This week, The Ken’s audio team did something no business publication has ever done before.
We created a music playlist.
This playlist, which we call ‘Sunshine and Coffee: A Playlist for Working’ is put together to help you focus while reading one of our articles, or as you go about your day at work. As our resident audio-engineer (and DJ) Rajiv put it, “A curated playlist of sounds ranging from the intricate play of a mandolin to the relaxing chords of a grand piano. One beat at a time, this playlist is perfect to help you focus as you go about your day at work or reading The Ken.”
Perhaps you are wondering why The Ken is now creating music playlists. Or maybe you love the idea and want to contribute to the playlist. Perhaps, you prefer we create other audio products like a dramatic narrative podcast about businesses, or a live Clubhouse with some compelling panellists, or even a death-metal album.
All of these are valid.
Which is why we want to hear (heh!) from you.
Audio, at least in India, is a fairly derivative medium. It’s new, and most producers, at least in India, are still figuring out how to use audio to create products and experiences. In many ways, audio is where business journalism was in mid-2016—there’s a surplus of content out there, but very little of it is compelling enough to listeners, and almost none of it is stuff that people are willing to pay for. Consumers seek quality and are even willing to pay to support it, but they are unable to articulate what makes a great, valuable audio product.
We want to figure this out, and we want to do this with you.
The Ken’s audio team is now four members strong, and we have a simple mission.
We want to create compelling audio products and experiences that are worth paying for, and which increase the value of your paid subscription. This isn’t easy to do—almost nobody has done it before. So, we’ve decided that the way we are going to do this is the way we build all new products at The Ken—incrementally, iteratively, through one-off experiments and feedback. This is how we’ve built pioneering products like Unofficial Sources Unofficial Sources Each fortnight we take India’s most significant business and tech stories and strip away complexity, spin and PR and add unbiased analysis, simplicity and wit. Hosted by Anushka Chhikara and Olina Banerji, in conversations with writers and reporters of The Ken Read more , our top-ranked audio podcast, or Visual Stories Visual Stories Understand business the way it’s meant to be seen, through charts, graphs and infographics Read more , which we launched last month.
Our approach is to create one-off audio experiments across our products regularly, maybe once every fortnight, and to collect feedback from our subscribers.
For instance, last week, we created an audio story of one of our newsletters, Moneyball Moneyball The Ken - Moneyball Why CVC Capital is buying an IPL team Read more , read out by the writer, Jaideep.
We got some incredible feedback from readers for this experiment. Most of our subscribers loved this because listening to a newsletter is very different from reading one. In many ways, it changed everything.
For the better part of 20 minutes, for the first time, you could experience a newsletter in ways you’d never done before. You could even make out when he was smiling, and when he was serious. After listening to it, subscribers told us they felt a connection to Jaideep, like they understood why he sounded frustrated at certain points in the story, or why he felt elated, all while his cats occasionally mewed softly in the background.
This is why we believe in the power of audio.
It’s why we think that a music playlist to help subscribers concentrate and focus at work doesn’t sound (heh again!) like a crazy idea.
But the question is—what else can we do?
What other audio experiences can we create that you’ll not just enjoy but will also knock your socks off?
We have a few ideas, and we are already working on some new, exciting products. We’ll be rolling them out over the coming weeks, and we’ll be closely watching your feedback. As much as we believe in audio, we also believe that subscribers of The Ken understand and recognise quality and will be the best people to tell us what’s worth paying for and what isn’t.
It’s an exciting time ahead.
If you liked this and want to contribute to our playlist, write to Rajiv at his [email protected] He’d love to listen to your recommendations. He’s a walking library of music recommendations.
And as with all our audio experiments, if you want to help us refine this and want us to continue this, fill up this form so we can make this better together.
Here’s to more experiments.