Friday, March 11, 2005

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED but it may be podcasted: I've spent this week exploring podcasts and I have to say I'm very impressed. For those of you who haven't heard of them, here is a definition from iPodder:
"Think how a desktop aggregator works. You subscribe to a set of feeds, and then can easily view the new audio files from all of the feeds together, or each feed separately. Podcasting works the same way, with one exception. Instead of reading the new content on a computer screen, you listen to the new content on any capable mp3 player on the computer or hardware player such as the iPod. Think of your player with podcasting as having a set of subscriptions that are checked regularly for updates. "
I'm not sure that is a good explanation. Podcasts seem more like homemade radio shows without the endless commercials, traffic and news breaks and promos. They come in as many flavors as you can think of. Music, Talk, Religion, Sports...name it, someone is podcasting it. Here is just one directory.

I downloaded iPodder as my aggregator. I subscribed (free...it's all RSS feeds) to five different podcasts. Hit the "get new" and iPodder downloaded the shows to my laptop. I then put them on my MP3 player. I set up iPodder to check daily and viola, there are the new shows.

Podcasts are a lot like blogs. The Instapundit of podcasts is the Daily Source Code which is basically an audio blog by Adam Curry (formerly of MTV VeeJay fame). He is also the brains behind iPodder and seems to be the godfather of Podcasting. I also listen to Coverville which is about a 30 minute radio show playing, you guessed it, cover songs. No commercials, no traffic, no news...just the show. I signed up for IndieMusic Alernative/Modern Rock feed. That one isn't a show but individual songs. The podcast dj introduces the band, a little info about them and then plays the song. This is followed by a link to their website and where to get more info. Area 51 is a humor podcast. I've only listened to one...it was funny...felt like listening to an old time radio show. Keener 13 is for 60's motown. (this one had a bit more promos).

I'll tool around and explore more podcasts just like I do blogs. I put them on my MP3 and listen in the car while I drive from court house to court house. When I'm done with them, hit delete. In the meantime, no commercials, no traffic, no news...I can pause it to take a phone call...I can restart it, repeat a song. Like TiVo but portable.

Some more future thinking big media podcast their show. You can get Air America and some NPR shows on podcasts. Like blogs, they run the gamut from slickly produced or, as noted immediately above, actual media to some kid thinking he's all DJ JAzzy Jeff sitting in his closet making a mix tape.

This may not be as fast to hit as weblogs, but I think this could be just as big. All it'll take is one big name to podcast.

Think about it, Howard Stern hates the FCC and is jumping to satellite radio because he'll get big money. But, he's just moving from one big company to another. He is still dependent on someone else (some company) distributing his work. Not with a podcast. He could do his own show and put it out there. With the proliferation of iPods, other MP3 players, windows media player, real player, etc he could have a very wide distribution. If he sells adds on his show he could keep all the revenue rather than the station. There are a million reasons Howard Stern wouldn't do that now, but if this can catch on I do think it'll revolutionize radio and entertainment.

Through IndieMusic Alt Rock podcast I heard at least 4 bands I had never heard on the radio...and never would. Podcasting gives an advantage to bands who know can podcast their own shows or submit songs to other podcasts. Their reach is far greater than it ever was before podcasting. Couple that with websites delivering info about the band and the record label's power ebbs.

Podcasting won't kill radio or music labels anymore than blogs kill the New York Times or MP3 players killed off the CD. But it'll be interesting to watch how this develops.