At the height of podcasting, a new product seems to be gaining more and more followers. Recording the sound of a washing machine, a fan or rain has become a new business and has led some people to make recording this type of sound known as white noise a successful way of life.
White noise podcasters recreate a world of calm with which they help thousands of listeners to concentrate, calm down or sleep in a time of high noise pollution. You only have to take a look at the lists of the most popular video and audio platforms to realize its great reception.
In addition to YouTube videos such as “Celestial White Noise”, with 57 million views, or “White noise for babies to sleep”, with more than 28 million, there are now more and more podcasts of this type of noise, ideal for masking or covering up other sounds from the environment , such as cars, construction, or a dog barking.
“I think everyone is looking for ways to sleep better. Some people turn to medication. I prefer to try other ways to help sleep better. I have always found white noise and nature sounds to be the best way to help sleep better “, explains Todd Moore, a successful American businessman who has been recording white noise for more than twelve years, first for his application and later for his podcast “Tmsoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds” .
Moore started with a free app in 2009 called “White Noise Lite” that has over 170,000 reviews in the Apple Store alone.
“The idea of creating a white noise app came about when the iPhone came out and it brought out an app store. One of the ideas I had was that since I always slept with the fan on, I wanted to see if I could record the sound and upload it as a app , instead of having to put the fan on. So I could have it on my iPhone and always take it with me. That was kind of the idea of how it all started,” recalls Moore.
“I started going around my house recording all kinds of different noises like the air conditioner. I would go out in the garden and record crickets, rain and other nature sounds. Then I put them all in one app. It was all very simple at first . I had maybe ten sounds so I could listen to it all night long. That was kind of the trick,” he says.
“How to be able to listen to the audio, for example, ten hours without any interruption. That was perhaps what took me the most time, but once that was achieved, it was just a matter of putting it in its place. At first I wasn’t trying to make any money . I just I thought maybe it could help someone I did it in free download mode
“And the next thing I knew, it was the number one app. Everyone was downloading it and using it. I started getting hundreds of emails and that’s how it all started.”
A couple of years ago, given the growing interest in podcasts, a world that he has always liked, he decided to also upload his white noise in a podcast version, in nine-hour episodes.
“We upload new sounds every week, complementary to the app. I thought maybe it would be a good way to bring the app closer to people. make quite a bit of money, get a lot of attention and it blew up, but no one expected to have 50,000 listeners a day. It’s pretty incredible,” explains Moore.
With a booming world of podcasting as Moore acknowledges, his company where he and five other people work, three of them full-time, has become, in his case, a lucrative business.
“We are doing very well,” he limits himself to answering without wanting to go into economic details.
According to an article published by Bloomberg, Anchor handles the commercial load for his podcast and pays Moore $12.25 per 1,000 plays, which works out to about $18,375 a month .
This would only be the money raised through the advertising included at the beginning of the podcast, not counting the money received through its application, in which it has one and a half million active users.
Moore also offers, along with the free version (which includes ads), a pro version of his app for $2.99.
The rise of this type of podcast seems to be limited to platforms such as Spotify, from where they have not wanted to comment on this trend.
Meanwhile, from iVoox, very popular in the Spanish-speaking world, they recognize that although they know that white noise is being a trend on other platforms, the truth is that in their case this type of audio does not occur so frequently.
Despite the proliferation of these podcasts, it is difficult to know who is really behind . “Some of the reasons why it is not easy to know who is behind this type of podcast is because some of them are copies. People steal the sounds and republish them,” explains Moore about the difficulty of proving if that fan who appears in the podcast has been recorded by the creator at home or has been pirated.
Trouble monetizing podcasts
But managing to monetize a podcast is complicated. Only a select few can make a living from this, as Francisco Izuzquiza, Spanish podcaster and founder of Yes We Cast, a company specializing in podcasting production and consultancy, points out.
“In the current context of the podcasting trend, there is more funding, more resources and therefore there is more possibility of creating new formats and developing new content such as white noise. It is wonderful that this consumption option exists and that it is an activity professional,” he tells the BBC.
What worries the host of the popular Spanish podcast “La escóbula de la compass” is the expectation created around this type of podcast and that it is seen as “a new gold rush” with which to earn a lot of money.
“Actually 99 percent of people who start a podcast, as happened with YouTube, as happened with blogs, as happened with social networks, do not earn anything or take a long time to earn some money. Let’s not say live off this, let alone get rich”.
Including commercials or dynamic advertisements at the beginning of sound files so as not to interrupt the white noise audio itself is the best way to monetize them.
“Even, why not, tomorrow a brand can sponsor a white noise podcast, for example, or any other soundscape.”
White noise in Latin America
White noise podcasts seem to be limited to the Anglo-Saxon world at the moment. Both 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 I do know people who are dedicated to recording soundscapes, for example. Why doesn’t this happen in the Hispanic world? I think because we simply aren’t at the same level of production as in the US They are always ahead. This is clearly being seen in podcasting,” says Izuzquiza.
“I think there are simply people doing things in the US that have not yet been done on a Hispanic level and then, also, for a simple matter, although I don’t know whether to say on a Hispanic level anymore, maybe if I restrict myself to Spain , for a simple question of demographics and number of producers.
“In the end, there are many more people doing this work in the US than in Spain. If we expand it to the Hispanic level, I imagine that the figures are closer, but the US is always a little ahead,” says Izuzquiza .
In his opinion, surely there is already someone making white noise in Latin America.
“I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t started by now. Now, back to my original argument. My question is how long are they going to last, because chances are that the amount of money that they’ve seen that could be feasible to make from this isn’t ends up arriving. Let’s see if it becomes a significant phenomenon or not. This takes time . It takes months or years.”
- Almudena de Cabo
- BBC News World