The brand new Stabl app — it’s all about how people listen to podcasts.
The very reason we started Stabl was to help solve an age-old issue in podcasting: the difficultly in finding something to listen to in the easiest possible way.
We decided that the easiest (and cheapest) way to achieve this was to write a weekly newsletter with a simple concept: to share what our readers were listening to. And this seemed to catch on because it worked on the simple premise of word-of-mouth. People — at large —it seemed, preferred taking suggestions from their peers rather than direct from an editorial pitch.
A few years down the line, and — in a way — the discovery issue remains. iTunes still holds an incredible amount of power when it comes to discovery. Being part of the ‘new & noteworthy’ section is still seen, among most, as the pinnacle of promotion. The leverage of other podcasts is also seen as the only other real alternative. For instance, the ‘Serial effect’ owes much of its success to launching on the already successful This American Life podcast, without which, there is [some] doubt it would have gone as stratospheric as it did.
However, it is important to note that things have moved on considerably in the past couple of years: platforms like Acast exist to both monetise and grow podcast audiences; the rise of Android has led to increased competition for Apple with the likes of Overcast becoming real (and ahem, better) alternatives to the iOS podcast app; the awareness of podcasts has increased dramatically over the past few years resulting in statistics many could only dream of when the medium first got started; and investment in podcasting — from The Guardian to Starbucks — has seen the credibility of the medium sky rocket.
And while we’re happy that our humble newsletter has grown beyond our initial expectations, we remain frustrated. The issue of how people listen still isn’t really being addressed. In my role as a podcast producer and the writer of the Stabl newsletter, I often get asked ‘what is a podcast?’ … and discounting the times I sigh and shrug my shoulders, I usually reply that a podcast differentiates itself by the context of how people listen to it. On the whole, audio that presents itself as a podcast tells a story; it demands the attention of the listener and often achieves it because the recipient is probably likely to be listening on headphones. After all, that’s why it’s more expensive to advertise on a podcast — because the listener is more engaged and there is a presumed level of trust between the content maker and the consumer.
So, with all this in mind, we decided to make an app ourselves. My co-founder Aidan O’Brien and I, reeled in a couple of developers in the shape of Mijin Cho and Jamie Atkinson and got to work.
Our primary aim was to boil down the components of why people listen to podcasts and we soon realised that we had to get away from the standard ‘let’s build a player platform and search model’ which mainly exists in today’s market.
We came up with the following user journey — 1) I like X genre of programme(s), 2) I have X amount of time to be entertained (e.g., the commute), 3) And I want to listen to something immediately.
The user can plug is their preferences and off they go…
We’ve just started on this journey — and bloody exciting it is too — however, there’s a lot of work to do before we can fulfill our potential. We honestly think that the API and platform that we’ve initially built will go on to transform the way people think about podcast discovery, help push relevant content towards people who want it and unleash a brand new way in raising revenue from a medium that is primarily available for free.
At the moment, we’re testing out the app and only playing podcasts which have featured in our newsletter over the past year or so. However, we plan to release the thing into the big, wide-world later this year...
For more details, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org