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Podcast Profits On The Rise In The UK + 5 other stories for June 3, 2022

Podcast Profits On The Rise In The UK + 5 other stories for June 3, 2022

The Download

Season 0 • Episode 24

This week on The Download: Podcast profits on the rise in the UK, white noise podcasts prove profitable, and the first Sounds Profitable Business Leader’s Summit is headed to Podcast Movement.

As is true of many episodes of The Download, we start with an article published on Tuesday. Bron Maher of the Press Gazette published “The Economist considers audio paywall as podcasts reach 3 million people a month.

The lede is somewhat buried, as the interesting information lies not in the framework of The Economist’s future plans to paywall podcasts, but in just how much traffic those free podcasts bring in. Prior to the launch of the publication’s flagship podcast The Intelligence, The Economist had seven full-time employees dedicated to podcasting. As of 2022 that number has ballooned to thirty of the paper’s nearly 320 staff. Quoting the article:

The Intelligence gets approximately 350,000 downloads an episode. In a month, Prideaux said the podcast can now reach as many as two million listeners. During peak coverage of the invasion of Ukraine, the figure hit two and a half million. Across its entire podcast stable, The Economist is now being listened to by more than three million people a month. That compares against 1.2 million print subscribers – while its digital circulation in the second half of 2021 was 995,228, according to its ABC report.”

John Prideaux, director of podcasts for The Economist, notes that the podcasting wing’s success brings an unexpected level of familiarity with one’s audience. The Economist’s longstanding policy on not publishing bylines does not extend to their shows, allowing parasocial relationships to blossom where they wouldn’t in articles of identical information without an author attached. Maher quotes Prideaux:

“I mean, it’s a bit of a surprise – some of our people, who are on the podcast, they suddenly get not exactly recognised, but internet famous in a way that is new for a place with no bylines. And some of them find that a bit alarming.”

Regardless of whether the publication paywalls previously free content, nearly two decades of embracing podcasting has lead The Economist to a point where a fraction of its staff bring in more impressions via podcast audience than the actual published paper.

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for Hot Pod Insider, covered several iHeartMedia higher-ups appearing at Tuesday’s J.P. Morgan Global Tech, Media, and Communications Conference. The main takeaway of the talk? iHeart believes there’s a finite window in which one can determine if a podcast can be made successful purely through promotion.

“First off, a show has to be good, according to Bob Pittman, iHeart’s CEO and chairman. ‘We can’t make something that’s not a hit a hit,’ he said. From there, it comes down to marketing. ‘What we can generally find is probably in two or three weeks, we can see if we’ve got a hit or not with heavy promotion.’”

Though, unlike radio, a lack of success during launch window doesn’t spell death for the product. Kastrenakes quotes Pittman as saying podcasts have “unlimited shelf space.” Without a limited amount of bandwidth on which to program, iHeart is able to take risks on relatively cheaper production costs and – even if it doesn’t take off in the 2 to 3 week launch period – allow the product to exist on its own in hopes outside forces lead to a free resurgence in popularity.

Once again we circle back to the global story of podcasting doing well everywhere, not just in the North American markets. Quite well, in fact, according to Aisha Majid’s article on the latest Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index for the Press Gazette. 

“Among the sample of 12 publishers included in the report, which was produced by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte, audio revenue hit £4.2m in the first quarter of this year. This was six times what they made in the first quarter of 2021.”

Deloitte’s Dan Ison claims daily podcast listening has caught up to online radio in the UK, growing to the point one in ten adults under 25 pay for at least one form of premium podcast subscription.

AOP managing director Richard Reeves, as quoted by Majid, said:

“We’ve seen revenue for digital audio grow steadily over the last few quarters, driven in part by what’s being deemed the ‘golden age of podcasts’. The 500% revenue growth reported for this channel in Q1 2022 demonstrates that publishers are now successfully monetising this type of content.”

This next bit of news is home-grown as it comes direct from Sounds Profitable founder—and former host of The Download—Bryan Barletta. In partnership with Podcast Movement, the first Sounds Profitable Business Leaders Summit will take place August 23rd in Dallas, Texas.

“On its own, a one-day business-focused event would be a hard sell to just about anyone, even in NYC or LA. But as an industry, we absolutely need one. A day dedicated to the real tough conversations that the industry needs to have in order for us to drive the progress that leads to a $4bn US podcast advertising industry and then some. So, for an event like this to thrive, it would need to be attached to the undisputed leading podcast industry event in America.”

The summit is slated to kick off with the Sounds Profitable quarterly research report.

“Measurement, video, and programmatic are words we hear in conversation every single day. Sometimes positively, occasionally from a negative perspective, and most often from a place of curiosity. So we’ve gathered the best and brightest to make sure we’re all on the same page, as each of these three topics continue to grow in popularity and importance.”

While the quarterly report will be available publicly, the rest of the Summit – keeping in line with a key goal of fostering candid conversations on where to take the future of podcasting – will only be accessible to members of companies that sponsor Sounds Profitable.

For our last full story of the week we turn to Ashley Carman’s Bloomberg piece from Wednesday: Spotify Podcasters Are Making $18,000 a Month With Nothing But White Noise.

Carman’s brief journey into the world of white noise podcasting reveals a surprisingly healthy field of competing products all fundamentally designed to serve up calming soundscapes to put audiences to sleep, all while running occasional ads to their slumbering subscribers. Quoting Carman:

“Those who did respond to interview requests say they are making good money, winning over fans and marveling at the power of podcast distribution. Collectively, the shows represent a burgeoning and lucrative podcast genre.”

Take, for instance, the story of Brandon Reed: a man whose podcasting career started by using Anchor more as a file hosting platform for white noise to soothe his own son rather than intending on distributing the files globally. Three years later things are extremely different. Quoting Carman again:

“His inadvertent hit has also made the charts on Apple Inc.’s Podcasts app and has reached over 26.6 million total listens, he said. Reed now offers a $2.99 monthly subscription, which gives paying customers access to additional sounds and the ability to request new ones. When a chiropractor needed railroad clacking for an anxious patient, Reed went out and captured it. So far, he’s made over $10,000 through subscriptions.”

At the risk of reigniting years-old social media arguments as to what it means for a piece of media to qualify as a podcast, these snippets from the world of calming noise serve as a reminder that restrictive views of podcasts both in format and content can leave niches unserved.

And finally, befitting of a short episode we only have one article for our semi-recurring segment spotlighting articles worth reading that didn’t quite make it into the episode. This week The Download recommends The Podcast in Quebec in 2021 by Bruno Guglielminetti. 

Fair warning, the post is in French, but it contains statistics relevant to The Download’s ongoing coverage of podcasting’s growth in global markets. Time to dust off that vocab textbook from college.


Ariel: Tom Webster is officially a sounds profitable partner. The last few weeks in Europe and our recent summit announcement. That's what we're talking about today on sounds profitable ad tech apply with me, Ariel Misenblat.

Brian: And me, Brian Barletta.

Ariel: Dynamically inserted podcast ads outperformed embedded ads by 28% according to pod site's latest benchmark report. Get the full report in our episode details to find out more.

Brian: Special thanks to our sponsors for making sounds profitable possible. Check them out by going to and clicking on their logos in the article.

Ariel: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the show. My name is Ariel Misenblat, and I am here with Brian Barletta. Brian, how are you?

Brian: I'm good. I'm good. I'm so happy to be home.

Ariel: I know you've been away for a long time. Tell us where have you been?

Brian: We went all over Europe. We started around the radio days Europe conference in Malmo, Sweden, but my family was staying in Copenhagen, which for a not incredibly well traveled American taking a 20 minute train ride across the ocean to another country every morning was really cool. And then we hung around in Paris in between and my family got to cross off the last two Disney parks in the world that we've been to.

Ariel: Oh, my God.

Brian: Which was really fun. And then I spent the end of the week in London for the podcast show London, which was so exciting. I had such a blast there. I had kind of low expectations going into it and was completely blown away.

Ariel: Well, I want to talk about that and a lot more. It's been a while since Brian and I have recorded one on one. I've been interviewing some other folks on the sounds profitable team. Last week, I chatted with Evo Tara. The week before that I chatted with Tom Webster. Check back in your favorite podcast player to listen to those episodes because there's a lot of great information in there, if I do say so myself. Today, I want to talk about the following. I want to talk about Malmo. I want radio days Europe. I want to talk about London, aka podcast show London. I want to talk about Tom starting because it's June, 2022. So, Tom Webster is officially part of sounds profitable as partner. And I want to talk about something that we announced earlier this week, which is the summit at podcast movement. How does that all sound for our agenda for today, Brian?

Brian: That sounds great. So strap in to the first three hour podcast that sounds profitable. No, I think we could burn through it pretty quick and I think it's really exciting. And first off, I really want to say thank you. It's awesome to have such a strong co-host and someone who really gets what we're doing with sounds profitable.
My goal as sounds profitable, continues to grow is I really don't want to be the face of it. I don't want to be the most important person or the key person in all of it. It's about growing and sharing knowledge and educating everybody in the space. And that was our goal with me and you partnering on this when we first started that there would be a point where you could do a lot of this without me, right? That's the base of sounds profitable. So you've nailed that. And we were just talking about you taking the reigns completely for a month and me kind of guiding through it. And we're starting to explore that a little bit more, what that looks like. And I would love to hear from the listeners what they'd like Ariel to explore in the vein of ad tech, advertising, analytics and the business of podcasting that her perspective is going to bring more to the table. So please shoot us an email, tweet at us. Anything. Let us know what you're interested in.

Ariel: Anything, leave us a yap on Yappa.

Brian: There you go.

Ariel: Lots of ways to get in touch. All right. So Brian, let's start off with Sweden/Copenhagen. What was radio days Europe like?

Brian: It was awesome. It was incredibly well attended. It was a lot of international voices. There was great representation from the U.S. because I think podcasting is still very strong in U.S. focus, but the attendance was amazing. It was radio groups that I had heard of before. It's ones I hadn't heard of. It was ones that are public and don't do advertising. It was ones that were private and are really big into it. There were people in radio who hadn't dabbled into podcasting and even more so an entire world that has a better experience with radio and catch up/on demand radio versus what we know in the U.S. So their perspectives were amazing.
And everybody there realized that podcasting had to play a massive part in their audio plans for the future. And that was just the first day. That was a good size event on its own on that Sunday. When the kickoff party happened, when the full audio aspect of it, when the full radio aspect really kicked off, it was like five or six times the size.

Ariel: Wow.

Brian: And Tom Webster spoke on behalf of Edison research. I had a chance to speak as well on the non podcast side of it, like the general radio side.

Ariel: Oh wow.

Brian: The panels were just even bigger. There was so much interest and desire to buy into podcasting. It was really exciting.

Ariel: Give us either your favorite session that you attended or a big takeaway that you came across there.

Brian: I think the big takeaway that I really want to focus on is that radio is completely different outside the U.S. and for people like myself who don't have the radio background but do a podcast and digital advertising background, it's worth learning. In the same way that I want to spend more time understanding public radio in the United States, I also understand radio overall outside the U.S. A great example is one of the people who run it also works for the Denmark public radio.

Ariel: Okay.

Brian: And what was neat there is they have like 80% of the population listens to their public funded radio that has no advertising. Now granted scale in size of country and different things all play into that. But there are so much out there that's non-ad supported, funded public works, we're talking taxes funded. It's not like listeners supported. It's like your taxes cover it and it's there and it has massive buy in at all generations. It's so cool. And so they're exploring how do they work in podcasting or is there interest outside of their country for that content and what are their rights and how to explore it? So, that was really interesting to learn about. Like my understanding from a very capitalist consumerist U.S. focus doesn't apply in a lot of these places. So as much as I was there to teach them a little bit about podcasting and the advertising and business side of it, I learned an immense amount.

Ariel: Let's go to Paris, your break between the two conferences. Give me your biggest takeaway/the best meal you had.

Brian: Oh wow. I think the biggest takeaway is I didn't realize how everybody in Paris still thinks cigarettes are cool. Like even in Disney, people were smoking cigarettes. It was definitely a big culture shock there, but it was so nice to just be able to walk across everything and just see all the art. We went to as many museums as possible and art calories and we explored everything we had an opportunity to explore.

Ariel: So then you got to London. Where within the city did podcast show London take place, what neighborhood?

Brian: It was like right off that angel stop. It was definitely in a very central business location. It was super accessible by almost everyone. And I think that was the big draw for it, right? Podcast movement does incredibly well. I think podcast movement is the central event of the United States for podcasting. And with it being in Dallas and with it being in LA or Vegas, it still gets a massive draw. Being in London, it would be like being in New York, right?

Ariel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian: It has such an appeal. And my assumption would be that it would also pull in a lot of amateur podcasters and I'm sure there were plenty there, but I mostly met the exact target audience for sounds profitable, like mid to enterprise level podcasters. People who were treating it as a business, not I've done 10 episodes. How do I quit my job and collect a paycheck?

Ariel: Yeah.

Brian: There were people who were saying, "This is interesting to me. I want to invest in it. And I want it to be a business and potentially my full-time business." Or, "We are starting a network. These are the things that we're approaching." There were over two days, I think almost 6,000 people there.

Ariel: That's amazing.

Brian: The setup was wild. It was this big, giant warehouse space that had the conference rooms on the outside. Some of the speaking spaces were also in the middle, but on the top level where the conference rooms left out or where the panel rooms let out were lounges. And it must have been about 20 different companies with lounges there. Super cool. They held their own meetings there. They had little parties and stuff. And then in the center area was the expo hall, tons of amazing things there. And the center of that was like a coffee bar with a ton of tables. Yeah. So basically.

Ariel: That's great for schmoozing.

Brian: Exactly.

Ariel: They nailed the schmoozing it seems.

Brian: I just sat right in the center and I met everybody. I did a lap around everything. I saw everybody and then I would go to a meeting and I would stand up after having that meeting and I would just see somebody else to connect with or connect the person I was just talking with.

Ariel: Like, go over there.

Brian: Yeah. Exactly that's my favorite way to end a conversation, right? If I have to go to another meeting and I can pass somebody off to someone interesting they should know, that's a huge win for me. And this was ripe for that. There were so many UK and non-US focused companies there. Great U.S. showing as well, but it was so powerful to see all these companies kind of be a little bit humble in the fact that like, "Yeah, we've been huge. We have a lot of interest. We have so many listeners and we have so many companies here growing this, thank you for today choosing to acknowledge how big we are." I think we're going to read for the next month how huge the opportunity is outside the U.S. and podcasting. And I think all the companies there kind of had that like not smug, but well intentioned, "Yeah. We know. We've been here. We've been crushing it." Lots of cool new contacts.

Ariel: I was talking to a recent college grad this week who wants to get into the podcast space. She's been working as an associate producer. And I said, "If you really want to stand out two things, one is be the person to go to about the gen Z podcast experience or be the person in the U.S. who knows about podcasting outside of the U.S.

Brian: Yep.

Ariel: So those, I think are some two very big opportunities. And it's interesting to hear you corroborate that theory of mine. So what was the conversation that was in the hallways? What was everybody talking about? Did, was there one thing, was it video? Was it marketing? Was it tracking? What was everybody talking about at podcast show London?

Brian: I think measurement came up a bunch because they fall under different categories of data regulation. So what we do for attribution and analytics works a little bit differently outside the U.S., especially depending on different territories. So that was a conversation on how you measure and return ROI for either a branded podcast or advertising. I think a lot of the conversations were based around the companies from the U.S. trying to understand the model of agencies and advertisers outside the U.S.

Ariel: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Brian: It was really eye-opening to see non-US companies make more progress with us brand reps than they had been able to make with the UK or EU counterparts that they had known. That's an area that I have very little knowledge in and I want to explore. And I want to pull somebody on here to talk about, because it truly feels like in the U.S., any podcaster could realistically solicit a brand to give them a chance or at least have a conversation and say why they won't give them a chance. Whereas outside the U.S., it feels like if a podcaster were to contact a brand like that, pretty easy to get ignored forever. Their structure and how they operate is very different.

Ariel: Shout out somebody that you met for the first time in London, who everybody should know.

Brian: Jennifer Clary of go kid go was someone that I met for the first time there. Really interesting approach to kids and family content. One of the coolest conversations we had is that go kid go actually has decided to offer any brand that advertises with them one free month to prove out that they are effective at advertising their product or service or branding to convince them to spend more money and more time in kids and family. And I've not seen anybody approach it like that. I think kids and family is a massive opportunity.
I was talking about this morning with Edison tweeting out about the new report that's coming about smart speaker usage, me and the four other people in my family were listening to flip and mosey on our smart speaker and over the course of two hours, we probably played the newest episode and four additional episodes that we had already listened to that were already downloaded on my device that already had ads associated with them. So understanding the bigger reach, right? It's not just about one download equals one person. In different categories, in different use cases, massive reach and massive opportunity to explore. So I'm really, really bullish on kids and family. I want to see everybody invest more in there and Jennifer has a really cool perspective on how they're going to kind of blow that up.

Ariel: Love that, love to hear that. And I definitely agree that there's a huge opportunity there let's move from London back to the U.S. Tom Webster has officially started at sounds profitable as of June 1st. He is now a partner in the company. And that means a lot of really great things are coming to sounds profitable, including a lot of research. And one of the places where that research is going to be displayed to the world is at the newly announced summit that's going to take place at podcast movement. So Brian quickly tell us about the most recent sounds profitable article, which you can get at and what is going on there and what's going to go on at podcast movement.

Brian: Yeah. We're going to take over the first full day, that Tuesday, the normal arrival day for podcast movement. So we're going to kick off around 9 or 10:00 AM. We're still getting feedback on people who are trying to move flights around, but I think it's going to be around 9 or 10:00 AM. And the intent is that we're going to do for our sponsors of sounds profitable, which we're nearing a hundred, which is awesome. We're going to invite all of them and a massive response already, which is really exciting, to come participate in four really targeted conversations. The first is we're going to review our reporting for August, which we're about to finalize and we'll start promoting, but it ties into a lot of the conversations we're planning to have. Then we're going to have a big session on measurement, programmatic and video. And Tom and I are working really hard and Ariel and Evo and Kayla Litman are all helping us as well.
Formulate something that's a little bit more of a session and less of a panel to really drive some education, understanding and growth opportunity for all those categories. And in between each of those sessions, we're providing an entire hour where we're going to identify every one of our sponsors whose company offers services related to any of those categories so that people can continue the conversation in smaller groups for that next hour and not miss out on a panel, but really develop strong relationships. That's really important to me, the first day of a podcast movement event, being able to meet people, identify should we talk more in person here? Is this a good fit? Should we talk more in person after the event? That's what justifies more people coming to more events and having a bigger showing and I want to provide that environment. So we continue to add more and more benefits for our sponsors and to us that's really important to provide that space. It won't be televised. The research will be, but the rest of it won't be publicized in any way because we want to allow people to have really tough conversations.
The last thing I want to say on the reporting is we do have a surprise report coming in June that's all about the creators. And it's really exciting. I think Tom talked about it a little bit, but it's basically who of the U.S. population is a creator of podcast. And this is a really smart thing because it's going to tell us the people that are creating versus the people that are consuming and help us identify how to be a little bit more diverse, how to identify where the holes are. There's some content that is only going to resonate well if the audience consuming it can more relate to the audience creating it or the host creating it.
And this is going to show a lot of those gaps and give us a lot of insight into the benchmarks of who those creators are, not just at one specific platform, but all the platforms. Also a great opportunity for people to look for and pursue more people to create podcasts. So we're super excited to share that at the end of June, we'll be providing a signup link. That's completely free to come attend the zoom and also to get a copy of the report. And that will be how all of our research comes out, completely free for everybody.

Ariel: So those are just some of the things to look forward to this summer for sounds profitable. So subscribe to the newsletter so you can keep up with all the things we're doing. Brian, thank you so much for the recap. I am so jealous I could not be in Europe, but I definitely plan to go next year and really appreciate you bringing me there.
Hey, listeners, what do you think of the show? We always want to hear from you. Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. We're on Twitter at sounds prof news at Brian Barletta or at Ari this and that. And if you want to send us an email that's

Brian: This show is recorded with squad cast, the best place to record studio quality video and audio for content creators. Sounds profitable uses squad cast for every interview, product deep dive, and our recorded research. And we encourage you to check it out. So go to for a free seven day trial. And please let me know what you think.

Ariel: Do you want more from sounds profitable? We have two more podcasts that you can explore. First up is sounds profitable, the narrated articles. And next the download, our podcast about the business of podcasting. Find links to them in the episode description.

Brian: And thank you for listening to this episode of sounds profitable ad tech applied with me, Brian Barletta.

Ariel: And me Ariel Misenblat. Until next time.