Podcasters December 13, 2020

We're in a Podcasting Gold Rush. Is It Time to Start Selling Shovels?

Nicky @NMilner

Podcasting is projected to expand exponentially over the next few years. For maximizing your success in the space, the smart money's on building the supporting tools and platforms, instead of trying to be the next superhero content creator.

Many podcasts have seen audience numbers fall off recently due to the coronavirus pandemic (no more commuting time!). But there are good reasons to be optimistic. Mubashar Iqbal (@mubashariqbal), a prolific indie hacker with nearly 100 different projects under his belt, joined Courtland on the Indie Hackers podcast to discuss why he's bullish on the growth trajectory of podcasting.

In Mubashar's view:

In the podcast space, we're at the equivalent of the startup phase of Netflix in terms of growth opportunity.

Being a podcaster can be stressful, even if it's a labor of love for the founder. The relentless schedule of preparing great content can be difficult to sustain. Finding and securing a committed audience can be a long slog through social media or cold list targeting. Advertising revenue generation can be challenging for newer entrants. Plus, some fields are fairly crowded, especially in topics dealing with the tech industry. So interested indie hackers have choices to make, which may be influenced by their startup funding options:

  1. Create content (simplest for solo founders)
  2. Build tools for content creators (small bootstrapping teams)
  3. Build platforms for content creation and distribution (VC-track)

I find the signal in the noise from the latest startup podcasts so you don't have to. Follow along here:


Why are people so confident about the future of podcasting? Reviewing the deals space gives us some indications.

Spotify has recently been on a roll-up acquisition binge to consolidate content creators and to leverage their audio platform. Gimlet Media and Barstool Sports are creating their own media empires by gathering several different shows under one brand. Even Andrew Chen of Andreessen Horowitz anticipates a "massive increase in audio innovation will rival what we've seen for video apps over the past few years."

There are several current hot developments percolating in the podcast and audio space as well, such as:

  • Better content creation and management solutions.
  • Improved advertising management approaches.
  • New tools to help with audience attraction and management.
  • The "bundling" of content creators for economies of scale is tracking with similar movements in Youtube and TikTok creation communities.

Notwithstanding, the tools space is still far from saturated. The companies serving up content-creation tools are all generally doing well, with essentially similar product offerings. There are still lots of opportunities for innovative ideas that play into the maturation that's taking place.

Mubashar Iqbal has already staked out some ground with his active projects, aiming to make it easier for people to start, host, and promote their podcasts. To wit:

  • Podcast Review, a review site for podcast hosting and applications.
  • Podhunt, a site for curating the best new episodes.

As Mubashar puts it:

If you can make money doing something, then you can make money teaching other people to do that same thing.

  1. 2

    This is off topic but I noticed the newsletter signup in the middle of this post - I'm wondering how did you do that!

    1. 2

      Looks to be a new IH feature they're testing where you can create your own newsletter "series".

    2. 1

      i'll shoot you an email about it today

        1. 1

          better late than never? check your inbox 👍

  2. 1

    Thanks for writing this very thoughtful post. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.

    I just wanted to point out that the site "Podcast Review" which you linked to is actually devoted to reviewing podcasts themselves, not hosts and applications, and is run by me. Maybe you meant to link to a different site? Again, really enjoyed this piece.

    1. 1

      Thanks Jack!

      Sorry about the bad link - I have edited and updated to link to the correct site...

  3. 1

    Yes I listen to podcasts 2+ hrs a day and it's only increasing. Ride the wave!!

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