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Preview: Podcasting


podcasting news + developments

Published: 2006-08-01T20:40:53-05:00


Podcast Award Nominations Shows Lack of Understanding (Alex Williams)


The Podcast Awards are coming up again. But apparently the entries are lacking a few basics, reflecting the poor understanding about RSS, show notes, and the various elements that go with a podcast.

Insomnia Radio recaps Todd Cochrane's lament in culling through the nominations for this year's Podcast Awards. What they found:

* 78% of the submissions had invalid feeds, according to
* Of the remaining feeds, 96% had glaring errors.
* 42% did not have an RSS feed button on their home page. (gulp)
* 26% did not have a link to the file in their show notes.
* 21% had less than 2 lines of show notes.
* Some feeds were huge, as big as 500K and 367 entries.
* Only 49% of the submissions provide a way to contact the podcaster.
* 200 of the submissions that called themselves podcasts had no podcast feeds.

People understand the recording part. They get the idea behind making a show. They could be better web marketers.

More so, the findings reflect that RSS is still foreign to most people. It is still the magic part of the mix.

Odeo Moving Beyond Podcasts With Twttr (Alex Williams)


Odeo has lauched twttr, a texting service. Why? Leads to questions over at TechCrunch. How about the core product? Will it become something besides a simple recorder? They recently showed how they are making it easier to create personal lists, using OPML. They now have a video recorder, too. Seems like there is something in line between opening up an Odeo inbox for all to hear and a texting strategy where you are opeining up your text messages for all to read.

Wiith twttr, we have people leaving text messages for anyone to see at a public web site. Cool. People will love it. Show your photos, share your inner feelings in a podcast or blog and now open up your personal messaging from your phone. People like to see and be seen.

These dudes must have some pretty mellow investors. It's either that or they are seeing that podcast publishing and directory tools just don't get returns and it's better for investors to ok focus elsewhere, on the mobile specifically, where text messaging rules the day.

And there is a fiit between texting and podcasting, especially as the mobile becomes the dominant tool for publishing audio. How the two cross is the question. What's the fit between Odeo and twttr?

The Talent Search Has Begun (Alex Williams)


Sources close to Podshow say that the company will launch its new service next week that from all reports, looks like a media network for creatng and sharing shows. It's clear that they are looking for talent to fill the service they call Podshow+, according to the web site. The black and white video on the Podshow web site asks: "Are you popular?" That's a prett clear sign of their intentions. They want to attract popular shows, following the premise that if these shows can attract millions of people to their netwok then the laws of the long tail will attract Madison Avenue advertisers to their media properties. The news about Podshow is pretty well known to most folks in the business. But it's worth noting if not to underscore the talent search underway as demand for original work increases and networks race to sign new advertisers wanting to reach the communities who are downloading millions of shows.

Other talent searches are getting started. Todd Cochrane launched Blubrry here at Gnomedex yesterday. It's an open community service, too, a space for creating your own shows and connecting with listeners. Leveraging the pool of shows on the network, Cochrane says they will place advertising with the podcaster getting right of refusal, giving show producers some control about the advertising on their show. Podshow's service is looking to leverage this community, too.

Doug Kaye also launched a new media company yesterday but his service, Gigavox Media, is related more to the business approach from Podtech, which recently hired Robert Scoble. Podtech is building a network of produced shows that they receive from partners and the work they produce themselves.

I interviewed Doug last night for the Chris Pirillo show. Gigavox Media is directly associated with the Conversation Network, the non-profit he started. Gigavox will provide a technology license to the Conversaton Network, which will continue to develop material on topics related to matters such as government and the environment. Gigavox will iinclude Doug's IT Conversations, one of the original podcast networks. Gigavox principles will remain the same as those established by IT Conversations, with high attention being paid to the quality of the programming, both in terms of the topics it addresses and the excellence of the audio recordings. He is looking for talent. Doug, btw, helped me get my start in podcasting at Gnomedex 4.0, in South Lake Tahoe, when we teamed to record and podcast the keynotes and discussions from the event. It's good to see him here at Gnomedex.

These are just a few of the examples that demonstrate how a major talent search is starting for people producing audio and video. The answers why are in the numbers. In two separate conversatons yesterday, i spoke with podcasting industry people who say they have each been on a tear in signing new advertisers. These are advertisers looking for shows that reach the increasing numbers of people who are looking for indie produced works. They're searching the social networks for news, entertainment and as a way to share their work and meet people who they connect with on a personal level. Those viewers are valuable for advertisers. And the money they are investing shows the considerable monetary value that these shows command.

The demand for shows will only increase over the next year as more advertisers seek to reach these larger audiences. And that's the race the new media companies are facing. It's a race to find the next star.

The talent search has begun.

Constraint Based DIY Media (Alex Williams)


I love the stories about DIY gear for podcasts.

I ran across this description of a podcaster's wind screen in a post by Jake Ludington :

I'm a big fan of DIY gear for shooting video or recording audio when your budget is holding back your ability to produce an otherwise great creative endeavor. You can save a ton of money in many cases and you get the satisfaction of creating something useful along the way. Case in point, the DIY microphone zeppelin windscreen from Joel Greenberg of Joel and Karen. Zeppelins are those fuzzy things you see covering microphones on long boom arms and help to greatly reduce wind noise when recording with a shotgun style microphone. Using some PVC, leaf guard, fur from the fabric store, and a hot glue gun, Joel built a very functional zeppelin to help cut down on wind noise when recording audio in windy outdoor environments in Texas. He details all the steps and provides a before and after audio recording sample to demonstrate the sound difference. As a bonus he also shows how to build a microphone shock mount using PVC too.

I met someone in San Francisco last week who I urged to make a show, based on the use of a high definition camera mounted to his battery powered helicopter. He has constraints. He can't afford to trash a high def camera nor a battery powerted helicopter. He has to define his shots, plan them and make sure the helicopter is not in the air for more than a few minutes. What results are pictures that are unique to his own perspective. The art is constraint based.

What's distinctive about these examples is how the constraints make the productions more creative. That seems to be the key aspect of why DIY media is becoming so popular. Shows become popular because they have a unique style or perspective which in some part is defined by the constraints of the people producing the show.

I'll be looking for more examples of DIY gear for podcasts over the coming months and how the constraints of the producer serves as the basis for their creative works. Know of a good example?

In the meantime, here's MAKE magazine's DIY Podcast Shower Radio.

Goes to show that DIY is not just for the developer but the user, too. :-).

Will Scoble Do For Podcasting What He Did For Blogging? (Alex Williams)


Time to get this blog back in gear. And what a better time to do it than with the landmark announcement over the weekend that
Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft
to work for Podtech Update: Maryam is joining Podtech, too. She'll be announcing it soon. Congrats to the both of them.

Robert changed the blogosphere. His engaging style, insights and jovial personality combined as a potent force that he used artfully.. He's a master of the medium. He does great work.

Will Robert have the same effect on podcasting?

Podcasting is a world of its own. Personalities abound but no one, I think you could argue, has transcended the podcasting medium the way Robert has done in the blogosphere. Adam Curry, Chris Pirillo and folks like Eric Rice are immensely popular. Doug Kaye is a legend. Correct me please if you disagree but I do not know of any podcasters who has had as much of an influence as Robert has with his blog.

Will lightning strike twice?

Robert did have the good fortune of blogging from Redmond. He worked there at a time when the company needed to display itself in a way that would counter its image as an evil empire of sorts. He opened up the company in a way that will serve as a historical example of how blogging has affected corporate culture. Channel 9 did what it was supposed to do. With his rough cut video intervews, Robert and the team he worked with showed that people besides Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie actually work at the company.

The timing was just right for a personality like Robert to be a Microsoft blogger and engage with folks. He's a jolly guy, able to counter flames from angry commenters. He'd get fried sometimes. But he was always quick to get back in and engage. He did it in a way that wasn't over the top. And that counts for a lot. It's easier to be a lightning rod when people like you.

We know little about what Robert's role will be at Podtech. But his impact will be far different. My guess is he will continue to be an evangelist in some way, back on the conference circuit, interviewingh people and bringing the message to the corporate world about the offerings that grass roots media and Podtech provides.

Will he have the same effect on podcasting that he had on blogging? Is podcasting so different that the two are mutually exclusive in how they impact our lives? Will there ever be a Scoble like personality in the podcasting world? Podtech doesn't seem like the place where Robert will act as a lightning rod. But maybe he'll do a daily show? Rile it up? I'd love to see that.

I just expect that we will continue to see Robert do great work. And that in itself ill make an impact on podcasting that will change the medium for all of us.

Good luck, Robert and Maryam. We'll all be watching with interest.

Forrester study: If 25% are interested I would hurry (Nicole Simon)


A very controversy topic this week was the publication of a new Link TextForrester research study about the use (or not use) of Podcasting. But the comments left in the Net suggest that many have a different point of view.

Forrester projects that just 700,000 households in the US in 2006 will use podcasting, and that it will grow to 12.3 million households in the US by 2010. (See Forrester's "The Future Of Digital Audio" report). Just to give you some context, we expect MP3 adoption to be almost 11 million households in the US this year, and grow to 34.5 million households by 2010. So that means in four years, about a third of those MP3 owners will be listening to podcasts on those devices. Podcasting will get easier and the content will get better, but it will all take time.
The study (and the thereof following comments and trackbacks) is interesting in two points: It shows how suddenly a well know company can get visible flack about their study but also I was curious to see the limitation of the study to the US market.

Given, most of the interest for this study might come from North American companies, but it is one of the interesting and fascinating parts about podcasting that is is not just that one market but a world wide phenomena.

I also doubt the number of exposure to podcasting - every sold iPod out there is wired to iTunes and this does expose the content of podcasting to every iPod user.

As the study says:

One-quarter of online consumers express interest in podcasts, with most interested in time-shifting existing radio and Internet radio channels.
25% of (again I assume US market) users have expressed an interest in the time shifted aspect. And are getting used to XX on demand, without the boundaries of what today's media brings with them.

My caution is that companies shouldn’t be dashing out to create expensive original content for a small audience – unless they gain value from being seen as innovative.
Yesterday it was only Tivo, and that is mostly offline business. Today, 25% express interest, only 18 months after podcasting started and video casting has not really taken off.

If the whole way changes the way my customers deal with me at all, my advise would be to start *very* soon with going where there are going. Because all it takes for those 25% interested persons to go into regular listeners of podcasts is to find a topic of interest to them.

Is your tax professional podcasting? (Matt May)


This one is too good to pass up. Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon has created The Complete Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project, in which he promises to voice America's entire Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as Amended. He explains that the project may take years, since there are several thousand sections to the code. (To give you some idea, the first section, which he posted, is 36 minutes long, and he does, in fact, recite every last recorded change in the code.)

I am so glad that this guy is joking -- as glad, that is, for him as for us.

Says Bogdanski on his blog: "yesterday, right in the middle of a scintillating lecture I was giving on the wonders of carryover basis, a brilliant idea struck. I'm surprised I didn't have this flash of genius sooner... I've got big plans for the site -- advertising, celebrity readers, on-location recordings, musical backdrops..." One must give credit where credit is due: this is the height of accounting-podcast humor. (Hat tip: TaxProf Blog, via my friend Kate D.)

Podtech Raises $5.5 Million (Alex Williams)


John Furrier has raised $5.5 million for his PodTech network. That's a cool load of cash for a company that produces shows. Wait, I thought the startups making media were not in favor? I guess that isn't true anymore. Podshow raised many millions and has all kinds of original programming.

John will be hring podcasters. That's amazing. Will there be a podcast newsroom? I never thought I'd see the day. I am just ecstatic about the prospects of smart, collective journalism that explores issues and is made available as podcasts.

Congrats, John! :-). I'm watching with interest.

Podcasting on CityTV Breakfast Television (Roland Tanglao)



This morning at 7:50a.m. Pacific, I was on CityTV Vancouver'Breakfast Television for about 5 minutes. I spoke with Simi Sara, the host, on how easy it is to podcast and I demoed Odeo (which works through a web browser like Internet Explorer). All you need is a computer with a microphone, an internet connection and Odeo (free, unlimited 3 minute podcasts!), a story, something to say or a cool sound. What I didn't get a chance to say was: play around with Odeo and then when you get serious, move up to a non free commercial provider like Audioblog (my friend Eric Rice's podcasting and videoblogging service) or libsyn (just to name two).

Check out my other podcasts at Dogma Radio.

Tower Records Gets Into Podcasting (Alex Williams)


Adam Curry and folks are talking about the unlabel. How does the news from Tower Record fit into this concept? Tower is calling their effort, TowerPod. They'll have more news about it at SXSW, where I'm heading later this week. Hope to learn more about it there. In the meantime, here's what we do know so far. Podcasters will get access to 6,000 songs, with revenue coming from embedded ads that will be placed in their shows. Music will come from indie artists. Profits get split between Tower, the musicians, indie labels and the podcast creators.

At the Podcast Hotel, the event I produced recently, an artist round table discussion lead to an animated discussion about artist compensation. Samantha Murphy argued that podcasters should compensate the musician for playing their music. Tim Mitchell of IODA said it is all about conversion and if so, podcasters should do very well as podcasting becomes a new distribution medium for indie music. Listen to the discussion here.

Details are sketchy at this point about TowerPod. How much will the artists receive? What does Tower get out of this? And how are the podcasters compensated?

Plus, how does this work? How is the ad embedded?

Outhink, a P2P service, looks to be the engine behind TowerPod, which makes me think that the podcasters will load their shows to the Tower service, where the ads will be embedded and then categorized according to music genre. I've heard a little about TowerPod from folks who are contributing to it but nothing as of yet about how artists will make a decent buck.

Good to see another player in the space. I just wonder how this will all shake out for the artist.

BBC extends podcast trial (Nicole Simon)


My favorite broadcast publisher is extending their "podcast trial":

There are plans to bring the total number of programmes in the trial to 50, with more programmes to be added to the trial once confirmed.

Simon Nelson, Controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactivr, said: "In extending the trial, we're offering some of BBC Radio's most distinctive programming and a broad range of shows to cater to most tastes.

"The feedback we get from the trial is helping to inform our strategy for 'audio on demand', giving listeners the control they are becoming increasingly used to in the digital world.

"Downloading and podcasting are potentially fantastic ways for us to make our on demand programmes as accessible as live radio always has been."

The BBC manages to stay one of the most visible public radio stations worldwide who manages to integrate "new media" into their program landscape.

See the press release for a complete list of all additions to their trial program.

Yahoo and Motorola showcasing mobile podcasting (Nicole Simon)


Motorola and Yahoo! Demonstrate Mobile Podcasting at 3GSM World Congress

As part of the continuing Motorola and Yahoo! relationship, this mobile application would allow consumers to not only drag and drop podcasts directly from the PC straight to their mobile phone through the Yahoo! Music Engine, but would also let consumers directly download podcasts over-the-air* to their handset using an integrated application.
Free content to have more fun with your mobile phone - an attractive combination if we will have reasonable rates for downloading all those podcasts directly from the net.

For Yahoo, this may be another big step into the mobile market - not only search results but interesting content. Please note that in some countries outside the US the overall usage of mobile phones is much higher. Well, make that most western countries. :)

Olympic coverage (Matt May)


If, like me, you can't get enough of the XX Olympic Winter Games. Podcasting News has gathered a list of Olympics-related podcasts, including feeds from the AP, New York Times, and the US Olympic Team itself.

The online video coverage from NBC isn't bad -- but it's not portable, either. All of the media available is streamed, and unavailable outside the United States. It may be 2012 or 2014 before we can subscribe to portable video of a given sport, given the licensing restrictions that are in place. There's no doubt that the video is there. After all, nearly every country has cameras in Torino right now. But the IOC bureaucracy isn't very likely to understand the potential of the Long Tail for niche events like curling, equestrian, and distance running. Or for the tournaments (baseball, softball, basketball, hockey, soccer) that are too much to cover well on one network. Which is too bad, really. Especially for people like me.

Coca Cola Bloggers and Podcasters or PR Flacks? (Alex Williams)


Coca Cola is sending bloggers and podcasters to the Olympics. I wonder if these blogs will be worth reading. Why make such a point that these people will only have positive things to say? Do they not trust hese college students to just post their own impressions of the Olympics? Won't this just make these posts a bit too fuzzy?

From Mediapost:

Adding to its usual marketing efforts during the games, Coke is paying to fly and accommodate young representatives from China, Germany, Italy, Canada, Austria, and the United States--each of whom has agreed to keep their posts positive, according to Coca-Cola spokesman Philipp Bodzenta.

"They understand they we're looking for the positive side of the Olympics," said Bodzenta, adding: "They are part of the PR team, but they are not Coke employees."

Guinness Record: Rick Garvais most downloaded podcast? (Nicole Simon)


The Guardian reports:

But now Ricky Gervais has a world record after his podcast became the most downloaded ever.

Gervais' weekly show on Guardian Unlimited, featuring writing partner Stephen Merchant and sidekick Karl Pilkington, averaged 261,670 downloads a week during its first month.


The podcast debuted on Guardian Unlimited in December 2005 and regularly tops the iTunes podcasting chart, beating the likes of Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles.

While it is nice to see podcasting in the Guinness Book of World Records and Rick Gervais show surely being a success - how can something be the most downloaded one if there are no agreed upon statistics in this area?

Many people for example mistake hits for downloads on a podcast, an error many people make also with RSS Feeds. "My feed was accessed 24 times today!" can mean 24 actual subscribers or just a service checking every minute. With podcast, some software downloads chunks (generating several hits in the servers' log files) or access one and the same file over and over again.

The mentioning of iTunes in this article indicates to me that there is perhaps an interest of Apple to have their download numbers be the standard for such a world record - but they don't publish those and they are only per store basis, also not a reliable number. And, do we count numbers in average, numbers per episode?

But, if you are in doubt and you have a better download rate, you still have a chance to enter yourself in the Guinness Book:

The Ricky Gervais Show will be included in the 2007 edition of the Guinness World Records' book - as long as no other podcast tops it before it is published in the autumn.
I would assume Podshow and other high traffic podcasters will start making phone calls - both to the Guineas World Records' Book and to their webhosters.