Podcasters across the region have been challenged by one of the world’s largest streaming services to develop new content and tap into huge potential revenue streams.
A new partnership between Spotify and the Dubai Press Club was announced at the first PodFest forum on Sunday that will offer support to audio content creators.
The event staged at One Central brought together prominent podcasters, audio content creators and leading organisations from across the Middle East.
Claudius Boller, managing director of the Middle East and Africa at Spotify, said the region had huge potential for growth in Arabic podcasts.
“There is evidence of tremendous growth is this area, and it is something we are tremendously excited about – this is the future,” he said.
“With 181 million active users Spotify is one of the biggest music streaming services and we made the decision two years ago to not only focus on music but other areas like podcasting.
“We believe in the creativity of this region and that is why we have aligned with Dubai Press Club, we will soon be announcing a new partnership.
“If we give this region the right tools and platforms, we will hear many more interesting stories and open up a huge new audience around the world.”
Spotify aims to expand new revenue streams for podcasters by increasing the reach of productions and attract new advertising opportunities.
An app called Anchor is produced by the company and offers production assistance to those wanting to explore the medium for the first time, and distribute their content to streaming services.
About 45 per cent of Spotify users are now subscribers, bringing in huge revenue through a monetisation gateway.
That potential for earnings should encourage new and existing podcasters to develop new ways of story telling from the region, Mr Boller said.
“People in this region need to keep on experimenting by launching new podcasts and companion podcasts, with new series and interviews,” he said.
“Once people understand the Anchor platform they can reach a whole new audience.
“Good production needs a serious budget and support.
"We believe that audio streaming is the next frontier for a new generation of creators and advertisers.”
Although the role of Dubai Press Club was not formally announced, the PodFest forum is expected to become an annual event.
During a panel discussion titled "New Avenues for Content Creators", participants shared their insights on the opportunities available for content creators in the Mena region.
Speakers encouraged enhancing the diversity of music content on podcast platforms, as well as the impact of the global pandemic on the consumption of digital music and entertainment.
The session shed light on how companies could take advantage of massive growth opportunities and monetise their podcasts. Another panel discussion called "Podcast Platforms" discussed the distribution of advertising revenues among podcasters and podcast platforms and the key marketing tools available to maximise reach and income.
“The global digital content sector has witnessed numerous developments, and it is important that the Arab world stays abreast of advancements in this field,” said Maitha Buhumaid, director of Dubai Press Club.
“Our region has a wealth of bright minds and talent capable of excelling at a global level.
“However we need to develop an integrated system in the region that can harness this talent by raising quality benchmarks, promoting knowledge exchange and supporting the development of the sector.”