Reasons for the audio boom? Content variety, less data and easy participation

Posted by Jennifer Adetoro in Culture

5 months ago

Audio as a channel is most definitely here to stay. Both Spotify and Apple have released programmes in order to attract podcasters and content creators to their platforms and while Clubhouse’s downloads numbers continue to plummet, the company’s investment in content experimentation is bound to have a major impact and help to make it relevant in a post-pandemic landscape.

Just ask Christina Moore – the final guest in the last episode of CORQ’s quarterly podcast series The Culture Is Black. The founder of audio production company Don’t Skip Media, Moore started her career at the BBC as a digital producer before moving into the broadcaster’s emerging podcasting department where she was responsible for the distribution and marketing of hundreds of shows. From here, she moved to Apple Podcasts to head up partnerships and talent discovery in Europe, later releasing content via Siri and launching the tech giant’s smart speaker, HomePod.

She started Don’t Skip in 2018 and among other projects, the company produced the accompanying podcast to BBC drama Small Axe and popular Luminary series, British Villains. On top of this, she has been a judge for the British Podcast Awards and is one of the people behind the Spotify Sound Up Accelerator Programme. In this last episode of season two, she shared insights on where the audio phenomenon is headed and exactly why its impact is permanent.

You can listen to each episode of The Culture Is Black on Spotify and Apple. If you have any questions or would like to discuss issues from the series, please contact our client services manager Arabella Johnson on arabella@corq.studio and we can facilitate a Q&A with Jennifer.

KEY INSIGHTS FROM THE EPISODE:

– As it stands, Apple has a catalogue of over two million podcasts. Back in 2018, there were only 525,000. Christina has tracked this growth and points out that the acceleration of variety in content has played a profound part in changing podcast listenership. This is the reason for the audio boom – because just like TV and publishing, people have different tastes and interests. Now, due to this variety, consumers are able to find content that interests them, compared to ten or 15 years ago when audio was – by and large – limited to just tech and business. She also noted that the listener gender split is becoming more balanced and the number of consumers from different ethnicities and races is increasing.

– When asked about live audio, Christina believes there needs to be a duty of care when it comes to moderation. This should be achieved as a collaborative action between platforms and their creators – the responsibility for abuse on apps shouldn’t be placed solely on the platforms.

– According to Christina, auditory technology will never disappear. There will always be some form of audio, especially in the UK and most of Europe. Storytelling will always exist, the most important thing is to move wherever the people move to.

KEY INSIGHT TO CONSIDER: a reason why people engage with audio content more than video on their phones as part of their daily lives is that the former uses far less data.

– With regards to Clubhouse’s future, Christina believes the app’s arrival has allowed innovations like Twitter Spaces to take place. Through regular Q&A sessions, the community was brought in to answer questions and tell software developers what is needed from live audio platforms. Even if Clubhouse does fail, it served a purpose similar to music downloading services such as LimeWire did in helping develop iTunes and Spotify. And what about Clubhouse and its competitors? Competition is healthy because it spurs development. It allows the tech space to find out what works in order to help us communicate in the most effective way.

– Christina also believes Clubhouse doesn’t necessarily need to be pre-recorded to survive. During the pandemic, it works as a daily touchpoint but when normal life resumes it stands to be something which is associated with weekends and evenings.

– There will always be a place for radio. Despite many people thinking radio is now longer relevant, Christina believes it has its benefits. It’s passive and for this reason, users don’t have to search through a body of content just to consume content. It’s also widely accessible around the world unlike streaming services which need the right infrastructure in place to work. This accessibility is a key component as to why radio isn’t going to die.

– THE FUTURE OF AUDIO? Audience growth. As more people across different territories gain a growing interest in podcasting, the industry will begin to accommodate content from different languages. Christina sees this growth emerging particularly in the Asian and Middle East market. She adds creators will also produce content in English and the demand for more content in these countries will grow.

By Jennifer Adetoro, culture editor of CORQ.