What’s going on in the podcasting industry? Podcasting has been around since 2004. However, it is still in its infancy in many ways; but that’s about to change! Listen in as two podcasting veterans discuss the history of podcasting, the current state of podcasting, and the future of podcasting. In this conversation, you’ll hear from the founder of the popular podcast conference, Podfest Multimedia Expo, Chris Krimitsos, and Alex Sanfilippo, founder of PodMatch, PodcastSOP, and host of the top-rated podcast titled Podcasting Made Simple. This is the state of podcasting!
Read The Blog Post: The Future of Podcasting: Blockchain and Other Exciting Things to Watch Out For
When you are the Guinness World Record Holder for the largest attendance for a virtual podcasting conference in one week (5,816 participants, to be exact), you definitely know a thing or two about the future of podcasting.
Chris Krimitsos is the founder of Podfest Expo and a leading expert on podcasting and on-demand audio. He’s also the author of Start Ugly: A Timeless Tale About Innovation & Change, a book that has had a massive impact on how I do business.
In our first PodPros Quarterly Event, I had a fascinating discussion with Chris about the podcasting industry, how far it comes and what the future holds. You can read a summarized version of this insightful interview below.
Learn more about our PodPros Virtual Event here.
We’ll jump right into the history of podcasting. So when did podcasting begin? It was 2004, right?
Yes, sometime around 2004-2005.
Interestingly, I didn’t learn about podcasting until 2014 and even then, the thought of listening to people immediately put me off. Now all I listen to is podcasts!
Once you start listening to podcasts, it’s tough to go back to how we used to listen to audio via radio. A podcast is Audio on Demand– what you want when you want it! And it’s free! Podcasting is a fantastic revolution of audio, and I love seeing how it’s becoming a dominant force behind how people consume audio.
Despite podcasting being around for more than 15 years, it seems growth has only picked up momentum in recent years. What do you think about that?
You’re right. Compared to video platforms like YouTube, the trajectory of podcasts in the early days was slow. Back then, everyone had to drive to work and audio was largely consumed via the radio.
Also, most cars did not have Bluetooth capabilities till many years later. When you take into account that the average person takes 5-8 years to change out a car, you can see why podcast listenership took a while before taking off.
Now, due to COVID-19, we don’t even drive into work anymore as everybody’s working virtually. Basically, there’s no need to listen to radio. It’s just easier to go on your podcast app and listen to your favorite shows anytime you want, whether you’re working out or working around the house.
That sounds like me! Like most people, when I’m doing any chores at home, like vacuuming, I’m listening to a podcast through AirPods. Is that why we’ve seen the consumption rate of podcasts get elevated in the last couple of years?
It’s also the reason why the value of headphones has gone up. I remember going into an electronics store when we had like three, four brands at the time. They’d have a cheap headset for around 20 bucks and maybe some Bose noise cancel canceling headsets.
Other than that, there weren’t a lot of options. Then I remember one day during the podcasting revolution and on-demand music revolution of Spotify and SoundCloud. They had two rows of headsets ranging anywhere from $1,200 down to $20!
That’s like 40 choices when there used to be only two or three. While the audio is free, we still value what we are consuming. Therefore, we want to use the best gear to listen to our audio.
Fascinating! Now, to the main topic of today–the current state of podcasting. Where is it today? We’re seeing listenership grow a lot, but I’ve noticed that the majority of new people starting podcasts don’t stay in the game for long. Why is this the case?
The reason why YouTube has at least 20x more creators is that many of them are able to monetize. That’s happening in podcasting now, but we’re still lagging behind.
However, as more money floods into the marketplace, you’re going to see more creators choosing to stick with podcasting. The challenge is it takes a while for a podcast to gain traction and then monetize.
The number of consistent podcasters has been stuck at around 150k to a quarter million for a while now. That said, we should see that increase to about a million active creators as money literally floods the podcasting space. It’s already happening, but the next few years are going to get intense.
Speaking of YouTube, the platform has the like button and the comment section. Podcasting, at least the mainstream directories, don’t have a feature where you can thumbs up a specific episode and leave a comment. Do you think that that has any play in why people are deciding to quit podcasting? Is it because they’re just not hearing from their listeners?
On one side, I agree with you that it’d be great for listeners to interact more. However, with podcasting being decentralized, it’s the freest form of communication that we have today. That’s because no one entity controls the ecosystem of podcasting, and podcasters own their own RSS feed.
Spotify is also making leaps and bounds into monetizing and figuring out how to engage in commenting. How do you get people more engaged with their favorite podcast and create communities?
That’s the million-dollar question a lot of startups are trying to answer. In the meantime, maybe start a Patreon or subscription service for that core audience and slowly build that. This will give you more streams of revenue as well as more interaction with your audience.
What about the other side of the mic? People jump on one or two shows, and then they’re not sure they saw any real traction from it and they put a stop to the efforts. What advice do you have for people that are getting into podcast guesting?
I think it’s the same concept as doing a podcast. You have to be consistent. You can decide to consistently do one show a week or one a month and then focus on that. Obviously, you want to interact with the podcasters with as much authenticity as you can.
No sending a stock email—make a personalized request if you want to be on a show. I would also prepare! A lot of people that are guesting don’t prepare. You should be prepared to be a great guest, no matter what. Have stories mapped out on a piece of paper and be strategic with how you answer when someone’s asking weak questions like “tell me your life story” or “tell me how you started.”
The last thing is to create a WOW factor. When I’m talking to a podcast host, I’m not worried about who’s going to listen to it. I want to make sure that the host finds me interesting. If I could convert the person interviewing me to enjoy the interview, then anyone listening to it will enjoy it.
Many people have told me they are not doing any podcast guesting because they have ad spend. While ads have their place and are very powerful, when you’re a guest on a podcast, you can know and build trust with the people who are listening. Through an ad, you can’t really tell if you like or trust somebody. I believe being a guest on a podcast is one of the best ways to get your message out. What are your thoughts on that?
I do a lot of ads spend for Katie’s (my wife) podcast in the meditation space. But I will tell you that advertisements will only get more expensive. This means if you could guest podcast, that’s probably the best way to establish authenticity and get people to know you.
For Katie, we’re scheduling out very strategic guest bookings for her; These are probably some of the best ways to get the brand out there and convert new listeners and evangelists for her brand. Remember, some of these shows you’re going to be on might not be big today, but they might be huge tomorrow. As people go through the back catalog, they’ll come across your episodes.
If you’re busy, maybe only do one a month. If you’re not busy and are looking to build your brand, you should do as many as possible. Imagine if you did a hundred interviews in a year. That would be a huge part of brand building!
My only advice is to have different stories to mix up your different appearances. You don’t want to share the same thing every single time!
One of my greatest selling points for podcasting is that it’s the last true way independent voices can get heard. It’s someone’s actual opinion without potentially being suppressed in any way. I think the future of podcasting has even more of that, right?
Yes, I think the future’s very bright because no one controls the podcasting ecosystem. When I came of age in high school, that’s when the internet was emerging. I remember going on a website to look up pictures of Greece, and I was so amazed.
Back then, the internet was pretty much static HTML pages, and then WordPress and Web 2.0 came out. It was so exciting that people could engage in dialogue, podcasting and YouTube.
Now we have Web 3.0, the decentralized, autonomous organizations of the internet that are being built off of blockchain technology. If you thought the birth of the internet, Web 2, WordPress and social media companies were a big deal, this next wave is going to be like a tsunami compared to all the other innovations.
We’re in for a huge ride as creators across all platforms. I’m excited about that, in a good way.
You’ve already shared a bit about the future of podcasting with Web 3.0. As a software creator in podcasting, I’ve seen all sorts of software companies showing up to support podcasters. There are new monetization opportunities every day on both sides of the mic. New tools for podcast hosts to help podcast guests get exposure after the interview. Everything is just blowing up in this space. Where do you see this whole thing heading?
For one, we have decentralized domains. These are domains that no one owns; they’re not even run through ICANN. You could buy one off the blockchain and then link your wallet to the website. Now you have a decentralized audio platform.
This means people could send you money directly to the website as they listen per minute, per second, whatever you put in that smart contract. The most amazing part about that is if you’ve built up an amazing audience, you could sell it or give it to someone and say, “I just want to collect a 10% royalty for the life of this podcast.” That’s part of NFTs and all these terms you’re hearing.
Basically, you could tokenize your art, sell it to your community, put in a licensing royalty fee and then have other people host the show and it could live on. This is one thing I’ve always wanted to do–have one of my brands live way past me.
This is really cool. With podcasting being at the forefront of all this, we’re going to have to start learning all this stuff. Any final remarks?
With about $100-$150, you can buy cheap podcasting gear to get started. So, podcasting is basically free to start, but education is not free. You need to invest in your education. The investment doesn’t even have to be money. It could be time. You could go on YouTube, find a good channel and watch every video. PodMatch also has outstanding podcasting education. Invest in your education as a content creator because that determines the people who keep growing and succeeding in this industry.
Remember, sometimes your original concept might not be the best, but you could pivot and find an even better concept that you like and adjust with it. Katie and I have been through a lot of ups and downs and have had people telling us that this is not possible.
We literally had a family friend consultant tells us, “only broke people podcast .”But he meant it out of love, and that’s just it; some of the worst advice we get is from the people we love.
Remember, a lot of people don’t see what’s around the corner. For you, if you’re on this journey, invest in yourself and just keep moving forward—one step at a time. You’ll be fine.
About the speaker: Chris Krimitsos
Chris Krimitsos holds the Guinness World Records™ title for the largest attendance for a virtual podcasting conference in one week and is a leading expert on podcasting and on-demand audio. His international conference, PodFest, is the longest-running continuous in-person podcasting event in the world and attracts thousands of attendees from over 50 countries each year.