I have no crystal ball – but I work with enough podcasters week in and week out to know something about the future of podcasting. I’m a smart enough guy to see the writing on the wall, so to speak – and I want you to be in the know about what I see coming.

This episode of Podcastification is a quick explanation of the near horizon of podcasting. I’m going to take back a bit to understand how podcasting has changed, then look at what’s happening around us right now (it has to do with big dollars entering the podcast-o-sphere) – and why that matters for us as Indie podcasters. 

I wrap up giving you TWO big things to think about and take action around in order to ensure that the future of podcasting has a place for you.

What you’ll hear on this episode

  • [1:20] Why I am qualified to talk about the future of podcasting
  • [2:04] A brief summary of the history of podcasting (and why it matters)
  • [4:26] Big dollar organizations make the competition we face much harder
  • [11:02] Why there will always be a market for niche podcasts
  • [12:30] Why fans matter more than subscribers and growth of downloads
  • [14:34] STEP ONE: What does your audience consider valuable?
  • [19:23] STEP TWO: Reconsider your METHOD of podcast production
  • [20:50] The practical ways you can find out what your audience thinks is valuable
  • [21:20] Practical ways you can amp up your podcast production and format

Resources I mentioned

SPONSOR: Podcast Bigger. Podcast Better – with www.Narrativly.com 

What got us here is not going to get us there (into a successful podcasting future)

Podcasting has changed a lot since it began way back in 2003-2004. Just ask people like Evo Terra, Dave Jackson, and Rob Greenlee. They’ve been doing great work in the podcasting space since the beginning.

Back then, it was a bit more technical – lots of stuff about RSS enclosures and the like – so it wasn’t as simple to get a show going. And that doesn’t even address the issue of making people aware of how to LISTEN to a podcast.

Fast forward to today. People have apps to listen to podcasts preinstalled on their smart hones and if you want to create a podcast, it’s pretty simple by comparison. That’s cool. I’m all for it.

But it brings its own set of problems for those who are seriously trying to use their podcast as a content channel that adds value to their industry or niche audience.

What problems? Keep reading… 

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Start thinking of podcasting in a broader sense. You have more competition than you think

Big money has entered the podcast-o-sphere. Spotify has gotten into podcasting in a big way – recently buying Gimlet Media for a reported $200 million, and later purchased Anchor as well. They say they have earmarked $400 to $500 million more for additional acquisitions in the podcasting space.

Ask yourself this simple question: WHY are they willing to pay that kind of money for podcasting companies and apps?

It’s simple: they see that there is even more money to be made – and they are getting in on it.

You and I are no Gimlet or Anchor, right? So why does this matter to us? I’ll tell you why (as if you had any doubt about that). It’s because when that kind of money comes into any industry, it fundamentally changes the industry. In big ways.

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The Spotify acquisition has made it clear that podcasting is a thing – a big dollar thing – and other companies are going to follow suit. In fact, many brands have already become podcast producers in their own right. 

In this episode (which you should listen to, by the way) I mention General Electric’s audio drama “The Message” as an example. But there are many other, high quality, COOL shows out there. Some of my favs are…

If you check those out – and even just listen to the first few minutes of one or tow of them, you’ll get where I’m going with this. But if you don’t, let me put it this way…

What would happen if the New York Yankees showed up to play your local High School baseball team?

Baseball slaughter-fest. Right?

The same thing is coming in podcasting, but for different reasons. It’s not really about talent – it’s about the money brands can throw at their podcast production. They can hire writers, sound designers, marketing and PR experts, etc. In other words – they approach it PROFESSIONALLY.

OBJECTION: But Carey, you don’t understand. I’m not in competition with them in any way. I don’t do that kind of podcast nor am I trying to reach the same audience.

Really? Let’s examine that assumption…

Who IS their audience?

  • People who enjoy podcasts (is that YOUR audience?)
  • People who like to be entertained (is that YOUR audience?)
  • People who value high quality productions, like movies (is that YOUR audience?)
  • People who only have so much time to listen to audio content (is that YOUR audience?)

Do you see where I’m going with this? 

With over 300,000 active podcasts out there and thousands more being launched every day – people are going to have to start making choices about what they listen to on a consistent basis. How are they going to make those decisions?

  • Based on topic (This might tip listeners in your direction)
  • Based on enjoyment (Brands may have the upper hand here, if you don’t up your game)
  • Based on “stickiness” (Which depends on how compelling and intriguing the content is)

Can you see how you really ARE competing with the brands? Not based on topics but based on the enjoyment and entertainment value of things.

More people binge original Netflix series than binge PBS content, I guarantee you. It’s just human nature to be drawn to what is fun, entertaining, and enjoyable.

There is STILL a future for niche podcasts, but… 

I hope I don’t sound like Chicken Little – “The Brands are coming! The Brands are coming!”

Because there is still hope for niche and Indie podcasters in the future of podcasting. Why?

People who are interested in – video gaming, or oil painting techniques, or a particular sports team for examples – are still going to be looking for podcasts about those things. They will still want to listen to shows about those things.

But ONLY if those shows are good. If they retain a listener’s interest. If they provide great value to them.

THAT is where we need to take a lesson from the brands and the NPRs of the world. What can we do to make our Indie podcast better, more engaging, more value-able? (Yes, I hyphenated that on purpose to drive home the point).

I wrap this episode with TWO specific ways you can start to rethink your approach to podcasting as you know it. 

I’d love to hear what you come up with – carey (at) podcastfasttrack.com

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