A Metaphor for Podcasting

My feelings of podcasting haven't changed since February 2005, when I wrote "...podcasts will evolve into a few select programs that make an imprint. Everyone else will be talking to none-to-few people. Podcasting will be a sea of audio dangling in cyberspace, never finding a set of speakers."

I continued: "Assembling a radio program is not just opening a microphone and then opening your mouth. It's a terrifically difficult task to create content that keeps audience interest high. It's even more difficult to interest an advertiser into putting money into a program that doesn't keep listeners interested."

The only ones who are showing excitement about podcasting, so far, are the folks who are hosting a program or who supply services to podcasters."
Replacing dreams with tempered expectations is a good starting point.
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This is a metaphor for podcasting: "A box of Saltines Crackers usually has 4 sleeves, each with about 65 crackers. Let the crackers represent podcasting categories.

Take one sleeve and, without opening it, crush all the crackers within. Give it a couple of good whacks then open and pour the contents into a bowl. Remove 7 crumbs, which represent my guess of the average number of podcasts an avid podcast consumer will download or hear in a week. Throw the rest away. They represent all podcasts that are never heard."

There is no database giving an accurate picture of how many podcasts exist, or how each is distributed. Or how many people have listened. So, all of this discussion about "listeners" or "downloads" is wasted motion. You can't price an unknown.

There's a mandate that your podcast needs to appear on as many distribution platforms as possible. That brings the question of "how do I do that?" - which leads to your required depth of knowledge.

Most articles on podcasting are aimed at content producers, and the bulk of these keep focus on potential for advertising revenue. The problem is: Unless you are NPR, Spotify, Pandora, etc., potential for revenue is near null.

From the audio ad buyer's side, if indie podcasters sell their own inventory the ad buyer must track dozens of different invoice/trafficking systems - spending a few hundreds-to-thousands of dollars at each to know if they work. These actions are not worth a buyer's effort, which is why big name podcasts and platforms will continue to get the buy.

An independent podcaster's Achilles Heel is the same as independent internet radio owners' - there is no centralized organization overseeing quality (which build confidence in the media). Podcasters face the problem of many channels with no group-coordination. (I'm not talking about ad sales, but an organized effort to solve many of podcast's shortcomings.) Gaining the scale required to challenge NPR, Triton Digital, etc. is improbable, to non-existent.

And if the heel doesn't get you, there's this blister: Coordinating podcasters to function in a group is like herding cats.

Today, there's more buzz coming from the people providing podcasts than there is from the people using podcasts. That's a sign that podcasting, though a good conversation piece, is not yet ripe as a product.



Next: There's no shame in being an Enthusiastic Amateur.





Friday March 9, 2018      eMail to a Friend



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