Podcasting is a once in a century opportunity, there is freedom to do anything: RDE24

Despite a lot of bad news for the podcast industry over the past year, the mood in the podcast session at Radiodays Europe 24 was positive.

“Podcasting does feel a little shakey at the moment…Is the hype over, was it a bubble, should we leave the ship?” asked Maria Lopenz-Bokelberg, CEO of Pool Artists.

“Some of the doom and gloom is true, some is not,” she said.

Some production companies are closing their doors, some clients are changing strategies, “it doesn’t feel good,” she said. But she reminded delegates not to forget that listener numbers are continuing to grow and time spent listening to podcasts is growing.

“Some players over-invested a lot of money, they don’t want to say they made a mistake by paying too much, it’s easier for them to say ‘podcasting is dead’ to save face. Because of this perception the money may go somewhere else… but that does not mean that the podcasting industry is dead.”

Maria urged people to look past those headlines, because they will find that “there are some very good numbers surrounding podcasts.”

People say there is less money in the podcast industry now, but that’s not true according to Maria. There is still enough money in the industry, it is just that there are more podcasts published now so that money has to be spread further, creating the impression that industry profitability is declining… the top podcasts are still doing well.

“Once the nervousness evaporates we will come out better,” she said, highlighting the positives of podcasting that are balancing out the negatives.

  • The most healthy number is listener numbers. We made these people take precious time away from other things and give that time to podcasting… the people keep coming in millions to podcasting.
  • The money brands will always go where there are a lot of people.
  • The audience is emotionally involved and smart. That is good for the long term future of podcasts.

“It is a once in a century opportunity. Don’t read the terrible headlines and be disappointed. We are the first generation of a completely new medium. Let’s make it like we want it to be.”

Maria believes that this new medium is only getting started.

“There is freedom to do anything, there is less hierarchy, more honesty… People who remain committed to the podcasting industry say ‘fuck the rules and just do it.’

“Anything is possible at the moment in a medium that is so new. Nurture our uniqueness don’t think about how other media do it, we are young and inventing a new medium.

“After those with money have gone, the beautiful, smart people who are still left will be the ones who will invent this new medium. We have the attention, the talent and the ears, the rest will follow.”

A EBU study by senior analyst Matthieu Rawolle  discussed why people say they listen to podcasts.

The top three reasons are: to learn something new (50%) and for entertainment (50%), the third biggest reason for listening is to relax (28%).

The European Broadcasting Union also compared radio listening with podcast listening. The top 3 reasons why people listen to radio are: to catch up on news, to learn something and for entertainment.

79% of UK  audiences surveyed say podcasts “offer me something I can’t get with radio’ and that ‘there is a lot more choice in podcast topics than radio.”

The research also studied the reasons why people do not listen to podcasts. These include

  • Don’t know what podcasts are or how to listen (34%)
  • Have low interest in topics (29%)
  • Prefer to listen to the radio, it’s easier to just turn on the radio than try to find things that I like in podcasts (31%)

30% of people have stopped listening to podcasts because they “lost interest or could not find podcasts that interest them any more.”

Topic is the most important reason why people choose a podcast, followed by the guests and personality of the host.

Heavy users of podcasts (those who listen once a day) amount to 8% of Europeans. Regular weekly users of podcasts in Europe are 26% of the population, up from 22% last year.

69% of Europeans listen to radio, 44% of younger Europeans (aged 15-24) listen to podcasts.

Arielle Nissenblatt from Descript and Podcast Collective had a series of tips for better promotion of podcasts:

  1. Identify opportunities to ‘meet listener where they are.’ “If you produce a beer podcast for example, advertise in beer halls, put a QR code on the back of the toilet door… print the link URL for your podcast on napkins for the tables.
  2. Cross promote your content by going on other podcasts and having them on your podcast. It will expand the pie.
  3. Swap cross promotion message for free with other podcasts. In your message say what is unique about your podcast that will make them type your podcast name in their podcast search engine.
  4. Do feed-swaps with other podcasts, build alliances with other podcasts so that people who are interested in the topic will know that there is plenty of good content to interest them.
  5. At the end of your podcast, ask the guest to look to the camera and create a video clip promoting the podcast you have just recorded.

The team from WePod spoke about their goal to develop co-productions between podcasters in different countries. Spmoe of their aims are to help colleagues collaborate to make the same podcasts in different languages and to facilitate trading intellectual property across podcasters in European countries.

WePod also aims to share knowledge and educate students. “We will run workshops in various countries and run a podcast academy in Milan.” There are now 9 partners from 7 European counties currently in the association.

“We are creating a community of people working together to promote the sustainability of podcasts.”

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