Paul Mikhaylenko has a vision for podcasts, podcasters, and listeners, too! The podcast industry expert is Founder and CEO of Listen App, and Director of Product at Trend Capital Holdings. Paul is also founder and CEO of Bloom, a CRM platform for freelancers.
Listen App is a place where podcasters can host podcast events and actually get questions and comments from their audience. This content can be recorded and maybe even used as part of an episode, if the podcast host wants.
Listen App is also a podcast player app. The app is available for Apple, with the Android version coming soon.
Observes Paul: “It’s very interesting what we’re experiencing with Clubhouse. It’s a phenomena that’s spreading to all social networks, but it particularly affects podcasters, because this is our domain.”
Listener Participation with Listen App
For podcasters interviewing guests while the audience listens in, Listen App opens up real-time engagement. A show host can encourage the audience to ask questions and challenge conversation points. “People in the audience will have questions from different angles that will actually bring tons of colour and insights,” says Paul.
“Not only that,” Paul continues, “it fosters engagement, where it’s not just this monologue that people are listening to, but they feel like the stage is open for engagement and participation, where their voices can be heard.
Listen App set to revolutionize listener engagement
The difference between all the audio apps and platforms out there and Listen App is that it’s the only social audio platform that’s utilizing the connection and participation with listeners.
“Our goal is to enable podcasters to not just have a place to interact with their audience, but to own their audience where you’re not at the mercy of some algorithm of getting access to your listeners. You actually have direct access to them. For them to join your community, they have to enter their email, and you get to capture that email.
“If you wanted to take them to another platform, you can do that. These are your listeners and you’re building them around your show and your content. You shouldn’t have to depend on a platform to for your access to them.
Moving podcasting away from the radio broadcasting model
Paul is really hoping that podcasting will move away from the strictly radio broadcasting model, where there is a limitation to a listener-engaged platform. Right now, there’s not really a good way to do that.
“What we’re creating is a platform where podcaster can host events, where they can invite their listeners to join into the conversation like you would on Clubhouse. Then you’d record those conversations and edit them. And maybe somebody asked the question that you want to share with the rest of the listener group. And on the next episode, you include that interaction in there.”
The difficulty of building podcast show communities
Paul also explores the difficulty of creating communities around podcast shows. He says: “Part of the issue is a different medium from anything else that we’ve experienced on a mass scale. The only thing in audio that we’ve done before is radio.
“Even with radio, the most you can have in terms of listener engagement is call ins, but you wouldn’t have necessarily communities built around radio stations,” Paul continues. “So the interesting thing about audio is that it’s tapping into what you might call like the last frontier of human attention available, and it’s a multitasking attention.”
Most audio liesnters are disengaged from their devices, and they’re multitasking and doing something else at the same time. And they’re receiving content strictly in this input mode, where it’s non-interactive versus if you’re on a website.
If you’re on social media consuming content, you’re looking at a screen where there are calls to action. There are other buttons and links, and you can go down rabbit holes in terms of exploring and connecting. But with audio, you don’t have any of that. It makes any interactivity incredibly difficult.
Do you even need a community around your show?
Paul is aware that some podcasters don’t necessarily even want to interact with their listeners. This is why he sees podcasting as the frontier of specific and tailored community engagement.
Says Paul: “I think we have to understand all of the pieces of the medium of how podcasting is using audio, but also what are the types of content that actually require and would flourish with, you know, a community built around them?”
Tech giants’ tug of war with podcasting
With the current power plays between the big tech giants slowly unfolding, along with major acquisitions, Paul believes many organizations are trying to take advantage of podcasting—partly because it’s under-monetized. A lot of tech companies are seeing opportunities for themselves, but not independent podcasters who create the content.
“With Spotify, they were strictly doing exclusive content to get people on their platform so they could sell subscriptions,” says Paul. “Now, Apple announced they will support paid subscriptions in their podcast app. Facebook announced they’re going to be creating similar experiences to Clubhouse in their Facebook groups and in their Facebook app.”
He says he doesn’t know if Facebook’s entry into audio will be a good experience for podcast communities or not. With the Apple subscriptions arriving, Paul notes that Apple still doesn’t have an Android app. He advises creators to think twice before using Apple subscriptions unless they know 90 percent of their users are Apple, otherwise, they will be cutting off Android users from their premium offering into which podcasters are putting a lot of time.
The future of podcasting
Paul envisions a year from now the podcasting world will contain a lot more exclusive and paid content, along with new monetization models. “Podcasters who create content need to be compensated for their work, and they need a way to feed their families and fund these projects. Right now, that doesn’t exist. Our goal is to be facilitating that for podcasters that want to have communities. Our goal is to become the dominant player for that specific application.”