A great start to the new year with the 4th edition of the Bangalore podcast meet-up hosted by O2Pod Collective, a Bangalore based podcast collective working to help spread awareness about podcasts and podcasting as well as help aspiring podcasters get started. The event was supported by Hubhopper — India’s go-to app for content. The meetup up has been the biggest in Bangalore so far (with over 28 people, representing 18 podcasts in 2 languages — English and Kannada). One could argue that it has been the biggest podcast related event in India with overall (listener plus podcaster) count touching a number of 50 people!
O2Pod Collective is an initiative by podcasters and friends Saif Omar and Faiza Khan from the Musafir Stories Podcast, Shankar and Vishnu Padmanabhan from the Writer and Geek Show and Naga Subramanya B B from The Passion People Podcast.
Before you dive in, this is what the folks who attended had to say:
We started building the community almost a year ago and with this meet-up, we’ve come a full circle (almost!) as we had close to 50 creators, listeners, enthusiasts, aspiring podcasters join us for the event. In addition to this, we also had representation from the extended ecosystem including podcast apps (Hubhopper), podcast services including recording studios, editing and transcription services (Spacebot — spacebot.in ) and patron supported platforms Gigsy. It is imperative for the ecosystem to grow for indie podcasters to thrive and succeed!
The event kicked off with its fair share of ambiguity since few notable invitees were unable to attend. As the time passed, however, the podcasters and listeners kept on coming. At one point, the discussion circle was occupying the entire hall that was reserved from a reputed accounting firm in Bangalore.
The event also took the credit as being one of India’s first podcast and listener events. The podcaster meet was from 4 to 6 PM. However, the listener event and interactions went on for a lot longer than anticipated. (6 to 9 PM!) Needless to say, we were very pleased with how things had turned out.
Below are some highlights from the meet-up:
Reflection on 2018:
- An explosion in the number of new Indian podcasts aided by apps like Anchor that have made podcasting easier. This is validated by a report on the Podcast Universe by Voxnest with India seeing the highest growth in podcast creation with over 30% increase YoY.
- A boom in the number of podcast listeners as well with more India centric content being created by networks like IVM and India-centric apps like Hubhopper and Storiyoh. This was confirmed by Hubhopper, who says there has been a 24x increase in listenership over the past 2 years on podcasting platforms in India.
- Focus on local issues and podcasts in regional languages with new podcasts now available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati and more in the pipeline.
Challenges remain for indie podcasters
- Discovery remains a challenge as indie podcasters compete with bigger networks and shows from around the world for some ‘ear space’. This is aggravated by the fact that some popular apps still do not support a regional setting for India that would enhance local content discovery.
- However, apps like Hubhopper, Storiyoh and Castbox have been filling this void by featuring local content actively. There is an opportunity for indie podcasters to work with these platforms to get featured and potentially reach more listeners. In case you are a podcaster looking to connect with these platforms, please reach out to us.
- Marketing of podcasts is another challenge given the limited ‘virality’ of the medium.’ Word of mouth’ and social media platforms like facebook, twitter and Instagram remain the popular means by which indie podcasters are getting the word out. Some podcasters have been reverting to bite-sized video and audio content (using apps like headliner) along with some visuals on these platforms that will act as a ‘hook’ to attract potential listeners. Other ways of attracting new listeners included sharing episode links to the podcast apps and website. Whatsapp also has emerged as a popular way of broadcasting episodes to first-time listeners, although not without a few hiccups (a handful of manual user actions needed to work seamlessly). Another idea that was tried and seemed to work well was to utilize the ‘pseudo network’ of the indie podcaster community to cross-promote (ads/social media/guest appearances) to reach to an existing audience that might be interested in relevant content.
- Listener engagement is still quite limited given that most apps don’t offer an opportunity for users to interact with creators. Apps like Castbox and Storiyoh have taken a lead in this by opening up ‘comments’ and ‘favorites’ for listeners to share in-app feedback. Castbox now also offers creators the ability to ‘live-cast’ and engage with listeners as well. Still no stories about the adoption of Twitter's ‘live audio broadcasts’ feature released last year. Other creators have been using social media (‘live’ on Instagram/Facebook) and podcast website to interact with listeners. Offline events are something that will also see more adoption in the future.
- Monetization still remains a big challenge with only a handful of indie podcasters being able to generate any kind of revenues. The primary source of monies remains ad-based revenues, mostly pre-roll ads and host reads. The folks from Gigsy.in also pitched about the opportunity to monetize using a Patreon model in the future where listeners can support the creators. Other possible avenues discussed were brand partnerships, affiliate marketing, merchandise and creating brand-related assets.
12 listeners interacted with the podcasters and we had some interesting conversations. Not sure how much the samples of our interactions with these folks represent the entire population, but please be informed that some these folks have been tuned in to podcasts for over a decade now. We call them, our super-listeners. Keep that in mind while you soak up these suggestions, please. While most listeners had consumed US-based content, their adoption of local content (Indian) was slow as well. We hope to change that with events like these.
- Listeners are hooked to shows across genres that are captivating and well produced. production quality is a critical factor for most listeners.
- In-app discovery, personal recommendations from friends/colleagues and twitter seem to be popular ways of discovering new shows.
- Preference for pre-roll/ end-roll ads that are under a minute. Ads that appear abrupt and out of context were most fussed upon. Notable mentions for good ad placement for 99% invisible and Masters of Scale.
- Adoption of a subscription-based model might take longer given the dearth of local content.
- The response to listener supported models like Patreon still appears to be lukewarm given the nascent medium and model.
- Listeners more likely to pay for events and promotions that are one-off.
- Listener friendly features in apps like auto-rewind on pause, the ability to archive favorite episodes were suggested.
If you want to know more about podcasts, learn about how to start your own for your company or just your own little ramble, we’re here to help. We podcasters need to stick together and this is our way of helping grow this medium. Reach out to us at @O2Podcollective on Twitter or email us at email@example.com