Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why I’m worried about Audioboom

I’m back — I apologise for the unscheduled newsletter absence in the last couple of weeks, I had to turn in the full manuscript for my first book at the end of May and it got quite hectic towards the end:

Caroline Crampton@c_crampton

I just sent my full book manuscript off to my editor, who knew sending one email (with an 85,000 word attachment) could be so cathartic pic.twitter.com/QNnTad6JTY

June 1, 2018
I’m just getting back up to speed, podcast wise, so I’m afraid this still isn’t a full edition of the newsletter. However, I have two things I want to share.

1. Why I’m worried about Audioboom

I know, I’m a giant nerd, but I’ve been thinking a lot in the past couple of weeks about the UK podcast company Audioboom and their financial problems. In case you haven’t been following this developing business story, here’s the gist: Audioboom was due to take part in a £134m reverse takeover of the LA-based digital audio and advertising outfit Triton digital, but that was called off a couple of weeks ago after the former was unable to complete a planned share placing.

Audioboom is now struggling financially — I’ve heard on the grapevine that podcasters are not being paid their ad revenue on time, and existing backer Nick Candy has had to loan the company a further £0.5m to keep it in operation. It’s sad for the people who work there and the people who host their shows there, for sure, but just a standard day in the business world, right? (Like I would know.)

The reason I’m worrying about it excessively, though, is because of what the collapse or retraction of Audioboom could mean for the UK podcast scene. They’ve already said that they will be shedding “smaller, unsustainable podcasts” and working on attracting “more commercially viable podcasts” in an attempt to get the company back in the black. That isn’t good news for the audio ecosystem here, if shows that were previously covering their hosting costs or even turning a small profit on Audioboom are now going to be shown the door.

At the moment, there are severely limited options for British podcasters that have enough listeners to run adverts on their shows, but not enough to attract the muscle of an American podcast network or agency like Panoply or Midroll. The Swedish company Acast now has a sizeable London operation, and is really Audioboom’s only competitor. If the latter goes under and no other company plunges quickly into the UK market, Acast will essentially have a monopoly on monetising podcasts with 10,000 — 40,000 listeners per episode. And I’m really concerned about that: I don’t think any one company dominating an emerging market can lead to anything other than slowed growth and missed opportunities.

2. I want to know what you think

I’ve been doing this new podcast newsletter for a few months now, and a whole load of people have also been kind enough to sign up for the extra paid weekly letters. However, this is unknown territory for me and I still feel like I’m operating in the dark. I have lots of things I want to cover and people I want to interview, but before I plunge into that I want to know what you think about the format of PodMail — what you like to read about, when you like to read it, the bits you skip, what’s more likely to make you want to open an email.

You can hit reply on this email to talk to me directly, or take part in this survey I’m running — it’s very short and totally anonymous/confidential, I’ve just put together a few basic questions as prompts for your feedback. I’m going to leave it running for a while as I get things organised again, so please do take a few seconds to take part if you can.

That’s all for today — I’ll be back with more very soon.

Caroline