Interview with Kurt Thielen

By the editorial board

Zebralution is specialised in a specific type of market: marketing and metadata for audio content. In Spotify algorithms work very well for suggesting similar music to one’s taste. What is it needed for algorithms to work in the same way for audiobooks and podcasts?

A lot depends on good metadata and tagging by the publishers and their service companies. The better that is the better will the algorithms work. Spotify already now gives recommendations when you choose an audiobook!

In the music industry the digital format caused a disruption in the business model. Do you think this could be replicated in the book market?

I think the book market is in a better situation than the music business if they are ready to accept learnings.The disrupture in music went deep, cost a lot of turnover and jobs. But th upturn through streaming is enormous now. For instance the prediction for the German market is that the streaming turnover will double from 2018 to 2021 – and it is already by far the strongest format and the market is now as strong as it was last in 2006.

What are the differences in marketing between audiobooks and other formats, print and digital books for instance?

Apart from the obvious difference that a well known narrator can make I think the mobility of digital audiobooks is key – you can simply listen in a lot of situations where you cannot read.

In terms of monetarization and prices, what are possible changes in the field of audiobooks?

I am totally convinced that streaming is the way forward for audiobooks and with it various subscription models.

Do you think that audiobooks, in their current format, have been already developed to the highest standards in terms of sound techniques or is it possible to observe further evolution?

It seems that the extremely strong market for specially (ad not for radio) produced audiodrama is still fairly unique worldwide. But the use of more voices, music and sounds can add more flavor to certain books and I am convinced that this will become a trend in other countries too.