When you think music streaming, you think Spotify. When you think video streaming, you think YouTube. But what about podcasting?
Dan Daugherty is the co-founder and COO of Sounder.fm, a free podcast hosting service that aims to give podcasters everything they need to start and grow. We caught up with Dan and Gabrielle Lang, their social media manager, to find out more.
Sounder.fm is a podcast hosting service, providing a multitude of useful tools for aspiring podcasters.
How did Sounder.fm start out?
Dan: “So this is actually the third company that I’ve started. All of the companies tend to be developed based upon my own personal frustrations. Turns out there are a lot of frustrations with podcasting both from a listener and a creator perspective.”
“As a listener I was very interested in real estate, investing, and venture capital podcasts. I went to Apple podcasts to find additional information related to a term called ‘1031 exchanges,’ which is a real estate investing term. I had to listen to about 40 minutes of the audio before they talked about 1031 exchanges.”
“Another problem, I was listening to a venture capital podcast and they served a Toyota audio ad pre-roll. And the entire 35-minute episode was talking about cap tables. I thought, ‘Wow. Instead of serving a Toyota ad, it would have been great to understand the content of the episode and serve me a more relevant ad.’”
“The third challenge was when I started my podcast. I had to use different software to accomplish creating a 30 or 60-minute episode. I had to use different editing, hosting, voiceover, music, and guest management software. I realized there’s an opportunity to develop an end to end podcast management platform that solves for this fragmentation.”
And as a result, you’ve created a platform that podcasters can say is truly ‘theirs’.
D: “That’s right. When we started a couple of years ago there were roughly 400,000 active podcasts globally. Now there’s over 1.4 million. There’s more and more audio content being added and discovery is a lot more difficult. When Google launched back in 1999 or 1998 in a Stanford dorm room, there were fewer websites on the internet than there are episodes created daily in 2020.”
We’re working on democratizing the advertiser/podcaster relationship to help creators go from hobby to business.
I often find often it’s the same four or five brands sponsoring podcasts. Seems like there’s a huge opportunity for more brands to get involved.
D: “You’re 100% correct. Last year and the year before, you probably heard the same audio ad over and over again for the top podcasts that you were listening to. Obviously, this isn’t a great listening experience. We’re starting to see that change. Why? CPMs are a lot higher and the amount of engagement from a listener in a podcast is huge. We’re working on democratizing the advertiser/podcaster relationship to help creators go from hobby to business.”
And what’s the growth been like so far?
D: “It’s been quite nice. We have over 15,000 creators that have joined our platform. And because we’re a freemium model, we believe that everyone should have a voice and that voice should be easily discovered. We’re building tools to help those who in the past didn’t have the ability to start a podcast.”
And podcasting has been having such a renaissance lately.
D: “It’s interesting because in the very beginning, if you remember, Italy was one of the first countries that were locked down, and we saw an increase of about 400% in Italy during that time period.”
“Before lockdown, a lot of the consumption was done during commuting hours. Now that has changed, obviously.”
“Oddly enough, we’re also seeing changes with the proliferation of smart devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo or Amazon Alexa. Now people are communicating and interacting with this voice device to get their podcasts.
What can you tell us about your business model?
D: “We’re a freemium model. It’s free to add your podcast onto the Sounder platform, and you get up to 20,000 downloads a month before you can go to our Plus package. In that $30 a month package, you can add as many podcasts as you want. You are allowed up to 100,000 downloads or streams a month, and there are additional feature sets for analytics and apps. Once you get past that, we have an enterprise package. That’s much more customizable, where you can have access to our APIs on a dedicated stack and a lot of great features for really large platforms and publishers.”
What podcasts do you personally watch?
D: “Well one, I listen to my own podcast, it’s called The Big Exit. And I interview successful entrepreneurs that started from the ground up. I also watch Bigger Pockets podcast. They have lots of great content that is specific to real estate investing. As it relates to venture capital podcasts, I love 20-Minute VC.”
Gabby: “I like the mix. I like myths and legends podcasts for some good stories during the day. The Art Of Charm podcast is one of my favorites. And Did You Lock The Door podcast. That’s one of ours and it’s a true crime one.”
If I wanted to personally start a podcast, like a lot of Linktree users out there do, what would be your advice?
D: “Really simple. Just go to Sounder.fm and register for the free account. If you have audio and want to start from scratch, you can do that. If you already have a podcast and it’s hosted somewhere else, we give you the tools to easily find that podcast and import all of your content.”
“If you’re starting from scratch, understand what your purpose is. Is it just to get more listeners? Is it to monetize in the future? Is it to sell more books? Understand who you want to target. And be passionate about whatever you’re talking about. From there, you can start to think about structure.”
Every brand will have a podcast in the next three years, just like they have a blog today.
Where does podcasting go from here?
D: “Every brand will have a podcast in the next three years, just like they have a blog today. This is going to be part of every single marketer’s decision to get more leads, to monetize, to educate, to increase their brands.”
How does Linktree relate to your marketing mix?
G: “Linktree has been wonderful for Sounder because we’re really able to serve our audience specific links. We found we were changing out our one link on Instagram almost every day with whatever new content. So it just made so much more sense to move it to Linktree, and we’re actually seeing a lot more clicks as well.”
Sounder.fm has taken full advantage of all the customization options we offer. The whole page feels like a natural extension of their brand, even down to the button choice. As Gabby mentioned, you can head there to check out their blog, podcasts, and recommendations. They also have all of their social links at the bottom, so you can see their fabulous content.