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July 9, 2022

Sounds Profitable Research Study: People Behind The Podcasts

Sounds Profitable Research Study: People Behind The Podcasts

Edison Research Survey of Podcasters

Learn more and get your own copy of the slides at https://soundsprofitable.com/article/the-creators-us-2022 

Brand new research was just released from Edison Research, sponsored by several different podcast hosts, including Podbean and Podcast Movement, PRX, Spreaker and other great sponsors in the podcast space.

We are excited to present those statistics and give you our input about what they mean for us and for you as a podcaster.

Edison Research always produces top-notch research when it comes to the podcasting industry.

We have some opinions on the matter of the 45-plus group. We think of ourselves as 55 plus, but we still fall into the 45-plus age group. One of their observations was that the 45-plus age group is underrepresented in podcasting. Meaning there are very few creators that are 45 plus. Therefore, they feel that the 45-plus audience is underserved when it comes to podcasting.

All these statistics were gathered from quarters 2, 3, and 4 of 2021 and quarter one of 2022. 

Sounds Profitable Research Study: People Behind The Podcasts

Toby: Having worked as a consultant to a research company, I can tell you that when a company like this conducts this kind of research, they look for sponsors to pay for the research so that they can do a credible job. 

This looks like a well-funded project.

I was really impressed with the number and quality of sponsors on the project.

They proclaim that this is the podcast industry's first credible data on the people who make podcasts. 

The data is derived from Edison podcast metrics, a continuously sampled online survey of weekly podcast consumers weighted to demographics from Infinite Dial. 

It's a sample of 617 weekly podcast listeners, 18 plus, who currently produce or have ever produced a podcast. 

These are podcast listeners who also create podcasts.

 

The data was collected over a longer timeframe, most of four quarters, so it can change over the course of the data collection. The data is sampled from weekly podcast listeners and not less frequent or lapsed listeners. 

That means one of the first questions they asked was, how often do you listen to podcasts?

They focused on those whose answer was I listen to podcasts at least weekly. 

We see a sampling of the US population versus the population of podcast creators. In the US population, the division between men and women is 49% men and 51% women.

Compare that to podcast creators, which is 69% men, 29% women, and 2% non-binary or other, or those who did not choose to answer.

Toby: What surprised me was the number of men who are podcasters versus women. I've always believed that podcasting is a great way for anyone to amplify their voice. But since women's voices tend to be under-amplified just by the nature of media, I felt like podcasting would be a great way for them to amplify their voices.

I don't know where this statistic was five years ago. So, it may have increased. I'm going to guess that in the last five years it's grown, but I still feel like women are underrepresented in the podcasting community and women have a lot to say. 

I'd like to see more women in the community. We don't necessarily target women as our clients, but we're always happy when we can help women and non-binary individuals move forward with their podcasting or live streaming.

The US population for age ranges are pretty even between all the different ages.

Starting with 18 to 24 at 13%, age 25 to 34 at 18%, age 35 to 44 at 18%, age 45 to 54 at 19%, and age 55 to 64 at 16%. Age 65 and older is 16%. 

As we know, the retirement community is growing.

Gen Z is a smaller subset of the population. 

Nearly 90% of podcast creators are between the ages of 18 and 44. 

This is that same percentage that makes up less than half the US population. 

Our group, the age 55 plus, is 2% of the podcast creators' population. 

Ethnicity for the United States is 63% white, 13% African American, 14% Hispanic/Latino, 5% Asian, and other, or did not categorize, was 5%. 

Podcast creators are more diverse because the white population is 51%, which is still a lot. A little over half of the podcasters are white. But the Hispanic/Latino group is quite large. It's 24%, which is more than their percentage of the population. So that has really grown over the last few years.

African American podcasters register at 14%, Asian is at 5%, and other is at 6%. We're getting more and more diverse in the podcasting community, which is really wonderful.

I'm assuming this is the 2020 census where African Americans represent 13% of the US population. In the 2010 census, they represented 17%. That is not because there are fewer African Americans. That is because the Hispanic/Latino population is increasing as a percentage. 

In 2010, the US population was just under 300 million. In 2020 we're at 340 million and we have a higher percentage of the Hispanic/Latino demographic.

They are represented a little bit higher as well in the podcast creators group.

Toby: Being Hispanic/Latino, I was very pleased to see that this Hispanic/Latino demographic is oversampling. They only represent 14% of the total US population, but 24% of the podcast creators.

I think they've done a lot in that community to raise awareness of podcasting.

I don't feel like the Hispanic/Latino statistic is a matter of economics. I think they really have used podcasting to amplify their voices. 

Education statistics in the US population show that 42% are high school graduates or less and 29% have some college, 19% have earned a four-year college degree, 7% have some graduate credits and 3% have an advanced degree.

In terms of the US population, when you add together some college, four-year degrees, some graduate credits, and advanced degrees, you're talking about 55% of the population who have earned credits beyond high school.

But when you see it in terms of podcast creators, 90% of the podcasters' population is represented by some college, four-year college, or advanced degrees. 

Advanced degree-earning podcasters register at 40%. It's overwhelming in terms of the population.

I think a lot of that has to do with self-confidence. If you have an advanced degree, you're likely to be more confident in yourself and do things that are on the leading edge of technology such as podcasting.

If you're graduating from high school this year, there's a very good chance you are familiar with the technologies associated with podcasting because they're so common. 

These kids have that technology and I'm going to expect what we see in high school will continue to grow and add as they go through their college careers. I think that's a good indication of its growth through education. 

Employment 

Podcasters who are employed full time is 73%.

Part-time is 7%. 

Temporarily Unemployed is 7%. 

Homemaker is 3%. 

Retired is 2%. 

Designated as a student is 4% and other is 4%. 

That 55-plus demographic that is sampling so small shows up in the retired category. 

It is good to see that even though people are employed full-time, 73% can still manage to produce a podcast. 

They're turning it into their avocation or hobby and making time for it.

If your hobby is trout fishing, and you're very familiar with the subject matter, it's pretty easy to put a podcast together. Especially if you have lots of friends who are fisher people because you have a constant stream of guests to talk over the subject. 

The implication is if you have a little time on your hands, you've got time to create a podcast. The technology is available to you, but if you're working full time you can probably afford to pay somebody to edit.

The income for the US population starts with under $25,000 at 24%, and $25,000 to $49,999 is 24%. So that's half the population making under $50,000 a year. 

Then you have $50,000 to $74,999, at 18%. $75,000 to just under $100,000 is 12%. $100,000 to $149,999 is 12%, and $150,000 or more is 10%. 

About half of employed people in the US are considered on the lower end of the income spectrum. Some may be part-time employees or gig workers.

There are two things to note here about podcast creators: 12% of the podcast creators make under $25,000 a year. That's a similar percentage to the 13% of those making an income of $150,000 or more. 

That is an indication that podcasting is a great equalizer.

When you're doing a survey and you get a sample like this, your tendency is to throw out the bottom and the top and say here's where my potential market is for whatever I'm doing. 

That potential market, or 80% of the total, represents earners making more than $25,000 and less than $150,000.

But more importantly, even though you're making under $25,000, this is a technology that's accessible to you.

You don't need to be in the money to podcast.

The percentage of podcasters who mostly work from home is 46%.

Those who mostly work outside the home make up 37%, and those who work from home and outside the home equally make up 17%. 

Those might be part-timers who also treat podcasting as a side gig.

Toby: An example of someone who works from home or outside the home equally is my son-in-law, Francis. He's a realtor. Most of the time he works from home, but he has to go out on calls on weekends and weeknights.

My daughter works from home for a company located in Sweden and she works here in the United States. She's a sales professional, works from home, and communicates regularly with her team at the office. So I think this number is impacted by the manner in which employment has changed over the time of the pandemic.

A lot more of us are working at home, not just in our own businesses, but we're working from home because that's what our employer has decided is best for them. 

These creators drive workplace purchases and 80 percent participate in purchase decisions as a part of job function. 

For example, if Shelley was working for another company she would be the expert when it came to technologies associated with streaming, podcasting, and book publishing. So she could be participating in those purchasing decisions. 

That's why advertising to podcast listeners who happen to be creators is important. They listen to the advertising to determine whether it might apply to them in this decision-making process.

Creators were asked, Does the financial responsibility for making workplace purchase decisions lie with you? 88% said yes.

Creators overly index as Democrats. 

I found this interesting when it comes to political matters. 

Creators were asked, “When it comes to political matters, do you usually think of yourself as a…” 57% said Democrat, 17% said Republican, 18% said Independent, and 8% said other or not applicable.

We know that the US population is almost equally represented by people who lean Democrat, about 30%, people who lean Republican, about 30%, Independents, about 30%, and people who don't care about politics, about 10%. 

That's why they say it's over-indexed. If you compare it to the US population, there is a higher percentage of people who podcast that claim to be Democrats. Republicans in this case under index because we know they make up about 30% of the population.

Remember the podcaster population skews younger. If it's skewing younger, you could also say younger people are more on the Democrat side of the equation.

Creators pass on their love of podcasts to their children.

Shelley: Not just to their children, of course, but to their families in general. My husband was listening to podcasts way before I was. But the percentage whose children listen to podcasts is 66%. 

We both encourage our children to listen to podcasts. We set the example and we recommend podcast episodes to them when the topic fits their interests.

I think it's in the nature of the past 10 years worth of evolution towards the manner in which we use our smartphones. They've become an all-purpose tool and podcasts are easy to download and share. 

When I was visiting my parents, I set up a Google Nest in their home and I was listening to podcasts on it. In particular, I was listening to one called Strokecast, about recovering from a stroke, and they'd walk into the room while I was listening to it. They were fascinated that there was a podcast that they could listen to and learn about something so specific to their situation.

Creators are exceptionally active users of social media.

The percentage of podcast creators who currently use YouTube is 94%. Instagram is 88%, Facebook 88%, Twitter 78%, TikTok 72%, Snapchat 70%, WhatsApp 63%, LinkedIn 62%, Reddit 61%, and Clubhouse 24%.

I'm pretty sure Clubhouse is dropping. This survey was done during a time when Clubhouse was very popular and it's not very popular any longer.

Toby: This represents my social media use. YouTube is my primary then followed by Instagram. I have channels on both of course, so that helps. I do have a Facebook page, but I spend less and less time there. I used to use Twitter a lot, but I don't anymore. I am a TikTok viewer. I do have a TikTok channel, but I don't put anything on it. Cat videos make me happy.

Shelley: With me, YouTube is number one, but number two is LinkedIn.

Social media brand usage.

The total US population age 12 plus using social media includes Facebook 63%, Instagram 46%, TikTok 36%, Pinterest 28%, Twitter 27%, Snapchat 27%, and LinkedIn 21%. 

Facebook and Instagram are part of the Meta brand and they're intimately connected. When I post something to my Instagram account, it automatically posts to my Facebook account as well. 

TikTok, I think, is very youth-oriented and this is from the 12 and up age group. They could have broken it up by age and TikTok would've probably gone to the top for that 12 to 18 group and maybe even the 18 to 24. 

It’s interesting that so few people use LinkedIn in this group. I think LinkedIn is tapping more and more into the creator economy and giving us extra tools as creators. So, I would guess that LinkedIn numbers will continue to rise over the next few years.

Creators share and follow podcasts on social media.

The percentage of podcast creators who have ever engaged in the behavior of sharing podcasts on social media is 84%. 86% followed a podcast host on social media and 87% followed a podcast on social media.

Toby: I have several podcasts that I follow, mostly political, and occasionally I'll share one of them. But most of the time it's my personal thing. Not everybody's interested in politics in the way that I am when it comes to podcasting.

Many creators own both an iPhone and an Android device. 

71% own an iPhone and 71% own an Android device.

Shelley: I own an iPhone and my tablet is a Samsung Android.

I think as a content creator, you should at least understand the simple basics of operating something in iOS, Android, or Windows.

Toby: I own iOS smart devices, but I do have a Chromebook. 

Many creators are active users of smart audio. 

For those who ever listen to podcasts on smart speakers, such as an Alexa or a Google Nest, 36% of weekly podcast listeners listen on a smart speaker and 65% of podcast creators listen to podcasts on a smart speaker.

We get the tech and we like using it. It makes listening more convenient.

We have our podcast on Amazon music specifically because we wanted to make it available to people who have Alexa. They can say, Alexa, play the Messages and Methods podcast and she can find it.

We're on Google Podcasts and Spotify so anybody who has an Echo or one of the Google smart devices can get it there as well. 

Spotify is the most often used service to listen to podcasts. 

The percent of podcast creators who indicate their most often used podcast listening service is Spotify is 30%, 21% use YouTube and 11% use the iOS podcast app such as Apple Podcasts.

YouTube is primarily video, but they realize that more and more people are using it as a platform for podcasting.

Creators over-index for interest in tech, science fiction, and drama

For the percentage of podcast creators who ever listen to podcasts featuring this topic, their number one topic is comedy at 46%, then music at 43%, technology at 41%, entertainment at 37%, sports 35%, news info at 32%, history at 32%, politics 31%, true crime 30%, science 30%, food 30%, drama 28%.

Shelley: I don't listen to any of those.

Toby: I do news and info, history and politics, and then there's science. That includes Archeology and astronomy.

Shelley: I do watch some comedy on YouTube, which is then turned into a podcast. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is turned into a podcast, but I watch it on YouTube.

Here's the second page. It reads travel 27%, mystery thriller 26%, games 26%, fantasy sci-fi 26%, business 25%. That's what I listen to, specifically marketing and content creation. 

Wellness and self-improvement is 24%. That's something I also listen to, but not as frequently as business. 

Romance 21%, adult fiction 20%, language 18%, philosophy/religion 17%, home and garden 14%, biography/memoir 14%, and children's 13%. 

I think it skews towards men's interests because there are more men than women in the podcast creator demographic listening. 

The top 10 podcast topics by interest.

  1. Comedy
  2. Music 
  3. Technology
  4. Entertainment
  5. Sports
  6. News and info 
  7. History
  8. Politics
  9. True crime
  10. Science

Creators are not significantly more active listeners than weekly podcast consumers.

Weekly time spent listening to podcasts for creators was eight hours and 18 minutes and weekly listeners spent seven hours and 30 minutes. We do listen a little more, but not significantly more. 

More than four in 10 creators have been listening to podcasts for over a year

How long have you been listening to podcasts? was the question and answers range from six months to one year at 28%, one to three years was 29%, three to five years 15%, five plus years 14%, less than six months 14%.

Those at the top, five or more years 14%, and less than six months 14%. 

But the number one answer was listening for six months to three years.

These are podcasters and they've been listening to podcasts for six months to three years. So that's interesting. It tells you that most people don't stay in podcasting that long either, maybe three years.

Creators are extremely receptive to advertising in podcasts.

How do you feel about sponsorship messages in the podcasts you regularly listen to?

That was the question, and the answers were that 52% are interested or often find it useful. 31% don't mind them and occasionally find them useful, 10% generally dislike or occasionally find them useful, and 7% dislike completely and never find them useful.

So we have people who are anti commercials and may never have them in their show. Then those who like to listen to them, trust podcast hosts and listen to what they have to say. They find ads useful and maybe they’ll work with those same sponsors someday, so they listen closely.

Toby: I listen to podcasts, and generally their advertising is for other podcasts. So people will say, Michael Cohen has 15 million listeners now. So let me advertise my podcast on that show. I check them out.

I also listen to Dark Net Diaries and their sponsors are computer security or other podcasts. I find those helpful.

Creators are extremely receptive to advertising and podcasts compared to hearing advertisements in other places. 

When you hear ads on podcasts, how likely are you to consider the brand advertised?

44% said much more likely. 

Shelley: Like you said, you're more likely to go listen to another podcast recommended by your favorite podcasts. I listen to a couple of podcasts about content marketing and they’re sponsored by an email provider, Convert Kit, so I'm more likely to check that out because they recommend it for content creators. 

I've noticed over time with YouTube I'm getting presented with more advertising and the ads are longer and harder to skip.

But that creator doesn't have control over the ads. That's the algorithm. That's YouTube telling you, I know what you are interested in this week. I'm going to show you that ad.

That shows you how effective YouTube advertising is.

Creators support each other.

In the past 12 months, have you given money to support a podcast? 68% said, yes.

Toby: I have contributed to another podcaster. I listen to QAnon Anonymous and they have a Patreon account. For $5 a month I get four extra podcasts a month. 

The percentage of podcast creators who currently engage in listed behavior includes 60% who pay for a podcast subscription on Apple Podcasts, 75% who pay for Spotify Premium, and 48% who pay for a podcast subscription on Patreon. 

Observations 

While the listener profile is nearly representative of the US population, those involved with the creation of podcasts, not just the hosts, are overwhelmingly male.

The industry needs to do more to encourage female creators at every level, from production to sound design, to hosting.

Shelley: I'm happy to host your show if you want it hosted by a female podcaster.

Toby: We feel we made a contribution when we did our Women in Podcasting book with the interviews that we did at the She Podcasts conference back in October. We would like to see more women podcasters in the mix.

They are good storytellers and podcasting gives them the opportunity to amplify their voice in a very inexpensive way.

Creators aged 45 plus are underrepresented, which may be one reason why podcast listening has always lagged with older demographics. 

I think there's another reason. 

My parents don't even understand what a podcast is or how to access one, but they would be interested if somebody showed them a podcast that would be really great to listen to because it's got information that they find helpful. 

People in the older demographics need to be shown that this medium exists, that it is something that would be helpful for them to listen to, and then how to access, subscribe and listen to their favorite podcasts.

So it isn't just about being podcasters at our age. It is also about showing older people how to access and listen to podcasts. 

That’s why we are happy to help people in our age group learn how to be podcasters.

Or if nothing else, how to listen to podcasts.

I think an important step in becoming a podcaster is listening to podcasts that have some level of interest for you, whatever they are. 

Underrepresented means they sampled everyone equally and they just didn't find much in the 45-plus age group for podcasters. The implication that they'd find anything at 55 plus, or even where we are, 65 plus, is just not there for us.

There is an element of economic and academic privilege to the creation of a podcast. 

Grassroots efforts to empower creators in economically depressed areas and in schools will only serve to make the space more vibrant and lock in future listeners.

Toby: I think that's what's important, the variety of voices. Listening to Hispanic artists doing their own podcast is exciting to me because it does make it sound more vibrant, more realistic, and offers a better sample of what's happening in the United States. I was very happy to see the statistic relating to ethnicity in terms of the US population and podcasters, where the Hispanic population was over-indexed.

Shelley: As we see on television, there's more and more diversity represented in media. I'm watching something called Ms. Marvel on Disney Plus right now. It's about an Indian American young woman who is part of the Marvel Universe and becoming a superhero. 

It's her story and her whole family is involved in it and they are all Indian American and some are still living in Pakistan. It introduces the viewer to their culture through this story. 

That is wonderful for me to learn to appreciate their culture and for those people who are, for the first time maybe, seeing themselves on television, being represented in a very positive light. They can feel uplifted and appreciated. 

The same goes for podcasting. If you're in a demographic that is underrepresented and you can do a podcast and reach out to those people who are feeling like, I'm not seeing myself on television, I'm not hearing myself in podcasts, and bring them in and lift them up, you’re serving your community in a positive way.

Toby: I have an interest in Native American podcasters because of my heritage, but they are under-sampled and underrepresented. Therefore, they're under-indexed. But they're out there.

Some of the economic and ideological biases of creators show up in the differences between what genres of podcasts are popular, such as true crime, society and culture, and what creators are more prone to consume, which are technology, history, and science.

Toby: The conclusion they're making is that podcast creators listen to things differently than podcast listeners who aren't creators. That's a very subtle distinction. 

Shelley: I think it's skewed toward male interests. True crime is one of the most popular categories because thousands of women listen to true crime podcasts but fewer women are podcasting.

For some, creating a podcast is potentially their introduction to being a regular podcast listener. 

If every new podcast only brings with it a literal handful of new listeners, the space is enriched. 

Creating a podcast is sometimes the only reason people start listening to podcasts, perhaps to compare and discover how to make their podcast better.

Then they start going outside of their competitors’ shows and just listening to podcasts that are interesting to them.

We can never forget that every new creator is a listener and these listeners are extremely receptive to podcast advertising as well as directly supportive of their fellow creators.

We aren't just empowering creators. We are enabling an economy, a creator economy.

It's like when you've been a waiter, waitress, or server of some kind, you're more likely to tip well, because you've been in their shoes, and you know what they're going through and how much work they're doing. You’re more supportive and friendly toward them.

It's the same kind of thing with supporting other creators. We went through this process and overcame these obstacles. So I'm going to help others to do the same. If that means I'm going to join their Patreon for $5 a month, I'm going to do that to be supportive because I like this content and I want it to continue. 

Or in our case, we help support other creators who want to learn how to livestream, podcast and blog more quickly.

If that describes you, please reach out to us, and let’s chat about your podcasting dreams!