Episode 5: June 16, 2021

A conversation with Alex Riesenkampff, co-founder of Vokl, a new interactive podcasting platform.

Episode 5: June 16, 2021

Show Notes

Deep Dive
A conversation with Alex Riesenkampff, co-founder of Vokl, a new interactive podcasting platform.


  • Gregarious Narain (@gregarious)
  • Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung)


  • Alex Riesenkampff (@getvokl)

News Topics

influence.co | CreatorScape 2021 - A Map of the Creator Economy
influence.co is the largest influencer marketing professional community. We help influencers & businesses connect, learn, and work with their peers.
Creator Earnings: Benchmark Report 2021
Welcome to one of the first looks into the Creator Economy by way of a Creator Earnings Benchmark Report. We surveyed 2000 creators!
TikTok Signs as VidCon Title Sponsor for 2021, Taking Spot From YouTube (EXCLUSIVE)
VidCon was first held in 2010, and in its earliest years it was closely aligned with YouTube. And YouTube, looking to support the event for digital video creators, has been the lead sponsor for the…
Newsletters were supposed to be the Wild West. Enter Sheriff Google.
The newsletters business is booming, and Substack along with it. But one big thing still stands between writers and their readers: Google and its mysterious Gmail inbox filter.
Will Apple end the newsletter boom?
Some spell doom for Substack, but it’s likely a false alarm
Facebook Previews Its Clubhouse Competitor; Q&A with Gumroad’s Sahil Lavingia
Last week we wrote how Clubhouse was on a hiring spree that should help improve the quality of its audio and programming. The updates can’t come soon enough. On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a tour of its Clubhouse competitor, making Facebook the second large tech company after ...
Apple Podcasts Subscriptions and Channels now available - 9to5Mac
Apple is now rolling out its new podcast subscription and channels initiative. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions allow creators to host bonus content and ad-free versions of their shows, in exchange for a monthly subscription. You can now listen to 9to5Mac Happy Hour ad–free, for instance. Apple has part…
Spotify launches its live audio app and Clubhouse rival, Spotify Greenroom – TechCrunch
In March, Spotify announced it was acquiring the company behind the sports-focused audio app Locker Room to help speed its entry into the live audio market. Today, the company is making good on that deal with the launch of Spotify Greenroom, a new mobile app that allows Spotify users worldwide to j…
Podcasts start coming to Facebook next week
Podcasters can also opt into have clips of their show made.



Gregarious Narain  0:23
Hello, welcome back to the creative economy, our weekly news show on everything happening in the crater economy. I'm Greg Marine, one of your hosts joined by my friend, Ken. Hello, hello. All right, well, we're glad to have you here. And in case you don't know if this is your first time tuning in, what we do here is we bring you a roundup of all the latest news and commentary. We bring in amazing founders and startups and try to interview them and get their point of view on what's happening in the creative economy. Our goal is to take a deep dive into the space and give you everything you need to know to understand what's happening. We do go live on Wednesdays at 3pm. This is our fifth week in a row, then we're about to take a break, sorry.

Gregarious Narain  1:07
But in case you don't know, you can find out more over at http://created.show is the official Show page has a list of all of our upcoming episodes. You can RSVP over there. We also stream live so if you're listening or hearing us right now, you may be listening on clubhouse, you may be on a Twitter space. You also could be watching us on Facebook, YouTube, or twitch or LinkedIn live, by the way. So pick your poison, whatever you prefer, we've got you covered no matter where you are. This is an interactive show, though. So I think it's important for you to remember that the way we run the show is that Ken and I will do the note the news, holy crap shut up for the first 10 minutes or so. And then after that, we will actually bring Alex in our guest to join us in a bit of Convo, to reflect on the news. But that is also your chance to jump in. So if you're listening, get your hands raised buttons ready. If you're out there watching on video, feel free to leave a comment. But we bring our guests in live, they will also react to the news, then we'll have a small bit of an interview with Alex and talk to him and do a deep dive, maybe even get a demo of what he's building. And then after that, we'll probably do a little bit of

Gregarious Narain  2:15
of our after dark. But maybe today I have to go have a family emergency. But what we can do is is that if you would like to join into the questioning or anything along the way, by all means just raise your hand. And we'll try to make it as interactive as possible today. So last little bit of housekeeping. We do write posts, the show notes and all of our transcripts everything over at creative economy comm it's our official Show page at our site. And in addition, you will be able to follow along on Twitter at att created economy because we live to share all of the links from today's episode as we go through the story. So Ken, let's jump right into it. I may have to go even sooner than I thought. But I apologize. But you're in good hands. Alex is here today. So do you want to say hi, before we jump into it?

Ken Yeung  3:06
Well, I think you know, let's jump right into it. But Hello, hello. Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the show. And we got an exciting week of news. So, Greg, I think you are first up on what's going on.

The News

Gregarious Narain  3:20
All right. Yes. So welcome back to episode five, June 16th. Follow us in real-time, as I mentioned at creator economy, Ken will be sharing links to every article we mentioned right now. So what's happening in the news, let's jump into some crater economics for start. I have a lot of research actually that came out in the last week or so. So I'm happy to share that our friend Neil Robertson, who was here just a few weeks ago, CEO of influence co they have released their 2021 creator escape. If you don't aren't familiar with the creator escapes, it's a great vantage point on sort of an attempt to organize all of the crazy companies inside of the greater economy into a variety of buckets. I forgot how many I think there's like 500 plus companies or something in this crater scape alone. I know at least a couple of my companies are in here. So I was happy to see that we made it finally. But you can find out more Ken's just shared a link by the way. So take a look. But you can head over and download the creators cape. Neil is going to have a long-form post coming out on his newsletter soon. And in addition, he usually releases the data set. So if you want to do any other work on it, you'll be able to get to it from there. Another bit of research that I did see come out this week that I thought was just super interesting. Ken and I were chatting about this I have a number of surprises in here. But there's a creator earnings benchmark report that was done by Neoreach an influencer marketing hub. Now I will caveat and say that Neoreach tends to reach an Instagram-centric or heavy audience I would say. So some of these findings may be skewed a little bit like maybe not necessarily representative of the entire crater economy but still some really cool things out there. Right. A couple of the top lines that I did see, you know in their summary you're at $100 million in venture capital's government invest in the creator economy since October 2020. That adeste insane, right? almost a billion dollars since October. Another thing that they saw the total creator, economy market size is estimated to be around $104.2 billion. I was like, I've always wondered what this number was, I really wasn't sure what the methodology was, but I thought was really interesting. But they do line it up with the gig economy and sort of that trajectory. And so there's an opportunity potentially for to be into the trillions going forward. And what was your other favorite decision example of like, where I think the skewing is a little weird. 70, who percent of creators prefer Instagram identify it as their primary content platform, that's probably going to be true with Neo reach is sort of like, you know, the originating source not to say that creators don't prefer or like Instagram. But I think that maybe just a little bit high in general. So check the comments, check our Twitter if you want access to a link to that research as well. This was a the last one, I think that I had in this batch. I might be wrong, though. But the war on Apple just continues. This week, we saw a really interesting and amazing thread come out from Jasmine, I believe she's one of the cofounders of fan house and Apple basically cracked down recently, and suddenly, like rewrote their their rules to include creator apps into sort of their new 30% fees. And so there's been some interesting dynamics here, because and the fat house folks put together this great video and they have like all these creators talking about like what 30% means to them. Right. In case you're not aware, we talked about a little bit last week, but you know, the natural fee on Amazon Apple for at Google also. Right, Kim?

Ken Yeung  6:51
Yep, it's Google and Apple are all taking like 30% that's what 30% Yeah, they're getting there in a bunch of hot water over that with everything.

Gregarious Narain  6:59
So there's a lot of people Li Jin's written a post about is, you know, is Apple holding back the creator economy. Now they've gone after Fanhouse, which was doing maybe about a million dollars a year, I believe in bookings through their app. And but that fan house only takes 10%. And so suddenly, now, they want to take a third and what you know, Fanhouse Jasmine was suggesting was like, Hey, why don't you take a third of what we take? Right? Like, we'd be okay with that. But taking a third off the top from the Creator is pretty egregious. The interesting loophole here, Patreon, which does have an app opens a web view to process transcriptions, and is somehow site is skirted around this sort of behavior. And so there's been a lot of people sort of asking a question, it's like, well, if Patreon is really procreator, why aren't they doing more speaking of putting their voice and their weight behind this to get more people exempted in? I don't know if that's entirely fair. But either way, this war is brewing and, you know, I'm just really interested to see where it tracks to in the future.

Ken Yeung  7:55
Get Is this you? Yep. Everything, everything on the rest of this deck is for me, actually. Awesome. Okay. Yeah, we'll

Gregarious Narain  8:01
be back in a minute. Let me just check out my my son.

Ken Yeung  8:03
Alright, so I'm going to switch over here. Let me move to this one here. Sorry. So we're talking about the creator economy here. And so the first story that we have on my list is from Tick Tock is from variety, talking about how VidCon title sponsor will be Tick Tock this year. Now, for since 2013. YouTube has been the title sponsor, but it's almost like it's a passing of the torch when Tick Tock took over. So as part of this, they're going to have top talent and their executives that are going to be part of VidCon main tracks, they're going to be able to, they're going to have their, their, their, their, they're going to broaden their reach. And it's almost it's shocking to see that YouTube's taking over, in this capacity, I'm sorry, is being ousted in this capacity, because for a long time, YouTube creators have been kind of like the big thing in the space. And now this is almost like tic tocs, taking the crown and now, social media and the Creator Academy is all saying, look, this is the way to go. But if you look at where creators are going and where brands are going, it's really not Tick tock, it's still with Facebook. So how long will will tic toc remain as the title sponsor for years to come? That'd be interesting to see. Alright, so our next one is around newsletters. Look, everyone loves the emails. I mean, who doesn't write me but so there's been a lot of news, news, pun intended around newsletters. And so the first one is those that are on the sub getting subs, receiving substack newsletters, or review newsletters or anything like that. The problem that that servicing is how can those newsletters get through when with those that are on with readers that have Gmail or Google email service, right? Because the spam filters are filtering out these newsletters and so that could hinder the delivery and reception of these abuses. letters for creators. Another concern is Apple's new privacy setting that came out with mail that was announced at WWDC where users of Apple Mail can now prevent tracking. So creators newsletters graders won't be able to know if somebody has actually read their, their newsletter won't be able to see which links have been clicked, which could potentially impact future revenue, if they have any, like affiliate links, or anything of the sort that requires that would help boost their business. Now, in the past few weeks, again, on the newsletter side, Facebook's supposed to come out with their version of substack, which is called bullets. And the downside here is that it's not going to be a free for all very much like substack. It's what they're going to be curating it specifically towards the newsletter writers that they want. And it's not going to be around all topics, it would be specific things like maybe food or travel, but not really politics or anything super controversial. But so don't hold your breath in terms of getting access to the bulletin. It'll be very curated. And it'll be privy to those that Facebook curious favor on. Now. Another thing for newsletters is coming from review, which is now owned by Twitter. They're going to make it easier for people to subscribe to reviews newsletters with a prompt that's going to be available on the BIOS directly on Twitter profiles. So that'll hopefully increase subscriptions for creators. And we'll see how that goes. I mean, would you be interested in this would just help you to further your audience, let me know.

Gregarious Narain  11:41
If you have a newsletter right now, drop a link in the comments so everyone can see it. We'd love to know and raise your hand we'd love to chat with you about after.

Ken Yeung  11:49
All right. So Fitbit, who doesn't love social audio? I mean, that's the name of the game. Right? And yesterday, Facebook tested out its clubhouse competitor, which but there's no expert no real timeline on when that's actually going to be released. But it was it based on people that attended the private Well, not really private, the public preview of this service, it's basically seemed very similar to clubhouse. So that I don't know if if I'm impressed or worried about Facebook. I mean, it's like it's kind of like, hey, Alright, we're going to do social audio. It's kind of expected. what's the what's the bells and whistles, what's really going to stand out and it's probably going to be Facebook's tremendous reach that you can have very similar to Twitter for over clubhouse. I know we've had conversations in the past about can clubhouse survive with all these up-and-coming services. And whether or not clubhouse is more like a feature versus an actual platform. So you know, the heat is on for clubhouse to find ways to differentiate itself. And as we get further into the news, this is going to be pretty apparent that clubhouse has its work cut out for it. And now talking about clubhouse and podcasting, which will lead us to our great conversation with Alex. Let's talk about podcast, right. So Apple announced this subscription service there they just launched subscriptions and channel offerings. So now you can do now creators with podcasts can do in-app subscriptions and, and have offered specific bonus content for paying listeners. Spotify announced their clubhouse, a spin-off called or rival rather called Green Room, which basically turns your live audio into a podcast. So it does it all in one fell swoop. Right. So this is actually pretty good for competitors. And now Facebook, supposedly next week is going to launch podcast support on pages. So you're going to be able to not only curate your, your podcast directly onto your fan page or your own page via an RSS feed, but you're also gonna be able to include snippets as well. And again, I think Facebook's advantage here is the reach that you can have on the social network. So I mean, there's a lot of podcasting news, a lot of newsletter news that's happening this week. Very curious to hear what Alex thinks in terms of all of this going down. So next thing here is when you are if you want to find out everything that's going on here with the creator economy, be sure to check out our Flipboard magazine at creating an economy and we can go from there. That'll have not only just all the articles we curated today, for this week, but it's also going to include it also has a magazine where you're gonna be able to see everything that's going on in a greater economy, the latest news that you won't be able to that we won't necessarily be able to cover on the show. And now, let's talk to Alex. Let's bring him on. Hello. Hello, Alex.

The Interview

Alex Riesenkampff  14:59
Hey, Thanks. So good. Thank you so much for having me really excited to be here. I really hope that Greg's emergency is nothing serious.

Ken Yeung  15:10
Oh, I'm sure I'm sure he's fine. I mean, he's, you know, those entrepreneurs are just always so busy with everything. So I'm sure everything is fine. And he'll be back to join us soon. But in the meantime, you and I can have a great conversation without him. horning in on, on things. And we can, we can get down into the nitty gritty about what's going on with podcasting. So, so Alex, before we, before we get into it, why don't you introduce yourself to our audience and tell us what you're doing with get vocal and podcasting.

Alex Riesenkampff  15:42
Perfect would love to. So I'm the CEO and founder of vocal, and we think of it as a clubhouse with video, right? Or stream yard with a social aspect and a discovery component connected to all of that, right? Or another way of thinking of vocal would be twitch for podcasters. That's what we do. And the hypothesis that we have is that podcasting really is it's a medium that is changing. And, and, and it's converging with all kinds of other mediums. And, you know, social audio is, is one form of that. And we're very much banking on this trend.

Ken Yeung  16:35
Cool. So where do you seeing in terms of, you know, you look, we were talking about I was talking about the all the podcasting news that's going on with Apple, with Spotify, with Facebook, like what do you make off of all of that is? And where do you see the podcasting landscape kind of going? Is this the right move for this is, Are you surprised by any of this?

Alex Riesenkampff  17:00
Well, I'm surprised at how quickly things are happening. So if you think about podcasting in the house, how long did it take us to go from I don't know, 2006 when podcasting really started becoming a thing to, let's say, a year ago, and how things has accelerated since the pandemic. And yes, podcasting was very much a mainstream phenomenon, especially in the United States, also some other markets. But yeah, it's insane how much is happening. So I kind of had even though I'm in this space, as a founder, I look to you guys to keep me up to date on everything that's going on, because it's just too much to sort of source the news I need to digest Well, that's what I'd love you guys for.

Ken Yeung  17:47
So what is it tell you in terms of what you're doing with get vocal in terms of making podcasting interactive, and, and helping to optimize what you can get out of it? Right. I mean, you look at like podcasting has been around for many years, this is nothing new, right? It's like turning a conversation on audio conversation into something that people subscribe to, like that was, you know, early 2000s, probably at the very least, but it obviously hit its hit this Renaissance, what you know, with Apple, Apple, and Spotify and everything like that, in the past few years. But it doesn't seem like the innovation that we're seeing now is only kicking in, like at this moment. Right. And but why would you? Why is that? Like, what is held podcast podcasting? back?

Alex Riesenkampff  18:41
That's a really good question. And I don't know the answer to that. But I have some ideas. Right. I think podcasting has been held back to a large extent, because there was a lack of a business model, right? Like you've had, you've had creators on all kinds of other platforms, making big and podcasters are just recently starting to really have the ability to make an income. And what I mean by that is that the business model for podcasting has been ads. And that really only works for a very, very small sliver of the podcasters, which are the you know, the top of the top who have an audience that's large enough for ad insertion and those kind of things to make sense, right? Yet, you have this amazing captive audience, I think in what was it 2019 or 2020. I can't really remember exactly which of the year that was 40% almost of the of the US households were listening to podcasts on a monthly basis. So that is, you know, it's the lack of the business model has been keeping holding podcasting back in some ways. On the other hand, you have this amazing audience that is still growing, even though podcasting is very much mainstream already. And I think the magic here is that because podcasting has been so, so late to be commercialized, it is one of the mediums of digital content that is the most authentic, right? Because the folks, the creators, the podcasters, in this case, that create, do it for the passion of what they're creating more than the ability to monetize. And now I feel like there's not, I mean, it's sort of, we're seeing this trend being supercharged, but it's already been ongoing for a couple years, right, that Patreon, being one of the platforms that made it gave lots of podcasters the opportunity to monetize that that wasn't there before. I think now these two things are coming together, right, where we're moving into the world where podcasters, like other creators are able to monetize on lots of different platforms, and now really start to be able to leverage the incredible reach an audience that they have. And so now this is coming together. And that's why I think podcasting is having this incredible moment, with pretty much everyone wanting to be part of the party. And then of course, the hype that has been sparked by clubhouse accelerates this whole thing.

Ken Yeung  21:51
So you would say that the the social audio space with all this live audio, is this accelerant in terms of how you do podcasting?

Alex Riesenkampff  22:04
It's one component accelerant? I think, it's not the main factor, I would say, if you say social audio, to me, that means why social audio, right, like I still don't see clubhouse, figuring out how to create really high quality podcasts that are going to be consumed asynchronously. So I see social audio more as a subset of podcasting. So it's one aspect of it that I think has created a lot of hype. But the real, the real trend is the convergence of models to monetize podcasting, and lots of the platforms like Spotify realizing, okay, podcasting talent, we're going to spend big money on Joe Rogan or whoever. I think that's almost the bigger trend that's happening. But there's all these ways of monetizing that go beyond just the ad model for podcasting, which was never going to make podcasting, a truly commercial. Medium. And I think now that's happening, right. And so I feel that podcasting. If you think about the creative economy, if you think about the passionate economy, podcasting is probably the content vertical that is benefiting from what the passionate economy is the most.

Ken Yeung  23:34
So let's talk about the what you're doing with a vocal. And we have a question from from Harrison, is like what do you think about podcasts by major broadcasters, like msnbc? Right, are we and obviously, the, I guess, in terms of the media, you look at like the new york times the daily, there's a lot of these other major networks that are kind of doing as an extension of like, they have a tremendous reach traditionally, anyways, right through through television, like we have no, I have no access to get my to have that reach on on TV, or anything else short of the internet, right? But then they're also branching off into, hey, we're gonna do this podcast, so you can listen to it on as you go, or whatever. What do you think about that?

Alex Riesenkampff  24:22
So, two questions, right. Overall, what do I think about major publishers, let's call it that also do a podcaster. And I think, you know, like the New York Times having a podcast that's one category or other big creators that say that are youtubers first or other, you know, other platform creators first, that also do podcasters. That's one thing. And then the other thing that I see is podcasts or creators that came up and being podcasters and This huge sort of long tail of that group. So if we look at the first group, which are publishers, like the New York Times, we've been seeing this for a couple of years, right? podcasting is such a, such a mainstream medium that pretty much everyone needs to also release a podcast. Right. And that just happening that's adding to the available content. That's obviously increasing competition. And that's also, I think, it's making the discovery of podcasting more difficult. And with that opening an opportunity for players like Spotify, who really said, okay, we want to curate podcasts. And we want to solve the discovery issue with that, right? Then you have the group of, let's say, celebrities, influencers, who feel like, you know, in addition to the book deal that they do, they also need to start releasing a podcast, I don't really have that much knowledge or also an opinion about that. I just, I think it's proof that podcasting is such an established medium that you know, you just have to do it, right. It's kind of like a newsletter, everyone needs to have a newsletter if they if they're serious about anything. But then you have the group of creators who are podcasters. First, and that's the group that I'm really excited about, and that we're focusing on with vocal. And where I feel there's lots of potential of helping these folks who in many cases, are still not really pulling an income from their, from their, from their craft, like other creators are, to an extent that they're able to, I don't know, quit their day jobs, right. These are like really normal people that don't have major exposure yet. And I'm saying yet, because I think that there's not just us, but there's a bunch of other players out there who are looking to change that and give a whole new cohort of creators podcasters, in this case, the ability to quit their day jobs and really focus full time on what they're passionate.

Ken Yeung  27:17
So earlier on, Greg was talking about this report, that they had a bunch of statistics on the creative economy. One thing that that that has me startled, is that there's less than half of those surveyed said that they're able to earn a livable wage off of what they're doing right off of being a creator. And there's something that you said, Alex, of how people are trying to earn, like in terms of podcasting, they're not able to earn as much as probably other those other creators that are using different form factors. Why is it that creators podcast creators aren't, you know, are there's that there's that inequality in terms of that that value? And then let's talk about what you're doing at vocal, where I mean, you're, you're not just like, hey, let's, we're going to help host your, your podcast, we're going to help monetize, we're gonna help optimize and enhance what you have. So it's not just this audio file that people you know, can download onto their phone or, or listen to on, you know, their computer or wherever, on the go, like, what is it that you're doing that what is that secret sauce that's really going to transform this the landscape?

Alex Riesenkampff  28:40
But the two things are totally related. Right. The first part of your question, why are podcasters behind when it comes to monetizing? as, you know, I wouldn't say I'm an authority on this, but I have strong ideas. So first, and I think this is the major aspect. podcasting is a highly fragmented, medium, right? You have I think, in the US alone, by now you have close to a million podcasters listed on Apple podcasts. And so the average audience is small, right? But that said, You have tons of podcasters, who have an extremely loyal yet small and fragmented audience. And so the business model traditionally for you know, just any kind of content monetization online, which has been ad-based. It's just never really worked for these folks just didn't work right. Then it wasn't worth it, essentially for the advertisers to figure out a way to do to make The ad model worked for this group of highly fragmented creators. Until that's, I think, one of the reasons and then also, you know, podcasts are a long-form, content type, right? Like, you can browse through lots more YouTube videos in the time that it takes you to really be engaged with one podcast episode that might take half an hour or even more than that. Right. So I think that's another aspect. And then finally, I think that because podcasting is an audio format. It doesn't really lend itself to all the, you know, online marketing magic that you can implement when you're watching a YouTube video or when you're I don't know, watching some Instagram influencer, and there's a shop now button or whatever it is, right. And so essentially, the way that we think about podcasting is that the only way to change that is to also and this is hard, right? This is really hard. The only way to change that is to also expand what a podcast actually does. Right? So the first thing that you need to do and this is what we're doing is we're making it very easy for podcasters to add a visual component to their show, right? Number one, number two, we're making it very easy for podcasters to do their show live. Why is that exciting? Well, if you do something live, same as we're doing in this show, right here. And, you know, soon when we, when we bring out our version two of the platform, I'm gonna have a chat with you guys to move you over to our platform.

Ken Yeung  31:49
But was this was it a sales pitch right there?

Alex Riesenkampff  31:53
Hardly, hardly. I that was more like that's gonna happen right? Now. But live is important because it gives you a totally different or not you as a creator, but it gives your audience a totally different angle of access to you. That's what's exciting about live right and the club hasn't totally proven that like the magic of that immediate access. So kind of making your audience part of the content. But then also what we're doing, and this is something that we haven't done. So there's like, get vocal that's like the 1.0 platform that we've iterated on a lot. And now we're about to launch vocal 2.0. And what vocal 2.0 has is, whilst enabling that interactivity to make your audience part of the content, it also has lots of features built in to help creators still run a really tight show, right. And so we're leveraging mental models from, you know, TV, or radio, or all these kinds of things to allow for production value. And now, that's really important. Because if your live show doesn't have production value, and it just an unstructured conversation, it might be interesting and appealing live, but it's never going to be appealing on-demand and asynchronously. And so what we're doing is we're helping these creators, right, the podcasters, to add a visual layer, make it live, but at the same time, enhance the production value so that they can, without much editing, create asynchronous podcast episode from that afterward, right. And then one of the things that we do is that we also record local audio tracks, so there's no infringement when the bandwidth sucks and stuff like that, right. So it's really sort of thinking about holistically, how can we leverage some of the best practices that other platforms have pioneered like twitch when it comes to you know, live monetization, those kinds of things, but really tailor that to the creative workflow that podcasters have, which still at the end means you want to have an on-demand consumable audio-only file like you can download everywhere, Spotify, wherever.

Ken Yeung  34:21
Are you guys are vocal is is platform agnostic. is am I correct? In that like in terms of, if I so take where say we take this show, and we and we use vocal. It doesn't matter that we're like, oh, we see a lot of our audience on Apple podcasts or Google podcasts or Spotify slash anchor slash green room or whatever, like, you play relatively nice with the distribution platforms. Correct.

Alex Riesenkampff  34:54
So we're we are not a podcast hosting platform. Right. So what you're gonna do is you're going to do your thing on vocal, right? And then you'll have the audio recording in high quality. And then you just go and distributed that to whatever podcast hosting platform you want and make it go everywhere, right? So we're not competing with that process at all. We're just supporting it.

Ken Yeung  35:24
So what are the type of creators that you're looking for? Like, how long again? How long has vocal been around? And for those that are listening or those that will be watching? Like, how? What are some of the creators are looking for? Obviously, you're not necessarily looking for those from the New York Times or MSNBC, although I don't think you'd be opposed to that. But like, what, like, what, what are some of the who are some of the creators? What kind of genre takes or focuses Are you looking at?

Alex Riesenkampff  35:57
So we experimented with a bunch of different content categories, right? We even curated some, that was some experiments that we were running last year, where we said, Wednesday night, there is going to be, you know, dating, relationship and sexuality. Thursday is going to be true crime, Thursday, Friday, sand and Friday, all about, you know, like, nerd culture, and so on. And already, even though we, you know, we only grew the platform to a couple 100 creators who were actively creating before we then sort of like, brought it back to the garage in September of last year. It was super diverse already, I would say. So, I would say that the type of crater that we're looking for are really those that in the beginning, and you know, the New York Times come knocking to say, hey, we'd love your platform, we want to use it, as you say, we're not going to lock them out. But the type of crater really, that we're focusing on, are those that already have a small core of super loyal, loyal fans that feel like the podcaster. And then what's amazing about podcasters, I would say, are more love than most other digital content creators. And the reason is that, you know, you're not like, in many cases, podcasters aren't just a form of entertainment. podcasters become really important source of inspiration of, of console consoling, of whatever right of advice for people in their lives. And, and so we're looking for people that have that kind of relationship, and that kind of impact on the lives of their fans. Whatever content they might be doing whatever topics they might be covering, and who are not yet, we have not yet figured out how to really make a living out of that. That's who we're going after.

Ken Yeung  38:08
And so, what are some of the, you know, aside from this, like, obviously, we're, we're, we're five episodes into the show. And, you know, I will admit that this is the first time I've ever done, you know, a podcast, right? Not sure if I'm doing it right or not, but like, how would you explain to me, like, what, what advice would you give to me and to future or current podcasters? Who wants to, you know, enhance their, their, what they're doing, enhance their shows? Like, what is some things that we need to be thinking about, in order to, to, to move to this next step? Because you're, you know, you're talking about interactive podcasting, I'm like, Oh, wait, so I should just go on to, you know, have like the all these bells and whistles and, and simultaneously stream not only through stream yard, but also do it through clubhouse and Twitter spaces, and then go on to LinkedIn, and YouTube and Twitch and everything like that. And it's like this, you know, how many how overstretched can you get? But it's like, Is there a simpler way? Or are we overthinking it? Like, what are some things we need to be pondering as we start to whereas we start to think, Hey, I want to be willing to take this a little bit more seriously, or I want to become an I want to make a living off of this?

Alex Riesenkampff  39:28
Well, the first thing is, there are so many podcasters that if you just approach becoming a podcaster in the in the classical sense of once a week, I'm going to release an audio-only episode. I think it's going to be extremely difficult for you to reach any critical mass. It's just the competition is insane. And still, the discovery of new podcasters is a problem that is not solved nearly as well as, for example, discovery of creators on YouTube or Instagram or whatever other platform. So what am I saying is, I think you need to embrace the concept that we call interactive podcasting that blurs the line between what is podcasting? What is, you know, live streaming? And those kinds of things, right, I think you need to think of it as, okay, yes, podcast. First, it's about the conversation, it's about the audio content. But we need to have a visual component to make it more sticky, to make it more discoverable to be able to send it to all these other places, that's one than the other thing. That's why I love the show that you guys are doing, you're making me go to all these different places, right. And there's a bunch of built-in features that stream yard already provides. But there's a bunch of other things that you guys are doing, or more attacking and putting together, right, and I watched the first episode that you guys did, and we're like, fuck all these buttons, I have my clubhouse here, I have this year in that here. So what we're at, we're not going to be perfect at this ever, probably. But that's really what we're focusing on how can we take the pain? Or could dissuade the skill that is required to do all of that. And reduce that skill level, but reduce the hurdle and more or less, even for someone who's not technically savvy, make that an available option. And the combination of the two I think is, is really, that's then you're really solving problems for people and giving them new opportunities.

Ken Yeung  41:54
This, you wrote a medium post about the birth of interactive podcasting. And as you're talking, you mentioned, twitch and there's a paragraph in your, in your blog post that talks about, you know, how the transforming the way a podcast is perceived, right? I mean, I think we kind of default, like, oh is a podcast, like just audio-only right? But then there's video shows like this, which technically is called a video podcast or a podcast? I don't know. It's like, the definition is it's more like Potato Potato type of thing. Yeah, but you know it, but it's, I'm curious. How again, and I think this is a good opportunity for vocal is how do you elevate the interactivity that it likes to capture the success that twitch had in terms of just live streaming? And take it and put it into the podcasting side, right. I mean, it's one thing to say, okay, we can just, you can now go live with an audience instead of just having a pre-recorded, right. It's like instead of, instead of scripted, you can do Oh, with now it's taped in front of us now recording in front of a live studio audience, right. That's basically, you know, you guys were ahead of Spotify greenroom before they launched, they announced it today, right? Of course, they have a huge distribution and reach but you know, whatever, but you guys have been doing but here's an opportunity for you guys. Can you talk us through what is the future that you're seeing in terms of the interactivity that you will be working on? Like? Like I don't, I'm not saying reveal your product roadmap, although if you want to share I mean, by all means, but where do you see interactive podcasts? Like what is the future of that? Like, we're, what can we expect in next two years, I would say like, oh, five to 10. But let's be honest like podcasting is like moving rapidly. So we're like, Are we going to start to see a lot of the interactivity that you would see on Twitch kind of now in power through vocal and really redefining what it means to have an interactive podcast.

Alex Riesenkampff  44:09
So I love that you mentioned it, right. You have podcasts, then you have a video podcast. We're talking about interactive podcasts. I'm kind of coined that term.

Alex Riesenkampff  44:26
Because I would like to answer the question by talking about what is exciting about interactivity. Like what why you make it interactive. And I think twitch has really proven that interactive, at its core, means that you're giving the audience an option to participate in the creation. Right there. There. They can even, it can even be part of it right there. Their comments on Twitter on Twitch read the entire activity in their activity on Twitch actually very basic, it's just comments. But even those comments, and actually, in most cases, just like emojis 100 of the same emoji is kind of wild. But that is even interactive. But what does it psychologically for the fan who's watching, that brings them so much closer to the Creator. But not only that, also to the other fans that are interacting as well. And what that really does is build communities. And I think that is the magic of the interactivity that so interactivity for its own sake, who cares, right, but if it builds community, then something magical comes about it. And so this is really what we're trying to leverage and go way beyond just interactivity via chat, right. And so we look at it sort of as a, like a ladder, where you as a fan of a podcaster need to have very small little baby steps to ramp up how engaged you want to be and how much you want to interact, right? Initially, you might just be a fly on the wall and just watch what's going on, right. And we've seen that a lot on our platform. And then as you progress as a fan in these interactive shows, you might start engaging in the chat, you'll learn who some of the other folks are, then you feel compelled to, I don't know, leave a donation for the Creator. Now the crater recognizes you, and maybe invite you to, you know, jump on stage and come on video kind of like a call-in or the same thing that really happens on clubhouse that's, I would say one of the major features on clubhouse that makes it exciting, right, where you blur the line between the Creator, the audience, and now suddenly you have everything in between where each and every member of the audience can also be part of the creation, even have, you know, the limelight on them. And doing that in a smart way that has that sort of caters to all the little baby steps for all the different personality types. That's what we're focusing on. And that's sort of how we're building our features, to make it easy for every different type to interact with the way that they would want to. And I mean, to give you an example of that, you know, letting people come onto the vocal platform from other social destinations to which were screaming out just like you are right now. And then inviting them in and say, Hey, if you come over here, you have the ability to meet the other true fan, and come on stage with me. You know, I don't know, be a sponsor of one of our shows and all those kinds of things.

Ken Yeung  48:15
So, as we talk about the, you know, I think we are very much stretched thin as creators in terms of our presence, right? I mean, you have your, your Facebook presence, you have your Instagram, YouTube, you have LinkedIn and Twitter, and your own blog. And then you have to manage your presence on, you know, Spotify and everything. Like, it's like how and one thing that you talk about here, it's like your vocals about building communities. Right? And with this, and obviously, the interactive podcasting capability makes it possible to do that. What is your pitch to creators podcasters our listeners in terms of why they why this is a suitable alternative, then, I mean, cuz you look at, I think, again, the biggest opportunity, Vantage that these platforms have these established platforms have is the reach is the district really rich. Exactly. But if you strip that all out, I mean, it's all things relatively are equal, for the most part, but then there's, you know, then you judge it based on the features at its core, right? And it's like how good or like what is the differentiator it's like, Okay, take away the price. What is the differentiating path like why would you choose product x versus product y. So, what is your pitch in terms of why somebody a creator should bank on vocals, ability to help them fall They're a growing community.

Alex Riesenkampff  50:04
The million-dollar question. So, I mean, reach, we cannot underestimate how important reaches. And so like where we understand that we're sort of the David and there's a bunch of Goliath out there that we need to tackle at the same time. So what we, what we think about is, why would a podcaster not adopt us? Like, why would they not use? vocal and try it out? One of them is, well, we already have this established, established creative process. If I'm going to do something completely new, on vocal, like, why would I even do that, and then sort of, there's a big hurdle to try to do that and be an early adopter of the platform. And so what we say to these creators is, we can make the creative process that you have easier, right? Like you can keep doing what you're already doing, in this case of podcasters, create a podcast, have guests on recorded, and then publish it to wherever you host your podcast, you can do that on vocal. And at the same time, for free, right, we also don't charge you by the way, for free, you're able to add something in addition, that's not going to cost you much additional time investment. And so that's really the pitch, right? So like, enhance the creative process that you already have. And more or less as a free lunch, get all these other features that might even supercharge what you're already doing. And then the other thing is, I kind of mentioned that is the time investment. So if you think about clubhouse, for example. I don't know. Can you probably know what the current statistics are? For how much time an average the engaged user spends on clubhouse, but it's like hours every week, right? It's,

Ken Yeung  52:18
yeah, you see, you see the rooms still going 24 hours. And I've heard stories of people are like, Oh, I, you know, I'm, I started room and I'm like, oh, four hours later, I'm still having this conversation about the most that something that happened, you know, days or hours or hours or days ago. So yeah, it's, it can be an addictive platform.

Alex Riesenkampff  52:41
But who is it addictive? For? Right? And well, we have tested this. And we've we even pre COVID we have the same behaviors on our platform, when the rooms were more kind of like Hangouts. And so that is not very scalable, I think. And that's the comp, like, a five-hour conversation, no one's ever going to listen to that on demand, it's just not going to happen and editing it down. And having like the few juicy moments of the five hours, super difficult to do. And I think that our AI pixel helps you as far away from being able to do that in a good way. That's not totally awkward, right, you would still need someone to invest crazy amounts of time to edit it. Now, in the pandemic, everyone's stuck at home, and you have lots of people that I would say that would otherwise not have the time to spend hours on clubhouse. do social audio, right. And so I personally don't even believe that if clubhouse or spaces or whoever keep doing, what they're doing what they're currently, you know, sort of social audio that I don't think it's going to work post pandemic, I just, I think it's going to totally drop off. It's become, it's going to become boring. And it's going to become, you know, kind of like, what Google like Google Hangouts used to be and became, right. So it's really, really important that the production value is high that you think of these that the think of these interactive podcasts bill as a podcast, in terms of that. It's a tight show, right? And that's really what we're where we have very different hypothesis on on the space and what interactivity means and what it what it should not mean. I don't think it should mean just like hours of unstructured conversation, because that's not really in the interest of the creators and get that also totally builds community. But guess what, not always healthy community, like the more time people spend in these rooms, right, the lower your threshold for all kinds of nasty stuff again. And then that's what happens, right? And so like, and then the lack of content creates an incentive to create artificial content. And artificial content in these hangouts style situations, often is sort of drama. Right? Like, we've seen that we've seen that we were like, No, we don't want to be part of that.

Ken Yeung  55:32
So if you talk about AI, can you dive a little bit more in terms of how you're using artificial intelligence, to really to help with the podcasting aspect? Like what is? What can creators expect using AI? I mean, obviously, AI is the guess. And this is a little tongue in cheek, like the flavor of the week in, in every tech service tech startup platform that you use. But how does that help create a better podcast? In your opinion? Like, how are you how is vocal using it?

Alex Riesenkampff  56:06
Alright, so the only way that we use AI right now, we have plans for the future, right? The only way that we use AI right now is to optimize the video quality of the live show that you're doing. Right? So we use it. So what we actually did, when we sort of went back to the garage last September, we said, we've heard before that we were using a vendor for all of the live video and live audio technologies. And then you know, when the pandemic hit, and we saw our growth rates going crazy, we're like, our platform is free, we can't we can't afford doing this. And so we pulled it back into the garage and said, Hey, we're gonna build our own live infrastructure. So we did that, actually, were able to pull it off with a pretty nimble team. And so there are AI components in that, to make sure that you have the best experience, even if there is, you know, some folks that have crappy internet connections, or flaky ones, or whatever. So that's what we're doing. Still, to be honest, at a pretty basic, I mean, everyone says that they're doing AI and whatnot. And I wouldn't, you know, I think the AI component of what I just mentioned, is negligible compared to the technology that we've built otherwise. But then in the future, I think there's lots of AI stuff that you can do when it comes to the discovery and the curation of the content, and also help with editing some of the content later on, but those are really future plans. So I would just say, you know, what we're playing vanilla AI is not a big part of what we were doing at this point. Cool.

Ken Yeung  58:06
I do have a couple of other questions, but I see we have some in their chat. So Harrison rose, he's asking, like what size a listener pool? Does a podcast need to be self-supporting? Like, so? in your, in your Is there a specific number to kind of like a minimum audience? base that it says, Hey, this is this can be a self-supporting podcast. I mean, obviously, they'd have to be monitored, you know, the podcast would have to be monetized. So any, any thoughts?

Alex Riesenkampff  58:44
So there's podcasters that have a really, really, really loyal base of a couple 100 listeners, and they can make a living off of that. And then there's podcasters that have 100,000 listens, but they would never be able to monetize. So I think the question that you need to ask is more about how, like, what is the level of loyalty and love that your audience has for you as the podcaster. And then how many of those folks do you have? I mean, there there's this piece that you know, the 100 true fans, or you know what I'm talking about, right? What did they call it again?

Ken Yeung  59:40
I know it's it's

Alex Riesenkampff  59:42
Legion put it out, right? He was like, Hey, you no longer need 1000 fans, like no, you only need 100 fans that are going to pay you x instead of you know, whatever. So I'm saying something that's similar to that. And so What you want to do is you want to take, However, many people, like whatever your reach is, and then send those people through sort of the community funnel, where initially, they're sort of like a loosely engaged fan. And at the bottom of the funnel, they are like, they love you, literally, right? They love you, and they don't mind spending money on the value that you give them in their lives. And so it's about what is that number at the bottom of your funnel, and because those are the people that are going to support you in making a living off of your craft.

Ken Yeung  1:00:40
So we're short on time. So the last question I have for you is, you look at them, the state of like with, with these big platforms, like Apple and Google, they're taking 30% off of their commission, their tax, so to speak on apps. And you mentioned earlier that you are offering a lot of these services in terms of interactive podcasting for free. So that begs the question is like, how, if I'm going to use vocal? What or error creators are gonna use vocal? What is what are they? What would they pay for in terms of like premium offerings? Do you have the right now or in the future that you might have coming down the pipe.

Alex Riesenkampff  1:01:27
So the two components of the platform are free, and it's our plan, and hopefully, we can stick to that plan to keep them free forever, right. So like, we're not thinking about, you know, offering you a basic version for free. And then all the cool tools help the core features cost you. What we have already done is introduce live tipping. And monthly subscriptions is something that we're going to introduce into the new version of the platform. And then we take a cut of that. So our whole claim is, our success is your success, right? If you earn, then, you know, your fans are gonna pay for your use of the local platform. So that's one, that the other question that you had was about the Apple tax. And we actually put out native apps. And we also implemented the monetization there, and we were paying the same Apple tax as everyone else was paying. And in this new inception, we're actually not going to launch native apps for and that's one of the main reasons that the business model just doesn't work so well. And so I think that there are other, you know, big players that are trailblazing this whole conflict with Apple and Google to bring down what their app App Store tax is. Because it just doesn't make sense for this case, right? It doesn't like if you're I don't know if you're a game developer, and you're currently You know, there's like, purely digital goods that someone can buy to accelerate their progress in their game, fine, take 30%. But if this is a commission on what a creator is getting from a fan, then it's just not right to take that kind of cut. And, and I think, you know, hopefully, some folks are going to that would like to see Patreon become more vocal about that. And, oh, by the way, just open a web view and skirting, like putting the check out into a web view versus natively in the app, that's not permitted by the App Store. So I guess that there are some good relationships between Patreon and Apple that, that sort of make, make that thing work. That didn't work for us. We tried it and we got like, a slap on the hand very quickly. So but I see that combat falling and you know if it's whether the weather Apple and Google are going to realize that they should, you know, stop imposing such a high tax, or at least differentiated based on what the business model is of the app. Or you're gonna have, you know, antitrust litigation, make that happen, like one either or it's going to come down sooner or later.

Ken Yeung  1:04:41
Cool. So all right. So Alex, where can people find you Where can people find more information about Vokl, and what do you want listeners to walk away? Knowing about interactive podcasting?

Alex Riesenkampff  1:04:59
You can find Have on vocal comm or on social media at Get Vokl. So we're kind of rebranding, we're losing the guests because we kind of like make it that I'm a dad now. So I can make that joke. We got it. So.

Ken Yeung  1:05:16
And thank you very much.

Alex Riesenkampff  1:05:21
Yeah, and then yeah, check it out, you know, what I think is the most important thing is that the creators, like my whole, like, the big the broader picture here is, you mentioned AI, right? What's AI going to do AI is going to remove so many more jobs that have already been lost to automation, like in a massive way. And so, being a creator, even if you're only inspiring 50 people, but you're really changing their lives is a really, really meaningful thing to do, I think. And so if you have creators like that, that you whose content you interact with, pay them, whatever the platform is. Pay them right there. They're discouraging, they're delivering so much value to you. Yeah. Appreciate it. That's what I would love to say to folks. Right. And that's completely independent of our platform, that's just very generally something that I feel passionate about. Cool. Well, Alex,

Ken Yeung  1:06:33
thank you so very much for taking the time to join us. I know, I speak for Greg and I, it was, it's been great to learn not only about the future of podcasting, but how creators can really monetize and, and not really monetize, but really optimize and enhance what they're doing and make it more community-focused as opposed to a one-sided right, and especially in light of, and not having to be forced to go choose between like, okay, I want to have, you know, go live on these apps, but then have to have a separate service to do a traditional podcast, or whether it's audio or video, you know, it's like, if there's one place that I can do as a one-stop shop, I can do it all and have that Twitch, like experience, was, you know, we all see the success that twitches have has had with their interactivity. So it'd be very, I'm very curious to see how that is translatable or transferable to, to this to this medium. So thank you so very much for joining us. This week on the creative economy.

Alex Riesenkampff  1:07:42
Thank you so much for having me. And, guys, thank you so much for the condensed wisdom that you're putting out. Like, I love it, really appreciate it. That's, that's kind of also how we, we got in touch. I was like, ah, I love the conversation. This is uh, you know, I can get rid of five newsletters that I'm reading just by watching your show. So thanks for that.

Ken Yeung  1:08:08
And to those creators of those newsletters, we do apologize for taking away your audience. Thank you. Thank you, Alex, that that needs so much. That's some great feedback. And it's in that's encouraging for, for Greg and I to know that we are providing a valuable service to to to our listeners. So appreciate it very much. So cool. All right. Well, I wish that, I am going to wrap things up. So Greg will be joining us next time. But just a nice little note for next week, we are actually going to be off. But we will be back in the following week on June 30, with Mike Donahoe from Subtext, a company I really admire in terms of this group, texting out, you know, this text messaging capability and how publishers and creators can use it to really read and have another way to reach their, their fans and followers and, and everybody else. And then on July 7, we'll have Matt Zella from fame pick. And then July 14, we do have an opening. So if you are interested in joining us on the creative economy, please hit us up at creative economy comm we're definitely interested in creators and builders, and investors within the space. I'm particularly keen on bringing on women and people of color and underrepresented groups. So if that's you, feel free to ping Greg or me, and then on July 21, we'll have super Vance. Fernando Parnas joining us so with that, thank you very much, everyone, for joining us and we will see you next time. See you