Podcasting has long been hailed as the ideal medium for emerging content creators looking to find an audience online. TuneIn CEO Richard Stern believes that this is no longer true. “Podcasting disproportionately benefits Top 10 hits, celebrities, brands that people recognize,” Stern recently told Protocol.
“Podcasting has a significant long-tail discovery issue,” Stern said. “Smaller content creators, who have great stories to tell, are struggling to get found, get discovered and build an audience.”
TuneIn now wants to give podcasters and other long-tail content creators a second chance with a new service tier called TuneIn On Air that promises access to all of TuneIn’s apps and more than 200 connected devices, including smart speakers and car dashboards. The company will also provide emerging broadcasters with analytics and dedicated support to get their live and linear programming off the ground.
The new service tier is being made available for free for nonprofits, while others have to pay $249 per quarter. The program is open to both existing broadcasters as well as podcasters and other content creators looking to expand their audience; Stern said that he has especially high hopes for new and emerging voices.
“One of the great things about working with emerging broadcasters is that they are a lot more open to experimentation,” he said. New creators could be hyper-focused on a niche audience, and less beholden to the types of formats that have long dominated terrestrial radio, allowing them to mix talk, music, sports and more. “Hopefully, we can drive the medium of radio forward by making space for those folks that can genuinely be disruptors,” Stern said.
The launch of TuneIn On Air comes at an interesting time for online audio: Major music subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music have spent heavily on exclusive deals with high-profile podcasters over the past two years. Spotify alone is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for exclusive deals with celebrities like Joe Rogan, Dax Shepard and Alexandra Cooper.At the same time, live audio platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces have resulted in the emergence of a new generation of creators, which is starting to look for ways to cash in on its growing audience.