Affording Digital Audio Sleep Media

Curator's Note

Audio advertising techniques work against relaxation and sleep, and commercial broadcast radio is a poor place for audio sleep media. Audio commercials work to disturb the listener. Audio-only advertising relies on the loud noise, abrupt tonal shifts, discordant music, and urgency. Effective audio advertising is meant to “stand out” from the program, and few companies create unique ads[1]. Consolidation and homogenization of broadcast stations pressure stations toward advertiser-friendly syndicated programs, which further marginalizes audio sleep media on most broadcast stations.

Digital audio works on different business models than broadcast. Although many digital audio programs use traditional advertising, options like crowd-funding or subscriptions are more common in digital audio media than commercial or public broadcasts. These models allow creators and users of digital sleep media to profit with limited involvement of third parties. Removing third-party advertising affords uninterrupted audio sleep media not possible on commercial broadcasts.

Although digital-friendly funding models afford uninterrupted audio sleep media, digital audio sleep media conforms to the logic of capital. The growth of consumer goods marketed to support sleep, including audio sleep media, extracts capital from sleeping bodies[2]. Subscriptions rooted in platforms disproportionately benefit the platform over the creator. Changes in business practices afford audio sleep media, but these changes further commodify audio sleep media as well.


[1] Pete Schulberg and Bob Schulberg. 1996. Radio Advertising : The Authoritative Handbook. Vol. 2nd ed. Lincolnwood, Ill: NTC Contemporary.

[2] Leonard, Suzanne, and Diane Negra. "Labour, Self-Care and Respite: Neoliberal Rationalities in Sleep Crisis Rhetoric." new formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics 106 (2022): 43-59.

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