Swell and the Future of Audio Content

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Audio content is in many ways, the ugly duckling of the content world. When most brands put together a content strategy, they focus on text-based content like blogs and social media posts and visual content like videos and photos. Oftentimes, audio content is neglected. Audio content, whether it’s music or podcasts, is still a huge part of what makes the world go round.

Here are some quick facts about audio content:

  • As of July 22, 2013, iTunes surpassed one billion (with a b) podcast subscriptions.
  • The percentage of Americans who have listened to a podcast is 29%.
  • Streaming music sites like Spotify and Pandora are becoming increasingly popular.

Just like video content, audio content is changing. In the near future, it’s possible that like video, more audio content will be streamed than downloaded. In the last few years, new services have been popping up that stream music content. In the last few months, several services have been released that claim to be the “Spotify of podcasting.”

One of these services is Swell. Swell streams content directly to your iPhone (they are working on an Android version of the service as well). Right now, the service features mostly popular podcasts from podcasting powerhouses like NPR, the BBC, and the Wall Street Journal but as the service grows in popularity it will more than likely add more obscure podcasts as well.

Besides the benefits associated with streaming content, one other benefit of services like Swell is discovery. Audio discovery can be very difficult because audio files are not as shareable as visual or written content. It is rare that someone you follow on Twitter will share a link to a song that does not include a video or any kind of podcast. This makes it very hard for listeners of podcasts to discover great new content. Swell, like Spotify and Pandora, allows you to like podcasts you enjoyed and then suggests new podcasts based on that information. If you listened to an episode of “Stuff you Should Know,” and liked it, Swell might recommend you listen to  “the Freakonomics Podcast” for instance.

With the ability to stream content, and discover new content, it’s easy to see how podcast-streaming services could be just as disruptive to the way we listen to audio content as music-streaming services have been. Will Swell catch on? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Love podcasts? Catch up on the latest marketing tactics during your daily commute with these podcasts.