Welcome to episode 31 of the Richard Dally podcast where I bring you a UK perspective on the latest news and developments from the world of podcasting and Internet Radio
This week I talk about a website and app designed to help with podcast discovery, research that shows listeners are switching from radio to podcasts, the latest from Texas A&M University in their “The Download on Podcasting” series, podcasting as the new talk radio, why music can’t be played in podcasts and Tom Webster’s views on on the current state of podcasting.
Websites and articles mentioned in the show:
First then, Rain News report on an interesting launch. Newmark Advertising, have launched a new podcast discovery platform called PodSearch. I’m not familiar with Newmark myself but Rain News say they are well known throughout the podcast network and production industries as one of earliest and biggest advocates of the type of endorsement marketing that we see often in podcasts. PodSearch is described as “an interactive directory for podcasts, giving people easy-to-use keyword and category search tools to find podcasts that match their interests.”
There has been a lot of talk about the challenges of podcast discovery and whether it is really such an issue. Now Don Newmark from PodSearch said that the podcast industry cannot grow fast enough through word-of-mouth alone. I could ask – is it really true that the podcast industry isn’t growing fast enough? Fast enough for who? Also is anything more than word of mouth really necessary?
Anyway, PodSearch, provides multiple keyword search, detailed categories, and a list of newly launched shows. One feature highlighted is MyPodSearch. This lets listeners generate recommendations based on category and keyword selections that match their interests. Something interesting is that the website and the PodSearch mobile app can also link to other podcast listening apps and provide information specific to those apps.
Now I did visit their website to try out the service but you have to register and while it’s free for listeners it costs $10 per month for podcasters to have an account. We will have to wait and see if podcast listeners will put up with the friction of using an additional service to help them discover podcasts. Personally I suspect not.
So the last story looked at whether the podcast industry is growing fast enough. Well we know is growing, in fact it has been growing steadily since it started. Now we have some stats that show that some of the listeners are coming from those who were previously only radio listeners.
These statistics come from two surveys undertaken by US-based radio marketing and research company Nuvoodoo about podcast listening. I’ll put a link to the Nuvoodoo research in the shownotes at richarddally.com/31 but let’s look at some of the numbers.
Overall 9.5% of respondents spend at least one hour a day listening to podcasts. The figure for Men aged 25-34 grew to 21.7% listening daily for at least an hour. This is significantly higher than any other group – the second highest being men aged 35-44 at 14.2%.
According to those surveyed, the shift to more podcast listening is coming from traditional radio. This is probably the key statistic from the research, 66.4% said they now listen to less traditional broadcast radio since they started listening to podcasts.
The research doesn’t say that the listening time is being switched on a like for like basis. But surely people aren’t suddenly finding more time to listen to audio than before? Maybe they are – this is something that could do with being tested further for sure.
A quick one now if you’re looking for some reading. I’ve mentioned before the work being done by a team at Texas A&M University, with support from DMR Interactive, around podcasting. They have just published two new studies in their “The Download on Podcasting” series.
One is called “Formats: Understanding the Structure of Podcasts” and the other study is “Podcasting 4-1-1 – Things you need to know.” These are both really interesting documents and well worth a read.
Now on to something that has interested me for a while. Most podcast commentators are raving about the potential for podcasting to tell stories or replace news bulletins. But for me a huge area of potential is in Talk Radio.
In the last year or so we have seen some big radio personalities switch from broadcast radio to podcasting. This is certainly happening on both sides of the Atlantic and unfortunately it often seems to have been as a result of dismissals from their radio jobs rather than purely through choice. Anyway I believe we are starting to see a second wave of transfers more through choice and that this is only going to become more frequent.
So why is podcasting going to be big in talk and personality. An article by Juliette De Maeyer on TheAtlantic.com website says it is because the intimacy of podcasting has the potential to make listeners feel things—and emotional resonance affects how people perceive information. De Maeyer sees the podcast format as an antidote to some of the challenges that technology innovations have caused to journalism and it’s place in a democratic society in the last twenty years. Listeners, viewers and readers have access to more data, better maps, faster notifications, and fact-checking, amongst many other things.
The article argues that these changes have affected the role of the media as well as that of the public. The public now expects to get more information and most want to see a clear and accurate picture of the world to help them interpret world events and become more enlightened.
So why then, asks the author, instead of an enlightened group of citizens, do we find ourselves facing hateful trolls, fake news outlets, and conspiracy theories galore?
Well the article gets a bit deep here to be honest! Basically, we expect the media to be neutral but they should also be trying to reflect the reality of the situations they report on. But for a democracy to work its members need to feel concerned with what is happening and have issues they care about. To be affected by, and concerned about these issues, you have to have some kind of experience or sensation about it and journalism, therefore, needs to reflect this.
De Maeyer believes that podcasting provides a space for this kind of alternative, “sensational” vision of the role of media. Podcasts give the listener the impression of sharing in kitchen or pub table style banter with a couple of friends. Because podcasts are free from the need to provide objective or neutral reporting, podcasters can act as storytellers rather than just as journalists.
As the author concludes this is exactly same recipe at the traditional talk radio format. Podcasting opens up the talk format to many more voices because of the low barrier to entry and the ability to reach an audience who can listen to shows at a time that suits them rather than a fixed slot each week.
As I said, it’s quite a deep piece but there is huge potential for the talk radio format to grow in podcasting. We just need to encourage more people to bring their personality and passion to the medium.
Steven Goldstein tackles a very common question amongst new podcasters this week. In his Blogstein column for Amplifi Media he asks, why can’t music be played in podcasts? To address this question, Steven interviewed David Oxenford who is a partner at US law firm Wilkinson, Barker, and Knauer. And I’m sure I butchered that last name! I’m sorry!
I should note that while this article discusses the US situation it is very similar in the UK.
Oxenford is apparently well known in broadcasting and has a long history working with media companies. He also represents webcasters and digital media companies on copyright, music licensing and other regulatory issues. The interview looked at Why is podcasting different from streaming.
Basically, the difference is the rights that are involved. Streaming involves the “public performance right.” There are organizations in place to collect public performance royalties that cover both the musical compositions and the recorded songs. Podcasts, are not viewed as public performances and are thought of as a recording of the program.
Podcast listeners make copies of the podcast program on their phone which is not transmitted like on a radio station and under the US Copyright Act, a recording does not involve the public performance right, but instead the right to make “reproductions” of the musical work and the sound recording. The lawyer notes that there is no easy way to get a licence for podcast music rights. There are no collection agencies handling this situation.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard about ‘fair use’. This is the belief that it is okay to use short audio clips without permission. This concept does exist but it is not well defined and is usually applied only to editorial use.
So what about the many podcasts that do play music? Well Goldstein asked about this and what the penalties could be. Of course, most in this group of podcasters believe nothing will ever happen to them but what would happen if their podcast went viral for some reason?
Well David Oxenford discusses the concept of statutory damages for copyright violation. In the US a court will look at the infringement and can assess damages of anywhere from $500 to $150,000 per infringed song. He says that non-commercial users who were acting in good faith usually end up at the lower end of the scale but commercial companies usually end up owing higher damages.
Now I would expect all DJs to be well aware that they should have licences covering the music they are playing so I think it’s likely the courts would treat them in a similar way to commercial companies so it could get very expensive very quickly.
Steven makes the valid point that as podcasting grows the enforcement of copyright infringements is likely to increase as well. Oxenfold then makes a great point – recently there have been a lot of cases where photographers have come after broadcasters for use of photographs on their websites without permission. There are a number of lawyers who specialize in these photography cases, and they spend their time searching the Internet looking for infringement that they can then get a commission from litigating against.
These, or similar, companies could easily move into looking at podcasts. So do think carefully about this if you have a music-based podcast.
Lastly this week, I want to look at an article from one of the key figures involved in the podcasting industry. That’s Tom Webster of Edison Research. Tom’s company produces the leading industry research on the statistics around the development of podcasting.
In this article for BrandSavant, Tom presents his views on the current state of podcasting. The article is a follow up to a summit organized by Audiosear.ch and Nick Quah that Tom attended recently with representatives from leading networks and producers of podcasts. I’ll include a link to Audiosear.ch’s report on the event in the shownotes for this episode.
Tom says the meeting left him feeling very positive about podcasting, and encouraged by the levels of cooperation amongst companies that could be seen as competitors in the industry. Tom listed his thoughts out in the article as follows.
He feels we are really close on metrics. He thinks that podcast metrics are already very good and that we are close to a breakthrough that will provide more of the numbers that advertisers want. He doesn’t expand on that but there are plenty of companies currently talking about improving the ability to measure how of much an episode a listener actually consumes.
Tom thinks there needs to be more mainstream PR and marketing efforts from the podcasting industry to tell people exactly what podcasts are, how you can listen to them and why they should do so. I think we are seeing this in the UK now, from the BBC in particular, with their new TV adverts.
Advertising in general is also looking strong. Edison Research have done a number of campaign studies for major advertisers in the last year and will be soon publishing some data on advertising in podcasts. Really looking forward to that. We really need some facts here as there are some wild guesses being made about the monetary value of podcast advertising across the industry.
Next Webster looks at the influence outside agencies are having in promoting podcasts. He sees this as a key trend and an aid to discoverability. We know that shows from public media organizations are dominating the podcast charts and this is in part at least because they have the ability to cross-promote each other and use their radio and TV platforms to promote and help to build an audience.
Talking to new podcasters Tom says don’t just follow the topics and formats that are trending right now. There is still plenty of room for innovation and you don’t need to be the next Serial or even sound like that kind of show.
Finally, Tom notes that the Apple ecosystem still dominates podcasting but the current market share of Apple’s iPhone is less than 15% so Podcasters shouldn’t forget that podcast listeners are using different devices and are different demographically. In particular, he thinks that using the phrase “subscribe to us on iTunes” is getting old and we need to start looking at the other formats if we want to grow.