When arts and culture writer Michelle Khouri started The Cultured Podcast, she had to teach herself everything from the technical side of producing audio to where to distribute to marketing.
“I taught myself all of the technical sides of podcasting, and through Cultured I was able to tell those stories that I was meaning to tell and play with marketing and audience development. I was able to experiment with it and acquire a very rare know how and skill set of podcast marketing and audience development,” says Khouri.
It’s a valuable skill set to have today. In 2017, the U.S. podcasting industry was up 86 percent from 2016m, hitting $314 million in revenue. One study estimates that the industry will double to reach more than $650 million by 2020.
And Atlanta’s thriving audio industry is taking advantage. Atlanta-based podcasting company HowStuffWorks leads the pack — they released the podcast hit Atlanta Monster last year, and recently announced an acquisition by iHeartRadio. But there are also countless individual podcasters sharing their stories through the audio medium.
“We need somebody in Atlanta to pioneer this industry, because Atlanta needs to be the next national podcasting hub,” says Khouri.
That person might be her. Khouri has brought together a star podcast team to launch FRQNCY Media Co. — a membership-driven multimedia production studio and community hub, built by and for podcasters.
“A lot of companies think that podcasting is as easy as putting a table in a sound-proofed room with two microphones. But it’s so different because even though you’re dealing with the same medium, it doesn’t mean it’s the same culture tone, audience, etc.” explains Khouri.
The upcoming 6,000-square foot FRQNCY hub will offer a full suite of services needed to create, distribute and market audio content, all in one place. From full-service production, to marketing and audience development consulting, to studio and equipment rentals and an audio-first event venue, FRQNCY will offer all of the resources and community connections that Khouri herself needed when she started her own podcast.
Khouri is joined by Headspace’s Director of Audio David Markowitz as lead advisor, who brings over 25 years of audio production and strategy to the team, as well as strategic consultant and CEO of The Guild, Nikishka Iyengar, who will lead FRQNCY’s community and financial strategy. She also put together a group of advising CEOs from the arts, energy and advertising industries to advise on the business model.
Prior to creating her plan, Khouri had dozens of hours worth of conversations with individual broadcasters, producers and engineers in focus groups, and conducted an in-depth competitive analysis of resources or related endeavors across the U.S.
“This will be the nation’s first full-service podcast, production studio, marketing agency, event space and community hub. It’s meant to be a one-stop-shop for growing the ecosystem in Atlanta and our goal is to grow that ecosystem from the inside out,” says Khouri.
“We’re going to be educating future podcast talent and producers, engineers and anybody on the production side who doesn’t have industry-specific experience through workshops and courses. The event space is going to be built as an audio-first venue where you can live-record a podcast, so if you want to go on tour with your podcast, you can come to Atlanta and do so at FRQNCY.”
The hub will also have hot desks available when the event space is not being used to provide members with a space to connect with other people and work on admin tasks beyond recording. “There isn’t a place where multimedia creators can go to feel that sense of community at all times in Atlanta, aside from a few meetups. We want to bring established and emerging podcasting talent together to feed off each other and help each other grow,” says Khouri.
Khouri will provide marketing consulting on-site for emerging podcasters that need help with their brand. Through her marketing agency, Creative Powerhouse, she has helped major brands create brand identities, podcast-specific websites, strategic marketing and audience development plans.
“We do a competitive analysis and help you because we know best practices for podcasting, and then help you create a structure and a format that really speaks to your goals,” says Khouri.
Khouri is currently part of women-focused entrepreneurship bootcamp Launchpad2x to further focus her goals and scaling plans. The FRQNCY team has already kickstarted their services to start cultivating the community with two podcast clients, LaunchPad2x and Bill Nussey‘s Freeing Energy Project. While the team is currently in fundraising mode and taking meetings with several strategic investors, they plan to open the brick-and-mortar hub in 2019.