The future of podcasting is more than “more”: more podcasts, more podcasters, more money, more Android/iPhone, etc. I presented this as the opening keynote for Podcast Midwest 2015 in Chicago. Big thanks to Dan Franks and Jared Easley for inviting me to speak.
I was originally going to copresent “How to Improve Your Podcasting Workflow” with Erik Fisher. But we shifted things around and Erik present that solo, and will reshare the content soon on his show, Beyond the To-Do List.
## View the slides
In 2004, Dave Winer and Adam Curry created podcasting. Since then, Apple has tracked more than 1 billion podcast subscriptions—and that was only up to 2013. Now, podcasting has received attention from mainstream media like Saturday Night Live and The Middle, podcasting gives average people global platforms for sharing their voices, 46 million Americans listen to podcasts in a month, and podcasting brings a world of education and entertainment to the devices 3/4 of Americans carry everywhere.
And this is just the beginning.
If podcasting was a person, it wouldn't even be old enough for high school, but it's already getting married. This is the future of podcasting.
1. New and traditional media will marryIn the future of podcasting, new and traditional media will marryClick To Tweet
“New” has always needed “old.” Writing needed word of mouth; radio needed the written and spoken word; TV needed radio, writing, and word of mouth; the Internet needed TV, radio, written and spoken word; and now, podcasting needs all of the media that has come before it.
But “old” also needs “new.” Podcasting brings fresh ideas, unique perspectives, and a new approach.
With each marriage of new media to traditional media, all of the former partners are involved. They helped shape new media into what it is.
How to prepare for this future? Like any good relationship, start with a conversation. In fact, there's a day dedicated specifically to that! Start the conversation about podcasting on International Podcast Day, September 30.
2. Standards will emergeIn the future of podcasting, standards will emergeClick To Tweet
When two people marry, rules have to be set. Does the toilet paper go over, or under? Who does the laundry and where does it go? Does the toilet seat go up, or down?
For the marriage of new and traditional media to work, standards must be set.
- Production: media formats, loudness, server requirements, accessibility, and more. Some of these standards are already emerging (like loudness), and look at what companies like iHeartRadio and Spotify are requiring.
- Measurement: knowing the size of your audience from downloads, impressions, subscriptions, actions, and more. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is currently discussing a universal standard.
- Monetization: how much we charge sponsors, what models we use, and more. Again, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is already discussing a universal standard.
How to prepare for this future? Like any good relationship, you have to stop fighting and start conforming. The conforming will be mutual, as traditional media learn more about new media standards. But we must also conform to these standards by adapting how we produce, measure, and monetize our content.
3. Technology will disappearIn the future of podcasting, the technology will disappearClick To Tweet
No, this doesn't mean that we'll no longer use technology or we won't have software and devices. I think that technology will become invisible to the podcaster and the podcast-consumer.
For example, RSS drives podcasting, but we may see a day where we don't have to worry about RSS feeds anymore—even if they still exist. Apps and devices will not matter anymore because the subscription process will be far more seamless (Apple is already pushing this by making the Podcasts app preinstalled on iOS).
How to prepare for this future? Let go. Let go of our insistence that people use a particular app or device. Let go of some of the technology.
4. Some control will be forfeitedIn the future of podcasting, some control will be forfeitedClick To Tweet
As the technology disappears, I believe we'll forfeit some of our control. This could be control over the technology, the distribution, the production, and maybe even the message.
But forfeiting control is not a bad thing! This usually makes things easier for the audience and easier for the podcaster. When things get easier, it allows for more focus on what really matters.
Consider a company CEO. He no longer has control over the small details. He's not dusting, running the servers, answering the phones, shipping the packages, constructing new spaces, or many other smaller pieces. He is focused on the important details: the purpose and goals of the company.
How to prepare for this future? You have to delegate. This can be to volunteers who will do things for free, or to professionals who are worth what they charge. But when you delegate, you get more freedom for what matters!
5. Something new will be bornIn the future of podcasting, something new will be bornClick To Tweet
As often happens in a marriage, there's a baby—the next generation!
Everytime new and traditional media have been married, something new has been more. When the Internet married with TV and Radio, podcasting was born. Now, when the marriage of podcasting and traditional media is consummated, something new will be born.
We may have no idea what this new thing will be! 200 years ago, who could have imagined that we could hear or see people in real time from the other side of the world? 50 years ago, who could have imagined that we would have nearly all the knowledge in the world literally at our fingertips or in our pockets? 20 years ago, who could have imagined that an average man, woman, boy, or girl could reach a global audience from their closet or basement?
Something new is coming. It could be only a few years away or it could be decades away. But podcasting and traditional media will create it.
How to prepare for this future? Procreate—that is, professionally create. Keep making great content! If you're a hobby podcaster, pursue that hobby so well that people will think you're a professional. If you're a entrepreneur with your podcast, take those risks, find and fill those needs, and seek to make the world a better place. Along the way, you could be the one to invent something new.
Don't define yourself by the medium. We are more than podcasters; we are creators. We shape the future!
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