While the podcast space is heating up with a variety of players including Apple, Audible, Spotify and Luminary, a smaller-yet-promising French app called Majelan is rolling out across 50 countries with an international library of 280 000 audio series, or 13 millions episodes, in 15 languages. Majelan is also kicking off with 20 original or exclusive audio programs, seven which are in-house productions.
Available in French and English on iOS and Android, Majelan is being launched by Mathieu Gallet, the former president of INA (national audiovisual institute) and Radio France, and Arthur Perticoz, the co-founder of the thriving French start-up Wynd.
“Historically, Europe has been driving cultural innovation. The audio sector is currently not pre-empted by a Chinese or American leader (so) France, and more broadly Europe, have a lot of cards to play,” said Gallet, the president of Majelan.
The platform comes as a free app with aggregated podcasts, and as a premium app, Majelan+, which will be available either as subscription-based, cancel-anytime service with a monthly fee of €4.99 or as pay-per-view. The service’s model is not based on advertising but on subscriptions.
Gallet and Perticoz raised an initial €4 million to launch the platform, the bulk of which was spent on the technology. One of Majelan’s stakeholders is Xavier Niel, the powerful founder of the leading French telco group Free and co-founder of Mediawan.
Rather than trying to be a niche service like many existing podcast apps, Majelan doesn’t claim a specific editorial line and aspires to lure a wide range of audiences – from children to teenagers, families and sophisticated mature users — with an broad offer spanning documentary, fiction, among other genre.
The initial offer of original audio content includes “Maupassant (s),” a show featuring French personalities who will interpret the fantasy-filled novellas of the French master Guy de Maupassant; “Mais pourquoi je dois?,” for young children; “Kit de survie pour revisions à l’arrache,” featuring Redouane Abbassi, a maths professor and rapper who gives humorous advice to teenagers who are cramming for exams at the last minute; “”Flow, l’atelier oratoire,” a show bringing together well-known speakers who give insight on how to become an eloquent public speaker.
Although the first slate of Majelan originals does not include fiction series, the service will include Sherlock Holmes and Arsene Lupin audio series from INA.
The audio content available on Majelan will be filtered according to the language, length or target demo, across 63 categories, including entertainment, arts, sports, politics and comedy. On top of iOS and Android, Majelan will be available on desktop next fall.
“The ambition of Majelan is to reinvent the way we listen to audio programs,” said Gallet, adding that the service primarily strived to become a leader with French-speaking users who represent about 300,000 people worldwide.
Perticoz said the service will be investing more in originals going forward and will aim at expanding its international footprint later on.