AfterPod — Podcast Movement 2018

My 3rd year. No longer new to podcasting, still not a podcaster, now near beta with my annotated timeline web media project… and I continue to be impressed with the actual podcast movement (as well as Podcast Movement, the event).

VIBE

The 2018 gathering had the same kind of energy as last year… only more. Wait, that’s what I said last year. I’m hoping to report the same next year, too (Orlando).

VENUE — Hotel/Meeting Space

The Marriott facilities were fine, though the hotel seemed a bit slammed at times. The meeting spaces were convenient enough and there was room for everyone for MOST sessions, though several were SRO.

My only real complaint has to do with noise. Whether in the lobby area or in the presentation and meeting rooms, it was spacious but difficult to hear when thousands of PODCASTERS (read Professional Talkers) started turning up the volume. Add dueling pianos and there’s little chance for meaningful conversation. I hate that… opportunity lost.

<soapbox>This is not unique to Podcast Movement or Marriott, it’s EVERYWHERE! Some restaurants seem DESIGNED to make it LOUDER (Chipotle). It makes me weary.</soapbox>

VENUE — City

Philadelphia is historic and we were mere minutes away on foot from a singularly symbolic object that can be viewed at any time of day or night…

let freedom ring

The Liberty Bell rings loud for the right to free speech for all individuals, including podcasters. I’ve long believed podcasting is the MOST democratic medium and hope it remains unspoiled.

Travel to/from the airport was super-simple via public transit… there are rail stations at each of the PHL airport terminals and, on the other end, a stop around the street corner from the convention hotel door. The first leg of the trip provided an interesting juxtaposition as they appear to be transitioning to a newer ticket system while still maintaining the old?

I tried to purchase a ticket at the airport kiosk and it got confused. It DID, however, print out a handy Complaint Receipt!

So, I bought a ticket on-board — the old-fashioned way, cash and a live person walking down the aisle— and was given a very-rapidly-hand-punched-SIX-TIMES slip of paper.

My hand hurts just THINKING about punching paper all day long… with precision!

VENUE — Party Zone

Despite a sudden DOWNPOUR on the very long line of people mere minutes before the doors opened…

Kudos to Castbox for sponsoring a most convenient AND accommodating party setting… not to mention the party itself. It’s quite an experience to go shoulder-to-shoulder with the tourists AND locals in the Reading Terminal Market during the crush of the day… it was even more fun to see it at night (when it is usually shut down) with LOUD DJ dance music in one corner of the massive building, a quieter lounge area with low, live music in another corner, and plenty of spots in-between and away from the noise, where actual conversations were held at a party! (I am not kidding! It was very good, something for everyone.)

PRESS

For the past few years, there has been growing interest in podcasting. Radio INK and All Access continued to provide solid industry coverage and, this year, a new standout is Podnews.net, whose James Cridland was also one of the panel session moderators. He brings a pleasant British accent and comedic timing to the lectern, along with a smidge of verbal quirk, that added to the fun.

Looks like James got the same kind of rail ticket as I did on my return ride to the airport.

THE EVENT

Podcast Movement and its organizers have done a nice job offering something for everybody, with several learning tracks and more sessions than can possibly be attended (I’ll watch most later using my Virtual Ticket). There ARE many faces to podcasting and it’s still evolving, so even seasoned veterans can learn from others and pick up new tricks.

One odd thing… seemed like the sudden dismantling of the sponsor booths PRIOR TO the last full day of the event caught some podcasters by surprise. The practicalities are understandable but some attendees were unaware that would happen and intended to use some time during the last day to chat with vendors.

VENDORS

It seemed like there were more booths and more new offerings this year. There are a number of new entrants in the podcast production/hosting side of the business presenting new, easier ways to get the job done. I also noticed several companies with speech-to-text conversion services, talking transcripts and SEO.

GOOGLE

For the first time, Google was represented on stage at Podcast Movement… or any podcast event since their recent re-entry into the podcasting space, for that matter. The sharp (and well-coached) product manager said all the right words yet many were left unspoken. A huge ship navigating international waters does not turn quickly nor without significant force being applied. We’ll have to wait to see if this freighter delivers goodies for podcasters (or just creates choppy waters as it steams by in the distance).

Google Podcast’s stated goal is to 2X worldwide podcast listening audience (without confining themselves to a specific timeframe), which would be fantastic for podcasting. Due to the proportion of Android versus iOS mobile platforms worldwide, accounting for the majority of devices, the goal is very achievable… but I believe it will take longer than they infer.

An aside — before Google’s announcement, I wrote a piece about “Podcast Math”, pointing out that if they hypothetically matched Apple’s podcast market share, effectively doubling consumption (a number I just pulled out of the air at the time), it would STILL leave the majority of people NOT enjoying the benefits of podcasts. The point being: there’s MUCH MORE room to grow.

BTW, podcasts continue to have a presence on the “music side” of Google’s apps which, to me, seems strange and adds a certain amount of confusion to the whole picture.

APPLE

While some members of the Apple Podcasts team have attended Podcast Movement previously, I’m not aware of any formal presentations made and have only heard about some private meetings being held with select podcast creative and industry members.

I’m a bit disappointed. At the first of the year, Apple began offering detailed podcast consumption analytics and I hoped we might get an official glimpse at what is being learned… but no.

PODCASTERS

I saw many familiar faces as I walked the halls… plus a multitude of new ones. I sense a bit more confidence. Podcasting is becoming known, and in a most positive way. It is stepping out of the shadows of “fringe media” and gaining recognition as a powerful media force. Podcasters are being looked at with more respect and not automatically relegated to the hobbyist category.

DIVERSITY

Indulge me for a minute, please:

I have been VERY observant of the treatment of the nascent podcasting medium ever since I recognized future trends. I have become cautious about “external” attempts to change (what I personally believe to be) the most democratic medium to come along. With its foundation in RSS, podcasting is a very powerful tool… and can be wielded by virtually ANY individual. HUGE hurdles fall by the wayside in the face of the freedom podcasts provide to the people. Especially financial obstacles. Basic podcasting can actually be done by almost anyone at virtually no cost. If diversity can be achieved without intervention, it should be here.

Podcasting is a sharing medium that has EVOLVED, for a myriad of reasons, to the point it is today despite “competition” from other media. There has been no special effort to make podcasting diverse nor obstacles to prevent it from being so. As a result, it is becoming a “naturally diverse” segment.

It would be interesting to have real demographic data. Walking around the show and talking to people, there was a strong presence of minorities. That has been the case for the past three years. If anything, some might be OVER-sampling (at least at this event).

Having said that, there didn’t seem to be an inordinate amount of focus on diversity, which was a relief to me since I fear such attempts (as well intended as they are) usually miss the target and, often, cause more damage than good.

RADIO

Public radio podcasting, as a group, has always actively shared ideas, data, and experiences openly. Their attitude is more academic yet economics are not ignored.

Oddly, commercial radio is STILL trying to figure out podcasting. It must be a bigger culture shift than I imagined. An extensive track led by Jacobs Media was very well attended and the interest from broadcasters continues to grow. Things will change in this segment but, evidently, very slowly.

WORK

Podcasters can do their thing almost anywhere… including trade gatherings.

Tasting local latkes while recording a podcast at PM18

PLAY

Podcasters can have fun on the job, too…

Does beer loosen the lips of podcast guests?

FUTURE

I believe the next year will be a telling one for podcasting, which is approaching (at least) one fork in the road — will it remain open or closed?

There are strong forces nudging the medium toward a newer version of old media, where fragmentation and proprietary systems are the norm. Most are just intense competitors doing what comes naturally — thinking only of themselves — and a few, though well-meaning, don’t understand the full implications of their intentions.

Others strive to keep podcasting “free”… as in liberty.

We need more talk about this aspect of the industry. Few things are more important than the ability of the individual to be heard. It could actually be the one thing that keeps the world from sliding into that Orwellian darkness feared by many. Podcasting COULD be the glue that holds our society together — connecting individuals — as we go white-water-rafting in the digital stream that IS the future.


From time to time, I write about podcasting and usually link to the articles on AfterPod.com as well as post on Twitter. Here’s a recent one about podcast hosting companies.

I’m also creating a web media tool for people who want to access internet resources in a more connected way. You can see the first deployment, still a work-in-progress, at podDVR.com.

If you’re an experienced tech or innovative marketer, let’s talk about how we can influence the future of web media together. I can’t do this alone.

Rick

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