Audioboo Tries Making Money With Freemium Model And Paid Audiobooks

Audio-sharing service Audioboo is trying for a second time to make some real dosh, after finding low uptake for its original paid pro service.

On the creation side, the service is cutting sharable clip length from five to three minutes for new free users, extending to current free users after a year. A new Plus tier, costing £60 annually, comes with 30 minutes recording time, updates to Facebook pages and extra iTunes podcast settings.

The new tier is aimed, for example, at podcasters, who can use Audioboo’s in-built recording feature or upload audio recorded offline. Currently, most clips are 2.5 minutes in length, under Audioboo’s new limit.

“This will be a very small part of the model,” Audioboo CEO Mark Rock tells paidContent. “What interests us going forward is people paying for content.”

This foray begins with a small selection of audiobooks, including from TV presenter Robert Llewellyn, who has previously posted two chapters of his book for free, which have attracted up to 20,000 listens each.

Audioboo will take an Apple-sized 30 percent of payments users make to content providers. “The paid audio will initially be available on the website because it’s much easier, but hopefully, going forward, we will be able to do it in a much more integrated way on the mobile app, too,” Rock added.

Though Audioboo will now be pitching audiobook publishers, the payment system is not just about big “content” but also about its core spoken-word recordings. “What interests us is the fan club model,” Rock says. “Potentially, there’s a market there for exclusive content from a Stephen Fry or an author to hear exclusive audio. People might be prepared to pay £1 a year.”

Audioboo – in which Channel 4, UBC Media and Imagination Technologies have invested – launched a Pro service aimed at media clients like radio stations a while ago, but it gained little take-up.

The new effort is a more substantial revenue plan. Now it is throttling its core free service a bit to find a choke point at which users might pay, as well s trying to mobilise some content worth paying for.

Audioboo is facing growing competition from SoundCloud, but Rock differentiates the two. “We’re all about real-time spoken word, they’re about music,” Rock says. “They don’t do real-time particularly well. Our content is about trying to find clips pretty quickly.”