Welcome to episode 28 of the Richard Dally podcast where I bring you a UK perspective on the latest news and developments from the world of podcasting and Internet Radio
In the show this week I discuss the latest news from SoundCloud, including a revenue opportunity for DJs and producers, why so many radio station make poor podcasts, the discovery challenge in podcasting, and a new podcast from the UK Parliament.
Websites and articles mentioned in the show:
SoundCloud secures a $70 million line of credit -Anna Washenko – Rain News – http://rainnews.com/soundcloud-secures-70-million-credit-line/
DJs Can Now Make Money Off Their SoundCloud Mixes in Revenue-Sharing Update – Anna Codrea-Rado for Thump – https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/soundcloud-revenue-share-program-djs-producers-exclusive
Steven Goldstein of Amplifi Media asks Why Many Radio Station Podcasts Underperform – http://www.allaccess.com/podcast/am-fm-podcast/archive/26003/why-many-radio-station-podcasts-underperform
An example from Robin Banks and Hi FM in Oman of how to repurpose your radio show as a podcast in the right way – https://itunes.apple.com/om/podcast/the-worst-of-the-hi-fm-morning-show/id1217357124?mt=2
David Kadavy looks at how big the podcast discovery gap is. This is a very interesting piece on Medium, written by a podcaster who analyses his own podcast listening stats to explain his thinking – https://medium.com/startup-grind/just-how-big-is-the-podcast-discovery-gap-9df270d5c641#.o1z2ctxap
Nicholas Quah publishes the subscription-based Hot Pod Newsletter, available in both free and paid versions at – https://www.hotpodnews.com/
U.K. Parliament launches branded podcast, produced by RadioWorks – by Brad Hill for RAIN News – http://rainnews.com/u-k-parliament-launches-branded-podcast-produced-by-radioworks/
A couple of stories from Soundcloud this week. First up, Rain News reports that the platform has secured a $70 million round of debt funding. It looks like they have failed to secure the 100 million dollars of investment I mentioned last week. In a statement, Soundcloud said “This new funding will enable SoundCloud to strategically grow our technology and personnel resources to fuel our expected 2.5 times year-over-year growth in 2017, while building a financially sustainable platform on which our connected community of creators, listeners and curators can thrive for years to come.”
The second piece of news is that DJs Can Now Make Money from the mixes they upload to SoundCloud. According to an article on THUMP, Soundcloud says that DJs and producers who upload mixes and remixes to the music-streaming service will now be able to monetize them for the first time. SoundCloud is expanding its invite-only revenue-sharing program to include artists who create “recorded and live sets, remixes, and other user-generated content.”
SoundCloud’s Premier program was launched in 2014 as a way for artists to earn money for their tracks that they upload to the platform. Artists who upload content to the platform can share in the income made from advertising and the Soundcloud subscription service. The payments are based on “share of engagement” and “listening time” apparently. Soundcloud hasn’t said yet how DJs and producers will be able to sign up for the programme. But for now at least it seems like it will remain invite-only but you can register your interesting in joining the Premier programme on the SoundCloud website.
The THUMP article then goes on to discuss the current state of SoundCloud. The platform currently has around 150 million tracks on it which includes tracks that came from deals struck with Sony, Universal, and Warner—as well as the digital rights agency Merlin and they represents over 20,000 independent labels. An interesting item to note is that, according to the article, the takedown rate for copyright claims, has dropped by 40 percent in the last 12 months.
Prolific blogger on podcasting, Steven Goldstein of Amplifi Media asks this week Why Many Radio Station Podcasts Underperform. Steven’s view is that there are basic architectural differences between podcasts and broadcasts and this is one of the reasons commercial radio stations seem to have difficulty producing successful podcasts.
As I discussed last week, most commercial radio is format-based and listens join whilst a show is in already in progress. As most stations have a single format it means the same show is effectively running all day and listeners join in and drop out at different times. Podcasts, of course, are listened to differently. Everyone starts listening to a podcast at the beginning which makes them more like TV shows with a distinct beginning, middle and end. Podcasts will generally have a structure too – perhaps they are story-based, or interview driven. Whatever the format, the podcast listener generally knows what topic they will hear on a specific podcast.
Many podcasts from radio stations just take a four-hour radio show, strip out the music and adverts, and that can still leave more than an hour of audio which has no continuity at all. Steven notes that there is a market for this type of time-shifted content as the average radio listener misses 80% of their favourite morning or talk show each day. But this format is difficult for listeners to navigate and will likely contain material that won’t make sense without the live context. For example, a podcast listener isn’t going to be interested in school snow-day reports or news of traffic problems.
David’s recommendation is simply that the podcast producer at these radio stations needs to do the work for the listener. This means editing the content so it makes sense and cuts out unnecessary or just plain bad material.
So would you like a great example of this kind of content repurposing?
I give you The Worst of the Hi FM Morning Show. This is put together by Robin Banks (and yes it his voice in my intro) who presents the breakfast show on Oman radio station Hi FM with George Ryland and a very funny lady called Bella Tanner. Robin produced a similar podcast for his Jack FM show before he left for warmer climes.
I warn you – these are very funny. However, they aren’t just funny. They are also very well produced, tightly put together and they stand-alone from the radio-show that the vast majority of the content comes from. Yes, you will still know which radio station this comes from and the fact that the team presents the breakfast show but the mentions just flow naturally thanks to the clever editing.
David Kadavy asks Just how big is the podcast discovery gap? This is a very interesting piece on Medium, written by a podcaster who analyses his own podcast listening stats to explain his thinking.
I will also say that this article has helped me understand some of my own download stats. I couldn’t understand why my Libsyn stats show many downloads coming from Twitter when Sprout Social, which is what I use for managing my social media marketing, shows a much small number of clicks on my tweets that include a link to a podcast episode.
You can read the whole article on the Startup Grind site on Medium – I’ll put a link in the shownotes, which are at www.richarddally.com/28. It is worth taking a look at the article as it includes a number of graphs that explain the data really well.
David used to use the Product Hunt site to market his podcast. Product Hunt is an online community that caters to tech product fanatics. Each day their website highlights the best new products, like mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations. It also used to allow podcasters to market their latest podcast episodes. It wasn’t until they shut-down this part of their service that David realised just how many listeners the site was bringing in for him.
He used to submit his podcast episodes to Product Hunt every time an episode launched and his podcast kept growing steadily. Then one day, for some reason he didn’t submit an episode to Product Hunt and he saw a big drop in download numbers for that episode. After he saw this drop he submitted that episode to Product Hunt several days later and saw a big spike in downloads.
It’s here in David’s article that I learned something. He asked himself “Are these downloads real?”. David says that If you want to boost your download numbers, it’s quite easy. All you need to do is tweet lots of direct MP3 links to your episodes. This is called Twitter Bombing – which I’d heard of before but never really looked it what it meant. Apparently, various bots will ping the MP3s, and they’ll count as downloads. Now I assume that these pings are not triggered as clicks by analytics software such as Sprout Social. David checked with the Product Hunt team to see if the MP3s were somehow loaded upon each page view. They weren’t, which means most, if not all, of the downloads from Product Hunt are from real people.
The Product Hunt podcast section allowed users to upvote and comment on episodes they liked and there was a trending chart that helped visibility of popular episodes. So, David concludes from this experience that there is a gap in podcast discovery. He says that his experience suggests that there are plenty of people out there who are looking for podcasts to listen to, but who don’t know where to find them.
Now, quite a few interesting comments have been made on the article. There are a couple suggesting existing Apps – from the developers themselves mostly I would guess. There’s Breaker, which is in beta, but podcast discovery is one of problems they’re trying to solve. You can find Breaker at breaker.audio. There is also tung.fm. This is an iOS and web app designed to help discover podcasts by sharing comments, clips, and recommendations with your friends. You can also see what podcasts are trending across the platform or just from who you follow.
But a common thread in the comments seems to be that the solution needs to cover more than just podcasts and it should be a destination all kinds of media recommendations. This would support an audience with a diverse set of interests, which might include the occasional podcast. So a successful discovery product needs to be cross platform, allowing the discovering of audio (and maybe video as well?) from iTunes, YouTube, Audible, SoundCloud and others.
Last week I mentioned the in-depth piece that Nicholas Quah wrote about the Infinite Dial report from Edison Research for his Hot Pod newsletter. In the article, he tackles the challenges of programming and discovery in podcasts that the report highlighted.
So, what did Nick have to say about podcast discovery? Nick has perhaps a different view to the one you might expect. His view is basically that discovery in the podcasting space has the same challenge that there is in the rest of the internet, which is that there is simply so much stuff out there that the problem isn’t discovering content but rather it’s discovering a worthwhile or meaningful piece of content.
Most people already have a method for discovering new content. Nick himself says he has three broad ways of finding out about new things on the interne in general as well as podcasts specifically. Firstly, the item earns its place in his attention sphere by bubbling up in one of the places he already visits. Secondly, when he goes out and digs for a specific thing through various search methods. Or thirdly, somebody personally recommends something to him.
Now, doesn’t this sound rather like a cross-platform product that would allow the discovery of audio, that you can search and would show what’s trending and what you’re friends are listening too?
Nick actually puts more focus on the problem of programming, with his thinking being that no matter how much you try to fix the discovery process, the act of discovery breaks down when the things that people want simply don’t exist.
A quick piece of news now. I have mentioned the rise of branded podcasts a few times in recent weeks. This is definitely something that is going be very big in 2017. Until now, most of the examples I’ve cited have been from the US but this week an interesting UK podcast has been launched. It’s produced by radio advertising agency RadioWorks for the UK Parliament and it’ss called Parliament Explained.
The six episode series aims at explaining how parliament works and includes interviews with staff members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as committee chairs. Brad Hill from Rain News describes the show as a kind of audio Parliament For Dummies. Neil Cowling of RadioWorks told Rain News that branded podcasts are growing very quickly in the UK as they allow brands to get across strategic messages that can’t be communicated through other forms of advertising.
Okay So That’s all the news from the Richard Dally podcast for this week.