|Eana Maniebo |||May 04, 2015 08:52 AM EDT|
SoundCloud announced it would be offering its then-beta podcasting feature to the public on Tuesday, according to several sources.
"We're taking podcasting out of beta. It's never been easier to tell stories, upload and share them across the web, as well as in podcast apps," SoundCloud said in a blog post. "SoundCloud is perfect for podcasters looking for an intuitive hosting platform that's built on the most stable infrastructure and provides the most detailed statistics to help you understand and grow your audience."
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To use the new feature, podcasters need only to upload their first file, click the permissions tab, and tick "Include in RSS feed" option. The RSS feed URL will then be displayed on the content tab of the account settings page. Through embeddable players and social network integration, reaching new audiences has been made easier as well for podcasters.
SoundCloud noted that over 15,000 podcasters took part of testing the podcasting platform's beta version. These podcasters helped SoundCloud develop the podcasting platform over the years.
Pulse.ng reported that the new podcasting service is free for three hours of audio uploads. A premium service is also available for serious podcasters for $55 annually for six hours of monthly audio uploads, and $135 annually for unlimited hosting.
SoundCloud's move could not have come at a better time. With podcast downloads reaching record heights, foraying into the podcasting business is indeed a smart and lucrative option for both broadcasters and advertisers.
According to data from The New York Times, podcasting was up year-over-year by 25 percent and has reached some 40 million people in 2014. "Serial," a non-fiction podcast centered on investigating the death of a high-school student back in the mid-1990s, was hailed to be the savior of the medium, having taken a sort of growth plateau for quite some time now. Serial was downloaded and streamed for over 4 million times, The Guardian noted in a report. Ad Age, however, noted that the show got 31 million downloads as of December last year.
MailChimp, the show's launch partner and advertiser, was said to have earned advertising revenues from the show based on an audience estimate, Ad Age noted. No wonder "Serial" was inundated with calls from advertisers inquiring for a spot on its program.
SoundCloud's entry to the field will be met with undeniably stern competition, both from new and established platforms such as Slate's Panoply, Audioboom (LSE:BOOM), and Spotify.
Panoply, a podcasting platform supported by Slate's framework, has already been offering its services to The New York Times Magazine, the Huffington Post, Inc., Popular Science, and New York Magazine, Mashable said in a report. It also allows clients to choose from three podcasting features: "production, audience development or distribution and sales."
Audioboom, a similar platform that is available to both large-scale media companies and individual content partners including The BBC, CBS, talkSPORT and TIME Magazine, and most recently, Russell Brand, has also widened its scope to include in-car listeners with its new partnership with Aupeo.
Spotify was reported to be coming out with its own podcasting platform soon as well to corner a slice of the market. It is yet to be known whether this platform could deliver, but it only goes to show that podcasting has exerted a tremendous influence on the business models of such audio streaming platforms.
According to Edison Research's 2014 Fall Share of Ear study, podcast listeners dedicate about 6 hours and 8 minutes daily in consuming audio. "There are some significant trends: If you are a daily listener of podcasts, you listen to more podcast audio than any other form of audio," Edison Research said in the report, which it released in January.
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