The digital audio market is growing at a rapid rate, thanks to the diffusion of connected devices, streaming services, content platforms and connectivity improvements that make it so easy to listen to audio on the go. As a result, there has been such an explosion of audio created, streamed and shared worldwide like never before.
Nowadays, audio is an essential part of our lives from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, whether it’s music to power us through our morning run, or a podcast to escape the morning commute, or our favourite radio station that keeps us company while we run to the park or we do gymnastics.
Moreover, the fast diffusion of the voice controlled device like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Homepod and others in connected home, in connected cars as well as in wearables will play a key role in the growing trend of audio-based technology: conversational UI is an extremely new trend, and it is also extremely dynamic. Therefore, there is no doubt that in the coming years the interactions will be largely made through audio: it is foreseen that by the end of 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through “conversations” with smart devices, while by 2022 it will reach 80%.
The digital voice-activated devices market is expected to double every year by 2020.
Audio hosting platforms: Apple Music, Soundcloud and the others
While digital music downloads are on the decline, music streaming services are soaring in popularity: it’s a fact that, in the last years, millions of people have been engaged by audio hosting platforms like Apple Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, Tidal, Google Music, Spreaker and many others. The numbers are impressive:
- Apple Music offers 30 million songs available in more than 100 countries to 40 million users;
- Soundcloud has 125 million songs available in 20 countries to 40 million of users;
- Deezer has 40 million songs that reach more than 10 million users in 180 countries;
- Google Play Music currently boasts a library of 35 million tracks across 64 countries.
Since the first experiment made by The Guardian in mid-2000s, podcast has gone through a long journey: nowadays there are an estimated 67 million monthly podcast listeners and podcasting is experiencing industry disruption with the widespread adoption of mobile devices and on-demand content streaming services. Podcast listeners spend an average of 5 hours and 7 minutes weekly on an average of 5 different podcasts (Edison Research).
Today, weekly episodes of the top-ranked podcasts may be downloaded more than a million times each. There are hundreds of thousands of active podcasts out there. And podcast listening are constantly increasing every year.
Voice controlled devices or smart speakers
Voice activated devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are the latest consumer technology products to impact the daily behavior of millions of people. Since 2014, when Amazon introduced the first smart speaker in the US market, Amazon Echo and Google Home are dramatically affecting the daily lives of Americans who own them. According to a recent study by National Public Radio and Edison Research, smart speakers are most often being used to listen to music, ask questions, listen to news and control home connected devices (lights, thermostats, tv). Almost half of those surveyed said that the products are now an essential part of their lives and two-thirds agree that they would not go back to life without their smart speakers.
Since 2014 the sells of these devices have taken off: in particular, between Christmas 2015 and Christmas 2016 the sales of Amazon Echo family devices went up more than 9x, while, on Q3 2017, Amazon has sold more than 20 million Alexa devices.
All the giant tech companies are entering or have planned to enter the market with their own devices:
- Amazon with Amazon Echo family devices
- Google with Google Home (and the personal assistant on Android)
- Apple with Homehub (and the personal assistant Siri on iPhone and iPad)
- Microsoft with Invoke, a Cortana-powered smart speaker
- Alibaba with Tmall Genie
- Samsung is working on a smart speaker powered by its new Bixby voice assistant
- Lenovo is working on its Alexa-powered smart device
- Facebook is reportedly building an Amazon Echo-like smart speaker that will launch in 2018
- Sonos is going to release a smart speaker that can support multiple voice assistants.
Quoting Forbes’ words, “smart speakers are the future of audio”.
So why should you consider audio now?
Gary Vaynerchuk summarizes as follows: “Just remember, audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. There was roughly 1.5X more audio consumed than video according to Nielsen statistics on streaming in 2016. This is HUGE. If you’re medium is voice, now is your time. Start creating today. Start a podcast, turn your blog posts into audio, develop an Alexa skill or start experimenting with Google Home. Before AR and VR and AI, audio is going to be the next major platform shift for consumer attention. It’s here today! What are you going do?”
The time for audio is now!
And you can start your own podcast in a very easy way!