07 marzo 2024

Audio Day Parix congregated more than 250 professionals to promote the Spanish language audio industry

More than 35 international and national speakers participated in the first edition of AUDIO DAY PARIX, which captured, during a whole day, the interest and imagination of nearly 250 attendees from more than 10 countries.

The international meeting kicked-off with Michele Cobb, director of the Audio Publishers Association (APA), who carried out an extensive analysis of the “Global trends in the audio industry«, in which she highlighted that Spanish is the second language that publishers are betting on in the USA market, which in the last 5 years has grown annually by more than double digits. Children’s contents and non-English language contents are precisely the areas that increase sales the most, above 37%, in a sector in which fiction continues being the leading genre (64%). In this context of growth, more than half of the largest U.S. audio publishers created Spanish content in 2023 producing more than 600 Spanish-language audiobooks for sell in Spanish-speaking markets around the world.

Karl Berglund, assistant professor at Uppsala University (Sweden) and author of the book “Reading Audio Readers” (Bloomsbury, 2024) described the profile and listening habits of audiobook listeners, the result of his analysis is based on aggregated data of thousands of users generously shared by Storytel. The explosion of audiobook consumption in the Nordic countries, with 45 million (audio)books streamed through, compared to  24 million print books sold, shows a change in reading habits that will help publishers to take decisions when they will produce new titles in audio format.  For example, editors can analyse which are the genres that the listeners finish the most: crime fiction, thriller or romance over prestige fiction, to determine which audiobooks they should produce.

Berglund divides audiobook readers into three large groups of listeners: the “swappers”, who start many titles, but finish few, and dedicate an hour a day to “swapping” reading between different books of all kinds of genres. The “repeaters” who spend a lot of time listening but focused on very few books. Their three reading hours a day can be focused over and over again on the same title, using “the audiobook as a sleeping pill.” And finally, the “constant” readers who read a lot and for many sessions throughout the week, especially crime fiction, which they consume with relish: they finish a book and instantly start next.

Sara Lloyd, Group Communications Director and Global AI Lead Pan Macmillan, explained the “Impact of AI for publishing” but highlighting above all that we are in a people-centered business and the human creativity must be a priority to differentiate the sector, leaving AI for more tedious, repetitive and mechanical tasks and processes. Lloyd recommended three steps in any action plan for using AI in the publishing sector: play (test to know the business potential), audit (to analyse the key points and see which are the least liked tasks, the most susceptible to be done with AI) and consult (talk and share fears, challenges and opportunities).

Ana Julia Ghirello, VP Global Partnerships at Storytel, in conversation with Mariana Fegéd, CEO of Bookwire, addressed the “Growth of streaming platforms through strategic B2B alliances.” It is the first time that a company shares the keys to how to grow in the audio industry through strategic alliances with third parties (operators, banks, utilities, etc.), a success considering that Storytel´s  partnerships brought more than 10% of net paid subscriber additions in 2023. The Storytel representative indicated that the quality of the profile and behavior of the users was the same as those recruited directly by the platform, but without the same acquisition costs. In other words: an engagement as good as DTC subs, a lower churn and a higher “Life-time value”. Entertainment companies with this type of strategic alliances for a longer time show that up to 20% of their growth comes from their partnership strategy.

Focused on three types of business partners (distribution, IAPs and OEMs), the alliances were based on some key aspects: long-term relationship, with a linear value proposition, a joint marketing commitment and sharing data between both parties. The result: long-term customer commitment and lower churn rates.

Carla Herbertson, director of SmallWardour, in conversation with Laura Ceballos, founder of Anthrop, presented the “Global evolution of listening devices for children’s content.” The children’s category is one of the great bets for the future of the audio industry, today it represents around 3% of total audiobook sales, although in Spain it has not yet grown as much as in other markets. Herbertson highlighted the “silent revolution” represented by audio devices for children, drivers of this growth, which allow the development of listening/reading habits among the children, maintaining their autonomy, promoting literacy and mental health and a great concern of the parents: screen free. “If we want adult readers, we must invest in the children of our future readers.”

The morning ended with the analysis of the “Latino listener profile” by Gabriel Soto, director or research at Edison Research, who left some very interesting key data about the Latino population, the one which spends more time listening audio in the U.S.A., more than 5 hours a day, and is the one who consumes podcasts and audiobooks the most. It is especially important when you consider that Latinos represent almost 20% of the U.S. population, they are one of the youngest segments and more than 52% listen podcasts. Therefore, investing in content for Latinos is going to be very profitable, he said, especially considering that their positive reaction to podcast advertising is much higher than in the rest of the U.S. population – in terms of brand valuation, recommendations and purchasing decisions derived from that advertising-.

The afternoon started with the presentation of new “Initiatives in the audio sector”, a table moderated by Arantza Larrauri, general director of Libranda, with Felipe Areal, founder and CEO of Loud Intelligence, Luis Abril, director of operations at Quares, Raúl Montero Herrero, founder of InNovaVoice, José Luis Herranz, founder of Vocality.ai and Tina Juergens, CEO of Zebralution. They  talked about the possibilities of AI to clone human voices to generate business models from the human voice, among other current topics in the sector

Cristina Delgado, Partner Manager of YouTube Podcast, introduced attendees to “Podcast Marketing” and the growing weight of this platform, that has become the second most used search engine on the Internet and the natural channel for the youngest: 30% of audio content is listened to on YouTube and 60% of the Spanish content uploaded to the platform is consumed abroad. There was also space to analyse the most powerful formats, especially “shorts”, the gateway for 59% of Generation Z users to access longer content.

Paula Martín Camargo, podcasting consultant, moderated the “How to discover your next listen” panel, with the presentation of three key initiatives in the sector such as Sonograma, with Ana Ribera, editor-in-chief of Prisa Audio; Audio Gen with Luis Miguel Pedrero, professor at the University of Nebrija and AgendaPodcastera -with José Antonio Gelado, podcasting consultant. They have become three key channels to keep up to date with what is happening in the audio industry.

Hernán García, director of Podcasts Development at TelevisaUnivisión, Gabriel Polgati, executive director of RDF Media and Carlos Galán, director of the Estación Podcast Festival, analyzed how “Contents “travel” in Spanish-speaking markets”, with keys and examples of how audio can be a source of content for other formats, stories that are born as Podcasts and become books, series, movies… a reality that is especially latent in Latin America, where podcasts and video games are complementing books as new quarries of stories. An aspect that is analyzed in depth in the latest AC/E Yearbook on trends and digital tools for the cultural sector.

Hernán García talked about Univision’s “Crímenes Paranormales” podcast, how a “local” production has now the majority of listeners spread throughout almost all over the world, with 85% in the United States, and has even crossed the ocean to Europe. A journey based on the content – true crime, one of the most listened to – the “location” of the story and, of course, the language and accent. The accent was also the subject of analysis due to its impact in favouring the export of audio productions to other markets depending on the content (humour is more difficult to convey) or the characteristics of the accent itself t (Mexican vs Argentinian).

Gabriel Polgati highlighted the example of “Caso 63”, the most listened fiction podcast in Spanish-language, the best audio series journey case. Created in Chile, it has crossed all borders – in fact, most of its listeners are in other countries – and reached transversal audiences. Or how good stories can overcome accents, languages and production methods, revealing the versatility and profitability of sound content. “Only audio has that versatility; this is the best tool to build a diversification of formats.” These are examples of how the foundations of this new export industry, the audio one, is growing.

Marta García from Smart Locuciones, Juliana Rueda from Miut Studios, Daniel Higueras from Osmos Global, Benja Figueres from Kilohercios y Decibelios starred in the panel “How to attract more listeners through the confluence of audio formats: audiobooks, podcasts, sound fiction, etc…?«, moderated by Bibiana Riccardi, in which it became clear that there is much more to do in a market that has not exploited -and explored- all the possible synergies: sound adaptation of fiction novels, immersive podcasts, interactivity, transmedia content…

The day ended with a large round table: “Challenges of audio in Spanish: How to grow this category?”, which brought together for the first time the main voices and actors in the industry: María Jesús Espinosa de los Monteros, general director from PRISA Audio; Juan Baixeras, Country Manager of Audible in Spain and Italy; Camila Scher, Podcast Manager Spain, Amazon Music; Maribel Riaza, Content Acquisition Manager at Storytel; Santos Palazzi, director of the Mass Market and Digital Area of Grupo Planeta; Carmen Ospina, director of Marketing, Communication and Business Development at PRH; Isabel Salazar, Country Manager of Podimo Spain and Juan Solera, founder of iVoox, with Javier Celaya, founder of Dosdoce.com, as moderator. A meeting from which interesting conclusions and challenges were drawn:

  • Work together (podcasts, audiobooks, etc.) to promote the audio category as an industry.
  • Other territories such as Latin America and Hispanic USA need to be developed fast.
  • Spain enjoys a high listening culture that we must foster.
  • The importance of launching formats (print, ebook and audio) simultaneously.
  • Audio is a healthy entertainment form, away from screens.
  • Spend more time together and share ideas, establish acollaborative funds.
  • We must create a wide and diverse catalogue because we are still far from other markets.
  • Generate accessible content.
  • Podcast needs to be understood as a cultural industry.
  • Digital tools to improve measurement and analytics.
  • Drafting of white papers from the academy to understand the business.
  • Work more on monetization and engagement through advertising, as well as other business models
  • Promote industry events.
  • Develop new markets and content: children’s and business above all.
  • Protect intellectual property and contractual protection to not feed machine learning.
  • AI Voice verification.

An event that left an excellent impression on the attendees, satisfied to have learn about experiences from all areas of the industry and glimpse the possibilities of the future to truly create a powerful and exporting audio sector in Spanish-language.

The Audio Day PARIX training meeting is an initiative of the Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez (GSR Foundation), which commissioned Javier Celaya, founding of Dosdoce.com, to coordinate the contents, speakers and structure of conference. The attendees also highlighted the excellent organization led by Luis González, general director of the GSR Foundation.

The GSR Foundation organizes through the PARIX School the  online course “Creation and sale of audio content for the publishing sector” that has already allowed more than 100 professionals from the publishing sector to be trained to create, produce and promote content in all types of audio formats.  Registration is now open for the third course, next April, directed to all those professionals who want to stand out in this revolution in the publishing industry that audio represents.

Toñi Ricoy and Javier Celaya

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