The modern podcasting climate has changed considerably since its mainstream launch in 2005. Many podcasting giants have risen and fallen within the period but still the technology trundles on. The issue that many people have now is not maintaining a podcast, but actually creating one and successfully launching it.
When the iTunes Podcast store opened its gates in June 2005 the online world exploded with podcasting fever. It wasn’t too long before the technology caught the eyes of the big players within the old radio and television industry, from that point on independent podcasts were doomed.
The independent podcast circle used to be a buzzing pace full of enthusiasm and community. Perhaps I’m painting an idyllic image of the past, as one often tends to do with hindsight, but my point is valid nonetheless. There was talk of commercialising podcasts, in order to maintain them and break even, but making millions wasn’t on the agenda. There was a time when I was a big advocate against the commercialisation of podcasts, but that time has passed and I’ve joined the dark side. Commercialisation of podcasting has, if anything, improved the overall quality of content available.
Something changed after the Summer of 2005. Suddenly it became very hard to launch a podcast and gain the amount of an audience as one would have achieved in June. There wasn’t an issue of over-saturation of the market at all, the issue was that big corporate companies started to move in.
The BBC effectively killed independent podcasts when it started to regurgitate its own radio content. The BBC didn’t come up with new content for podcasts, they recycled the shit that came out of the mouth of Chris Moyles in the morning to turn it into what they called a podcast. “The Best of the Chris Moyles show” quickly became one of the biggest podcasts on the web, the BBC saw the success of this and soon began to recycle the rest of their shit from across their radio network. Soon the market was flooded by other broadcasters doing the same.
Take a look at the front page of the iTunes Podcast store today and you will not see a single independently produced podcast. It’s either crap recycled from the BBC, or other network providers, along with one or two “celebrities”. If fun, independent content is becoming hard to source from the world’s number one podcast store the industry is doomed.
Small little networks and communities used to exist that would serve as directories for independent shows, but they’ve long since died out. The Britcaster forums closed their doors way before I even found a slight moderate success with The Podzone. Mevio are no longer promoting the independent content that’s hosted on their network. They’re plugging the shows that they produce, they’re not even supporting the independent producers with promotion on their front page or channels.
If the big old media networks are tainting what was once hailed as he saviour of high quality entertaining content, what’s the next step? Podcasting was created by pioneers who were frustrated with the blatant commercialisation and dumbing down of mainstream content, it’s sad to see it go the same way as radio.
The only way that we shall see the continuation of podcasting and the saving of independent content within that is for a new network to be built. A united front against all of the shit and trollop that is being pushed out and into our ears by old media companies. If there is one thing that could possibly save podcasting, it’s Twitter. Someone just needs to come up with a way to make the two work together.
We need a community, a new directory, a fantastic piece of software and integration that will save the independent podcast industry before it really is too late.