There was a major podcasting conference in Nashville last week, called Podcast Movement 2021, which some describe as the largest podcast gathering ever.
We enjoyed connecting in-person with our many customers and partners, and it was a great opportunity for us to introduce podcasters to our tools for transforming their original content and online presence into powerful discovery and distribution solutions.
In our many discussions, two topics stood out:
It was clear that discovery/discoverability was the most challenging and painful issue discussed at the conference.
15 years after this industry started, discovery is still at the forefront. And at the end of a year when one milion new podcasts were introduced, creators find themselves with the same lingering problem, compounded by the endless content choices that exist.
Edison Research’s new report shows that podcasts produced and marketed by media giants and celebrities dominate the charts. So how can an independent creator stand out?
Meanwhile, the major platforms and listening apps share the same concern. These companies are competing for users by learning their tastes and delivering better content and experiences.
And yet, most listeners say they learn about podcasts primarily through Word-of-Mouth.
On the Creator’s side, being discovered by new listeners requires a mix of excellent storytelling skills, creativity, marketing skills and tools, time, and budget. Growing a podcast audience is a long and painful process, even if it is rewarding.
Not much was new.
But here’s our take – Content is king, like elsewhere. If creators want to be discovered, listeners need to be given the ability to listen to topics, not just tune into a specific podcast. “Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song.” Rather, tell me your interests, and I’ll match you with relevant content from new podcasts. Just as one discovers an article from a new publication by scrolling a social media feed, just with your ears.
Creator Economy Vs. Ads
Throughout the entire conference, we noticed a tug of war between platforms and speakers who prefer traditional ad revenue models, and those who believe the true promise of rewarding podcasters for their effort lies in tips, subscriptions, and other aspects of the Creator Economy. The prominent speaker in the second school of thought was iconic investor Mark Cuban, also an investor in Fireside.
Cuban sparked participants’ interest (but didn’t necessarily win them over) by describing podcasting as “old, tired and beat up.” Notably, he said that existing ways of monetizing podcasts involve “lying your ass off to secure sponsorships.”
Our take? There’s room for both!
Many podcasts will continue to drive all of their revenue from ads and sponsorships. These will become increasingly data-driven, and native. Research has been overwhelmingly positive about the impact of podcast ads, and while brands and agencies have been slow-moving at first, they’re catching on and doubling down on podcasts.
Other creators will shift to being supported by the community. This is an exhilarating trend with lots of opportunities for creators. It requires more work at first but ultimately can offer greater independence.
Still others will combine the two. This is not a zero sum game but a pie that has been increasing and will continue to grow as audio content becomes a central way for consumers to get entertained and informed.
Let us know what you learned at the conference! And check out the conference website to consume some of the content, powered by Audioburst.