If you are unfamiliar with what podcasts are, which shows are good, or how you can go about listening to podcasts, then this blog entry is specifically for you. During the short period that I have started this podcast, I have noticed that there are many who are still unaware about this form of media. Therefore, to help spread the word, as well as to try and encourage more to start listening to podcasts, this post will briefly go over the what, why, and how of podcasts.
The best analogy that I like to use when describing podcasts is that podcasts is to radio what YouTube is to television. This is in the sense that both platforms deliver the same entertainment product to consumers. The difference of course, is the medium or the distribution of the product. Podcasts then, deliver the same product as radio in that it is an audio experience, but differs in the medium through which it is delivered.
In most countries, in order to get your radio show distributed on a radio channel, you have to obtain a broadcasting license. The is why most of the people who deliver radio content have fully decked out studios with sound engineers and a guaranteed level of audio quality. Podcasts, in contrast, need no such license. For my show all I had to do was record my episodes at home and upload them to a hosting site, where it will be distributed through platforms such as Soundcloud, iTunes, or Stitcher. Because of the ease of access by which content can be distributed, podcasts in comparison to radio has a much wider variety of show content, a much larger pool of unique show producers, but crucially, also a wider range of show quality.
For example, there are podcast shows that cater to just about every interest, from gardening and gaming to photography and politics.
But there is also a wide gamut in terms of content and audio quality, from professional studio recordings to amateur simple bedroom ones.
So why should you start listening to podcasts? On a practical level, podcasts are on-demand, 24/7, highly customizable, portable, and best of all, free. That means, for all intents and purposes, that you could literally be gardening whilst listening to your favorite gardening podcast. Seriously though, so long as you have a smartphone, you have access to an enormous catalog of unique audio content.
But really, the beauty of on demand content such as podcasts or YouTube are that they have democratized the entertainment industry. This democratized model allows small players to compete with the big guys, where individuals such as Pewdiepie or Tati (glamlife guru) are able to produce content and be sustainable doing so.
However, the model of democratization is dependent upon its audience. The reason people like Pewdiepie are successful is because they draw in millions and millions of views, which in turn, draws in advertising revenue. Advertisers are happy because they are able to reach a massive audience and increase awareness of their brand or product. Producers are happy because they are able to keep doing what they enjoy doing. And the audience is happy because they get to watch or listen to their favorite content for free.
The best part about this that is if you don’t like a show, you can go and listen to something else! In this sense, show producers have to keep producing top-notch content so that they they can keep their audience interested and subscribed. Just like you can decide the president with your election votes, you can also determine who becomes successful as a content producer with your viewership.
That leaves the how of podcasts. As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are numerous platforms through which you can listen to podcasts these days. The biggest distributing platform today however, is still the iTunes podcast app, which is installed by default on each iOS phone. Through the platform, you are able to directly search for some podcast show, or look through the different categories available. Once you have found a show that you like, you can click subscribe to continue receiving notifications whenever a new episode pops up, or even leave a review within the app itself.
Don’t have an iPhone? No worries, there are other platforms by which you can listen to podcasts, such as Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Spreaker, Soundcloud, and so on.
While your listening experience will differ based on the app you choose, most of them are available for free on both iOS and Android. For example, if you use the app Podbay, you will have access to their historical ranking feature that shows how an episode has fared on the iTunes ranking lists. Also, you can snip a segment of a show and share it online through their clips feature. In another example, if you pay for the Pocketcasts app you will be able to adjust the playback speed, trim silence, and have smart filters for your subscribed podcasts.
And that’s it! If you want to learn something new or hear some stories or just listen to people talk about current events, give podcasts a try, after all, they’re free and you might add some more diversity in your commute, your workouts, or your chores.