Audio-based content economy: Opportunities & Monetization
👋 I’m Zoe: builder, advisor, ever curious, built 11 MVPs, featured on Lifehacker, Product Hunt #1, and tech blogs in 7 countries. Also a Medium Top Writer & HackerNoon winner in VC topics. I’m part of On Deck Founder, ODF10.
At Venturescale, I unpack new insights about profitable markets — and how you can build and monetize the future of consumer tech. Today, we’ll focus on audio-based apps. Read here if you’re interested in online shopping, D2C, Fintech, E-Commerce.
Future of audio in digital media
Audio-based content tends to have the biggest “real estate” of attention. Unlike watching a YouTube video or reading an article that requires active engagement — you can listen to Spotify while working out, play an audiobook while driving, or join a conversation on Clubhouse while walking down the street.
In this post, we will examine companies that transform the way we interact with digital media through audio. I’ll exclude music-focused companies because they deserve a separate study. If you want to start something in the online media space, keep on reading — we will unlock exciting opportunities!
1. Key trends
(1) Spotify is investing heavily in audio:
- acquired podcast measurement and analytics cos Podsights and Chartable.
- acquired Locker Room (now known as Spotify Greenroom) where users can join live audio rooms, listen to and talk music, sports, and culture.
- acquired Findaway, a digital audiobook distributor
- partnered with Storytel where Storytel subscribers can access their audiobooks within Spotify’s app
- acquired Gimlet and Anchor for $340M
(2) Audio-based platforms are becoming the target for acquisitions:
- Non-audio-focused companies acquire podcasting services.
- Amazon Music acquired Art19, a podcast hosting plus monetization platform.
- Medium has acquired Knowable, a platform that lets you learn from podcast-like courses featuring top experts.
(3) Workplace conversations are going audio:
- Not every conversation needs to be on Zoom video calls. Companies are bringing audio calls to the remote workplace.
- Slack launched Slack Huddles, an audio-first way to communicating in Slack. Instead of typing out in DMs, you can invite specific people to join, and share your screen to work side-by-side with your team.
- Yac is an asynchronous voice messaging for remote teams.
(🔒 Full version) +5 more key trends in the audio space. These insights will help you capture specific customer needs:
🔑 (4/8) How do new players unbundle TikTok? (2 company examples)
🔑 (5/8) If you’re building a creator platform, apply this trend to retain creators on your platform (2 company examples)
🔑 (6/8) How to cut through the noises and stand out as a new social media platform (2 company examples)
🔑 (7/8) How to unbundle education using audio (2 company examples)
🔑 (8/8) How to increase user experience using audio (3 company examples)
2. Market players, competitors & databases
Find market niches in the audio space, discover competitors, and explore ways to differentiate your new ideas:
- 🏢 Total 66 company examples across different niches.
- 🔖 Total 7 positioning categories in the audio space.
- 🗃 Company databases with key information: value proposition, website link, funding type, total funding raised, year founded, company size, and location.
- 👌 Filter competitors by categories. Or search by product name, country, funding stage, etc.
3. How to differentiate and win?
(1) Ecosystem moat:
- Slack is building an ecosystem of social networks for the enterprise.
- Interconnected feedback loop: Internally, organizations use Channel to connect with colleagues. Externally, you can use Slack Connect to work with people outside your company.
- By adding an audio feature like Huddles, Slack is able to create product stickiness, i.e. when the product becomes spontaneous, discovery and repeat usage become more frequent.
(2) Time to consume:
- Podcasts last between 30 mins to an hour. Clubhouse conversations never seem to end. But bite-sized voice content is just nice.
- Racket is positioned to be the “mini podcasts”, i.e. 9 mins maximum, no editing, no audio effects. It’s anti-long-form content.
(🔒 Full version) +3 more differentiation strategies in the audio space:
🔑 (3/5) How to spot specific market needs and create niche solutions?
🔑 (4/5) How to create a solution that competes in a differentiated market category?
🔑 (5/5) How to apply audio in an enterprise-focused market that has consumer-facing users?
4. How to monetize?
(1) Premium app features:
- Discord doesn’t monetize through ads.
- Users can choose to use the platform for free — or upgrade to its Nitro subscription package that costs $9.99/month (with enhanced Discord experience such as server boosting, HD video, bigger upload sizes, avatars, badges, etc.) or $4.99/month (without server boosting).
(2) Transaction fees:
- Anchor offers podcasting tools and it’s free for everyone — no hosting fees, trial periods, or paywalls.
- To generate revenue, the Anchor Sponsorships program connects podcasters with brands to create custom audio advertisements.
- Podcast creators can earn money and Anchor takes a small fee.
(🔒 Full version) +3 more monetization strategies for audio-based platforms:
🔑 (3/5) Bonus strategies to monetize creator-based audio platforms.
🔑 (4/5) Example on how to monetize using SaaS business model in the audio space.
🔑 (5/5) Example on how to execute a mixed monetization model to generate revenue.
5. What are the next big things?
(1) Audio-based platforms will explode beyond social networks:
- Audio-first approach is being applied in remote work (Slack Huddles) and education (Knowable).
- Digital health uses communication tools to connect with therapists, general practitioners, and specialists. Audio-first solutions will emerge in the healthcare space as telehealth companies are on the rise.
- Potential use case: patients can use audio calls instead of video calls to report symptoms.
(2) Audio as a digital marketing strategy:
- More and more content sites are offering audio articles. For example, you can now listen to this Medium post on product/market fit.
- The benefits: increased user engagement, faster to consume content, and available on-the-go.
- Solutions that convert articles into audio articles will be able to capture revenues from the media space and creator economy.
(3) Data and analytics in audio content:
- Podsights (acquired by Spotify) provides insights for podcast advertisers. Chartable (acquired by Spotify) offers analytics and attribution tools that help publishers understand their ad spend.
- There will be more solutions that apply data analytics when it comes to interacting with podcasts, audio clips, voice notes, and snippets.
- One category to look at is analytics for remote meeting transcription. Help remote teams retrieve meeting highlights using AI, evaluate tasks, and meeting effectiveness.
(🔒 Full version) +3 more ways to build for the future of audio-first use cases:
🔑 (4/6) What does the future of creators economy look like using an audio-first approach?
🔑 (5/6) How can existing online businesses increase user experience through audio?
🔑 (6/6) What does the future of audio/voice tech look like (including 2 company examples, one raised $20M another raised $2.1M)
6. Startup opportunities
(🔒 Full version) 3 specific product ideas and business opportunities that are solving problems. You’ll unlock:
🔑 (1/3) Consumer-facing productivity app idea
🔑 (2/3) Influencer-focused audio app idea
🔑 (3/3) Social networking for mental health using audio-first approach
More Reports & Insights:
- 🛍 Online Shopping: Opportunities and Monetization
- 🧠 D2C Wellness: Monetization & Opportunities
- 🏡 Future of Real Estate Tech
- 🤑 Future of Digital Monetization
- 🧑🏫 Future of Education
- 🕹 Creator economy of Gaming
- 💻 Unbundling of Excel and the Future of SaaS
- 🛒 E-commerce roll-ups
- ✈️ Web 3.0 for creators, Travel apps & Low-code tools
- 📲 Marketplaces, on-demand economy & employee motivation
- 🏥 Alternative Assets, Online Healthcare & Family Offices
- 🏋️♂️ Curation economy, Social communities & Online Learning