SoundCloud is on shaky financial footing, saying it only has enough money to last a few more months unless someone buys or invests in it. That’s sure to cause anxiety in content creators with their life’s work stored on SoundCloud. Now some new startups are nipping at SoundCloud’s heels by focusing on podcasting in ways the music streaming service never did.
Anchor is a fast-rising podcast app that layers community features on top of audio streaming. It lets creators record right from their phone and take talk show-style call-ins, while listeners can join in-app chat rooms to bond with fellow fans, and give digital ‘applause’ at their favorite moments.
But paying to podcast is so passé. Expensive hosting services like SoundCloud can charge $15 per month for unlimited uploads and downloads. So Anchor is looking to capitalize on SoundCloud’s moment of weakness.
Anchor today launches its podcast transition tool that lets anyone port their audio from another service like SoundCloud to Anchor’s free podcast hosting service. All you need to do is stick the RSS feed for your podcasts into Anchor, and it will download and store them all from SoundCloud, LibSyn or any other source. From there you can distribute your podcasts to iTunes, Google Play, and other outlets.
The transition tool is Anchor’s latest bid to grow into a podcasting powerhouse. Launched in 2015, Anchor has raised over $4.4 million from some big investors like Accel, BetaWorks, CrunchFund, HomeBrew, and SV Angel. The 10-person startup wants to take the mystery out of podcasting, as CEO Michael Mignano tells me “Our goal is to make it so you never even have to know anything about an RSS feed.”
For now, Anchor is completely free for everyone, but promises to cut podcasters in when it starts to earn money. “We strongly believe creators should be able to monetize their craft” says Mignano. Anchor may eventually generate revenue by appending ads to episodes, or offering subscriptions to premium podcasts.
Breaker is another top new podcast listening app, while PodBean and Buzzsprout are a few other affordable hosting options. Parking your podcasts on a fledgling startup may still be risky, but perhaps less worrisome than hosting on a damaged late-stage startup in danger of vaporizing if it can’t find money to make payroll.
This month TechCrunch spoke to several SoundCloud employees who pointed to broken business models and poor morale after the startup aggressively hired people up until the last minute when it layed off 40% of its staff. It needs someone to swoop in and invest around $100 million or acquire it to stay afloat.
“We’ve been hearing everything in the news and we obviously wish them the very best” Mignano said diplomatically as he kicks SoundCloud while it’s down. “What I can say is that there is a huge opportunity to make audio more interactive, more social, and more accessible, and we’re super excited to take that on.”
As SoundCloud crawls towards the cliff’s edge, out come the vultures.