I interview people for a living so I’m pretty comfortable asking questions of total strangers. It’s actually kind of nice because once someone agrees to an interview they are basically forced by social convention to answer any question I ask even though they could just as easily hang up the phone. Luckily, I haven’t had anyone do that, but I was definitely caught off guard when Dave Keine started turning the tables and asking me questions during our interview. This production house founder had me stumbling through answers for at least half of the hour we talked, but during the other half, he blew my mind with his insights into the industry and the changes that are most likely coming our way. So here’s what I learned, minus my awkward failure to answer any of my own questions.
Dave, like a lot of podcast people, started listening when he had a long commute. Soon, though, listening wasn’t enough. As soon as Dave heard Start-Up, he realized there was a business in podcasting and became fascinated with what being a part of the industry would look like. With a background in advertising and the fact that he was at an agency backing him up, Dave started reaching out to both major networks and the creators and producers of the shows he really liked.
I was on the outside and I was watching it grow and I was like “I gotta get in before it gets too big”
After years of picking the brains of people already in the industry, Dave decided that if he didn’t jump in soon, he was going to miss his chance. So, after working to build up the agency’s podcast capabilities and watching how that functioned, he decided it was time to strike off on his own as Founder and CEO of Triangle Content.
Now, in my time in podcast-journalism, I’ve become pretty familiar with the podcast creation process despite the wide variances in that process from show to show. But I knew that Dave doesn’t host podcasts and Triangle Content isn’t a network, so I really didn’t get what he did. Luckily, interviews are the perfect time to ask obvious questions without sounding too stupid.
“We’re a production house, so our focus is really on creating the content that you listen to. That can be a bunch of different genres but kind of our guiding light is creating a very highly produced sound. What that means in podcasting is heavily edited… cleaned up, all that stuff. Also what we do is sound design… So that’s everything from music to sound effects to changing the narrative…”
Dave knows that every podcast is competing with millions of other shows for recognition and he offers creators the chance to stand out of the crowd with an impressive level of production and slick, clean sound. Triangle Content is betting on the fact that as networks take on more and more shows they will want those shows to have the highest quality content, and that’s where they’ll want to partner with production houses.
It’s a genuine format. The human voice is so personal and you can feel emotion in it so clearly… So we’re not looking to put a plastic coating on it.
See, in a world with only around 30% of people actually listening to podcasts and the other 70% very comfortable with music or television, high levels of production are the expectation in new mediums. It’s a hard sell to get people listening to two guys rambling in their basement, but a podcast that resembles a movie in your mind is familiar and easy to slip into. Triangle Content is making sure that creators are capable of making those kinds of shows across all genres.
An expansion of highly-produced shows across the categories of podcasting isn’t the only trend Triangle Content is watching. Working with creators like those from the uber-popular VSauce Youtube channel has made Dave very aware of one thing for sure: creators and influencers (like those primarily and often originally found on Youtube) are looking to diversify, and there’s a really good chance that means moving into podcast land. Why? And what does that mean for the rest of us already living here?
The why is easy enough to answer. The Youtube medium pays influencers based on the number of ads that get to play on their video: the more times people watch their video, the more ads played, the more revenue generated. But recently more and more videos are being demonetized because of “controversial content” (like influencers reporting on difficult news). Of course, when you are getting billions of views, have a team to support, and aren’t getting any money for your work, it only makes sense to start looking for a new way to share your content.
You have to respect the hell out of your audience.
Dave explained that the answer influencers are coming to is diversifying: spreading out their content to places like podcasting in order to maintain revenue without sacrificing their audience. See, a podcast can be posted anywhere. If creators record and edit their content, there’s no reason that it can’t be posted both on podcasting platforms and on Youtube, catering to the audience’s preference for accessing content.
Podcasting should be watching Youtube for more than just its influencers, though. If Dave is right, the podcasting industry is around five years behind Youtube in that soon the creators will be the business people: running their own studios and companies that hire content creators. Podcasting is moving there a bit through people like Malcolm Gladwell and Aaron Mahnke and shows like This American Life, but Dave predicts that soon the creators will be the ones really running the industry from the top down.
These are the kinds of changes that Dave and Triangle Content think will be shaping the industry in the next few years, and it’s what creators across mediums ought to be paying attention to. Things like high-level production across all genres, shows moving outside of the podcast apps to reach their audience, and creators becoming more than just creators are going to change the landscape of podcasting, and I’m pretty excited to watch those changes happen. I mean, creators built this kingdom, so they may as well be running it.
And if you want to see some of what those creators are making, Triangle Content has some shows to be excited about. The Create Unknown is a new show that partners with the Youtube network Vsauce to go behind the scenes into the lives and work of creators and influencers through interviews on the business behind the art. Triangle Content is also putting out Welcome to Tinsel Town as the new holiday classic for the entire family, making an epic story out of a winter wonderland listeners can be completely immersed in. So, if you love great content and want to follow the people who are shaping the industry, check out Dave and Triangle Content’s work.
This piece on Dave and Triangle Content kicks off our new Industry Leaders series. We want to talk about the people who are pushing podcasting forward and hear what they think may be coming to podcasting as a whole. If you have suggestions for an interview or questions about the content, feel free to email me at email@example.com.