro(Tools) and Cons of Audio Software
By Ari Bracci
As most listserv arguments do, it started with a simple question: “Best way to learn ProTools?”
Almost thirty email replies later, audio reporter Emily Guerin had stockpiled plenty of answers: LinkedIn Learning, private lessons, YouTube tutorials. But she was also left with another question: Is Pro Tools even worth it in the first place?
Pro Tools, an audio-editing software, is used ubiquitously in podcasting. Isaac Kestenbaum, director of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, teaches the software exclusively, precisely because he knows it’ll show up in jobs his students apply for. It’s also the default software for Chad Bernhard, an audio engineer at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.
As you might notice, both Salt and CUNY are institutions that teach audio reporting. Meanwhile, Avid — the parent company of Pro Tools — markets Pro Tools as music software.
Back in 2015, the how-to blog OSTraining tried to draw attention to this split. “If you have professional music experience or just need to have the ‘best of the best,’ Pro Tools might be the solution for you,” the site read. Otherwise, the program is one thing: “Overkill.”
Pro Tools might be “music software for everyone,” but it’s still music software, bringing a feature complexity most podcast creators and radio producers will probably never need. And yet, Guerin says, when she recently browsed freelance job listings for those exact roles, “if they said anything about an editing software, it was ‘fluency in Pro Tools.’”
This ubiquity baffles audio producer Chris Tsakis, who says he’s gotten by with various other programs, even while freelance-producing an audiobook for a major company. “I never told them that I cut and mixed the entire thing in [Adobe] Audition,” he told me over email. “No one was the wiser or cared.”
Considering the evident capabilities of other programs, Guerin wondered if Pro Tools was worth learning. And, more importantly, was it worth paying for?
Costing anywhere from $300 to $420 annually, Pro Tools ain’t cheap. (According to Avid’s site, the $360 plan is most popular, charging users $29.99 monthly.) Other reputable programs don’t cost pennies either: A comparable subscription plan for Audition rings up at $20.99 per month, and to outright purchase the “PRO” version of Hindenburg Journalist, a different but fairly limited program, you’ll need $375.
Even if Pro Tools didn’t have the highest price, it would likely always be out of reach for some. Its complexity leads many folks to pay for coaching lessons in order to add “fluency in Pro Tools” to their resumes, thus edging out those who can’t afford such training. And don’t forget the iLok, the physical USB stick that some users prefer over the cloud for housing their Pro Tools software license. It’s a literal key to the community — and will cost you another $49.
Chad Bernhard, of CUNY, says that while they may not entirely justify the price, Pro Tools’ capabilities give substance to its reputation. Sure, the program has its downsides — for example, just registering students’ software eats up the first few weeks of CUNY’s semesters, without fail — but it does deliver a crucial quality: continuity.
“What Pro Tools has done is remain remarkably stagnant in the last 20 years, which seems like a bummer,” he says. “But it offers this absolute, 100-percent open door to anyone who knows how to use it.” And while “it seems like a silly thing to just talk about the appearance of it,” the colors and interface of the program itself, purposely subdued, don’t as readily cause eye fatigue, allowing producers to work more comfortably and for longer stretches of time.
On a technical level, Bernhard points out, Pro Tools also just offers more possibility. That can be an incredible asset for the right kind of work, says Kateri Jochum, executive producer of audio for The Wall Street Journal, and that caveat is important.
“Pro Tools is really good, but I think for a lot of what podcasts do, it’s more machine than they need,” says Jochum. “I liken it to having a Ferrari and giving it to your grandmother so she can drive to the supermarket.”
When working with simple formats, especially on projects with tight timelines (like radio programs), she says, “it really has way more capabilities than you’re ever going to use.” This makes the proportionally high price unnecessary for lots of producers; it also makes simple tasks incredibly hard to complete.
Pro Tools, says Jochum, “was created for musicians so they can make beautiful music with it,” and it works for that purpose. Further, many practiced engineers favor the program because it allows them to improve audio that’s already been recorded; producers might also use it to make sound-rich shows. To that end, Jochum enthusiastically encourages her staff members whose projects and goals involve more complex production to explore the program.
Considering the benefits that Pro Tools does have — and the hold it maintains on the industry at least partially due to those merits — when Guerin saw listing after listing that insisted on a program she hadn’t yet needed to master, her instinct was to figure it out, not to complain.
“I didn’t expect that the innocent question of ‘How do I learn Pro Tools for free?’ would launch this whole debate about whether or not Pro Tools is necessary,” she said. It was only after dozens of people — more than twice as many as had answered Guerin’s original question — voiced their frustration about being expected to learn complicated and pricey software that she reflected on the question. Maybe her problem wasn’t that yet another person preferred that she use Pro Tools; maybe it was the fact that she’d need to be trained to use it… and had to find the most cost efficient way to do so.
“From an equity standpoint, it’s kind of ridiculous,” she said, since the world of podcasts and radio shows relies heavily on independent producers and the assumption that they have gear that matches in-house standards. Already, this at least includes a laptop ($800+) and might also include a recorder ($150+), cables ($20+), and a microphone (anywhere from $100 to $1,000); add in a multi-hundred-dollar program with an inherent complexity that leads even seasoned producers like Guerin to wonder how she’ll learn to use it, and an already technical field becomes that much more exclusive.
“Pro Tools is a very expensive piece of machinery to own — much like a Ferrari,” says Jochum, of The Wall Street Journal. “As an industry standard, it also can be a barrier for access, and that’s something I’m concerned about.”
Guerin, on the other side of the software, agrees. “As there’s a movement to really open doors and make opportunities available for all kinds of people getting into audio,” Guerin said, “requiring the most expensive program is kind of the opposite direction that we want to be going.”
It’s Like, You Know, a Book for Your Ears
Last week, Pushkin Industries, the audio publishing company founded by Jacob Weisberg and Malcolm Gladwell, published what can be described as its first independently-produced audiobook. Called Hasta la Vista, America, it’s a short humor piece written by Kurt Andersen pegged to President Trump’s impending departure from the White House with the outgoing president being narrated by… well, Alec Baldwin.
So, Hasta la Vista, America isn’t really my cup of tea — neither is Baldwin, for that matter — but the broader story about the audiobook itself is interesting to me for the nature of its distribution. Pushkin is selling the audiobook for $0.99 directly to listeners using RSS feeds set up by Supporting Cast, the upstart podcast hosting platform from Slate that’s working to build out direct revenue options for podcast creators. This distribution context renders Hasta la Vista, America as a noteworthy example of three things: it’s a self-published audiobook distributed over existing podcast architecture (meaning, consumers could listen to the audiobook in the same context as they would podcasts); an instance where the function of a podcast feed is recontextualized based on what’s delivered over the infrastructure; and a small experiment testing the waters of what a direct-to-consumer audiobooks alternative to Audible could look like.
Pushkin has a history of playing around with what it means to be an audio publisher. In addition to creating ad-supported podcasts, the company has also produced audiobooks through conventional channels, most recently collaborating with Audible to produce the Audible Original FAUCI by Michael Specter. But the team has also consistently expressed a deep interest in further blurring the lines between the two formats. “Part of our premise is that there’s not that much overlap between podcast listeners and audiobook listeners,” Weisberg told me last summer. “In a way, we want to mess it all up in the sense that we want to make podcasts that are more like audiobooks and audiobooks that are more like podcasts, and get the one who’s not listening to the other to cross over.”
There are probably other examples of RSS feeds being jury-rigged for audiobook distribution that date back to well before this moment, though I wasn’t able to unearth another similarly-structured case in my own digging around over the long weekend. In any case, Hasta la Vista, America isn’t even Supporting Cast’s first case of supporting direct audiobooks sales. Slate had previously used the platform to facilitate direct RSS-delivered sales of the audio version of Something That May Shock and Discredit You, the latest book from Daniel Lavery (who is also a Dear Prudence columnist for Slate). That arrangement required some coordination between Slate and the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, and interestingly enough, listeners can still buy the audiobook over the Audible platform if they so wished.
Hasta la Vista, America won’t be available on Audible — that is, unless something changes moving forward — and Pushkin seems content in treating the project as a light step towards establishing a consumer-facing brand over the long term. When I spoke to Heather Fain, Pushkin’s Chief Marketing Officer, about the experiment last week, she emphasized that the company was simply interested in using the opportunity to try stuff out and discovering what’s possible when they’re able to keep listener data for themselves. (Something, of course, you can’t do when selling audiobooks through Audible.) They felt that the slight nature of Hasta la Vista, America which clocks in at a mere forty-two minutes, lent itself well for this experiment, because it’s probably not of the kind of heft that would warrant Audible’s interest. “Could we have sold more copies if we had put this up through Audible, Apple Books, or Libro? The answer is going to probably be yes at the end of the day, but the long-term value of just understanding how this works is worth more at this point, I think,” said Fain.
As small and playful as the scope of this project might be, I couldn’t help but think you always run the risk of incurring a monopolistic entity’s wrath whenever you try to explore ways to subvert the monopolistic condition. Maybe the superstar status of Malcolm Gladwell provides enough cover to mitigate that risk, but still, it’s something that would worry me. Fain, of course, reiterates a diplomatic bigger picture when I posed the question. “We think about it as building the biggest pie possible,” she said. “Audible is so dominant in this market and they’re going to be really important for us in all scenarios, but what we hope is that we build a scenario where we work with a lot of partners while also building a space for ourselves where we can experiment.”
Fair enough. I guess if Audible gets to play around with podcasts, podcast publishers should get to play around in kind too.
Speaking of audiobooks… NPR’s Planet Money produced an audiobook of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby — performed by the staff — now that the novel is in the public domain, and released that through the show’s RSS feed as an illustration of copyright law. Very on brand.
In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod… Willa Paskin of Slate’s Decoder Ring is on the show this week. Listen, Decoder Ring is prooobably one of my favorite podcasts of all time, and I strongly suspect it’s somewhat underrated… whatever that means when it comes to podcasting. Anyway, come for the blue food, stay for the talk on the recent Jane Fonda two-parter.
Oh, and if you’re watching this season of The Bachelor, I’m willing to bet this Decoder Ring episode is a key to understanding what the heck is up with Victoria.
You can find Servant of Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the great assortment of third-party podcast apps that are hooked up to the open publishing ecosystem. Desktop listening is also recommended. Share, leave a review, so on.
Quick … Bites?
Today, the Vox Media Podcast Network is launching a new audio product called Vox Quick Hits, billed as “a daily morning podcast playlist.” The product takes the shape of a podcast feed that publishes three ten-minute episodes every day, with each installment sourced from a different subject area. Some of the episodes will be short adaptations of existing Vox Media podcasts like Today, Explained and The Weeds, while others will be material produced specifically for the feed. Examples of the latter include stuff like Vox critics doing rapid dive into a new cultural thing or a reporter serving up a brief story from their beat.
Vox Quick Hits partly comes out of the company’s experience developing a Google Assistant-oriented project that was released last summer. Liz Kelly Nelson, Vox Media’s editorial director of podcasts, told me that her team was pleased with how that experiment went, and she framed Vox Quick Hits as an effort to adapt the learnings from that project for the broader podcast ecosystem.
The project also seems like a natural evolution of Recode Daily, Vox’s daily short-form tech news podcast hosted by Teddy Schleifer. That show also publishes ten-minute episodes, but it goes by a one-a-day cadence, ultimately offering an experience that comes off as a tighter, specific alternative to the existing daily news podcast conventions a la The Daily, Post Reports, What Next, and The Journal.
There’s a modularity to Vox Quick Hits’ publishing thesis, suggesting an attempt to reconcile a design tension that’s inherent in the daily news podcast format: offering choice without sacrificing the specificity of each episode experience. Nelson pitches this as a way to broaden out the feed’s appeal, as the multi-drop nature of a day’s releases cuts into the possibility of someone pulling up the podcast and not finding something they’d want to check out on any given morning.
I’m tempted to suspect there are other, more subtle managerial functions to creating Vox Quick Hits. It strikes me that the show is well-positioned to serve as a testing ground for potential new podcast hosts on staff and as a way to quickly pilot new show ideas. A release valve, perhaps, for a problem I’ve been hearing more about lately in newsrooms everywhere: lots of writers want to host their own podcast, though management only has so much real estate and resources to give. Seems like a good way for companies to manage the tension between those two things, on top of being a nifty new habit-forming experience.
You can find Vox Quick Hits here.
Tangentially… While we’re on the subject of Vox Media, a quick thought. So, another example of a thing you’d find in the Vox Quick Hits feed will be short-form adaptations of Vox Conversations, the podcast formerly known as The Ezra Klein Show, which has been reskinned and retooled since Klein left Vox Media to join the New York Times Opinion section where he is also due to launch a new interview podcast. Now, I totally get the logic of refashioning the feed, as you’d want to maintain the subscriber base for whatever the new show is going to be. But I think there’s a net loss somewhere here: I had the disorienting experience over the weekend of wanting to revisit an old Ezra Klein Show episode over the weekend, plugging the title into my podcast app search bar, and coming up with nothing familiar — only later remembering that the entire archive is now sorted under the new Vox Conversations banner.
We’ve covered the notion of podcast preservation in this newsletter before, and I feel compelled to bring it back up: maybe consider spinning out a new feed around The Ezra Klein Show for archival purposes?
One last thing about Vox Conversations: that show has been restructured to feature a different interviewer speaking to a guest in every episode. I’m curious to see if this will work, as one of my long-held convictions is that interview shows are all about the constant of the interviewer, and that listeners tune in for the consistency and eventual comfort of being around that person’s worldview or galaxy of preference. We’ll see if this approach works.
This also makes me think it could be interesting to build a whole interview show around a constant interviewee. Okay wow that’s so stupid, sorry, let’s move on.
(Oh, and a disclaimer: you probably know that Hot Pod is syndicated by Vulture, to which I am also a contributor, and that Vulture is owned by Vox Media, which makes this all a spaghetti bowl situation where I’m writing about a partial employer. I believe the integrity of my independence should be apparent to most, built on this newsletter’s six-year history, but you’re free to believe whatever you want to believe.)
Meanwhile, in Sweden… It’s been a curious week for the aspiring all-consuming audio platform. Spotify was the beneficiary of a big Bloomberg profile last Tuesday, which stitched together most of the myriad threads the company had been unspooling over the past two years into a single narrative package.
For close observers of podcasting, the profile is distinct for two things. First, it contains some new data snapshots suggesting that Spotify is materially heading in the right direction with its strategy, including the notable finding that Spotify is said to have “already converted more than 20% of its 320 million total users — about 70 million people globally — into podcast listeners.” And second, it reaffirms the central question about the platform: how, exactly, is all this supposed to lead to more money and greater profitability for a company that has historically been hamstrung in such areas due to its intertwined position with the music labels? Those two things are held in tension throughout the profile, which ultimately maintains Spotify in the narrative position of being the ambitious, risk-taking upstart. In the larger picture of how tech companies like to be seen, that’s generally a win.
On Friday, though, Spotify was met with another flavor of headlines. Analysts from Citi, the banking and investment group, published a note to its investors expressing fresh skepticism over Spotify’s big podcasting bet. According to CNBC, the analyst note focused its attention on a lack of positive movement in terms of Spotify’s premium subscriber and app download counts, tying those metrics to its broader interpretation of whether Spotify was sufficient building a foundation of independence away from music labels. Citi ultimately downgraded its assessment of Spotify’s stock, moving from neutral to sell. (Spotify’s narrative would take another hit on Friday afternoon with the news about Apple’s possible subscription podcast service.)
A few things here. I think it’s still a little too early to tell whether Spotify’s actually failing in its spend podcast-oriented gambit to build out an audio streaming service free from the pressure of the music labels. For one thing, Spotify still has a bunch of cards that it hasn’t fully played yet: there’s still tremendous leakiness and inconsistent application with respect to the relationship between its owned content and exclusivity; the company still hasn’t really flipped the switch with its Streaming Ad Insertion play and what is clearly a gambit to pursue a “YouTube for Podcasting” playbook; and there’s an element of assumed threat from would-be competitors like Amazon or the theoretical Apple Podcast subscription service, when neither of those parties have yet to actually exhibit any evidence of being able to execute on their own podcast interests.
But the Citi note is nevertheless distinct for how it illustrates that Spotify’s running out of the goodwill that comes with bold moves. Spotify may very well believe in its big bet according to a longer-term timeline — Spotify CEO Daniel Ek recently opined as such over Twitter — but the Citi situation indicates that Spotify still needs to balance the potential with the actual in the eyes of those with the money. Long-term strategery or otherwise, the company’s gonna start putting up numbers if it wants to preserve its new toy shine.