A podcast...on podcasting!
Tyo Guritno of Inspigo
IndoTekno Podcast, 31 July 2020
Welcome everyone to our ninth episode of Indo Tekno, and our second instalment of Sino Indo Tekno, Selamat datang semuanya! I'm Alan Hellawell, founder of startup advisory firm Gizmo Advisors, and Venture Partner at Alpha JWC Ventures.
ART DICKER 0:25
And I'm Art Dicker, a technology lawyer and host of the Gan Bei podcast up here in Shanghai.
For our Indonesian listeners, pendengar Indonesia dapat membaca transkrip Bahasa Indonesia kami. Now today's topic might seem a bit circular for some of our listeners, as our podcast is devoted to...podcasting in Indonesia! We feel that the Sino Indo Tekno series is the perfect vehicle to discuss podcasting in Indonesia, given the very rich precedent of podcasting in China, and some of the learnings we can derive from that market.
ART DICKER 1:00
Yes, the podcast market in China is very different from what we see in the West, with several major podcasting platforms which proactively work with and showcase content creators. The market is estimated to be in excess of $2 to $3 billion, and growing. In order to explore the Indonesian podcasting opportunity, we are pleased to have as our guest Tyo Guritno, Founder of leading Indo podcasting service Inspigo. Welcome Tyo.
TYO GURITNO 1:26
Thank you, gentlemen.
Tyo, we'd love to have you share with our audience your own personal story, describing the path that you've taken to founder Inspigo.
TYO GURITNO 1:35
Sure. I was born and raised in Indonesia. I've spent about 17 years in the tech industry; always interested in the mix of technology and new media, audio, education and entertainment. I started my career in the States, in Silicon Valley. I worked for Electronic Arts, the game company. That was the first introduction to the new media technology industry. Then I worked for Pandora, a music streaming company when they were quite small, in 2007. So I experienced the "growing up era" for the music streaming scene. And then I also created startups after Pandora; one in the HR industry, and the other one was in the education industry. So, in 2016, I decided to move back to Indonesia, because I had never actually created a product for Indonesia, and I wanted to contribute to the country since I was born and raised here. And in the beginning, after I moved back, I volunteered to help the millennial young people of Indonesia to define their purpose to learn new soft skills. And I experienced in that moment, when I was helping them, that they were not equipped with the right skills, even though they have these huge dreams and marvellous ambitions to help the country. So I was thinking: How can I help these young people with the skills that I know are the experience that I have? So I did more research, and there's 64 million total young millennials in Indonesia. That's a big market and everyone is really starting to adapt with the internet technology. And since I like listening to a lot of podcasts, and I was doing a lot of streaming at Pandora and I did my own startup at WonderBox; all of a sudden all these different experiences and ideas merged into one single idea that gave me Inspigo. Hopefully Inspigo can help these people to gain knowledge easily to get information and to have entertainment that has value for their life so that they can move forward and achieve their dreams.
ART DICKER 3:44
Thanks for that intro Tyo. If you don't mind, I'd like the first set the stage for us by offering some context from the Chinese podcasting industry, especially as far as content-type goes. Here in China. Ximalaya is the largest platform with over 500 million registered users. And within its paid content spectrum, 74% of paid content is in the form of audiobooks, (which in the US, we might see from someone like Amazon's Audible platform). This vastly outweighs other categories, with children's content at about 12.6%, educational content at about 4.2%, history at 4.1%, business at 2.3% and language at 1.7%. So what does the content mix, paid and unpaid, look like in Indonesia?
TYO GURITNO 4:29
Good questions. One thing for sure: everyone loves free stuff, right? No matter, in Indonesia or anywhere else in the world. And especially Indonesian people, they tend to be more active on the free platforms. Because we are in the early stage of the platform era, we are experiencing that a lot of people are consuming free content. But it's slowly moving towards a willingness to pay, which has started increasing. All these on-demand services like Gojek, Grab, and all that stuff, now are part of our lives. We originally didn't want to pay for such a thing. But now we are increasingly paying because of the value that we get out of the service. And the content realm is the same thing. We are starting to see a movement, even though it's still very small, a big portion is still free. But it reminds me when I was doing Pandora stuff. In the early days, everything was free on the internet. It was hard for people to pay for music and subscription was not a thing. But as the industry grows, as the audience is getting more value out of the service, they start paying for the value that they get. So I can see that, even though the mix now is mostly free content in Indonesia, I can see that the more mature the audiences, the more they appreciate the value of the service or the value of the content, or the value of the experience; they start to pay. And I've seen the trend on Inspigo as well.
ART DICKER 6:00
As a quick follow-up on that; in China, again, focusing here on Ximalaya, which is the largest platform, they claim an incredible 155 minutes per day for listeners on their platform. And just in terms of the amount of content that people are listening to in Indonesia: how can you compare to those kind of numbers here in China? And what's the market potential in Indonesia?
TYO GURITNO 6:22
The volume of the listening time of podcasting itself: we started in 2017, 2018. There were other players that have come in doing podcast-type of content. And it increased quite tremendously around 2018. The end of 2018 and 2019 saw a big introduction of podcasts in Indonesia, and in 2020. Now everybody is doing podcasts. Audio has been a very closed type of medium in Indonesia because we were a big radio country. Back in the days radio was one of the big mediums for people to listen to for information or get entertainment. Even though it's shifting now in terms of behaviour, people are consuming more on-demand stuff. But the format of audio has been sticky with our culture. So I presume that this is going to grow even bigger, although the penetration now is more on the free content side. But it will be in the stage where people are willing to pay. We've done a few "pay-per" content types of delivery, and people are actually paying a small amount of money for audio content. And that's a good sign for us, because we didn't believe that people were willing to pay for even video content. And now people are spending for audio content. In terms of pricing, it's like a cup of coffee: it's $2 to $3. And we were testing that and people are willing. It depends on the value that they get. I think the formula for everything is: if you give the value out of this, if you can get yourself to a higher level in terms of knowledge, and you need just to pay $2 for that, or $3 for that; I think the behaviour will shift easily, compared to if you need to pay bigger money for a type of content.
ART DICKER 8:05
And Tyo, you mentioned this a little bit already, as far as consumers listeners and trying to get value and being willing to pay for value. In China, the average listener clearly views podcasting as a means to self improvement and upskilling. In Chinese what we would say is "Gan Huo." It refers to a kind of "dry goods": very "cut-and-dry" knowledge-based learning. And in Indonesia, what would you say the average person is looking for? Is it more a source of entertainment or education?
TYO GURITNO 8:32
Indonesia has been an entertainment market. You see other platforms like TikTok and Instagram, and other platforms, even YouTube. Entertainment has been a way for people to get into the platform. Of course, as people consume more entertainment, they now are very interested in the educational content as well. So I think it's a combination of both. Now that more and more professionals are generating content, they try to put value into their entertainment content. So, it's a mix between education and entertainment. There's some educational value in the content as well. So it's hard to split both because a lot of the content nowadays is kind of a mix of both.
Tyo, furthering Art's line of inquiry: How do you see the Indonesian podcasting business model evolving? As best as we can see from the data available, most of the players like Ximalaya and Lizhi in China generate just a few percentage points of their revenue from advertising, while much more comes from the platform's cut of users paying creators for content. What do you expect the revenue breakdown to be for the Indonesian podcasting industry in general?
TYO GURITNO 9:43
I think in the beginning, it will be dominated by advertising, because people tend to like free stuff. But then as it progresses along, the creator needs to get revenue out of it. So, now people are realizing that, with not just podcast content but with other content, that with free content, sometimes there's a branded message inside that. So people are not clear whether this podcast or creator is trying to sell something or is trying to give something, whether it's entertainment or educational value. So the more people are doing that, and the more ads that are in the free content, I think people are going to value paid service where there are no ads. And it will take many years, because in the US itself, when I was doing Pandora, it took some time to get to a state where people are willing to pay, even though they're in terms of economy, it's more mature. But the cycle is similar. And my bet is that the advertising realm in the podcasting industry will get very creative, because there's a lot of opportunities to create advertising that's lined up with the content. And I think that part will take a big chunk for the first few years. And subscription will be there for a good number of audience, but it will be dominated by advertising. And maybe in three to five years, it will shift to being more dominated by subscriptions and "pay-per" content.
ART DICKER 11:14
Thanks Tyo. Let's dive in a bit to who these content creators are. In China again, by comparison, the most popular podcasters these days are often successful entrepreneurs, university professors at famous universities, television personalities, etc. Who are the most popular personalities on Inspigo?
TYO GURITNO 11:32
It's quite similar. We have thought leaders, experts in their industries, and entrepreneurs as well. I think one of the most interesting findings for Inspigo is that the mindfulness topic is quite popular, along with entrepreneurial topics, as well as soft skills topics. Mindfulness is quite popular among our listeners, and a lot of new upcoming mindfulness experts are getting more attention on our podcast. So, especially during this pandemic time, where everyone is getting a little bit more stressed, they need to have some solutions to relieve their stress. And the content creators are not just sharing their thoughts, but they also do guided meditations, guided healing, and those things are quite popular in terms of listening on our platform.
Tyo: on the topic of the pandemic, how have listening patterns changed and overall usage changed in the COVID-19 era?
TYO GURITNO 12:33
The two things that that are new for us are that. One, the learning appetite is increasing. The appetite for learning during this time is higher because they feel like, "now I have extra time, I want to learn something new." So we have a lot of knowledge-based content and people are consuming a lot of that. And the second one is the one that I mentioned earlier: the stress relief content. A lot of people are are consuming that type of content. We see the "Calm" app as a good inspiration for us, because "Calm" focuses on meditation and wellness types of content. And in terms of habit, during normal days, people listen in the morning and throughout the day. There's a little bit of spike at night, before they go to bed. But now the spikes, there are two: one in the morning and one at night. At night, people are actually listening more compared to prior to COVID. A lot of the content that they listen to is the stuff that can help them relax more before they go to bed. So we've learned a lot from the last five months of staying at home. The type of content that's relevant with the current conditions is the one that is getting consumed more and more.
ART DICKER 13:48
If we can move a little bit to the competitive landscape in China: we've seen major players here, we've mentioned some of them already, like Ximalaya FM. It's got most of the traffic, which is driven a lot by professional content creators. We have "Qingting", which is also pretty broad in scope, but tends to be a little more international with its content. We have "Lizhi", which is actually now a public company in the US, and it tends to target listeners under the age of 24. And then we have purely professional channels, subscription-based, like "Dedao", and they are actually quite selective with their content creators that are allowed to come on the platform. So where do we sit among the likes of, let's say, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and other variants?
TYO GURITNO 14:32
It's a mix of different forms. I mentioned we are doing subscriptions, we're doing "pay-per" content. We will be doing more advertising as well. So it's a mix of all these different platforms. And in terms of content, currently, we are focused on knowledge-based content and some entertainment content. And in terms of competitive landscape, if you look at video, video also has multiple players like YouTube, there's TikTok, as well as Instagram TV, IGTV and Netflix. They all focus on different things: on UGC, on high quality content and Udemy as well. Inspigo itself is a mix of high quality content that caters to learning and educational and also entertainment topics. So we're a mix of all these different platforms.
ART DICKER 15:20
And as a quick follow up: these platforms that I mentioned earlier in the question; Ximalaya FM, Qingting and others here in China, have quite an elaborate setup as far as content moderation goes. And some of that is automated. Some of that is not automated. ItIn's human-driven content moderation, just looking for things which are deemed sensitive and run against legal requirements here in China. I'm wondering if there's anything even close to that in the Indonesian market.
TYO GURITNO 15:47
I can speak for Inspigo. We are curating the content manually. We have to make sure everything that is going into the platform is suitable for the audience, and we make sure we deliver high quality content. So it's not just about the content. In terms of production, we also pay attention to the quality itself. We train the creators. We set the standards and they understand our standards. So they deliver the content in our platform within our standards. So we still do it manually. Of course, it's a challenge for us to automate that system, because there's a lot of aspects in terms of the validations. But our end goal is to provide the best quality content. So we have to try to achieve that with whatever we do to make it happen.
Tyo we've seen some high profile commercial transactions of recent, one of them being the roughly $100 million deal that US podcaster Joe Rogan signed to broadcast exclusively with Spotify. Do you expect the frequency and size of such mega deals to multiply over time?
TYO GURITNO 16:51
In my opinion, the Joe Rogan deal was actually a good way to highlight, or to trigger, this awareness of people creating good quality podcasts. When you create podcasts, you need to be thoughtful. Everything needs to be managed well, and you have to have a good way to communicate with the speakers and all that. So I think the deal sets the standards of good quality podcasts, and everyone, even Indonesians, is using Joe Rogan as the benchmark of a good podcast. I think the deal inspires a lot of people to create good quality content, especially podcasts. So, for the industry i think it's it's good to increase the standards.
ART DICKER 17:37
Thanks Tyo. And a follow up question from what we've been talking about earlier: In my own experience, having put up my own podcast, "Gan Bei" and a predecessor on Ximalaya FM, I know that, within the management, or just within all of these platforms, there is a strong preference for paid content because that's, at the end of the day, how these platforms make their money. And they push that content much more aggressively. In China, like other places, you'd have user generated content, or UGC, which has often many more creators doing that. But PGC, professionally generated content, is actually less than 1% of the total content on platforms, but yet such a large part of these platforms revenue. What is the mix, and how do platforms work with creators in Indonesia?
TYO GURITNO 18:23
I think it's quite similar in terms of percentage, maybe even lower in terms of PGC content, but most of the content is UGC. With PGC, I think the Joe Rogan deal and similar types of deals locally, they see that as a new standard of creating PGC content, and more and more are creating more professionally generated content now. But still, the mix is almost similar as what you have there. And I think the trend is shifting towards PGC. But again, the Indonesian market is a little bit unpredictable, in a way. We thought that the video market is maturing in terms of content. People are creating more professional content, and then TikTok came in, and everyone is doing just UGC content, even though the trend is moving towards PGC. But again, all these different things are coming in. And the typical Indonesian market is quite seasonal. So, we need to keep monitoring the market and see what's new and what's trending. But we see a lot of shifting with the professionally generated content gaining more and more traction.
Tyo, do you see much potential in incumbent offline media in Indonesia, such as TV and radio, either collaborating with podcasting platforms such as Inspigo or coming up with competing solutions?
TYO GURITNO 19:48
We're actually collaborating with some of them as well. It's mostly driven by the advertisers. Advertisers are not as willing as before to put their advertising on TV and Radio. They're moving to online. So these TV stations and radio stations are looking into online solutions to make sure that they still get the advertising revenue. So they are now collaborating with offering like Inspigo, to make sure that they still get their audience, as well as their revenue. So I think in the future, it will be like that because it's moving towards more online behaviour. So they need to adjust with the current behaviour.
Tyo, these have been absolutely fascinating insights into a very promising area of online media. Well, this concludes our ninth instalment of Indo Tekno...
ART DICKER 20:35
...and our second episode of Sino Indo Tekno. We really enjoyed hosting you today Tyo. Thanks so much for your time and insights.
TYO GURITNO 20:42
The podcast was translated from English to Bahasa Indonesia by Alpha JWC Ventures. Terima kasih untuk mendengarkan. Sampai jumpa lagi!