To consume a new podcast people often go for a stimulating alternative such as a political debate or a true crime mystery to speed up the pulse. But when the noise of the world becomes too much, listeners often need the opposite vibe: something soothing and calming, perhaps accompanied by the sound of still or falling rain. Maybe a touch of cricket.
Quietly log on to white noise podcasters.
While the top of the podcast charts on Spotify and Apple are still dominated by non-essential hosts, these days you can also reliably find a smattering of white noise shows appearing in the mix. Relatively new to the podcast scene, cool programs have names like “Calming White Noise,” “Best Noise Labs,” “Relaxing White Noise” and “Deep Sleep Sounds.”
Who is behind the popular offerings is a mystery.
To date, the major podcast networks have yet to pile into the fray, leaving independent creators to serve a growing market. Curiously, at a time when most podcasters hog the public’s attention, white noise podcast producers remain a relatively tight-lipped group. Requests to speak with multiple shows, even those with contact forms, were denied or went unanswered. In one case, the name of a website’s owner was hidden, with its host, inappropriately, listed as “Earth”.
Those who responded to interview requests say they’re making good money, winning over fans, and marveling at the power of podcast distribution. Collectively, the shows represent a growing and engaging podcast genre.
Florida Keys resident Todd Moore quit his cybersecurity job in 2009 to focus full-time on an app he named White Noise. In 2019, he launched a podcast called “TMsoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds” using Anchor, Spotify’s free podcast-hosting software. Moore says that his white noise show now gets about 50,000 listeners per day, according to Marshall Williams, partner and chairman of podcast advertising agency Ad Results Media, which would rank in the top 25 percent of all podcasts.
Todd Moore and His White Noise Team Yes, they have five employees and offer a contractor subscription plan. But most people listen to the free, ad-supported version. Since Moore doesn’t want to disrupt the quiet atmosphere of his show, he chooses to include only pre-roll commercials. Anker handles the commercial loads and pays Moore $12.25 per thousand, which adds up to about $612.50 per day, or about $18,375 per month.
“I never thought writing a small app on the weekend would turn into my full-time life,” Moore said. “You just never know.”
Although Moore built his business primarily through his app, he says that streaming content now provides the majority of his revenue. In addition to podcasts, he also releases his cool voice in the form of music tracks, which generate income from royalties, and in the form of videos on YouTube.
The success of “Tmsoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds,” appears to be tied to a variety of factors: Moore buys ads on Spotify and houses ads around his website and app, which may prompt people to watch it. Spotify’s algorithm can lead listeners to such podcasts based on their search queries or past selections. The automated process has already mined at least one incidental white-noise star.
In 2019, Walt Disney Company employee Brandon Reid, who lives in Florida, began using Anchor to host some white noise programming he hoped would help his child fall asleep. Reed wasn’t aiming to make a successful podcast, he said, but soon the Spotify algorithm began to push people into his show, “12 Hour Sound Machine (no loops or fades).” That year, he produced three, free episodes, filled with hours of static noise.
Now, three years later, nearly 100,000 listeners play his show daily. What started out as essentially a cozy sounding blanket for your baby, now regularly pops up on Spotify’s charts of the most popular podcast episodes around the world. Last year, Reid’s show topped the charts in four different countries.
“I didn’t even intend for people to hear this,” he said.
At one point last year, it climbed to number 15 on the Top Podcasts chart, putting her in the company of shows like Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” and The New York Times’s “The Daily.”
“The amount of production that goes into some of these podcasts, the production value, and then for this silly noise that goes on for 12 hours to be in the top 100, sounds crazy,” Reid said. “People are absolutely eating it.”
His unintentional hit has also charted on Apple Inc.’s Podcasts app and has reached a total of more than 26.6 million listeners, he said. Reed now offers a $2.99 monthly subscription, which gives paying customers access to additional sounds and the ability to request new ones. When a chiropractor needs a railroad clap for an anxious patient, Reid goes out and holds him. So far, he has earned over $10,000 through subscriptions. Audiences also tip him, he says, usually from $5 to $7. Sometimes, they go high. A man whose rescue dog slept for Reed’s handiwork once sent him $100 as a thank you.
White noise fans are fiercely loyal, says Reid. Once, she changed the frequency of a still track and she later heard a regular listener begging her to change it back because it was the only sound that would put their baby to sleep.
“The funny thing is, how important it has become to people,” Reid said.
Like Moore, Reed chose to host on Anchor, which Spotify acquired in 2019, because it’s free and allows for multi-hour episodes, unlike music tracks. These days, 97% of Reed’s audience and 94% of Moore’s listen on Spotify. Typing “sound machine” on the service may cause Reed’s program to come out as the top result. Typing in “ocean waves” or “sounds of the woods” could summon a moor.
Although Spotify has stumbled upon demand for White Noise podcasts, the shows come at a time when all networks are looking for new hits and attracting a wider range of creators. Last year, Apple Podcasts introduced subscriptions before Spotify. Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc. is investing in meditation and other wellness-related podcasts that will be available exclusively through Amazon Music.
Despite his early success, Reid says he has no plans to quit his day job. White noise podcasting is something he does for fun. He is now taking his family outside to capture various ambient sounds. Reed, a white noise purist, knows he can make good money with commercials. But he doesn’t join them because he worries that the commercial’s voice will disturb the rest of his audience.
“It’s embarrassing to say how much money I’ll make,” he said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)