Off Air: Podcasts Next Big Thing?
Something new. Something different. Just a conversation about the podcast world, but first, check out this article for reference or don't. We mean. It's cool.
I was always under the impression that video was the next big thing. I’m being sarcastic and laughing, because I know you know, that we always heard that. Years and years of that same mantra about video. Mike Butler and I created Forgotten Cinema because we wanted to talk movies and let’s be honest, we’re both creators who were looking for an outlet to be creative.
Well, I think the biggest difference between audio and video now is you have to actively choose video. What I mean by that is, yes, you can turn on a tv show and be on your phone or be cooking dinner, or whatever, but it’s still very centralized to the screen. With Audio, especially Audiobooks or Podcast, you don’t have to be actively engaged in the content. It has an ease-of-use appeal to it.
Speaking of video, though, there’s always talk that the web series world didn’t achieve its full potential but I think it went beyond that. What we’re seeing with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. where shows are produced specifically for streaming audiences is exactly the idea web series creators had. The term “web series” though, seems to imply shorter form content.
I think the term “web series” slowly turned into a negative connotation of one’s content for a variety of reasons. Even I stopped referring to the two shows I did as web series after a while. And let’s be honest, isn’t Quibi just an app and website with loads of web series? Albeit, web series with money behind it. I know a few Koldcast.tv and Blip.tv shows that would’ve liked just a 1/16th of those budgets. Chalk that up to “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”
And to your point. Yes, podcasts have an ease of use appeal, but we both consider the podcast to be merely a component of content. It’s definitely a consistent stream of content that, if you can do it properly, will never miss a scheduled date. And when you have that consistent podcast episode every week, you’re able to build on it with social posts, engagement posts and here we come back to again, video.
That’s why I ask you this. Is there a podcast bubble? If so, will it burst?
Yes and no. Right now is a great time to be making and experiencing content. Because of the shut down of film and tv productions due to the pandemic, we’re going to see a gap in content. Podcasts can fill that. Podcasts are easy to do, all you need is a microphone and good ideas. Because of this, podcasters can be engaging with the audience during the creation process. With movies, there’s such a big gap between filming and release. That engagement can help set podcasts apart.
What I fear, though, is the exclusivity agreements (looking at you Spotify). This forces audiences to choose a platform and potentially miss a ton of great content.
I don’t think the podcast bubble will burst, but like all things, it’ll shrink in time. But not anytime soon.
Where do you see the growth coming in podcasts?
The podcasts that I gravitate towards are the ones that teach me something, whether it’s about history or behind the scenes of business deals. I think those non-fiction, informative podcasts will continue to grow. Almost taking the place or rather in conjunction with books on tape. I’d like to see scripted narratives take off, but I’m always reminded of sitting in the offices of the Writer’s Guild of America, East about 10 years ago.
This was after I had just created my first web series, The Puzzle Maker’s Son and I was at a meeting with other web series creatives. These were exciting times, Pat! Web series were the next big thing and one of the WGAe employees or members was talking about how in five years, their plan was to get web series writers able to make a living wage from writing web series. Sure, with hindsight, knowing what we know now, that seems odd. But even back then, I thought. “How?” I couldn’t possibly see that happening.
I feel the same way about podcasts, especially in the scripted narrative world. Sure, they’ll be some success stories, but eventually the others will fade away. I hate being glass half-empty, but I’ve seen it before, so nothing makes me think it’s going to change.
Maybe that’s the answer. It’s not about being the next big thing, it’s about offering complementary pieces to a story.
Take for example, your love of business/informative podcasts. The solution isn’t only podcasts, it’s about a book, a documentary web series, and a podcasts, all telling the same story with different info that help paint the full picture. Use the mediums to their strengths. Don’t say audio is the next big thing or video was. Use audio and video to help each other. The more info, the more an audience member gets lost in your storytelling.
Looking at this article, it should be seen as a win for podcasts to see they’ve been “the next big thing” for 13 years and continuing to grow and grow.
I think there’s a lot of room still though. It still appears to be content for “millennials”. That’s not the full truth, but it’s the perception. I’ll think it hits it’s peak once my mom learns how to download them. (Hint hint!)
Why don’t we end this conversation with that? A plea to Pat’s mom to start listening to podcasts!
Michael Field is a filmmaker and storyteller. You can check out his podcasts here at Forgotten Entertainment, but also check out his personal website as well. Pat Whalen is the star of Yet Another MCU Podcast and the behind the scenes straw that stirs the drink at Forgotten Entertainment.