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Audio-based content economy: Opportunities & Monetization
How to build the future of audio-based apps?
👋 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 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.
(🔒 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:
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