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Hearing Voices - Issue #80, or "Voice Phishing"


Hearing Voices

September 13 · Issue #80 · View online

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“Criminals used artificial intelligence-based software to impersonate a chief executive’s voice and demand a fraudulent transfer of $243,000” - WSJ
“Readers used artificial intelligence-based software to impersonate real people RSVP'ing for the Hearing Voices Summit on Audio 3.0 - Me (FYI it’s okay to come in person, or to send your AI replica)

Hi Everyone,
Dont forget to check out our VERY FIRST Hearing Voices event in New York City on Sept 29th. It’s part of a series of intimate (~100-200) person events at Betaworks where we go deep on a specific topic. We’ll cover airpods/ smart headphones as a platform, new monetization that’s working, and personalization in voice from data-driven to synthetic voice in podcasts.
But Matt, who’s going to be there? Well me, but also the people I look up to most in the category. Among them are Mike Mignano (CEO of Anchor), Nicola Korenzko from Podfund, Dennis Crowley (Foursquare Founder– who might be the most thoughtful person I’ve met around how products can use airpods as a platform).
Who else will be there? And a number of others including investors Megan Maloney from General Catalyst and Jordan Cooper from Pace Capital, builders Molly Beck (, Daniel Wheeler from, and Jonathan Myers (Earplay).
Don’t forget Hearing Voices subcribers get discount: IMASUBSCRIBER20 sign up here:
Okay, now on to…
What's Up In Voice
> Try Podchaser – this is sort of a podcast discovery and search engine. It organizes podcasts by category, and users can create their own lists (e.g., Austin Podcasters Friday Listen). but the data I haven’t seen before is that not only can you search by podcast, but also frequency. So for example you can search for all gaming podcasts that come out daily, multiple times per week, once a month, etc. (spoiler there are no daily podcasts on gaming). As a fan of daily podcasts, it’s interesting to note that most of the categories say there are zero daily podcasts. Opportunity!
> Read Free podcasts are good for me but bad for business. It’s mostly about how the business is ad-backed and it’s still an open question whether they’re monetizable via subscription. My take? Monetization is already happening but orthogonally. There are companies using the medium (audio) but grouping the content functionally in apps (where you can charge subscription fees directly. The most obvious example is that Headspace is basically a set of podcasts – but if they’d launched as a “podcast” library, it would have been free (assuming they don’t put ads in the middle of your meditations…) Instead, they have a free trial and serialize the episodes. This model is now well know, but I wonder if other functional categories will adopt something similar.
> Read Howard Stern is Getting Ripped Off. The basic argument is that Joe Rogan makes a *ton* on ads, but imagine if he charged like Howard Stern does. I haven’t dug into either of their numbers but in general charging customers generates more revenue per customer than advertising to them. That said, there’s typically a *big* drop-off. Numbers I’ve heard are 3% conversion at the high end. If we compare this to free-to-play games, I’ve heard super low numbers like sub-1% of gamers pay for in-app purchases. So that’s the big variable. Luminary is making this bet by the way – people will pay for the podcast content of one podcaster they *love*. It works for HBO – people typically buy it because of one show. One note on the Howard Stern point is that (again, I’m not an expert) but with the SiriusXM deal I believe the logic was (similar to Netflix & Luminary) that for every person Howard stern bought, Sirius gets a new subscriber. I do suspect that people viewed themselves as getting Howard Stern *and* SiriusXM which at the time was this cool new tech, similar to signing up for Netflix for one show but then staying because you get the whole catalogue.
What’s interesting to me about this business model is that to build a truly mainstream product (e.g., Netflix), at some point the way to grow is to identify groups of people who *don’t* have your service and then create/find shows that appeal to them and advertise those shows. That business model is essentially the same math that Sirius used for Howard Stern. (again, I *think*…I didn’t work there, that’s just the math that makes sense). You can also see Spotify employing pieces of this strategy to get people to listen to podcasts on Spotify who might not have done that. What do you all think??
> Try The Waking Up App – Meditation app from Sam Harris. I was a headspace user and this converted me. I like that it’s not only meditations but also little vignettes about how he thinks about meditation. I also read his book and he covers similar topics. Thanks @andrewbeebe for pointing me to this one.
> Check out Wave – “MEET WAVE, THE NEW TECHY, MUSIC-FOCUSED INNOVATION THAT’S MAKING MEDITATION COOLER THAN EVER” The post uses all caps and I’m keeping them here, but ironically. I’m not sure that I care whether my meditation app makes meditation cooler. It doesn’t sound interesting “the experience that blends standard meditation with an immersive, modern-day twist of music, the sense of touch, and technology.” I haven’t tried it yet – has anyone else?
Okay that’s it for this week. Have a great weekend and hope to see you at the Hearing Voices Summit on Audio 3.0 on Sept 27!
– Matt
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