Journal: News & Comment

Friday, April 07, 2006
# 10:30:00 AM:

The podcast micro-audience

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Darren Barefoot is pleased that Forrester Research has taken the mantle of Podcasting Antichrist away from him. While I'm steeped in stuff, it does still seem that the majority of podcast listeners are also podcasters themselves right now—sort of the "echo chamber" people talk about in blogs, but more literally. Many podcast audiences overlap considerably with those from other podcasts.

But that's fine. I'm not expecting to make money at it, at least not now, and I sure enjoy the podcasts I listen to and the podcasts I help make. Organizations like CBC (see Tod Maffin's not-so-subtle hints) and all the new formal and informal groups and collectives and individuals putting out shows seem to be expecting podcasting to come on strong, and quite soon. There's even been a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Certainly, I only listen to a fraction of the radio I used to, and even most of my iPod listening time is now podcasts (including music shows) rather than music I've ripped from CD or downloaded. I may be the thin edge of the wedge, but everyone I've introduced to the concept finds it remarkably cool once they get it. Which does take some time.

It's like web pages and email in the early '90s, or TiVo/PVRs in the late '90s. There are early adopters, but the benefits are compelling enough that a mass audience will come eventually. Whether there'll be money in it for many people is an open question. And, as in blogs, perhaps irrelevant:

  • This blog doesn't make money (with AdSense it does little more than break even), but I still enjoy making it, and while a podcast takes more time and effort, there's joy in knowing that people around the world (even small numbers of them) enjoy what you're giving them too.

  • Their podcast gives my wife and her co-host an in to go get the inside scoop from cosmetics retailers and manufacturers, to interview people who share their interests, and share what they find with other interested people. It's a fun hobby, and something more productive to do on Friday night than watch TV.

  • Through my own podcast, I've had my original music played and enjoyed by hundreds of shows, and exposed to thousands of people all around the globe. I was in a band in the early '90s that played dozens of gigs and even toured to Australia, and I doubt we ever got heard by as many people. And I don't even play live.

So even now, even with a small audience, even if Forrester is completely correct, podcasting has its worth. It's just not an industry yet. Just as well.


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