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5 reasons why audio is a trend you shouldn’t ignore

Whether it’s Amazon and Google selling over 200 million smart home speakers, the NY Times asking if we’ve “reached peak podcast”, seeing everyone always walking around with AirPods in their ears, or your friends and colleagues constantly saying “I just listened to this great podcast/audiobook”, it’s pretty hard to argue that the rise of audio is a trend that can’t be ignored. Voice is the most natural form of communication and starts from the time we are born. Humans use audio and voice to share stories, indicate pain or unhappiness, share in laughter, and communicate important information. Typically when we think of audio, we think about music and maybe audiobooks but with the rise of podcasts and smart home speakers over the last few years, businesses are taking advantage of audio in lucrative and successful ways. Here are 5 reasons why audio is a trend you shouldn’t ignore.

1. AirPods (and other bluetooth headsets)

Apple will sell around 60 million pair of AirPods in 2019 alone (bringing in ~$20B) which is significantly more than the company itself expected to sell. They are both catching the wave of consumer interest in consuming audio content as well as creating it by making it easy and delightful for their users. Over the last decade companies like Jawbone with their novel bluetooth headset, have made consumers more comfortable with walking around with wireless devices in their ears and with talking to themselves in public. The sleek form factor of the AirPods and the seamless integration with iPhones makes consuming audio content unbelievably simple and the fact that people are wearing AirPods constantly now makes “share of ear” as important, if not more so, than “share of screen” or “share of voice”.

2. Multitasking

Millennials and GenZs have attention spans that keep getting shorter and shorter and spend as much as 60% of their time multitasking. The beauty of audio is that it is a companion medium that allows a user to both be doing something else (driving, walking, folding laundry, working out, etc) while also consuming audio. To capitalize on this, many businesses are starting to create podcasts, Youtube videos, or audio blogs/newsletters. This allows their audience to choose how they want to consume audio content and gives them the flexibility to be multitasking and still listen to the content.

3. Podcasts

If you haven’t started listening to podcasts, you are now in the minority. Currently 90 million people in the US alone listen to podcasts regularly and on average, a single person will listen to 7 or more podcasts. Podcasts have been on the rapid rise since around 2015 and up until recently, very few businesses took advantage of this medium to create content. Part of the reason may be the complexity, cost, and time it takes to produce a quality podcast. Now there are over 800,000 podcasts and over 29M episodes for listeners to choose from! Some savvy businesses have started creating podcasts by using text-to-speech on their written blog content and syndicating the feed of audio files to the major podcasting networks. There are tools out there like Soundspot that do this for you automatically allowing you to “set it and forget it” and have each blog post (past and future) turned into high-quality audio and available as a podcast on any iOS or Android podcast player.

4. Google

Google, the king of search and owner of Youtube and Android, announced at their I/O conference this year that they were starting to transcribe and index audio content in Google search results. Quickly people on the internet discovered some of these experiments using Youtube content and the collective impression is that just like Google has indexed, ranked, and categorized all written text on the internet, they will now do the same for audio content from podcasts, Youtube, and other forms of audio. This is a HUGE deal because the way websites get discovered today is in large part due to being shown in Google search. Companies spend an extreme amount of time, energy, and money optimizing their text-based SEO to make sure they rank for relevant searches. With audio now coming into the equation, companies will need to do the same SEO optimization. This can be done in a variety of ways. The first and easiest way is to take your SEO optimized content and turn it into audio. Tools like Soundspot handle this for you quickly and cheaply. Other ways to create audio SEO is to create targeted podcast or Youtube content using specific language that would be a relevant for a search query you want to rank for.

5. Spotify

Spotify, the music streaming behemoth has not been bashful about their vision to move beyond music and become the place for everything audio. They’ve already spent ~$400M on podcasting companies (Gimlet, Parcast, and Anchor) and have made comments about their desire to acquire more companies in the space. Spotify has 200M global users (96M paid and 104M ad supported) so have natural distribution for other forms of audio. The way they started paying attention to podcasts is actually quite interesting. Daniel Ek discussed on a podcast (i’m totally not joking) that they saw a rise of people in Germany consuming audiobooks on Spotify and started to investigate. This led them to see how quickly podcast consumption was rising with no clear winner in the space as the podcasting market is extremely fragmented across hosting providers, content producers, and app-based players. Since Spotify has to pay high fees to labels and artists for their use of music on Spotify, there is a huge opportunity for them to expand into audiobooks (cheaper rights) and podcasts (totally free). They have millions of users who already use their app to consume audio content and will be a player to watch in the space.

If you’re interested in getting started with audio content in a low-effort, low-cost way, check out Soundspot and turn any existing text content you already have into high-quality audio! You can also contact us at soundspotio@gmail.com.

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Elaine Zelby

Elaine Zelby

Podcast obsessed maker, thinker, and doer with a tendency to be interested in everything and everyone ;) Investor at SignalFire.

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