The entrepreneur behind established radio streaming platform Radio.co says the podcasting market is becoming so huge that his new venture Podcast.co could dwarf it.
James Mulvany took on £300,000 debt financing from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund at the start of the year to start up Podcast.co, which is set to go live in the first quarter of 2019.
Mulvany told BusinessCloud that businesses large and small see podcasts as a way of reaching new audiences.
“Podcasting is an exciting area at the moment in terms of growth and it’s a logical next step for us,” he said.
“We haven’t brought the product to market yet but a lot of the inquiries and the leads we’re getting aren’t necessarily hobbyists or individuals – they are businesses looking to implement podcasting as part of their marketing strategy.
“More and more digital agencies are also talking to us about it as another thing they can sell to their clients: ‘you’ve got the website, you’ve got the email marketing campaign, now how about a podcast?’”
Whereas Radio.co provides the tools for users to set up and run their own radio station direct from the cloud, podcasts are purely a form of on-demand audio.
There are more than 4,000 channels operating on Manchester-based market leader Radio.co, including the likes of Vice, Unicef and Cult Records. That figure has doubled in the last year as the start-up grows organically around the world.
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However Mulvany (pictured above) says it will always be a “niche business” and expects Podcast.co to grow at three times that rate.
“If it was up to me, we’d have got into the podcast market a year before we did – but now is certainly still an exciting time to get in and there’s still a lot of growth potential ahead for podcasting as a form of media,” he said.
“In three years I’d like to be on 10-15,000 channels – we may even exceed that. I see that as perfectly achievable with the size of the market.
“Between the end of March and beginning of May, Apple had 25,000 new podcasts submitted to the iTunes directory, which shows how many are springing up each and every single month.
“Even if we take a few per cent of that, we’re on to a winner.”
The two platforms will be integrated but also operate as a standalone offering. There are currently 25 employees across both businesses, with around a quarter of those on Podcast.co.
Alongside the streaming platform, Podcast.co has developed a purpose-built studio at its Northern Quarter base which businesses and organisations can drop into and use for an affordable fee.
“We’re trying to make this accessible to people running start-ups and small businesses along with companies like the Co-op, non-profits and charities.”
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Tech such as USB microphones can also deliver studio-quality recordings wherever you are, he says.
“Ten years ago, when I was at university in Huddersfield, I ran a podcasting workshop for small businesses. Back then it was primitive, two people talking in a bar basically, whereas now it’s evolved to become a real alternative to digesting news on a website or listening to the radio.
“A lot of the entertainment podcasts such as comedy have also come along significantly in terms of the production quality.
“Podcasting’s resurgence in the last three or four years has also been fuelled by the fact that you no longer have to download them on to your computer and move them physically on to your iPod: now you can browse wherever you are and stream them over your 4G connection.
“Plus smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo make it more accessible as a form of passive entertainment when you’re cooking or doing housework.”
Mulvany expects the audience for Podcast.co to mirror that of Radio.co, with half of their customers based in the USA.
He is looking closer to home to start with, helping trade body Manchester Digital get its new podcast off the ground which will communicate tech developments in the city to its members.
“It’s really valuable as market research for us – from a sales and marketing perspective – to see what people’s worries are and to help them produce the best result possible,” he added.
Podcast.co is also working on podcasts with Intern Magazine and the People’s History Museum, both of which it expects to publish sometime in the autumn.
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