A year has flashed by since we launched Crowd Network in September 2020.

You can try and predict your first 12 months as a start up company, and any good business plan should do that – but in a formative industry such as podcasting, with a pandemic raging, can you stick to it?

Our plan was to develop a number of high quality, timeless shows which Crowd owned all or part of the IP. We could then monetise those shows continually and use that as a springboard to scale.

We have had success. Our titles have been downloaded over five million times. The Joe Marler Show and The Geraint Thomas Cycling Club are established podcasts with large and loyal listeners which has allowed us to expand into merchandise and live shows. Our personality slate has grown with the addition of Hollywood Star Alan Cumming.

Murder In House Two was a number one True Crime Podcast in the UK, picked up an award and has led to other opportunities for Crowd to develop our slate of high-end narrative shows.

We made a promise at the very start that Crowd would be an inclusive company, bring through diverse voices and create content for social change. I am proud to say we have delivered with the success of The Mentor and Unaccountable. The Mentor, which was nominated for a British Podcast Award, was in partnership with Ric Lewis and The Black Heart Foundation. Unaccountable was a powerful show which focused on the campaign for police reform in the USA.

It has not been a smooth journey – it was never going to be. Patience is key, shows take time to grow. We Didn’t Start the Fire is a podcast we are very proud of – we are now 30 episodes in, and the audience is now going rapidly as word of moth spreads. We expect that to increase further when the guy who wrote the song makes an appearance – watch this space. But it has been a slow burn.

We are continually refining our marketing and monetisation strategies. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all in podcasting. It’s everybody’s job in the podcast industry is to talk to brands about the effectiveness of podcast advertising.

It was important we remain true to our Manchester roots – our recruitment is very much focused on the North West and we continue to receive huge support from the local business community. I would suggest that has been the most important element of Crowd’s success this year. Without that expertise around marketing, legal work, accounting, insurance etc we would have been unable to focus on the great content. The advice and support of our investors, Enigma Holdings, has also proved invaluable.

So, what does the next 12 months hold in store for Crowd? We are certainly not slowing down that’s for sure. The aim is to continue to develop our personalities strand to build on the success of Joe Marler, Geraint Thomas, and Alan Cumming, whilst increasing our documentary/narrative slate. Following the impact of Murder in House 2 we will be releasing content that is aimed at the US audience. It is challenging to break into that market, but the rewards are higher.

We have a big two months ahead with the release of four titles which we are very excited about. First up on September 13 – today – is American Vigilante, a unique project that will certainly get people talking. Following that on the documentary side will be Anthrax, the story of the attacks that followed straight after 9/11 and spread global panic. Crowd will then be releasing Dot Com, a strand that explores the people of the internet. It starts with a six-part series on the story of Wikipedia.

We are also working with Jamie Redknapp on his first podcast project, which we believe will offer a unique perspective on some of football’s biggest names.

My own personal highlight of the last 12 months has been the culture we have established at Crowd. Our team is supportive of each other, hugely creative and importantly enjoy their work. We have established partnerships with companies that match our values – excellence, inclusivity and trailblazing – and ambition. Plus I get to work with some really extraordinary people.

I can’t wait for the next 12 months.

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