I’ve been saying it for 20 years. If you want political influence in a democracy, you need to control the media. That’s why I started TPN. That’s why Murdoch is king. Don’t blame the voters. They get their opinions from the media. Don’t blame the politicians. They were chosen by the media to do a particular job. It’s the media. If we want change, we need to control the media. We need to invest in independent media. Not the ABC. Truly independent media. That’s why you don’t want advertising to find your podcasts. That’s why you don’t want VC firms to invest in New Media. That’s why you don’t want Facebook to be the new publishing platform. Those things just subvert the opportunity to wrest control of the future from the rich white psychopaths.
What can you do? You can make the media. Make podcasts. Write blog posts. Write books. Make documentaries. Make comics.
Today is the tenth anniversary of my first podcast – G’Day World #1 in 2004.
It wasn’t only MY first podcast, it was a milestone in a number of ways:
- It was the first podcast ever produced in Australia (AFAIK)
- It was the first podcast produced over Skype (AFAIK)
- It was the first podcast to include live guests (AFAIK – but that didn’t happen until a couple of weeks later when I interviewed my mate Buzz Bruggeman)
- It was the first podcast on The Podcast Network, the world’s first podcast production business that I co-founded in Feb 2005.
Podcasting has come a long way since 2004. Back then I was predicting that it would become mainstream within a decade. Has it? I’m not sure how you measure “mainstream” – or even it that’s a worthy metric at all. It certainly hasn’t taken over the world. And I still meet people who have never listened to one and don’t really know what a podcast is.
But here are my thoughts on the matter.
- The most recent stats I’ve seen suggest there are about 225,000 active podcasts being produced (but I’ve no idea how they arrived at that number or how credible it is). That probably means there are millions of listeners at least.
- The advertising industry still isn’t on board. I produce one of the top podcasts in the world and I don’t have potential advertisers beating down my door. We did sell quite a bit of advertising in the early years, 2006 – 2008, but the GFC hit and that all disappeared – and hasn’t returned.
- The technology has improved a great deal. Back then it was pretty hard to FIND and SUBSCRIBE to podcasts. Even after Steve Jobs announced in May 2005 that the next version of iTunes would have a podcast directory (and sent me an email about it), it was still a clunky process to find a podcast, subscribe to it and get it onto your iPod. These days of course there are a bunch of iPhone and Android apps that make it simple and quick.
- The business model for podcasting is emerging as listener donations. On my Life Of Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte podcasts, we get regular listener donations. Nowhere near enough yet to make a living out of it, but we hope to change that with our new series that starts in a couple of weeks. I prefer the donation or subscriber model to advertising as it gives us greater independence. We aren’t relying on sponsors to continue their support. If we get them, they will be cream. I know a couple of guys who make a living out of their podcasts, so I know it can be done. This wouldn’t have been possible 10 or even 5 years ago.
- While the models for listening and monetizing podcasts has evolved, the technical side of setting up and running a premium podcast hasn’t. There are certain services like LibSyn and Blubrry that provide some options, but their premium services are out of the price range for the average podcaster. If the small podcaster has a chance to get up and running and making money out of their show, we need better tools and guides. I’m currently writing such a guide that is based on my experience over the last year building the Caesar show. I hope to get it finished in the next month or so and think it will help a lot of podcaster take their shows to the next level. Disappointingly, ten years later, iTunes still doesn’t allow podcasters to charge for their shows, meaning we have to jump through way too many hoops to do that ourselves.
- In terms of marketing and delivering a podcast, iTunes is still the kingmaker. It accounts of about 90% of our downloads and I’m sure that pretty true for most podcasts. Why haven’t Google, Microsoft or Yahoo done more to promote podcasts? I don’t know.
- Has my decade of podcasting been a good thing? Yes. Not financially – but certainly it has in other ways. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have met my beautiful wife Chrissy if it wasn’t for podcasting (we met at Napoleon conference in Corsica in 2008) and we wouldn’t have our baby Fox. I’ve made many wonderful friends around the world who came from listening to my podcasts. I’ve made friends with other podcasters who did a show on TPN back in the day, including David Markham and my current co-host Ray Harris. I’ve interviewed guests from Noam Chomsky to Ray Kurzweil, from Leo Sayer to Jeffrey Katzenberg. It’s been a wonderful adventure.
I maintain today, as I did in this SMH article in 2008, that radio is boring. Every now and again I turn it on in the car and it bores me to tears. It’s still the homogenous shit it was ten years ago and that inspired me to create intelligent content. Yes, there are exceptions – the ABC in Australia, NPR in the United States, etc – but commercial radio is a wasteland of nonsense. Radio listenership in metro Australian cities are in decline but not by much (about 1% per year over the last five years). Will that change when podcasts are available built-in to cars, as Stitcher is promising? Perhaps. We’ll have to wait and see what the second decade of podcasting delivers.
What are the best podcasts in Australia?
Of course, there is the Life Of Caesar podcast I co-host with Ray Harris, which sits in the Top 100 on iTunes (sometimes it gets as high as #23) – but aside from that, what else is out there?
I’m asking for a couple of reasons – I’m on a panel at BE Fest next week talking about content marketing and I’d love some examples of people doing it right.
I’m also working on a marketing strategy for a client who would like to support up-and-coming Aussie talent.
To be clear, here’s what I’m looking for:
1. The show must be independently produced – no radio shows.
2. The show should be produced in Australia.
3. The show can be audio or video (including YouTube shows).
4. The show should have a large audience and should have at least 50 reviews on iTunes or YouTube with an average 4 star rating on iTunes or a bunch of upvotes on YouTube.
Let me know in the comments.
The recent “Royal Prank” episode of 2DayFM in Sydney is just the most recent scandal in current spate, mostly coming out of Sydney. Kyle Sandilands, Alan Jones and now Michael Christian and Mel Grieg – why are these radio hosts and their employers resorting to creating scandal after scandal?
Because it works.
Every time one of these hosts says or does something to outrage people, we see the same old process:
1. There’s lots of hype in the news media about it – not because it is news per se, but because a artificial scandal makes it easier for “news” organisations in Australia to fill up airtime or column inches than actually having to commit acts of journalism. As we all know, there are hardly any journalists actually working for news organisations any more in this country, but anyone can rent their garments and decry acts of bad taste. A scandal pulls in eyeballs and that means more money for the “news” organisation without actually having to do any real “news” work. Total win.
2. The stations and the hosts involved either claim they don’t know what all the fuss is about or put on a false act of contrition. The host is pulled off the air for a day or two. Advertising is pulled from the show for a few days. Station management claims the host will be counselled (while I suspect they are quietly all popping champagne corks in the backrooms).
3. Finally, the show goes back on the air and is rewarded with a ratings bump, which means more listeners, which means more advertising dollars. Everyone wins.
Thank you, capitalism. The idiocracy rules. To keep the public’s attention, radio needs to pull stupider and stupider stunts.
Let’s look at the data.
After Alan Jones’s most recent scandal, the comment about Gillard’s father, his show actually increased its lead. And his lead has continued to increase since then.
Kyle Sandilands’ much maligned show continues to perform well, although apparently Kyle & Jackie O’s show has taken a small rating slide of late, so expect another “scandal” from him, as soon as this whole royal affair has blown over.
The recent scandal-created suicide is a tragic outcome to this marketing tactic. Of course, the corporate media who bleated about it incessantly for the first couple of days haven’t taken any responsibility for the tragic denouement. It’s almost as if they had absolutely no involvement in the story blowing up.
What can we do about it? Is more media regulation the answer? It wouldn’t hurt. But the real answer is STOP LISTENING TO COMMERCIAL RADIO. Listen to podcasts. If you MUST listen to radio, listen to the ABC or Triple J.
I haven’t listened to radio for close to a decade. My life is much better off as a result. Commercial media can only continue to plumb the depths of idiocy while people keep listening to them. I seriously don’t understand what value people get our of radio in 2012. In an era of ubiquitous iPhones and podcasts and Spotify, radio is, more than ever, a dinosaur. I know I’ve been predicting the imminent demise of radio for a long time, but seriously…. what is wrong with people?? I really don’t understand how people put up with the ads. After ten years with no ads (I don’t have a TV either), they drive me nuts when I accidentally hear one. How do people allow their brain to be constantly polluted with that shit?
TURN OFF – TUNE OUT – TAKE CONTROL
“Big Bang Theory a Bust” is the way News Corp is peddling this two-year old story about Roger Penrose’s “Conformal Cyclic Cosmology” model for explaining concentric circles of cosmic background radiation. Why run the story two years late? I have no idea. But it’s the headline that is the true story.
It’s obviously written by a sub-editor to a) be sensationalist and b) discredit science in the minds of the general public. I’ve already seen people in Facebook picking up the story and using it to start discussions about how science is equal to faith.
Very similar to the HeraldSun’s approach to the now-discredited neutrino experiments out of CERN last year.
Sensationalist and anti-science. Of course, any intelligent person understands that the scientific method is a process of refinement – one experiment or, in Penrose’s case, theory, in no way “upends” or “busts” anything, especially not time-tested theories such as the Big Bang or the speed of light being the speed limit for relativity.
But I’m pretty sure News Corp cares not about such things as accuracy. It’s about sensationalist yellow journalism and trying to discredit science. Why would they want to discredit science? Because it helps them rally the Christian Right vote. Fox News has turned itself into a profitable political power house in the USA by pandering to the Christian Right, anti-science demographic and it looks like News International wants to try the same trick here in Oz.
From the Business Spectator:
One of Gina Rinehart’s closest advisers has argued that the Fairfax Media board should have the right to influence the editorial direction of the company’s media outlets, especially if the actions were designed to increase Fairfax profits, according to a Fairfax report…..Channel Ten board member, and Hungry Jacks founder, Jack Cowin told ABC Radio that newspapers are a business, not a public service, and that preventing board members from influencing Fairfax newspapers “would be like Qantas not allowing its directors to talk about aeroplanes,” Fairfax reported.
via Fairfax board should be able to influence editorial content: Rinehart adviser | News | Business Spectator.
So much for even pretending to have “editorial independence” which has usually been an illusion anyway. Cowin (and we assume Rinehart) don’t want to pussyfoot about when it comes to telling any media assets they might have control over what to write about or how to write it. Hey – it’s a BUSINESS, dummy.
As if we needed reminding.
Meanwhile… for those of you who are Mad Men fans, here’s Enoch Light’s original version of “Autumn Leaves”, as sampled by RJD2 on his track “A Beautiful Mine” which is used as the Mad Men theme.