Bitcoin Lightning-Enabled ‘Listen-to-Earn’ Podcast App Gets an Upgrade

Bitcoin listen-to-earn podcast app Fountain Podcasts now allows its listeners to get paid in Bitcoin (BTC) for the first hour of listening per day.

Founded last year, Fountain uses the Lightning Network — a Layer 2 network built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain that helps make Bitcoin transactions faster and cheaper — to pay listeners in Bitcoin. Users are rewarded for listening to podcasts, engaging with promotional content, referring friends, and creating user-generated content.

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According to Fountain, the previous “Flow” system was not intuitive. The listeners found the mechanics behind the model to be vague and unsatisfactory.

“We looked closely at the data and collected a lot of useful feedback from users. … Obviously the flow system didn’t work. That’s why we’re introducing a new earning system that’s simpler, more intuitive, and more transparent. Most importantly, it allows users to earn more over time,” the company explained in a blog post.

How does fountain work?

Nick Malster and Oscar Merry founded Fountain in 2021 after being inspired by them Adam Curries Podcasting 2.0 project, an initiative that aims to advance and decentralize podcasting. They combined that inspiration with their passion for Bitcoin (and some pre-seed funding from crypto investors Anthony Pompliano) and Fountain Podcasts was born.

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“We saw what Adam Curry did with Podcast Index — the idea that the listener can send value to the creator right as they listen. So we thought, what if we could…allow podcast listeners to earn bitcoin while they’re listening?” Malster said in an interview with CoinDesk.

For listeners

To get paid, listeners download the Fountain app and listen to their favorite podcast shows. The podcast selection on Fountain is similar to traditional podcast apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Users earn satoshis or “sats” (100 millionths of a bitcoin) at a random rate for their first hour of listening. Payment is made through an integrated wallet hosted by Fountain.

A screenshot of the Fountain Podcasts app (Fountain Labs)

A screenshot of the Fountain Podcasts app (Fountain Labs)

Users can also earn Bitcoin by listening to promoted content and referring friends and family to Fountain. Earned bitcoins can be cashed out or used to pay for likes and comments. Users can also fund their in-app wallet with BTC if they want to increase their engagement.

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“Withdrawals are not available immediately but will be unlocked after further listening. If you listen to podcasts regularly, you can cash out in about a week,” Malster told CoinDesk. (Fountain would not disclose the minimum withdrawal threshold.)

More creative listeners can create clips of their favorite episodes, and when other listeners engage with those clips (by liking or commenting), the clip creators earn Bitcoin from that engagement. Clips can be created, edited and published within the app for free.

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For podcasters

Podcasters get paid when listeners choose to pay them. First, a podcast creator must download Fountain and “claim” their broadcast. Podcasts are distributed via publicly available RSS feeds that have email associated with them. (RSS feeds are online files with content that is constantly updated.) Accessing an email associated with a podcast feed gives you ownership of that podcast.

Once a show is claimed, the owner can automatically earn Bitcoin if listeners choose to pay a small streaming rate (sats per minute) to support the show or if listeners pay to post comments ( known as “boosts” in the Fountain app).

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Fountain’s business model

Fountain also offers a premium version for a monthly fee. The subscription fee allows listeners to create custom playlists and send payments without incurring transaction fees.

“So with Fountain Premium, you get a few extra features, some new clipping tools, and the ability to create playlists of your clips. But again, the revenue we make from Fountain Premium goes back into paying users,” Malster said.

Fees are Fountain’s lifeblood. The company makes money by cutting all payments. For example, when non-premium users send payments to support podcasters, Fountain takes a cut. The company also charges a 20% fee on funds paid by podcasters who want to promote their content. The unconventional aspect of its business model relies on maintaining a budget to pay listeners.

“The money goes back to paying listeners. So we’re really fine-tuning our business model to keep paying our regular listeners who come to Fountain every day so they can keep earning,” Malster said.

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