- Almudena de Capo
- BBC News World
In the wave of podcasts, a new product seems to be gaining more and more followers: Recording the sound of a washing machine, a fan or the rain has become a new business and has prompted some to record this type of sound, called white noise, as a successful business.
White noise podcast makers are recreating a world of calm, helping thousands of listeners focus, calm down or fall asleep in a time of heavy noise pollution. You just have to check the lists of the most popular video and audio platforms to see the great reception of this type of content.
On YouTube you can find videos like “Celestial White Noise”, with 57 million views, or “White Noise for Babies Sleeping”, with over 28 million views. New Wave includes more and more podcasts with this type of noise, perfect for masking or covering other ambient sounds, such as cars, construction or dogs barking.
“I think everyone is looking for ways to sleep better. Some people turn to drugs. I prefer to find other ways. I’ve always found white noise and nature sounds to be the best way to aid rest,” says Todd Moore, a successful American entrepreneur who has been recording white noise for more than a dozen years, first for its app, then for the “Tmsoft White Noise Sleep Sounds” Podcast.
Moore released a free app in 2009 called “White Noise Lite,” which garnered over 170,000 reviews on Apple’s App Store alone.
“The idea of creating a white noise app came when the iPhone came out and I built an app store. One of the ideas that came to me was that since I always slept with the fan on , I wanted to see if I could record audio and upload it to a device, instead of having the fan always on, which is why it all started somehow,” recalls he.
“I started going around my house recording all kinds of different noises like the air conditioner. I would go into the yard and record crickets, rain and other nature sounds. I would put so all of this in one app. It was very simple at first. I had maybe ten sounds that I could hear all night long. That was the trick.
“The challenge was to get a sound that lasted ten hours without any interruption. That’s probably what took me the longest, but then I was able to overcome that barrier. I wasn’t trying to make money, I just thought I could help someone. So I left the platform as a free download.
“After a while I discovered that everyone was downloading and using the app. I started receiving hundreds of emails.
A few years ago, due to a growing interest in podcasts, a world that Moore had always loved, he also decided to release his soundbank in audio-only, nine-hour episodes.
“We upload new sounds every week, and they complement each other. I thought this might be a good way to bring the app closer to people.
“We started making a lot of money, we got a lot of attention and the app exploded. But no one expected us to have 50,000 listeners a day. It’s amazing,” says Moore .
With the global podcast boom, Moore’s company currently has five additional employees, three of them full-time. A legit app builder is a profitable business.
“We’re doing well,” he said only, not wanting to go into financial details.
According to a Bloomberg article, podcast platform Anchor is paying Moore a total of $12.25 per 1,000 plays. At the end of the month, the amount should be 18,375 USD (99.3 thousand Brazilian reals).
And it will only be the money collected in Anchor, not counting the amount received through the application itself, which has about one and a half million active users.
In the app, Moore also offers, in addition to the free version (which includes ads), a paid version for $2.99 ($16.20 BRL).
Despite the prevalence of these podcasts, it’s hard to know who’s really behind most of them.
“Some of them are copies. People steal sounds and repost them,” Moore commented on the difficulty of proving whether this fan who appears in some content was recorded by the creator or a hack.
Podcast monetization issues
Being able to monetize a podcast is tough. Only a few can earn a living, Francisco Izuqueza, Spanish podcaster and founder of Yes We Cast, highlights a company specializing in the production and consulting for this type of content.
“In the current context, there is more funding and resources. Therefore, there is more potential to create new formats and develop content, such as white noise. It is great that there is this option of consumption and that it is a professional activity, ”he told the BBC.
What worries Izuzquiza is the expectation created around this type of podcast, that it will be considered a “new gold rush”, with which to earn a lot of money.
“In fact, 99% of people who start podcasts, such as YouTube, blogs, and social media, earn nothing or take a long time to make money or get rich.”
The consultant says the best way to monetize them is to include dynamic ads or commercials at the start of the audio files so the white noise doesn’t cut out.
“Who knows, maybe tomorrow a brand will sponsor a white noise podcast? , pride.
white noise in latin america
White noise podcasts seem for the moment limited to the English-speaking world. Moore and Izuzquiza explain that’s because almost everything always starts in the US market.
“I don’t know people who do white noise, but some of them are meant to record ambient sounds, for example. Why doesn’t this happen in other parts of the world? I think we are not at the same level of production in the United States. This is clearly shown in the podcast,” as Izuzukiza says.
“I think there are just people doing things in the United States that haven’t been done anywhere else, and there’s also the question of demographics and the number of producers,” he says.
In Izuzquiza’s opinion, there is definitely someone making white noise in Latin America.
“I would be surprised if someone hasn’t started yet. My question is how long will it last, because chances are the amount of money raised will not be enough to make the business viable.
“We’ll see if white noise podcasts become a big thing or not,” he concludes. “It could take months or years.”
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