This is big question. We see radio types drop into the space and then drop out again. This last month Buzzfeed closed down their podcasting wing. Is this a worry?
I suspect it will worry a few but it need not concern the indie podcaster.
Let me explain.
Podcasting is a medium which speaks to individuals about their passions. It is not, usually, a get rich quick medium. Podcasting is about value. Building value for our listeners, providing a platform for liked minded people to interact. The Buzzfeed model appears to have been a variation on their website model. Difficult to run click baiting surveys like “Which loaf of bread represents my true love.” in a podcast. They also seem to have spent huge amounts of money on teams of producers, engineers and so on. They were then surprised they weren’t getting a return on investment.
Podcasting brings a return on influence, influence in a niche. The narrower the niche, the greater the possibility for influence.
Now that Google has moved their podcasting focus from Google Play Music to the Google Podcasts app, they possibilities are expanding. But they are only expanding for podcasters not for “radio” style networks who don’t understand the medium.
Podcasts are narrowcasts not broadcasts. Now we all dream of numbers like the BBC World Service but that’s not what podcasting is about. True enough, many radio networks have entered the space but rarely do they do more than repackage their radio material as podcasts. They do allow time shifting of listening but they are not designed predominately as podcasts.
The future of podcasting, as I see it anyway, is limitless. We are still, despite the seemingly speeding up of time, in the very early days of the medium. Just 14 years in we have seen networks come and go. We’ve seen the introduction of advertising and I hope, the death of said ads. Podcasting is a worldwide medium. I have a beard and don’t live on the North American continent so ads for razors, mattresses sold in that domain and food delivery services so located are of no interest to me. Indeed I rarely hear an ad that relates to the subject matter of the podcast.
A more likely avenue for revenue from podcasting is a variation of the crowd funding model. Patreon seems to be working for many shows. I’m sure there’ll be more platforms like this in the future. It just makes sense. We podcast, we build a community and then, if our shows deliver value, people are happy to toss in a few dollars each. This is a direct model. Patreon takes their cut but there’s no advertising agency, management teams, sales forces and etc and etc who take their cut. The times we are in mean we can reach the entire world and yet be in a one on one relationship with each of our listeners. It also means we don’t need to deal with gate keepers like executive producers or need complicated setups, “soundproof” studios and actual living sound engineers. Lots more on those topics when I cover gear and recording spaces.
It is truly a good time to be podcasting.