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For Your Consideration: The Many Flavors of Sounds Profitable

For Your Consideration: The Many Flavors of Sounds Profitable

The Sounds Profitable Podcast

Season 2 • Episode 21

We’re offering up a special treat for you today. You see, a lot of the Sounds Profitable crew was all at Podcast Movement Evolutions last week… and what a week it was! Think non-stop discussions about podcasting, ad tech, equipment, statistics… and more.

This week, as we wind down from all the hype, networking, eating, and drinking that occurred in LA, Bryan’s having some fun in Disneyland with his family, and Arielle’s enjoying some time with family on the west coast.

This episode is actually from an episode of another of our podcasts, called Sounds Profitable: Narrated Articles. And that podcast is what it says on the box—an article published on Sounds Profitable that’s narrated by the writer.

In this case, it’s Bryan, walking you through the entirety of the Sounds Profitable family of shows. At least as they are today.


Evo Terra: Hey, listeners. Welcome to Sounds Profitable: Adtech Applied. I'm Evo Terra. You may recognize my voice from my own podcast, Podcast Pontifications, or as one of the original hosts of Sounds Profitable's The Download podcast. Of course, nowadays The Download is hosted by Shreya Sharma and Manuela Bedoya. And that's just one of the things we're here to talk about today, the growth of Sounds Profitable. But let me back up. Why aren't you hearing Bryan Barletta and Arielle Nissenblat's voices right now? You may be wondering. Well, the three of us were at Podcast Movement last week, and what a week that was. Think nonstop discussions about podcasting, ad tech, equipment, statistics, and a whole lot more. This week, as we wind down from all the hype, networking, eating, and drinking that occurred either at or because of Podcast Movement in LA, Bryan's having some fun in Disneyland with his family, and Arielle's enjoying some time with her family in LA.
So we're bringing you a different kind of episode today. In just a moment, I'll hit Play on one of our episodes of our Narrated Articles podcast. You see, Sounds Profitable started off as a one-man operation. That one man was Bryan. Now we're many people strong and we're making much more than just a weekly newsletter. We've got a slew of podcasts, deep dive series, The Podscape, and even more to come. So in the narrated article you're about to hear, Bryan is going to walk us through the Sounds Profitable ecosystem. And as you may or may not know, each week, in addition to our article and podcasts, we release an audio version of the newsletter. So if you prefer to listen to Sounds Profitable than to read it, that's a thing you can do too. So now let's get to it. Cheers.

Bryan Barletta: The Many Flavors of Sounds Profitable, written by me, Bryan Barletta, for Sounds Profitable. I can't tell you how pleased I am that you and others like you love what we've made here at Sounds Profitable. In fact, we've made so much that we spun up a host of new podcasts and other media properties, so many that it makes sense for me to give you a rundown of what you might have missed. Sounds Profitable, the podcast, kicked off just over one year ago this month, and it's been an absolutely eye-opening experience. We started the podcast with three main goals: to be a testbed for amazing podcast ad tech, to provide hands-on accounts of how podcast ad tech and advertising actually work, and to reinforce that everyone working in the podcast field in any capacity absolutely needs to understand the entire process of operating a podcast.
And let me tell you, this was some of the hardest work I've ever done, and I'm not even the one handling the production or editing. I've learned an incredible amount from pushing the limits on the amazing ad tech our sponsors, Whooshkaa and Supercast, provided to figure out what actually makes a good podcast and just how bad things can turn out when you just wing it. Now, one year later, we want to make some changes from the format of the show, to the ad tech, to the sponsors, and everything in between. And in that process, we want to share with you what we've learned, just the stats.
The flagship of Sounds Profitable absolutely continues to be the newsletter, passing over 4,000 subscribers in just 18 months. But the podcasts have been no slouch either. Since launching at the end of January 2021, we've had just over 23,000 downloads, with 19,000 coming from our public feed on Whooshkaa and 4,000 from our premium feeds on Supercast. Our top 10 episodes averaged 390 downloads per episode, with a high of 562 and a low of 323. And while those numbers aren't exactly monetizable through CPM-based advertising, they are incredibly impressive when you think about the incredibly niche nature of the content.
Partnering with Supercast also gave us the opportunity to directly identify how many people we could drive to sign up for additional content like our Narrated Articles in English and Spanish, along with Up Next, A Podcast Upfront, and The Podscape Podcast. The Sounds Profitable premium feed had 176 total subscribers, with 149 of them active, and 3,688 unique downloads. Up Next, A Podcast Upfront had 243 total subscribers, with 212 active subscribers, and 1,135 unique downloads. And The Podscape Podcast had 177 total subscribers, with 107 active, and 324 unique downloads.
What did we learn? With our stats fully on display, I wanted to share a few key learnings before explaining the upcoming changes. Tech demos are hard to maintain. The original version of the podcast had 14 pieces of dynamic content. Ian worked painstakingly to match a break in the music to where the ads would pop in so it all felt seamless. To nearly all of us, it was seamless, but the reality was that setting that many points of dynamic content, we made it impossible to innovate. We also bloated every single episode with upwards of five minutes of content that got pretty annoying to followers. So, we'll be testing out new ad tech strategies through bonus episodes displayed prominently but not on the weekly content.
Niche means quality over quantity. While writing down these numbers, my first thought was, "Wow, those are so low." But just like the newsletter, when I look through the email addresses of the people who signed up for the premium feed, what I find is that the audience I'm expressly trying to reach are the people signed up for Sounds Profitable content. That target is those working directly in the business of podcasting in a professional capacity, ranging on the ad op sales and account managers, all the way to CEOs and investment firms. Niche content produces niche numbers, but absolutely drives an engaged fan base.
All audiences are tough to motivate. In the course of the year, we've had premium feeds and listener surveys meant specifically to provide Sounds Profitable's audience the option to experience the listener side of products and offerings they were considering asking their own audience. I optimistically believed we would see higher than average numbers for both, but what we saw instead was the exact benchmark anyone should expect. That doesn't mean I won't keep asking all of you to buy into these experiments. It just means that even a niche audience may not respond any better than the norm.
Content accessibility. Even with making the content through Supercast completely free, it has been incredibly difficult to get people to sign up. If you want people to engage with your content, it needs to be in as many places as possible, where the audience wants to search and not just where you want to provide it.
What's next? As of today, Sounds Profitable has fully migrated off of Whooshkaa and Supercast. Both Whooshkaa and Supercast have been fantastic sponsors, with Whooshkaa still on board as a sponsor, and it provided me the opportunity to learn their platform inside and out. Now it's time to learn another major hosting platform inside and out, Triton Digital's Omny Studio. Omny offers an incredible number of features that I'm excited to push to the limits. I'm specifically excited by their hosting platform and ad server being two separate products and how they approach feed creation and programmatic advertising. You'll definitely be seeing some interesting experiments this year powered by their tools.
But what about the shows? Our core show, released every Sunday, has been renamed to Sounds Profitable: Adtech Applied, hosted by Arielle Nissenblat and myself. Our focus stays the same since Arielle came on board: speak with incredibly talented people and apply their knowledge to the podcast industry through the lens of ad tech. As always, I'll overcomplicate things, and Arielle will make sure it's palatable. Our Narrated Articles in both English and Spanish, powered by Veritone's, are also available directly as well. And our aim is for them to be released at the same time our newsletters go out.
And our latest show, The Download from Sounds Profitable, which got fantastic response from all of you, finally has its own RSS feed. The show covers news for the business world of podcasting that you need to know and why you need to know it, every Friday at noon Eastern in 10 minutes or less. And more importantly, it has two new hosts and a dedicated writer. I'm proud to announce that Manuela Bedoya, of LWC Studios, and Shreya Sharma, of Inside Podcasting, are your hosts, with Gavin Gaddis as your writer. Both Up Next, A Podcast Upfront and The Podscape Podcast are also available without needing a private feed. And we'll have even more news soon about this year's Up Next.
We're also prioritizing two other avenues for hosting our content, one being YouTube, which we're incredibly early stages of figuring out. But providing our deep dives and all of our podcast content on a platform that's starting to prioritize podcasting, and one with incredible SEO potential, seems like a home run. The other is Sonnet, a tool built to get a better grasp on the audio and video content you make, classify it correctly, and be able to quickly share it through clips and playlists. We're starting to prioritize tagging and associating our written content, but without a tool like Sonnet, it would be nearly impossible for us to reference everything Arielle and I have covered in the podcast or that's come up in a guest interview or on The Download, so this is going to be exciting for us to put to use.
Wrapping it up, podcasting is incredibly difficult, but having the experience with these partners in the process allows me to better cover this industry. I don't care what your role is, you need a podcast. You need a solid mic, an idea, and time to make it happen. Use it internally to share knowledge at your company. Use it as a way to sell to your clients. Heck, make a podcast with your kids just for fun. There are lots more cool things coming this year from Sounds Profitable. Please make sure to check out our podcasts, follow them on your favorite app, and, most importantly, share them with your friends and colleagues. I'm Bryan Barletta. Thanks for listening to this episode of Sounds Profitable. You can find more articles about the business side of podcasting and other podcasts from Sounds Profitable at

Arielle Nissenblat: Hello, Sounds Profitable. This is Arielle Nissenblat here with Relle's Wrecks. This week, I'm recommending the podcast BioHacked: Family Secrets from Three Uncanny Four Productions. This podcast will grab you from the first sentence. BioHacked: Family Secrets gets to the core of the fertility industry and its major flaws. If someone donated sperm in the 1980s hundreds of times, they could very well have dozens and dozens of biological children at this point. And in the '80s, they couldn't have possibly predicted the advancement of DNA research and the rise of companies like 23andMe. That's what this show is about. The children of sperm and egg donors are beginning to find each other, and they want to know about their biological parents. What, if anything, do these once anonymous donors owe their offspring? Fun fact, I actually listened to this show out of order, and it was still absolutely gripping. I recommend BioHacked: Family Secrets. You can find it wherever you get your podcasts.