On Podcasting: Money, money, money
We are slightly over 1 month away from the 2nd Podcast and Portable Media Expo here in nearby Ontario, California. Last year's Expo was the typical, first year, love fest. We are all so happy to have found one another and an amazing new medium. We talked, laughed and drank a lot and there were few disagreements.
This year, though, podcasting has entered the mainstream. The word is mentioned on traditional broadcast shows, many of which are now podcasting themselves. Money is starting to appear on the fringes and, as they say, money changes everything.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think that making money on podcasting is something we all would love. It is great to be rewarded for your work and money is one way that can happen. The problems arise when money becomes the sole focus of any endeavor.
Over the last few months I have seen a marked change in the podcasting discussion. Where before people were interested in how to develop shows and how to make them better, more and more people are interested only in how to "turn and burn" their shows. I am now seeing producers essentially using podcasting to create a pilot which they can use to sell their show to more traditional media outlets.
In some ways, I think they are selling themselves, their shows and podcasting in general, short. One of the major benefits of podcasting is having the time to build a show over time. Everyone's initial efforts are rough and tentative, but many shows hit a stride fairly quickly, sometimes developing into entirely different concepts than originally planned. Because of this, I think that the longer a podcast is allowed to develop, the more likely it will find an audience and then, attract revenue and interest from traditional media outlets.
Podcasting can, and should, be a source for new, innovative shows on radio and television, but it should also continue to develop for its own sake. Most podcasts will never find a mass audience and I think that is just fine. A mass audience requires the lowest common denominator and that often means compromises in content and presentation. Podcasting provides a space for unique messages that attract a small, but dedicated audience. These audience will support those shows, and hosts, that provide value to them, through subscription, advertising or some, as yet to be developed, methods.
Let's not let money cloud podcasting's future and reduce its usefulness to nothing but a farm team for old media. If money is to be made, let's keep it in the podcasting community, where it belongs.
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