The State of the Podcast Industry at ‘Podcast Movement 2017’

I just automatically reached for a text entry app to jot this post down. As a writer it’s my natural intuition, but this time I decided to record it on Anchor so if you TL;DR this you can TL;DL me there ;-) The CaseyCast on Anchor


I listen to a lot of podcasts.

I do my own podcast.

But I was surprised at the sophistication of the podcast industry in the US at Podcast Movement 2017 — a podcast conference for podcasters, by podcasters, now in its 4th year.

Being in the startup world, I get caught up in the technology, the scaling and the investments. It’s great to see that there are other digital entrepreneurs in this exciting and growing market that are making good money and evolving an entire industry.

#PM17 is a 2.5-day event with talks, workshops and keynotes around the podcast industry in the US.

I was happy to not be the only international guest at the event either, as I met the man behind the Disrupting Japan podcast and I met people from Australia and New Zealand amongst the 1600+ attendees and speakers.

Most important take away is that I’m exited with where podcasting is and where its going — so here are 10 key takeaways that I noted:

  1. Independent podcasts are 56% of the most downloaded podcasts. Followed by Public Media, ProCasters and Big Media. (see slide below)
  2. 50% of all podcasts get about 200+ downloads, where as the Top 5% get 14,000 and the Top 1% get >80,000.
  3. I got conflicting data on where people listen to podcasts — some say at home which blew my mind, some say during the week in their daily commute.
  4. Apple controls the podcast ecosystem and a lot is hinging on what kind of analytics they will allow podcasters to access come this Fall. This is mostly because of the native Podcast app — an app that Android doesn’t have — and is partly a reason believed to be holding back greater adoption of podcasts by the general public.
  5. The ad revenue for podcasts will hit US$400 million by 2018. To put that number into context: radio is $18 billion a year business. But with the number of radio representatives at this conference they know their lunch is going to be eaten soon; so they are getting informed now!
  6. There are many ways to make money from podcasts and advertising is probably the smallest one right now. To put into context, the unambiguously named Social Media Marketing, is one of the most popular podcasts with 1 million+ downloads and its owner has 6,000 paying customers.
  7. There are podcast specific hosting companies right now like Libsyn and Spreaker. There are podcast guest booking agents, a dozen microphone manufacturers and marketing agencies to help you make and market your book via podcasts.
  8. Hollywood is optioning podcasts (!) and bringing them to a new audience. Amazon is releasing LORE as a mini-series this Fall. Lots more on their way and have at the least been optioned to become films or TV shows.
  9. There are 2 types of podcasts — ones that are ad-driven and ones that are funnels for selling something else like a book or a course.
  10. Most importantly is that podcasting is definitely a thing and is making a huge comeback and you would be well advised to start understanding this as a new media outlet.

Rob Walch from Libsyn was nice enough to send me his deck from his talk “Yes, That Marketing Advice for Your Podcast is Still BS, 2017” but asked me not to post a link to it (as it doesn’t make sense without him speaking about it; which is also the same reason why I don’t give out my slides either) so I have picked 5 of the most straight forward ones to present below:

So to wrap up #PM17: there were podcasters from every walk of life there. Not just tech people, actually, I think I was in the minority. I met a guy that does a hunting podcast and a lady that starts her day with coffee while talking to her listeners via Facebook Live to non-podcasters making tech for podcasters like discovery apps and distribution platforms. It’s like the beginning of a whole new media wave has been happening under my nose — and I love it!

To me the most valuable sessions were the ones on data and the business of the industry as it stands today in 2017 as well as the workshop sessions that teach how to release podcasts, how to market and sell other products and sponsorships which were the majority of workshops.

At RISE this year Gary Vaynerchuk said you can’t/shouldn’t ignore audio. For a guy with his fingers in every social network it’s something special when he specifically picks audio as a vertical to watch and which is currently undervalued.

I loved the movie Pump up the Volume about a pirate DJ; would be neat to see it re-made today with a podcaster encouraging everyone to “talk hard!”

Podcast Movement returns in 2018 this time in Philadelphia.

Lastly, here are some photos I took:

Closing keynote by LORE creator Aaron Mahnke.
Some cool Blue microphones on display.
Full house for a keynote by Dan Carlin who releases 5-hour podcasts every 6 months and gets millions of downloads. Incredible!