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YouTube could create a video and audio relationship to compete with music streaming platforms

Cover image for YouTube could create a video and audio relationship to compete with music streaming platforms

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Photo of Annie Langston
by Annie Langston

Audio content is most often created without visuals, with creators relying on their voice to engage listeners. However, as podcasting continues to develop, more platforms are looking for differentiated ways of appealing to audio creators and enriching their content. YouTube has reportedly offered to pay podcasters to film their shows, which notably helped Joe Rogan rise in his audio fame. Although podcasts can be found on YouTube, there has not yet been a specific effort from this platform to foster audio creators or to make the platform a more audio-centred space. This reported offer may indicate YouTube’s intent to evolve its platform in a way that can foster both video and audio creators. As podcasts are still a niche format, audio represents an expansion opportunity for YouTube rather than a competitive format.

Audio creators are already incorporating visual elements into their content 

As digital audio grows its listener base, creators are finding new ways to expand their content, largely through video elements. With new tools, such as Vizzy, where audio creators can develop content-specific visuals, or Headliner, where podcasts can be made into shareable videos, there is growing audio creators demand for combining video with their content. Moreover, listeners are paying to watch their favourite audio creators live stream a podcast recording, which not only brings in more revenue for the creators but can help enrich their audience connections. Currently, audio does not have video’s mainstream reach, but by combining these mediums it could launch audio into the larger audience market – and YouTube could be the catalyst. Beyond offering to pay for podcasters to film their shows, YouTube has a crucial asset for creators; it launches careers. YouTube is the home for a variety of famous creators that range from travel influencers to world famous pop stars; could it do the same for audio creators? 

YouTube can offer audience development to foster audio careers 

Audience development is a pain point for creators and expansion opportunities are limited, e.g., signing to a podcast network, earning income from ads. Although the focus of music streaming platforms’ podcast strategies has been exclusives, the core audio audience remains underdeveloped – a potential competitive edge for YouTube to earn its space in the audio market. YouTube can not only aid in audio discovery and audio distribution features, but it can also help creators find new listeners and develop audiences through targeted promotion and tailored advertisements. In short, YouTube brings to bear the full weight of its global platform and audience. It is one thing to make a podcast available to mass audiences, and it is another to inspire those audiences to listen. Although music streaming platforms are driving forces in audio, their audiences are not necessarily adopting at scale as quickly as had been hoped. YouTube has a unique position to develop audio creators. Whereas music streaming platforms are building audio quantity, YouTube could focus on developing audiences for select few audio creators and provide the individual attention that creators are currently missing.   

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