In recent years, the traditional broadcast media of print, radio, and television has been disrupted by a new form of media. Some call it “horizontal media” since the consumer feeds the producer and the producer feeds the consumer. This is all done laterally and actually in a very affordable manner.
These audio stories are trending very strongly today. The audio only versions are called, podcasts. A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. Normally, access to these podcasts is free. But, advertisements may be tagged to the podcasts as a way to generate revenue.
The mainstream media broadcasters like CBC in Canada and NPR in the USA host podcasts for their audiences. They wish to offer a mixed media outlet.
Access to podcasts can be done in many ways other than through traditional media providers. The most common method is through an intermediary that acts as a host and distributor for many podcasts on a variety of topics. It is not just mainstream media that offers curated content in the form of podcasts, you can access podcasts from many major hosted libraries such as:
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Play Media
- Pocket Casts
- and many more providers
Listening to audio programmes, or podcasts, is simple if you have access to the internet. You just need to find a podcast platform or app that suits you and then sample some of the many thousands of podcasts made around the world. All podcasts are free today and most are available via many different apps.
“The medium of podcasting and the personal nature of it, the relationship you build with your listeners and the relationship they have with you—they could be just sitting there, chuckling and listening… there’s nothing like that.”
Marc Maron, Host of WTF with Marc Maron
On a website
The simplest way to listen to podcasts is on a web browser like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. You can do this from a computer or from the web browser on your phone.
- Find a website that has podcasts you like, for example the CBC.
- Find the player on the page, check your device’s sound is switched on and click play to listen to the podcast.
On your iPhone or iPad
If you have an iPhone you can use the Apple podcasts app to listen to podcasts.
- The Podcasts app should already be downloaded on your phone so search your apps for ‘Podcasts’. If it is not, go to the app store and download it.
- Open the Podcast app and go to the search page (click on the magnifying glass button in the navigation at the bottom).
- A search box should appear at the top, next to another magnifying glass icon. Tap on this and type in the name of the podcast you want to find eg: “NPR One”. Hit “enter” on your keyboard.
- Choose the podcast you want from the search results and tap on it. This should take you to the podcast’s homepage.
- Once you are on the podcast homepage you will see a list of recent episodes. Tap on one to play it.
- If you like what you hear, a subscribe button at the top of the page lets you subscribe for free. This means the app will automatically download the latest episodes to your library.
On your Android phone
If you have an Android phone you can use the Google podcasts app.
- Search “Google podcasts” in the play store app or click this link on your phone to open it in the store.
- Install the app.
- Once you open the app, use the search box (look out for the magnifying glass icon) and type in the name of the podcast you want to find eg: NFL Podcasts.
- Choose the podcast you want from the search results and tap on it again. This should take you to the podcast’s homepage.
- Once on the podcast homepage you should see a list of most recent episodes. Tap on one to play it.
- If you like it, tap the subscribe button at the top of the page. When you subscribe to a podcast, it will appear at the top of the Google podcasts app, and a new section in the app will let you know about new episodes from podcasts you have subscribed to. You should also be able to listen to podcasts from the Google search app, just search for the name of the podcast.
“Because we thought no one was listening, we weren’t afraid to take stupid risks or make absurd choices. Turns out it resonated with people. You won’t figure out what your podcast is until you get it underway, even as much as you plan and plan. So go for it.”
Matt Gourley, Earwolf Podcast Network
Who Uses Podcasts?
One of my friends listens to podcasts every day on his drive to / from work. He is looking for a way to make the boring daily drive in bumper to bumper traffic more tolerable. So he listens to science podcasts, current events shows, and political debates, all to educate himself from the brightest minds, thought-leadership experts, and the respected open-minded thinkers from society.
Another friend, who is a regional sales rep with a large territory that demands long 2, 3, or 4 hour drives to meet with customers listens to longer form podcasts such as Digital Books. She can drive along the highways and hear a riveting romance novel or freeze in the suspense of mystery story. These books are narrated by sophisticated textured voices that possess unique way of sharing a story and creating the rise and fall in suspense or the rush of romance for her favourite stories. Drive times fly past when you are listening to a good book. But, do not speed and use the cruise control to avoid get caught up in the adrenaline rush of these stories.
A younger friend, a recent university graduate, who uses public transit to get to work listens to a variety of podcast genre concerning entertainment news, fashion trends, and emerging technology information. She earned her business undergraduate degree last year and has aspirations to start her own company in the next year or two. So, she is gathering ideas and trying to determine which industry is the best fit for her. She loves fashion and admires several global trendsetters, so she fancies the idea of becoming a fashion reporter or a travel blogger of her own podcasts. Can she create a personal brand and provide compelling content to a global audience too? Time will tell.
“A podcast gives you an arena to show your expertise and passion for your niche. Your enthusiasm and speaking prowess also adds an authoritative air to the topic, something that the written word cannot express. And coming out with regular podcasts that have sound information and good ideas helps establish you and your brand as market leaders.”
What is Next for Podcasts?
Luminary, a startup angling to be the “Netflix for podcasts,” recently tweeted that “Podcasts don’t need ads” — a claim that riled up enough people that Luminary quickly apologized and deleted the tweet. But whether those people like it or not, it appears that some number of major podcasts are going to disappear behind paywalls as the nascent industry figures out how to become a real business.
“We love the ads and we expect the ads to continue. But I think that long term to have a healthy content business, you have to have multiple revenue streams and you don’t want to be completely dependent on advertising,” said Jacob Weisberg, the former editor-in-chief of Slate Group who started a podcasting company called Pushkin Industries with Malcolm Gladwell. “That is why at Pushkin, we’re extremely interested in the experimentation that is really starting to unfold around paid content models. But, I don’t see them as one or the other.”
Weisberg appeared on the latest episode of Recode Media, recorded live at South By Southwest, with Pushkin’s Bethany McLean (a journalist whose upcoming podcast will go behind Luminary’s paywall) and Ad Results Media CEO Marshall Williams. The group discussed the variety of ways to monetize podcasts with Recode’s Peter Kafka, with both Weisberg and Williams pointing out that podcast ads are unique in one important way: Unlike in other media, people seem to actually enjoy hearing them.
“Digital display advertising is one of the things that turned the internet into a misery, right?” Weisberg said. “The retargeting ads that chase you around like eye-blaster type ads, it became such an unpleasant experience that it spawned the whole industry of ad blocking. We can’t let that happen in podcasting. I think there’s no reason why it has to happen in podcasting.”
The podcast industry is growing fast; the industry generated an estimated $479.1 million in revenue in 2018 and is expected to produce more than $1 billion by 2021, according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC. The latest revenue figure represents an increase of 53 percent in just a year.
The shift to podcast ads backs up what industry titans, like Spotify, have been saying for months. The company plans to spend up to $500 million this year on podcast-related acquisitions. It’s acquired not only content studios — Parcast and Gimlet Media — but also a creation app — Anchor. Another Spotify-owned entity, Soundtrap, also released a new tool specifically designed to help with podcast creation. The Spotify team has already said it plans to build out its podcast ad business, which could end up capturing a decent portion of the revenue.
“Every company can find authentic stories related to their brands, whether those stories are revealed through interviews, investigations, or real-life demonstrations. With some serious thought about what kind of stories your brand can tell and a commitment to honesty, you have what you need to begin making an engaging podcast, no matter what industry you’re in.”
Nicole D’Angelo, Associate Editor with Skyword
Is it Your Turn to Create a Podcast?
So, if you are not into podcasts yet, maybe it is time to listen. Or, better yet, is it time to have your voice heard? Will you be the next social media star with your own podcast?
Johnson, E. (2019). The future of the podcast business isn’t advertising or subscriptions. It’s both. Recorde Media, a division of Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved on October 17, 2019 from, https://www.vox.com/podcasts/2019/3/21/18275323/podcast-business-model-advertising-ads-subscriptions-jacob-weisberg-luminary-peter-kafka-podcast
Slaney, R. (2018). How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know. Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved on October 17, 2019 from, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/oct/07/how-to-listen-to-podcasts-everything-you-need-to-know
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.