The big shift in media caused by podcasting is finally underway. And while we all may be marching mostly in the same direction right now, we’ll likely see more than a few spin-offs in the years to come.
For episode nine of my 10-part miniseries on the future of podcasting (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8), I ponder the spinoffs that will be a natural offshoot of podcasting. And yes, there will be spinoffs, assuming the past is a good predictor of future events. And it is.
Back in the early aughts, the rise of digital photography made fertile ground for Flickr, and suddenly everyone could and would share their photos with random people all around the world. More recently, Chinese-based TikTok has YouTubers scratching their head.
If there’s one thing you can count on once a medium gets popular, its that spinoffs happen. Which means that’s going to happen to podcasting.
But it’s important to understand that in most cases the spinoffs don’t cause the death of the technology that preceded it. It’s usually not a parent-child relationship, where the parent dies and the child continues on as its legacy. This isn’t a zero-sum game.
It’s also important to understand that these new spinoffs are usually driven by the technology that powers the preceding activity. Flickr could not have happened without lots of us carrying around a digital camera that was only a digital camera. We had to transfer the images off the camera and onto the computer in batch so we could share them, right? Flickr moved most of that functionality to the cloud.
And when the technology again shifted so that our cameras were all connected to the internet (via our phones), Instagram and other spinoffs happened. That didn’t mean Flickr died. It’s still used by people who still use camera-only digital cameras. The spinoff didn’t kill the preceding activity.
With that understanding, let’s bring this back to podcasting and try to imagine what spinoffs we’ll see in our future.
Podcasting has put extremely high-quality equipment in the hands of hundreds of thousands of creators. But that great equipment isn’t all that easy to attach to a mobile device. And even if it were, it’s unlikely we’ll carry our Shure SM7Bs on our next vacation.
And the “create and upload fast” model has already been tried via Anchor and others. And while that might have caused some interest in podcasting among people looking for a faster way, the lower-quality content generated there hasn’t followed the popularity path of Instagram.
But the challenges I point out above may be more a limitation of my imagination than anything else. As I sit in my dedicated studio space, with my high-end hardware, my professional-grade software, a healthy client-roster, and a good pipeline of prospects, I’m the wrong person to try and predict podcasting’s spinoffs simply because I don’t need to look for them.
Tomorrow, I’ll get more into that lack of need and the privileged class to which I belong. But for now, you and I can both take comfort in the fact that whatever these spinoffs are, they aren’t going to kill podcasting as we know it. Change it? Sure. But I don’t think the future of podcasting is in danger.
If there’s a danger, it’s that we’ll choose to poo-poo spinoffs because they don’t threaten podcasting as it exists today. Why is that a danger? Because that interesting spinoff might be a better fit for us — as individuals — than what podcasting provides today.
FOMO is real, yo.
Since you got this far, how about mashing that 👏 button a few dozen times to let me know you dig the written-word version of my thoughts on these podcasting topics? I’d sure appreciate it!
This article started life as a podcast episode. The 227th episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.