How Tim Ferriss, Marc Maron & I Will Save Twitter & SoundCloud
”I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.” — David Bowie
I’ve been podcasting now for 7 months. In those 7 months, I have amassed over 40 interviews and have 2 per week scheduled for the foreseeable future. I’ve interviewed amazing guests such — Tucker Max, Jay Samit, Adrienne Scordato, Sean Swarner — to name a few. It has been a mutually rewarding experience for myself and my guests. It gives me a chance to do what I love, which is build relationships with people through technology.
However, the only audience data and insights I receive is from my hosting partner or word-of-mouth. I literally receive no insights from Apple, who controls probably 98% of the podcast market. Apparently, Apple does this with all of their publishers. I’ve spoken to some top brass at Viacom, and they too, have literally no insights into who is buying shows from their family of media properties. If you go to the iTunes store and search for “sell personal”, you will see my podcast popup. Those reviews and stats that you see are the only insights I see as well. To further my frustration, I have to provide 3 links each time I publish an episode…iTunes, Stitcher (Android) and SoundCloud (beautiful UI/UX). The podcast market is ripe for innovation and monetization.
Yesterday, Twitter’s stock hit an all-time low and SoundCloud finally closed a deal with UMG (Universal Music Group) after 3 years of negotiations. While both of these companies have great leaders and intangible assets, they have uphill battles ahead of them to monetize.
Twitter lacks consistent data, user signups are flat and engagement is fleeting. However, you cannot find a news anchor or celebrity without a Twitter handle. The potential to capitalize on these assets is huge.
SoundCloud should look at its deal with UMG as a feature not a function. SoundCloud was meant to be a place for independent audio artists to express themselves. SoundCloud could go head-to-head with Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify (not to mention all the others that have (will) flame out in this space). But, SoundCloud has a unique opportunity to own the podcast market by re-structuring its platform around podcasters. There were an estimated 2.6+ billion downloads** of podcasts last year, 33% of Americans downloaded at least one podcast and publishers are fetching as much as $60CPM for advertising.
Twitter missed out on Instagram and live streaming (Periscope) is still in its infancy. I think it would be cool to see SnapChat and Twitter come together; but Twitter would make its shareholders much happier if it partnered with or bought SoundCloud. It would allow the company to monetize faster and across a much broader spectrum. Twitter ads require users to click on them. Podcast ad placements are controlled by the publishers, so the user-experience is consistent. It would scale from the #1 ranked podcast down to the low ranks like myself.
Marc Maron has interviewed President Obama in his garage/studio! He gets greater than 1 million downloads per episode per week. Tim Ferriss received over 500,000 downloads per week. I get 1000 downloads per week.
Unlike Marc and Tim, I have no paid sponsors; but the three of us bear the same expensive production costs and have highly targeted niche audiences. It would be great to have a huge ad network that is easy for advertisers to find their niche audiences, provide relevant messaging and help keep smaller podcasts like mine breathing.
I’ll continue doing my podcast even if it’s on a credit card because I love it. I think Twitter and SoundCloud have tremendous potential; but right now it’s just that. I’d like to see 2 of my favorite platforms be around for the long-haul by coming together to own the podcast universe.
*Disclosure: Other than us being male, American and hosting podcasts, Tim and Marc do not know me…to my knowledge. Also, I no longer hold stock in $TWTR
**Podcast Stats: http://www.journalism.org/2015/04/29/podcasting-fact-sheet/