Google officially launched its standalone podcast app for Android. As of right now, it is available for download in the Google Play store. This was well expected, given the steady drumbeat of preview posts that Google had collaborated with the branded podcast studio Pacific Content to produce and publish. Those write-ups laid out how the search giant viewed its place in the audio universe, how it might contribute to the easing of its frictions, and how it might move to own a piece of the whole thing. And then there was the matter of last week’s code sighting, which suggested the prospect of a standalone podcast app in addition to the core audio search features that Google was apparently baking into its main Android search app. That suggestion turned out to be signal, as a standalone app is precisely what we were given.
The Problem: Podcasting had long been a ward of Apple
The Problem had always been clearly understood, but it never felt as if anyone had found a way to get out of it. Podcasting had long been a ward of Apple, which historically stood as some sort of impartial steward. The space grew and flourished in large part because of a string of Apple decisions: inclusion into iTunes, breaking out as a standalone app, bundling with iOS by default. But, as has long been documented, the relationship between Apple and the ecosystem it helped foster is a complicated one. Some argue that Apple should get more involved with discovery, analytics, and monetization. Others believe Apple already wields too much power. This split in opinion broadly tracks alongside a split in communities; it is an expression of ideological tensions between those who function as independents and those who pursue empire. (I have also heard this tension framed as actually being between those who had power in the past and those who want power in the future. Whatever the case may be, have sympathy for those caught in between.) All throughout these debates, Apple’s commitment to being an impartial steward mostly never wavered, save for one exception: the introduction of in-episode analytics in the waning days of 2017. For many, this was a step in the right direction. But some, if not many, wanted so much more. Despite the incremental progression, the entire episode only further clarified the nature of the status quo: podcasting is Apple’s world, podcast publishers just live in it. Whatever progress these publishers want to make for themselves, they would have to make it on terms set, directly and indirectly, by the things Apple will and will not do.
Google, in theory, offers an alternative to this reality. The supposed argument is a diplomatic one: this wouldn’t be a case of Google eating Apple’s lunch, but rather a move to unlock the previously underserved Android market, which would give podcast publishers a path to building meaningful relationships with the other half of U.S. smartphone owners and the vast majority of smartphone owners in the world. Android owners had previously been served by a collection of third-party apps — Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Podcast Addict, Overcast, and so on — all of which were able to claim their own relatively modest fiefdoms within the expansive Android universe. It was a fragmented state, and so the opportunity here would be a push for unification… or consolidation (likely at the expense of these third-party solutions, but that’s another matter.)
Of course, this is all not as simple as it sounds. And it’s not as if Google hasn’t been here before. Google had another standalone podcast app not too long ago, Google Listen, an experimental product launched in the summer of 2009. Google Listen was eventually shuttered in 2012 on the reasoning that there were other, better podcast apps out there, as the search giant told Android Central at the time. But that was two years before the beginning of the so-called Podcast Boom, and quite sometime before we’d come to know what we know now. In late 2015, Google added podcasts to Google Play Music, which was an attempt to fit the media category into the Concierge system the company had gained through the acquisition of Songza. It was an intriguing idea, but it didn’t end up moving the Android podcast needle very much.
THE NEW GOOGLE PODCAST APP REVIEW
THE standalone podcast app has significant differences that separate then from now, we’re told. These features include, but are not limited to:
- Greatly decreasing the friction from search results to an actual mobile listening experiencing, thus operationalizing searches as a true top of the funnel;
- AI-assisted features like quick transcription, greater in-episode searchability, automatic visual subtitling across multiple languages, and content-indexing, which will presumably give audiences more control over the judgment and navigating of a listening experience (and, also presumably, put some speech-to-text transcription companies out of business);
- Cross-device syncing, which allows users to easily transition between listening on a smartphone or through a smart speaker;
- Direct monetization features, like the possibility of a “donate” button.
It remains to be seen whether these features will be enough to convert large volumes of podcast-curious Android users into actual podcast listeners. For what it’s worth, I think they could be helpful in getting more pedestrians to at least try the damn thing. But I also think that Google will need the cooperation of publishers to do some of the awareness-raising work for them. Then again, if there was ever a time to get a critical mass of publishers to split focus between Apple and an alternative, this moment would be it.
Something else that remains to be seen:
how the Google Podcast app’s new features, if effective in capturing listeners, will shift the value narrative of podcasting
— that is, the way we understand how a listener relates to a podcast, and thus how podcast impressions are sold to advertisers. After all, much of its contemporary value is based around the idea of podcasts being an “intent-driven” medium — which is to say, it’s pretty damn hard to listen to a podcast, so the kinds of folks who listen to them regularly must really love the thing enough to walk on coals. Google’s new AI-assisted features are designed to cut down the necessity of that intensity. As a result, we’re in for a shift in how we understand, and articulate, the Average Podcast Listener. That’s going to cause some considerable reformulation of how the industry works. It’s also going to shift the nature of who has the real power, and who will set the terms of what podcast publishers can and cannot do.
All of which leads us to the real question: what happens once you get what you’ve always hoped for?
One more thing: In addition to the app,
Google has also announced that it is “partnering with the podcast industry on a program to increase the diversity of voices and remove barriers to podcasting.”
It seems reminiscent of Spotify’s recent effort at creating a podcast boot camp aimed at women of color. More information is due late this summer.
Editor’s note: This post appeared first on the website: Hot Pod Hot Pod is a weekly newsletter on the podcasting industry written by Nick Quah
***READ MORE HERE: Could Google’s new podcast app change the way we understand the Average Podcast Listener?
There are a lot of us who, upon entering into the world of podcasting, we tell ourselves, “I’m just doing this for fun. It doesn’t matter if it brings me opportunities to add a revenue stream to my income.” But a podcast needs listeners.
Let’s be frank, we don’t become podcasters in order to record our own voices and essentially, talk to ourselves. We can do that just fine in our own homes without spending the time, money, and effort it takes to produce a podcast. We all have an idea to share or a skill we want to teach others.
The simple fact is, the larger your audience, the faster your podcast will grow. And with that large, growing audience, you can generate opportunities to make some extra money on the side, in order to subsidize your podcast and keep it going.
15 simple steps to help you grow your audience
1.) PODCAST SHOW TITLE
Think of a great title to your podcast. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the title of your podcast should be easy to remember, easy to differentiate from other podcasts targeting a similar audience and tell potential listeners what it’s about. To grow your podcast you need a memorable name. Considering all that, it’s worth the time to take a moment to think about a title for your podcast.
2.) AUDIO EQUIPMENT
Invest in good equipment. Equipment plays an important role in podcasting. If the equipment is flawed, your audio might cut in and out, sound staticky or muffled. Regardless of how fascinating your topic might be, if your equipment is making your podcast hard to listen to, listeners will tune out! Even if your budget doesn’t allow for high-end stuff, you can find great podcasting tools for any budget.
3.) PODCAST HOSTING
Grab a good hosting company. Regardless if you’re new to podcasting or not, it’s vital to make sure your hosting company is up to snuff. Meaning, make sure they will help you troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Also, check to see if they cater to larger podcasts or smaller ones. A few great places to start investigating to see if they fit your needs would be WordPress, Lisbyn, and Simlecast.
4.) YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Consider utilizing YouTube. There will always be people who prefer to watch a video than listen to a podcast. As a result, some podcasters have opted to also incorporate YouTube into their podcasting toolbox. What they have done is, after recording an episode, they upload the audio to YouTube as an “audio-only” file. Others have used video to record themselves as they record their podcasts, creating a sort of video-podcast. And still, other podcasters will live-stream their podcasts on YouTube as they record their episodes.
5.) TARGET LISTENER
Consider your specific audience. What do you want to talk about? Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but the more specific you are when considering your topics, the more specific you can be in regards to the audience you’re trying to reach. Knowing the specific audience you’re trying to reach will help you in reaching them more effectively.
Engage listeners by getting their input. Coming up with new episode topics that specifically caters to your listeners can eventually become an overwhelming prospect. So why not take some of that burden off your shoulders and ask your listeners what they want to hear? It’s also a great way to interact with your audience and make them feel part of the show.
7.) EVALUATE YOURSELF
Pay attention to which episodes are being downloaded the most. This will give you a good idea for future topics because it can show you the type of content your audience is interested in. However, just also be aware that sometimes, the number of downloads doesn’t always equal the number of times a specific episode has –actually- been listened to.
It’s always a good idea to get out there and network with other people in the same field or with similar interests. The more people you meet with similar interests, the more chances you have to promote your podcast. Through networking, you’ll not only promote your podcast, but you can get ideas for shows and potential guests on those shows.
9.) GET SOCIAL
Experiment with social media. It should go without saying that we are in the age of social media. Social media is an awesome tool to utilize, especially for podcasters. Don’t back yourself into a corner by –only- using Facebook or Twitter. Think about where your audience is: are they on Pinterest? Or, Instagram? Or, Snapchat? Figure out your audience’s preferred platform and engage them there. Like and respond to their comments. Ask them questions and get them involved with your podcast.
Build a great website and blog. If you’re just starting out, something simple and clean should suffice. But, when you are able, maybe think about talking to a web designing professional who will help you create a fun, interactive website for your listeners. Also, consider writing a blog to go along with your show. I know, blogging may seem like “one more thing” to do. But, you don’t have to write long dissertations. Perhaps a blurb about your latest episode, or your thoughts on an interview or guest you had on, should suffice. The point is, more content for your audience (and potential audience) to engage with is never a bad thing.
11.) NOTES AND TIME-STAMPS
Consider time-stamped show notes. Once you’ve uploaded your show, you should at least give your episode a brief description for those who want to have an idea to know what it’s about and perhaps interest them in downloading it. Time-stamped show notes are a great way to engage listeners, especially those who don’t have a lot of time to listen to your whole podcast or, those who really just want to listen to a particular portion of your episode. Time-stamps allow them to skip the part they want to hear.
12.) INSTRUCT YOUR FANS
Call-to-action. After your audience listens to your podcast, what do you want them to do? Follow you on Twitter? Visit your website? Buy your book? Give your audience a call-to-action, whatever that action is that you’d like for them to do.
13.) ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE
Upload regularly. It’s often hard to keep the momentum going on a new podcast. Thinking of new episodes every week or every two weeks might become daunting. However, it’s vital to figure out a schedule and stick to it. If you upload irregularly or, if you start uploading weekly then, walk away, your audience may start to walk away, too.
14.) GUEST HOSTING
Be on other podcasts, have other podcast hosts on yours. Guest hosting, or being a guest on others’ podcasts, as well as having other podcast hosts on yours, is a great way to branch out and grow your audience. Potentially, you can add more listeners to your podcast as the audience from other podcasts check you out.
Don’t stop marketing yourself. When you start seeing your audience number grow, you may be tempted to rest on your laurels and stop marketing your podcast. DON’T! As any business owner will tell you, you should never stop promoting your business. And in this case, your business is your podcast! As the time goes by, your audience will grow and even change. Don’t assume that your listeners will be there for the long-haul.
Hopefully, these 15 tips will help you get started in growing your podcasting audience. Can you think of any more you would like to share? Comment below.
Next, read tips on how to keep your podcast running smoothly
Every year, Infinite Dial releases the results of research from Edison and Triton in regards to the podcasting industry. The research obtained entails the specifics on the size of the podcasting industry, the demographics of the industry’s audience, and just how the audience consumes podcasts.
This year’s findings are exciting and generating a lot of buzz in the podcasting industry. Here are 5 trends to consider:
MORE PEOPLE LISTENING TO PODCASTS THAN SATELLITE RADIO
While podcasting still has some way to go before it catches up to terrestrial radio, it’s becoming easier for audiences to listen in their cars as in-car entertainment systems become more connected with the internet. Also, it’s interesting to note that podcasting has overtaken listening to satellite radio this year. Meaning, that slowly but surely, podcasting’s reach is growing and access to its platform is becoming easier.
With the advent of smart speakers like Alexa from Amazon and Google Home, some believe that they will eventually replace home radios. With that in mind, it may be a good idea for podcasters to think of ways to make their podcasts easier to find in order that a larger audience can find it on these devices. For example, pick a name for your podcast that really stands out, but stay away from names that might be difficult to recognize by voice commands.
PODCAST LISTENERS DIGESTING THE WHOLE SHOW
People who listen to podcasts listen to most of all of a podcast 80% of the time. That’s a very large number. Plus, the number of podcasts listened to per week jumped from 5 to 7. That’s an eye-popping shift! As a podcaster, the best way to take advantage of that is to offer useful information regularly and don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit with some longer episodes and shorter ones. Some days, your listener may only have time for a 15 minute podcast. Other days, they may have time to listen for a full hour.
MOBLIE LISTENING GROWS…HOME LISTENING STEADY
49% of listeners do so at home. However, don’t let that statistic confuse you into thinking that listeners are sitting around their living rooms in groups and listening to a podcast. Podcast listening is still mainly an individual activity and listening on a mobile phone doesn’t necessarily mean that the listener is “mobile”.
POSSIBILITIES FOR EVEN MORE STEADY GROWTH IN NEAR FUTURE
There is a lot of room for growth and expansion. For example, one statistic shows that 36% of the population still doesn’t even know what a podcast is! Part of the issue is that many podcasters don’t promote their podcast outside of the podcasting industry.
WRAP-UP OF 2018 STATS
Put all of this together and what does it mean? Well, it means that podcasting is a platform that is only expanding! If you’re interested in podcasting for fun or to generate another revenue stream, now would be the perfect time to jump in. Start brainstorming ideas, think of what you can offer listeners in the form of content, and think about the audience you want to reach. When you’re ready, consider enlisting production help in order to make sure you’re submitting your best.
You’ve probably seen it floating past your eyes in your social media feeds: the such-and-such podcast was going to be recording LIVE in this city or that city. Outlets like RadioLab, Crooked Media, Ricochet, and even NPR have all done this: recording a podcast in front of a live audience.
As a podcast host (or, potential podcast host) you might be thinking, “Is this a good idea for me?” The answer isn’t quite so simple. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to meet and connect with listeners and potential listeners, as well as gain access to additional revenue. However, putting on a live show requires a different skill set than simply recording in your studio or home studio (as the case may be.)
Also, it’s important to point out that not every podcast has a formula that can translate well to a “live show”. Now, to be clear, one need not have a background in theater or have a podcast about musicals in order to put on a great live show. Not at all. Political podcasts tend to do rather well, contrary to what most may think when conjuring up the idea of a “live show”, due to the attraction to strong personalities in podcast political punditry.
And that gets down to the point. Many things are personality-driven and live shows, even more so. In many respects, we have turned our favorite podcast hosts (regardless of the content) into a sort of celebrity. When we come together to see our favorite podcast live, we are able to mingle with other listeners or, fans.
All of that said, if you can pull off the logistics, manage the budget, and time that it takes to put on a live show, it may well be worth it. The biggest benefit again would have to be the physical connection to your audience. Podcasting is about building a relationship with your listeners and meeting them in a live setting is a great way to become acquainted with those who support you and get their input on what they would like to hear more of, or less of, for that matter. Secondly, it’s a good way to get an additional income stream (from ticket sales) to balance out ad revenue. Plus, if you have merchandise (books, t-shirts, mugs…etc.) sales from those items can also add to your bottom line. This additional income can help you to put on more shows in the future as well as simply continuing your podcast in general.
So, should you do a “live podcast show”? We would recommend taking stock of the content of your show and if you feel that the content wouldn’t translate well in front of a live audience, perhaps think of shaking up the old formula for that one special event. Again, if you can pull off the logistics and stay in budget, it may well be worth your time to go out and meet up with your listeners and have some fun.