Podcasts: The Cinderella Trade
Blogworld’s annual New Media Expo, billed as “The First and Only Industry-wide Conference, Tradeshow and Media Event for All New Media”, is comprised of bloggers, tech heads, broadcasters and new media content creators who seek to foster and expand upon new models of information exchange and dissemination1. The expo’s attendees run the gamut from monstrous media conglomerates like AOL-Time Warner, Google, and NBC to bludgeoning basement operations such as Causecast, an up and coming company dedicated to the empowerment of non-profit organizations through internet media. One such attendee, Edison Research, a media think tank, used the expo as a forum to showcase its latest study, “The State of Podcasting.”2
A podcast, for those unfamiliar with the term, refers to digital content, whether audio or video, that can be downloaded and permanently stored on a media player or computer. This definition sounds identical to that of any old mp3 or video file. Podcasts differ in their function, not their form. Podcasts act as radio on-demand. Users must subscribe to a podcast series via an RSS feed. After doing so, new podcasts from that series will be automatically downloaded onto their computer. One then either listens to it on the spot or transfers it to a portable device to carry.
Furthermore, virtually anyone can create a podcast with minimal capital or equipment. Thus, the world of podcasting can range anywhere from “this week’s hottest dance tracks” to “Joe Smith’s favorite Elton John bootleg recordings from the 80s.” In essence, a podcast creates a radio production that can be time shifted,. The product, however, has only a niche market. Nevertheless, podcasting has seen considerable growth over the past decade.
A Valuable Market
In recent years, several media research groups conducted studies on the consumption of podcasts. eMarketer and the aforementioned Edison Research group coordinated two of the most prominent studies. According to Edison’s research, the number of Americans who simply recognize the term podcast reached 45 percent in 20103. Furthermore, by 2010, 23 percent, or roughly one in five Americans, indicated that they had listened to at least one audio podcast in the past year4. Edison considers a media outlet to be mainstream once consumer usage has reached 25 percent5. When this study was published in 2010 podcast consumption was not quite mainstream and although their comprehensive study for podcast usage is not completely up to date, other digital research groups have made projections. eMarketer, a company that conducts studies on digital marketing and Internet market trends, determined that by 2013 37.6 million American Internet users will be regular podcast subscribers6.
A Promise Unfulfilled
Additionally, the podcast audience is itself an asset. One of Edison Research’s most valuable statistical findings established that podcast consumers are also three times more likely to be content creators themselves8. In other words, podcast listeners are also bloggers, tweeters, Facebook community members and all around savvy social networkers. If they enjoy the content they hear on a podcast, chances are they will spread the word.
One can only speculate as to why the mainstream, already established labels don’t join in on the podcasting revolution. It can’t be because they see no monetary value in producing their own podcasts. Aside from the potential buzz they would create by playing unreleased music, podcast advertising revenue increased a whopping 31 percent in the second quarter of 2010 alone9.Similarly, a separate study conducted by eMarketer found that 74 percent of new media users had a more positive impression of the company from which they were able to access new media content10. Therefore, a record label that actively podcasts would serve to better position itself in the eyes of its customers as opposed to a record label that does not.
The statistical evidence previously discussed should turn the heads of any record company in need of more progressive marketing strategies. Yet, as usual, the major players remain, by and large, aloof. But podcasts can still hold up in a cluttered digital world, as demonstrated in the electronic dance market. New media developers will be taking notice. It is about time that the music business did so too.
By William Minion
1Lewin, James. “Podcasters See 31% Ad Revenue Increase » Podcasting News.”Podcasting News » Features the Latest Podcast News, along with Reviews, Hardware and Software Info, and a Podcast Directory. 12 July 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2012.
2“74% of Users Have Positive Impression of Companies Who Use New Media « Jobs in Pods Blog.” Jobs in Pods Blog. EMarketer, 30 Oct. 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <http://jobsinpods.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/74-of-users-have-positive-impression-of-companies-who-use-new-media/>.
3Webster, Tom. “The Current State of Podcasting.” Lecture.
4 “To Infinity and Beyond.” DJ Mag. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <http://www.djmag.com/news/detail/2698>.
6Webster, Tom. “The Current State of Podcasting.” Lecture. BlogWorld Expo. Las Vegas.Vimeo. 17 Nov. 2010. Web. 12 Feb. 2012. <http://vimeo.com/16936611>.
8“Podcasting Goes Mainstream – EMarketer.” Market Research & Statistics: Internet Marketing, Advertising & Demographics – EMarketer. 9 Mar. 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006937>.
9BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2012 – NEW YORK — Learn How to Blog, Podcast and Use Social Media Better at World’s Largest New Media & Social Media Conference, Tradeshow & Media Event. Web. 12 Feb. 2012. <http://www.blogworldexpo.com/2012-nyc/>.
10Webster, Tom. “The Current State Of Podcasting 2010 « Edison Research.” Edison Research. 9 Dec. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <http://www.edisonresearch.com/home/archives/2010/12/the_current_state_of_podcasting_2010.php>.