The Fishbowl: James Cator, Wondery
The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.
This week is James Cator, head of commercial for Europe at Wondery.
James Cator joined Wondery, an Amazon-owned podcast company, in 2022 and is based in Berlin.
Prior to that he held various positions at Spotify over more than six years and previously held positions at music companies including YouTube and Eagle Rock Entertainment.
How did you end up working in media?
I started off in music — I promoted club nights at University, DJ’d all over Leeds for years, and helped run some small independent record labels. I then moved to London and got my first “proper” job in music at Eagle Rock Entertainment where I got to work with some of the biggest artists in the world — Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg, Queen.
It was a fantastic grounding in the music business and taught me a lot. I have been very fortunate with timing in my career — working for Eagle Rock it was relatively early days for video streaming, and I ended up starting and managing their YouTube channel, which became one of the most successful music channels in the UK at the time.
I then moved to work for YouTube, learning more of the commercial side of the business, which I took to Spotify as I helped to build their podcast business across Europe. Now at Wondery I’m the head of commercial EU for the most exciting podcast studio in the world. It’s been an amazing journey!
What is part of your daily routine that you look forward to every day?
At the moment, learning German! I moved here a year ago and I am finding the language so fascinating. It works in a different way to English, with grammar being much more important than vocabulary.
I study for a minimum of 30 minutes a day and it feels so good to be learning something completely new. It’s almost like magic when you understand something you couldn’t make head nor tail of a few days ago.
**Peer question** Based on what you know now, what one decision in your career would you change and why?
I wish I’d put the work in earlier to recognise what I actually wanted from a job — what I actually enjoy doing, where my skills lie, and what I need to develop.
It has taken quite a while to understand this about myself, but I finally feel like I’m in a place where I can develop, I’m in a fantastic team, and we’re doing amazing work!
** Question from Matt Salmon, UK sales director Snap.
What is one non-work related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
Other than being fluent in German! Get back to riding motorbikes again, run a marathon, or get a sailing licence — I went sailing for the first time recently around Sicily and it was incredible!
Maybe all three, but not at the same time.
What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?
Podcast advertising in the UK has experienced significant growth in recent years as popularity of podcasts and original local content continues to increase.
Brands understand the unique opportunity podcasts can provide to connect with an engaged audience, and there is interest in understanding how to extend the storytelling through deeper integrations with hosts and measure that impact.
**Peer question** If you were to acquire, or consolidate with another media company, which would it be?
At Wondery, we’re always looking to work with people who are first and foremost, incredibly creative, who have a strong voice and impeccably high standards. Though I don’t have a specific business in mind, creativity would be the driving factor.
** Question from Dominic Williams, chief revenue officer at Mail Metro Media.
Name all the streaming platforms you subscribe (pay money) to.
Spotify, Netflix and MotoGP VideoPass (I’m obsessed with motorbike racing…)
When did you last change your mind about something?
The last big thing I think was probably NFTs/Crypto. I thought there was something in it to start with, but now I kind of think it’s all a bit of a scam.
I can’t see the concrete utility anywhere, and it feels like a giant Ponzi scheme waiting to collapse. Our documentary on FTX, Spellcaster, just served to reinforce that point of view.
What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?
Triangle of Sadness, just before the aforementioned sailing trip.
**Peer question** How is your business driving the change? Do you have any best practices or obstacles you confronted to share?
We strive to ensure DEI is at the forefront of all of our activity. Whether that’s creating networking events that champion female-identifying and Black creators at The Podcast Show, or making sure that our series are truly representatives of the communities they feature by integrating members of that community into the production team, such as we did with Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera.
Creating opportunities for creators from a diverse range of backgrounds and producing content that speaks to many audiences supports the growth of an inclusive and representative podcasting industry.
**Question from Emma Newman, chief revenue officer EMEA at PubMatic.
Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.