Case study: Audioboo (UK)

The name of the publication and / or company

Audioboo

Established

2009

Web Address

audioboo.fm

Form of the company

Ltd.

Describe your site or business in few words.

Audioboo. Because sound is social. They are a mobile & web platform that effortlessly allows you to record and share audio for your friends, family or the rest of the world to hear.

“The idea for the media product came from two reasons. The first was my mum dying and I suddenly realised her voice had gone. She had an amazing life and it was such a pity that had all gone. In 2008 we were working with Channel 4 when they were going to launch DAB radio and we realised how great it would be to have a mobile device to record and take pictures and grab location. C4 said fantastic so we sketched and built it. However the recession happened and it was clear C4 weren’t going to launch so we thought we would build it any way and in March 2009 we launched. We put it in the App store and didn’t think much more of it. But then loads of journalistic producers found usage for it: the G20 protests for Guardian and Radio One listeners massively caught on. Lots of people started using it. So the growth was quite serendipitous as we realised we were hitting a great market. The USP of the product: We’re all about real-time spoken word, whereas Soundcloud is about musics. They don’t do real-time particularly well. Our content is about trying to find clips pretty quickly. It’s focus on spoken word and audio books.”

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

How is your time divided between doing business and content?

I have 4 kids!! My life is 35% product development chewing over stuff and making sure it works, 60% business with phone calls emails meetings and 5% admin.

Business, marketing & sales, paid full-time

2 – one partnership manager who negotiates deals and the CEO.

4 developers paid full-time

 

How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability

Would you say your business model is sustainable?

“It is sustainable as much as the investors believe it is and I they think they do. After that there is big potential revenue from licences and micro payments from fans and partnerships. The golden rule is you can build tech but you need to start to do something with it. “

How much is your yearly or monthly revenue?

Hundred thousand plus start-up investment and currently sustainable.

Where does your revenue go?

Wages, administration, expenses.

How much do you pay to your contributors?

All full-time salaried.

What about profit?

If I had more money I would definitely invest in people. More developers, sales and account people to help with partnerships etc.

Membership or subscription fees (Continuity Programs), Partnerships

Do you see your publication as your main product?

“This is largely based on a freemium model. There are 400,000 users of which 5,000 have joined Audioboo plus. It is aimed at loyal users and podcasters. A new Plus tier, costing £60 annually, comes with 30 minutes recording time, updates to Facebook pages and extra iTunes podcast settings. The revenue model also relys on paying for content: like audio books and book chapters where they take a 30% cut. For example TV presenter Robert Llewellyn, who has previously posted two chapters of his book for free, which have attracted up to 20,000 listeners each. We are working with audio book specialist Audiogo who have a 10 year deal with the BBC. We are socialising their content – we offer the network as well as the functionality, publishing is quite an antiquated model and we can do something with that. It is very much about connecting and finding people who are passionate about a niche area and who are willing to pay for that with a micropayment.

What interests us is the fan club model. Potentially, there’s a market there for exclusive content from a Stephen Fry or an author to hear exclusive audio. People might be prepared to pay a small amount for that.
The other major layer is with partnerships. Audioboo pro is license deals – we want to work with big corporations to buy a bunch of functionality. It is about what we can offer to those media companies who already have significant audiences. At the six months to year period it was all about product development and proving the concept, then all business in the second year raising cash so it didn’t fall over. Now are major priority is partnerships, we have a healthy user base so we need to extent the brand and work with other media products etc. It is crucial how we see ourselves not as an internet disruptor: we want to work closely with and complement existing media models in news and new areas.
Advertising? No, as and when perhaps but it is not on our revenue model.”

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

“More people. Having a good team and employing the right people. I have never had a problem employing people who are much better at stuff than I am – some people find that hard. To others considering this approach: don’t think you have to launch a finished product. When we launched there was little right but something had to go out the door. You don’t have to be polished right from the word go, you can improve and iterate it to make it better. Simplicity is probably the biggest thing we argue about. Removing buttons and options!”