Audio erotica is one of the most exciting growth opportunities in the adult industry today, driven by the broader growing demand for audiobooks.
As part of our audio porn series, we’re looking at the growing popularity of audio erotica. In this guide, we’ll be crunching the numbers and assessing the business of audio erotica. How are companies and publishers making money from the boom?
We’ll answer these questions:
- How is audio erotica becoming a viable business proposition?
- Who are the leading players in the audio erotica market?
- Who is making the money?
- Is there much money to be made — and how can I make it?
- What are the financial issues surrounding audio erotica?
Let’s start by looking at the size of this industry and why it’s considered a real growth opportunity in the adult entertainment space.
- A Summary of Audiobook Market Statistics
- Where Audio Porn Is Today
- How is Audio Erotica Becoming a Viable Business Proposition?
- Audio Erotica Business Models
- Is There Much Money To Be Made?
- Who is Buying Audio Erotica?
- Who Is Making the Money?
- Issues Facing Audiobook Authors & Publishers
- The Financial Future of Audio Porn
A Summary of Audiobook Market Statistics
It’s not easy to extract the size of the audio erotica market, but we can get some helpful context by analyzing the size of the broader audiobook market.
According to the independent research group, Words Rated:
Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the publishing industry and will be the driving force behind the growth of book publishing over the next decade.
They predict that:
- The global audiobook market is currently worth $5.3 billion (2023)
- This will reach $35 billion by 2030.
- Put another way: the audiobook market will increase by 26.4% annually over the next seven years.
- The (printed) book market is forecast to grow by only 1.9%.*
- Audiobooks accounted for around 3.8% of book publishing revenue in 2022.
- This is projected to rise to 4.73% in 2023.
- It’s estimated that audiobooks will take a 10% share of the entire publishing market by 2027.
- It’s also estimated that audiobooks will account for 21.3% of all book publishing revenue by 2030.
*Probably because audiobooks are a relatively new product and enjoyed a fast rise in popularity that may plateau over time.
In the same survey, Words Rated set out a table of audiobook market growth, which shows the closing gap between audio and written word consumption:
|Year||Audiobook market ($ billion)||Book market overall ($ billion)||Share of audio|
For a more visual depiction of the rise of the audiobook, take a look at the graph below from statista.com.
Number of audiobook titles published in the United States from 2007 to 2021:
That’s all well and good — and exciting news for the audiobook market, but we’re talking audio erotica.
It’s included in those figures and charts somewhere, so it’s getting a decent slice of the pie — 3.8% in 2022, rising to 4.73% in 2023, according to Words Rated. It’s reasonably safe, though unscientific, to assume that as the demand for audiobooks increases, so will the popularity of audio erotica.
Yet, audio erotica is its own animal and offers something different from any other genre of reading/listening. Therefore, its differences, uniqueness and subsequent issues must be considered when planning a business based on audio erotica.
Where Audio Porn Is Today
As Franki Cookney put it in an article for Forbes:
“Websites such as Tumbler, Reddit, YouTube and Literotica have been hosting audio versions of smutty stories for years, but they tended to be user-submitted and varied widely in terms of quality and style. This new wave of audioporn platforms is creating content with high production values and careful curation.“
How is Audio Erotica Becoming a Viable Business Proposition?
In 2019, Forbes stated that audio erotica startups had raised over $8 million that year. The Words Rated stats put that year’s audiobook total at $1.37 billion, meaning audio erotica accounted for 0.58% of sales. However, Forbes was talking about startups, not longer-established audio erotica platforms.
Forbes also cited research by the OMGYes sex-ed platform and The Kinsey Institute that stated 90% of women employ ‘mental framing’ to switch off from distracting thoughts and concentrate on their pleasure. This mental framing included running through erotica narrative fantasies in their heads to help fix their moods. That’s good news for the future of audio erotica.
Where that study focused on women, the same would be true for any readership group and sexuality.
Audio erotica represents a unique opportunity, as it’s relatively easy to produce, and it can make money in a variety of traditional and original ways.
Here’s why audio erotica is becoming more of a viable business proposition:
- Growing Demand
- Demand is driven by several factors, including changing attitudes, the rise of digital platforms, and a desire for new forms of adult entertainment.
- Audio erotica innovations can be compared to the rise of Virtual Reality in porn, remote sex toys in chat rooms, etc. The technology curve is expanding our horizons fast.
- Online presence is increasing, therefore reaching a larger audience, therefore increasing the chances of financial success.
- Audio erotica is becoming more accessible through fan-based platforms (think OnlyFans), subscription sites, and other sex tech outlets.
- Anonymity & Privacy
- This is the gimmick of audio erotica.
- Audio erotica offers both anonymity and privacy in its consumption. I.e., you can read it without anyone knowing. This is important in places where keeping sexual desires and interests secret is paramount. For many women, there are still stigmas attached to consuming pornography.
- Diverse Content
- Audio erotica can cover any sexual subject. There are many diverse niches to sell: BDSM, taboo, etc.
- All niche markets offer financial opportunities for authors, narrators and sellers.
- Subscription models
- Subscription sites offer extra perks to paying customers to draw in more spending.
- Crowdsourcing and Collaboration
- This is another way of financing audio erotica. Such projects can help build a fan base to keep the income flowing.
- Monetization Opportunities
- Creators monetize their content through various means: pay-per-listen, advertisements, merchandise sales, and premium subscriptions.
- Evolving Technology
- Boosts quality: the easier availability of binaural recording techniques leads to better-quality recordings, leading to better fan appreciation, and ultimately more sales.
- Disruption of Traditional Adult Entertainment
- Audio Erotica, being non-seen and non-read, offers a different form of adult entertainment to rival traditional movies and written stories.
You’ve Gotta Have a Gimmick
It is said that to sell anything, you’ve gotta have a gimmick. Luckily, for audio erotica, that gimmick comes built-in, and it is intimacy. According to Franki Cookney:
“The beauty of audio is its intimacy, the chance to retreat to your personal bubble. That’s true whether you listen to politics, comedy or true crime, but in few genres is it more appealing than with porn.”
Audiobooks offer a personal experience between you, the narrator and the characters, and by wearing a pair of headphones, you can cut yourself off from one world and become immersed in another. Erotica is titillating, sexually exciting and arousing, a combination that makes for a thrillingly clandestine read on the subway.
Note to the guys: if listening to erotica on the subway, carry a newspaper or something else to cover your, er, enthusiasm. 😉
Traditionally, storytelling was an around-the-fire affair, with a storyteller passing on the legends of the ancestors through the spoken word. Homer never wrote down his Iliad or Odyssey. These stories were originally spoken, and only transcribed hundreds of years later. Now, you can use the technology of Homer’s future to go back to the past and hear his stories read aloud directly into your headphones.
As storytelling has progressed from speech to carved tablet to parchment and paper, so stories (including erotica) have progressed from the spoken word to the written word and back to the spoken word.
It’s doubtful that storytellers of the past had a separate meeting place where they told erotica stories (though I’d not put anything past the Ancient Greeks), and erotica was very much an ‘under the counter’ medium until the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Now, though, it is freely available online, and the rise of audio erotica can be attributed to the broader digital transformation of the adult entertainment industry.
In other words, the internet and its streaming platforms provide a convenient and discreet way for consumers to access this content.
Digital Distribution: The internet and digital technology have made it easier to produce, distribute, and monetize audio content, including erotica. This has allowed for the creation of dedicated platforms and apps specifically designed for audio erotica.
Diverse Content: Audio erotica caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Providers often offer diverse content, including different genres, themes, and narrators, allowing them to target specific niches and attract a broad audience.
Why is Audio Erotica on the Rise?
There are three ways to answer that question, and they are all valid.
- Because there is more of it, and thus:
- Supply is driving demand.
- There are now more outlets for audio erotica, so more people are cashing in on it.
- Demand for income is driving supply.
- Erotica is becoming more mainstream and acceptable, therefore more people want it.
- Demand is driving supply.
Much of that supply and demand comes from women.
Nicole Glennon, writing for the Irish Examiner early in 2023, examined various audio erotica apps. Talking of the app provided by audio erotica giant, Dipsea, Glennon stated:
The app recorded 5.4m listens in 2022 — and 82% of listeners were women. Pornhub, by comparison, says about 36% of its visitors were women last year.
Glennon also highlighted reasons why listeners enjoy audio erotica, including:
- Its ‘Mind-first’ approach to pleasure and sex is as mental as it is physical. (Quoted from Gina Gutierrez, co-founder of Dipsea.)
- Sex and intimacy specialist Grace Alice Ó Sé says, listening can help aid a more “mindful” experience, that helps women “stay in their bodies.”
- Audio erotica provides a wide range of content including Him/Her, Her/Her, Him/Him, non-binary, and transgender, and in a range of voices that help connect listeners from different ethnic groups with, for example, Latina and black narration voices.
- Audio erotica allows ‘a safe place to explore sexuality.’ (Dr Caroline West, a sex educator.)
The above gives some understanding of why audio erotica is becoming more popular in Western society. So it’s no surprise to learn that several companies (and thousands of individual creators) are hurrying to make money from the trend fast. And to give you a spoiler, they’re doing pretty well.
Audio Erotica Business Models
Creators in the audio erotica industry utilize various monetization models, such as pay-per-listen, tipping, or subscription models, to generate revenue. Some creators also use platforms like Patreon to receive support from dedicated fans.
Caroline Spiegel, the CEO of the audio erotica app, Quinn, is quoted as saying that in 2022, after one year on the App Store, Quinn was bringing in around $4 million and registering 740,000 user sessions per month.
That’s one example of the success of one audio erotica app. There are others, and they fall under two main groups; those funded by subscriptions, and those funded by fans.
Premium Site Subscription Models
Some companies and platforms provide paid-for access to a library of high-quality, professionally produced audio content. Users pay a monthly or annual fee to access the range of stories in many genres and niches. This provides a steady source of revenue and can lead to greater financial sustainability.
For example, Dipsea charges $69.99 per year for access to hundreds of erotic audio stories.
Crowdfunded Independent Creators
The audio erotica industry is also fuelled by independent creators and platforms where people share their own audio content. Crowdsourcing and user-generated content help diversify the offerings available to consumers. This has expanded the range of available content. A wider acceptance of crowdfunding and fan sites (like TikTok, OnlyFans and others) provide more opportunities for creators to earn money directly from their work.
There is also scope for cross-promo between large, established porn studios and producers of audio erotica.
Just as how you sometimes see illustrated stories in print with the story matching the models, we are seeing more photo sets and videos accompanied by audio porn. This kind of cross-promotion can bring in new audiences and generate additional revenue.
Is There Much Money To Be Made?
When the Audio Publishers’ Association published its annual sales survey in 2022, it reported a double-digit increase in audiobook sales for the eleventh year in a row.
The 10% increase over the preceding year brought the estimated industry total to around $1.8 billion, a figure also agreed by the Association of American Publishers. There had been a growth in sales during the pandemic of 2020/21, but even without this surge, it is plain to see audio entertainment generally is on the rise.
There is no easy way to put a precise figure on the amount of income made from audio erotica. Private companies and individuals are not required to publish such information, and sometimes, information shared by individuals may not be accurate.
In a post on Reddit, for example, one writer/producer of written erotica suggests they made over $37,000 in the year 2021 to 2022, while on Facebook, one group claims that making $50,000 per annum from eBooks is an achievable goal for an individual. Maybe it is for one or two who are able to invest in good advertising, but very few indie authors have claimed to reach these figures in self-published books, let alone self-produced audiobooks or audio erotica.
One reason is competition. Simply put, the adult entertainment industry is highly competitive, and audio erotica must compete with a wide range of other forms of adult content.
Who is Buying Audio Erotica?
In articles examining the rise of audio erotica, Readers Digest talk about the main consumers as being women. Certainly, among the romance reader groups on social media, the largest percentage of members are women, and it’s generally agreed among authors of romance literature, that the readership is predominantly female, even for gay, MM romance literature.
Vogue magazine has commented on the rise of audio erotica, and, in 2022, Australia’s Women’s Weekly said:
“Women make up 82 percent of people who read romance novels, while the average age of the romance reader is between 35 and 39.”
The article also quotes a scientific study by researcher Harold Leitenberg of The Journal of Sex Research, which found women who read romance or erotic novels have 74% more sex with their partners than those who don’t. Presumably, they have to put down the book first, but if 74% more sex isn’t an incentive for anyone to read or listen to erotica, we don’t know what is!
It’s safe to say that although exact figures are impossible to come by, women are the primary consumers of audio erotica and thus become the target audience for anyone seeking to derive an income from talking-dirty stories.
Who Is Making the Money?
The money from the sales of audio erotica is going to go one of three ways:
- To large subscription platforms
- To medium-sized crowdfunded platforms
- To individuals ‘having a go’
These are online platforms that specialize in adult content, including audio erotica, and sometimes exclusively audio erotica. These sites allow creators to set up subscription-based accounts to offer subscribers exclusive content and earn a regular income from ongoing memberships. The membership income is split between the site and the creator, and there is no standard percentage split.
- OnlyFans: While known for its video and photo content, OnlyFans also supports audio content and may be used for selling audio erotica.
- JustFor.Fans: This platform caters to adult content creators and allows them to sell subscriptions for their content.
- Amazon.com / Audible: Probably the largest outlet, but one with strict rules and guidelines, particularly around covers, but also content.
Creators can use crowdfunding platforms to generate financial support from fans who want to access their content. Examples of such platforms include:
- Patreon: Creators on Patreon offer various types of content, including audio erotica, to subscribers in exchange for regular payments.
- Ko-fi: Ko-fi allows creators to receive one-time payments or ongoing support from their audience.
Ecommerce and Self-Hosted Websites
Some individuals choose to create their own websites or e-commerce platforms to sell their audio erotica directly. This gives them more control over the content and its distribution.
Dedicated Audio Erotica Websites
Some dedicated audio erotica websites and apps offer a marketplace for creators to sell their content. These platforms may handle hosting, distribution, and payments for creators. Examples:
- Wisprr.com: Still small but growing nicely, Wisprr offers both selling and buying opportunities.
- Other, larger sites that might pay for your work include:
Camming and Live Streaming Platforms
While primarily known for live video streaming, some camming platforms also support the sale of audio content, including erotic audio.
Issues Facing Audiobook Authors & Publishers
Earning money from writing fiction is not an easy task, but it is not an impossible one. Our article, How To Sell Erotica on Kindle: Top Tips for Success, will get you started, and although it’s talking about written erotica, the same process and tips apply to audiobooks.
Getting started, however, is only one hurdle, and there are several more, both before and after your audiobook’s release.
There is a list of requirements before you can even begin to upload your product to a website that will sell it, and it’s essential to get these things right before you take the world by storm.
We discuss the technical requirements in our piece: The Tech Behind The Tease: What Do I Need To Create Audio Erotica?
The basic needs for a sellable audio erotica book or story are these:
- A well-written erotica story, edited to a respectable length and catering to your niche market.
- A narrator.
- An understanding of the tech and a high-quality tech setup for recording.
- An understanding of legal and copyright issues.
- A place to sell.
Once an audiobook is published, authors and creators need to monitor sales and movements within the market, readership trends, and less entertaining subjects such as copyright theft and fraud.
Like any business or product, the audio erotica industry faces ethical and regulatory challenges, such as concerns related to consent, piracy, and the potential for explicit or non-consensual content to be shared without consent. You’ll want to avoid any illegalities.
Legal and Ethical Considerations: Adhering to legal and ethical guidelines is essential for the long-term viability of any audio erotica business. Anyone selling audio erotica must comply with laws and industry standards, maintain trust, and avoid legal issues.
Cost vs. Income: Scribe Media estimates producing one audiobook costs between $2,500 and $3,750 for a five-hour book. How much you will make in return is unknown, but what’s for sure is that you will have to continue to invest in your product to advertise and sell it.
DIY Dirty Talk: Some indie authors have gone the route of narrating their own stories. Our advice is: don’t. Unless you are a skilled voiceover artist, public speaker, actor, or have excellent storytelling skills, it’s best left to the professionals. Yes, it’s costly, but quality sells, and you don’t want to get a reputation for selling poorly narrated erotica.
Loss of income due to fraud: This is a nasty issue but must be considered. While we have seen a rise in audiobook sales, there has been a rise in copyright theft and fraud. It happens all the time in the indie-book market, and there’s not much authors can do about it.
Simply put, anyone can transcribe an audio recording and repackage it. There are legal channels you can take if you discover this kind of fraud, but they are complicated and expensive, which is what the thieves rely on.
Many indie authors don’t bother, but authors are banding together to fight the issue, and it’s a development you will need to keep an eye on.
The Financial Future of Audio Porn
Few audio erotica sellers publish their income information and sales numbers, so we can only use the comparison with the general audiobook market to estimate earning potential.
What we can say for sure is this: the market for audio erotica is growing fast.
Right now, this part of the adult industry is still in its early stages of development, which means writers, narrators, and creators of audio erotica have great opportunities ahead. There is much work to do, but also a great chance of financial gain in the future.
Do you have experience selling audio erotica? Would you be willing to share numbers of the success you’ve seen? Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.