The Future of Podcasting (keynote from Podcast Midwest 2015)

The Future of Podcasting

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 marry

In 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 emerge

In 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 disappear

In 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 forfeited

In 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 born

In 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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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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8 years ago

The future is already there. Podlove “one click” Subscribe Button for cross-plattform podcast subscription:

8 years ago

I think you’re talking about the podlove player? The podlove subscribe button is independent from that. It’s a one click button that detects the users os/plattforms and subscribes the podcasts or suggests clients if the user has no podcast player yet.

8 years ago

I’d really like to hear someone from the Podlove Project in a future TAP episode! I bet this two (arguably) different perspectives would be more than interesting for us listeners (and podcasters)! And maybe one/both could learn from the other? In the end we are one community of podcasters. Not two.

8 years ago

“Hurts a podcaster”? Wow! It’s a feature for the listeners! Making subscribing easier for everyone (including iTunes users) is IMHO worth so much more than a solution that requires a specific software or even hardware, like Apple products. Not everything that happens on the big commercial platforms is useful, and not everything that happens outside of them is useless.

I sometimes (listened to a dozen episodes or so) get the feeling, Daniel, that you put too much focus on a high iTunes ranking and thus audience growth, subscription numbers and “momentum” for it’s own sake. Understandable, if one needs to make a living off of sponsoring, but if there wouldn’t be slightly anarchic projects like Podlove, podcasting would quickly slip into the old habits of commercial TV or radio, which we got so bored with.

Additionally, they are a main driver in keeping the usability of podcasting in par with the devices it is mostly consumed on. The PSB being one only example: The Podlove Web Player with chapter marks is another huge advance over the most other solutions. With all due respect, on this exact page, people have to 1st scroll down beyond an overflowing header, a large 2-line title and a huge banner repeating the title before they even have the chance to spot the comparatively tiny “Listen now” button. Good thing the show notes are pretty extensive, so one can simply read an episode if one overlooks the listening option 😉

8 years ago

Please do that 🙂

Re: iTunes Store: Are you absolutely sure that it counts subscriptions differently than through an external itpc:// link (such as in the PSB). When I put the iTunes Store URL of my Podlove-powered podcast through a this extractor — — the website owner’s own feed URL is returned. Thus, I presume that internally, iTunes can count both subscriptions methods. If they don’t: we should lobby them to do it.

8 years ago

Hm, OK, thanks for digging that info out. We’re back at the question for whose benefit a software feature should be designed primarily: listeners or podcaster? The PSB could for example offer the iTunes Store link as well, but more importantly IMHO: iTunes (and other podcast apps with own directories for that matter) should implement the _option_ to anonymously count subscriptions through “external” links to solve this dilemma.

Tim Pritlove
Tim Pritlove
8 years ago

Both the Podlove Subscribe Button and the URLs redirect to the iTunes application. The only difference is that you would have to click another “Subscribe” button within iTunes to achieve the same result.

So iTunes can still report that subscription to the backend. It’s not the URL that is signaling subscriptions, it’s the program and the podcast feed URL is all that is needed to tell the backend which podcast has been subscribed to.

If you need more background on the Podlove Subscribe Button or the project in general, please get in touch.

So no podcasters get hurt when listener are using the Podlove Subscribe Button. It’s just easier for them and therefore better for podcasters.

Tim Pritlove
Tim Pritlove
8 years ago

Interesting. Do you have a source for that? I am not aware of any official documentation on this.

If there is actually a difference we could easily change the behaviour. We could allow passing an iTunes podcast directory URL to the button which then gets sent to the browser instead of invoking iTunes directly with just the podcast feed URL.

This would allow podcasters to choose the mode they prefer.

Tim Pritlove
Tim Pritlove
8 years ago

Alright, we must have overlooked this or it might have been added later. So I guess we should actually add this when iTunes is selected. Thanks for pointing this out.

Jared Easley
8 years ago

Again – outstanding job Daniel. Thank you sir.

6 years ago

Yeah this is right that there are more people are have more interest about podcast technology and i hope day by day it will be increasing in here. To enjoy this media service we need so use more.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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