This is the second part of a two-part series on podcasting. Read the counter-argument in part one.
Something has happened to podcasting.
A quick Google search bring up hundreds of articles from ever major website touting why YOU need to podcast today and how they’re totally going to be a “radio killer.” Take a closer look at these articles, and you’ll see they’ve all be written between 2006 and 2009. Maybe one or two were written early 2012.
After countless hours, I finally found an article about podcasting written this year. The article from July praises the Apple iTunes store for reaching its one billionth subscription. One billion people listen to podcasts? That’s more than three times the population of the United States! Are podcasts really that popular? If so, why aren’t people still talking about them?
The Real Deal
Sure, one billion podcast subscriptions is a great accomplishment for the iTunes store, but if you look at that figure more closely you would see that it’s not exactly what it seems.
A subscription entails downloading a podcast file at some point and nothing more. There’s no guarantee of listening to it or downloading subsequent podcasts.
For anyone who has ever signed up for an e-mail newsletter or an e-magazine, go ahead and nod your head, you guys know the feeling. The need for that content may have seemed important at one point in time, but after you found what you wanted, it became ignored.
Simply put, podcasts just aren’t all we hoped they would be.
Is Anybody Listening?
My initial thought on why podcasts took on this monstrous life in its early years was that, aside from iTunes and a few mp3 sharing programs, there was no one else around to compete with. Fast forward to 2013, and the list of Internet radio apps is a few pages long, along with mobile devices having faster processors and larger memories.
Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify have replaced iPhones filled with music, and iPods all together. Gone are the days where files were downloaded to a hard drive to be scrolled through on a click wheel. On-demand content can be accessed anywhere, and has pushed the podcast back to the brink of irrelevancy.
I Have a Podcast, Don’t You Know Me?
Just creating a podcast is great. Creating multiple episodes and having the audio mastered is even better. None of that means anything unless your podcast is able to attract listeners. When I say listeners, I don’t mean someone who downloads one episode and is never seen from again, I mean a steady, reliable listener, who interacts with your podcast.
Aside from the previous barriers mentioned, one of the most difficult issues is to attract listeners during a time where people’s time is very limited. Taking a look at the iTunes store’s top podcasts further displays the difficulty to enter the market. The outlet that holds the most positions on the Top 10 Podcast chart in the US, is a forgotten friend. It’s not CNN, or NBC, or any major broadcaster. It’s NPR, the National Public Radio, with 4 of the top 10 spots. The rest of the top 10 is rounded out with similar “talk” style content.
Podcast Interference, On the Listener, 15 Yard Penalty
If you’ve made it to this point and are still convinced that podcasting is the medium of the future, get ready for some disturbing facts. After surveying friends and co-workers, the consensus is that no one I associate with maintains a regular subscription to a podcast. Or has listened to a podcast in the last month. Or was able to name three popular podcasts.
What I was able to gather from this impromptu survey was a laundry list of reasons why podcasts are being ignored. The most common response was, “I don’t get it.” A response like that from a group that consists solely of Millenials should be disturbing. The Millennial generation is supposed to be the movers and shakers of technology and everything surrounding it. Yet that same generation is unable to make it through the obstacles of downloading and listening to a podcast.
Another popular response was “I don’t have time to listen to it all.” This issue, previously mentioned in this article, is a major barrier to getting playtime from listeners. Working Americans often only have short periods of time they could listen in, usually during their morning commute, where podcasts have to compete with local and national radio shows.
Hang up the Microphone and Walk Away
Unless you have a brand that already has a loyal, faithful following, building out a following for your podcast can be incredibly time consuming, very frustrating, and a waste of money. There are many other ways to get your message to the consumer that will hit fast and stay long, but it does not appear podcasts are able to provide that.
Leave the podcasting to NPR and every comedian in the world, and brush up on your marketing skills or social profiles. If you’ve ever attempted a podcast and had a poor experience, leave a comment below and let’s discuss!
Completely disagree with everything in this article? Check out all the reasons to podcast and start the debate.