- People say podcasts are on radio, what YouTube is on television. This means that you can listen to a specialized topic, with a friendly yet disembodied voice.
- In Kenya, podcasting is still relatively new. Seeing incredible growth potential, local investors are banking on podcasting.
- What is driving the popularity of podcasts as a way to learn, earn, inspire, and be inspired? Podcasting has a myriad of benefits for creators and consumers.
Marya Muloba has been in the creative industry for almost 20 years.
Her story swings between a blissful state fueled by the prospect of living the lifestyle she wanted as a designer, and one of gloom when she remembers how difficult it is to just be an artist.
A few years ago, she and her business partner, Sammy Njuguna, got a job shooting a documentary.
“It was an exciting concert,” she said, “and we couldn’t wait to get down to business.”
But there was a challenge. They did not have the necessary equipment. Ms Muloba, already hardened by the difficulties she had overcome as a singer, suggested they look for a studio partner to work with. It turned out to be a disaster. Their partners couldn’t deliver the content to them until they paid some extra money.
That day, Mr. Njuguna decided that they were going to own their studio. A few weeks ago, they launched DGi Brandem on Baricho Road in Nairobi. The multi-million shillings investment includes two music recording studios, an editing room, video and photography rooms, a band’s rehearsal space and a makeup studio.
“We are a one-stop-shop for creators, musicians, models, graphic designers…”, declares Ms. Muloba.
But it is the podcasting studio that seduces. Called the Podcast Room, the walls are covered with red velvet to make it soundproof, has three microphones and comfortable seats. Recording a podcast here wouldn’t feel like you’re having an actual conversation.
“We invested in the podcast room because audio is the future. Content creators and consumers are turning to audio not just because it’s affordable but also because it’s convenient, ”she says.
“We want to simplify creation. All a creative has to do is show up with their content and create, ”she says, adding that they charge 2,500 shillings per hour.
Realizing that the next phase of audio growth is podcasting, it’s no surprise that investors are pouring money where the ears are. Spotify, a Swedish audio and multimedia service provider, bought Anchor, a podcasting platform for $ 140 million and Gimlet for $ 200 million a few years ago.
In Kenya, podcasting is still relatively new. Seeing incredible growth potential, local investors are banking on podcasting.
The investments in audio production have come at a time when Kenyan podcasts are gaining in popularity.
Amani Maranga is one of the podcasters who has gained a cult following among men who want to listen to topics ranging from job loss, alcohol, love to fatherhood.
“You know what Amani if you had a podcast I would listen to it.” This statement from a friend is what launched Mr. Maranga into the world of podcasting.
Two words describe his podcast, Living the Truth, which averages 3,500 plays per episode: vulnerable and genuine.
“The podcast started out as a way to express myself after going through a particularly dark time in my life,” he says. “One day in December 2018, using my phone and headphones, I recorded my first podcast through the Anchor platform and downloaded it for anyone to hear.”
The second episode where he shared the experience of a man going through a divorce won him over. The episode drew 22,000 listeners with comments centered on his truth and vulnerability as a man.
“It was totally unexpected but very promising, putting me firmly on this path,” he says.
Miles away in the United States is a nurse from Kenya’s intensive care unit, Wambui Ndung’u. She is the founder of Spilled Words, a podcast launched as a creative outlet. On Spilled Words, the 27-year-old tells stories of pain, hardship, regret and success in less than 15 minutes.
“Stories are a balm for the soul, the foundation of who we are. Being a storyteller, podcasting was a natural fit. It was like a happy medium that would allow me to achieve my goals, ”says Ms. Ndung’u.
Mr. Maranga and Ms. Ndung’u represent thousands of content creators who are turning to podcasting to create and distribute content globally.
When Mr. Maranga first entered the industry, there were less than 20 podcasts in Kenya. Today there are at least 500, with new entries resulting from the pandemic.
No one knows this better than Big City Studios’ Lee Kanyottu. He has been producing podcasts for almost 10 years. His portfolio includes industry names like Sean Cardovillis and Jeff Koinange. In his studio in Nairobi’s Westlands, content creators record podcasts that he edits for distribution.
So far he has produced 12 podcasts. The producer knows podcasting is here to stay as big companies around the world are investing heavily. Locally, Big Media is embracing podcasting as valuable content as well.
What is driving the popularity of podcasts as a way to learn, earn, inspire, and be inspired? Podcasting has a myriad of benefits for creators and consumers.
Podcasting has the lowest barrier to entry. You just need a phone, headphones, a good voice, content, and a quiet space to create a podcast. It’s also an inexpensive way to produce content, as the costs associated with personnel, equipment (lighting, editing), location, wardrobe, and makeup are considerably low. In addition, the distribution is relatively easy.
“Most podcast hosts (platforms where podcasts are downloaded) are free. All you need is an email address and your content, ”adds Ms. Ndung’u.
Popular hosts around the world are Anchor, Spotify, Google and Apple podcasts and Castbox. Locally, we have Nation Audio and Afripods.
“For the public, podcasts allow them to experience media in a new way, to educate and to entertain. They are easy to access; Affordable because they use few data plans and support content on demand, ”says Maranga. In terms of media, radio remains the most accessible form of entertainment because it is affordable and versatile.
Podcasting is the future of radio. With the growth of on-demand content, viewers can choose when, where, and how they want to interact with media. They can listen to content anytime, control what they want to listen to, and use media controls like play, pause, rewind, and fast forward. The public is no longer at the mercy of the producers.
“The goal is not just to have a podcast. It’s about creating a platform that nurtures you, develops you and transcends your listeners, ”Ms. Ndung’u shares.
Her voice is peaceful and soothing to the ear; its engaging stories.
Second, podcasts aren’t intrusive. You can listen to it while cooking, running or doing laundry unlike the video. Audio is also the second best way to learn after reading because it engages the mind.
Technology has enabled the creation of realistic audio production, turning listening into an experience.
“The growth of the digital industry has provided a huge opportunity to share with the world,” Ms. Maloba said.
There are three ways that podcast producers earn income. By providing the services of a podcast producer or publisher; by recording ordered podcast series and through podcast advice and training.
Mr. Kanyottu has worked with non-governmental organizations and businesses to create personalized podcasts on thematic issues.
“Podcasting is a valuable marketing and communication tool for building your brand,” he adds.
Having high quality podcasts and professionalism cannot be overstated.
“In podcasting, poor sound quality is unforgiving and will hurt you and your brand,” Kanyottu adds.
Is there a nice return on investment for local podcasters? Ms. Ndung’u’s spilled words do not earn her any money but “it is a personal choice”.
For Mr. Maranga, it has generated considerable interest from advertisers who have brought him some income. He also invites his Living the Truth audience to support his podcast production. He invested in a mini-studio, which cost a little over 100,000 Sh.
Going forward, Mr. Maranga strives to create a culture of podcasting for African stories.
The question he is determined to answer is, “We have a lot to share and an audience eager to listen.” How to create value?