- Almudena de Capo
- BBC News World
In the podcast wave, a new product seems to be gaining more and more followers: Recording the sound of a washing machine, fan, or rain has become a new business and prompted some people to record this type of sound, known as 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 at a time of high noise pollution. You just need 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 increasingly includes 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 medication. I prefer to find other ways. I’ve always found white noise and nature sounds to be the best way to help with rest,” explains Todd Moore, an American entrepreneur of success who has recorded noises White for more than a dozen years, first for his app and then for the “Tmsoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds” podcast.
Moore started a free app in 2009 called “White Noise Lite,” which has garnered more than 170,000 reviews on the Apple App Store alone.
“The idea of creating a white noise app came out 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. That’s why it all started one way or another,” he recalls.
“I started going around my house recording all kinds of different noises like the air conditioner. I’d go out into the garden and record crickets, rain and other nature sounds. So I’d put it all into an app. It was very simple at first. I had maybe ten sounds that I could hear all night.” That was the trick.”
“The challenge was to get a sound that lasted for ten hours without any interruption. That was probably what took me the most time, but then I was able to overcome this 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 found out that everyone was downloading and using the app. I started getting 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 publish his noise bank in an audio-only version, in nine-hour episodes.
“We upload new sounds every week, and they are complementary. I thought this might be a good way to bring the app closer to people.”
“We started making a lot of money, got a lot of attention, and the app exploded. But no one expected us to have 50,000 listeners a day. It’s amazing,” Moore explains.
With the podcast world booming, Moore’s company currently has five more employees, three of whom are full-time. A legitimate app builder is a profitable business.
“We are doing well,” he confined himself to replying, unwilling to go into financial details.
According to a Bloomberg article, podcast platform Anchor pays 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 Real).
And this will be just 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 is difficult to know who is really behind most of them.
“Some of them are copies. People are stealing sounds and reposting them,” Moore commented on the difficulty of proving whether this fan that appears in certain content was recorded by the creator or a piracy.
Problems monetizing podcasts
Being able to monetize a podcast is tough. Only a few can make a living, Francisco Izuqueza, Spanish podcaster and founder of Yes We Cast, highlights a company that specializes in producing 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 consumption option 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 seen as a “new gold rush”, with which to make a lot of money.
“In fact, 99% of people who start podcasts, such as YouTube, blogs, and social media, either don’t earn anything or take a long time to earn any money or get rich.”
The consultant says that including dynamic commercials or ads at the beginning of audio files so that white noise does not interrupt itself is the best way to monetize them.
“Who knows, tomorrow a brand might sponsor a white noise podcast?” , pridect.
white noise in latin america
White noise podcasts seem to be limited to the Anglo-Saxon world at the moment. Moore and Izuzquiza explain that this is because almost everything always starts in the US market.
“I don’t know people who make white noise, but some of them are meant for recording 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 US. This is clearly shown in the podcast,” As Izuzukiza says.
“I think there are simply 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 that will last because the chances are that the amount of money raised may not be enough to make the business viable.”
“We’ll see if white noise podcasts become an important phenomenon or not,” he concludes. “It could take months or years.”
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