Spreaker’s been a part of the podcasting industry for almost six years now, and we’ve seen lots of changes in who’s trying it out and how the medium is approached. As its consumption continues to boom (at the beginning of 2016, Edison Research reported that 55% of Americans were aware of podcasting’s existence (compare that to 22% in 2006), and 36% had listened to one) we’ve seen it get adopted from both the bottom-up as well as the top-down. Podcasting has grown from a passion project to a full-time commitment for many, and corporations and broadcasting giants are turning to it for a more direct connection with clients and listeners.
We’ve definitely felt the ripple effects of those changes and did what we could to give back to the industry in 2016. And so, with 2017 on the horizon, it’s time to stop and look back at the year in podcasting.
Listening to the big voices in the industry
As podcasting boomed and producers turned towards the ever growing possibility of profit, both positive and negative consequences emerged. Some of the industry’s leaders weighed in with us throughout the year:
As the number of podcasts multiplies, it’s important to make original, quality content, and not churn out copycats of what’s already out there. It’s no easy task, and a focus on quality production is at the forefront of many conversations, like how podcaster and audio artist Kaitlin Prest spends at least 5 to 20 hours of attention for each minute of her show. At the same time, Heben of Another Round notes that the “key to longevity in any medium or situation is the ability to adapt to change. To say “audio is only this and can only be this forever” is a kiss of death that we see and have seen happen in other areas.”
Nevertheless, everyone is getting into podcasting, from the average user to corporate brands. Anya Grundmann states: “We’ve seen this increased interest first-hand at NPR. Sponsors who have been with us in the broadcast space are starting to experiment with podcasts as well, and vice versa. This investment will likely continue fueling more shows and more listeners, which is exciting for makers in every genre.”
There have also been some less than favorable, hard to ignore aspects to the podcasting boom. Cliff Ravenscraft remarked on how the rush towards podcasting has lead to new hosts investing in all the necessary equipment and accessories, “however, they have put little to no thought into what it is that they hope to accomplish with that influence. A majority of new podcasters never make it past their seventh episode.” And Daniel J. Lewis has similar reservations, as it’s “becoming harder to get attention for high-quality niche content because all the mass-appeal podcasts hog a lot of attention.”
On-site podcasting (and podcasters)
As a testament to podcasting’s growth, many podcast-centric events were held this year, catering to those both in- and outside the field, with some returning and others new to scene. We got to attend and sponsor our fair share of these this year — among them NMEU, NRB, and JPod — and each provided its own perspective and insights.
For example, at Radiodays Europe, an event that’s usually more focused on the radio and broadcast industry, podcasting was a main topic of interest; more and more traditional networks are trying to find a way to merge their traditional approach with the new medium.
And podcasting has officially taken over the world with the inaugural Asia Pacific Conference taking place back in February in Auckland, New Zealand.
Of course, the biggest event to mark the success of the industry was Podcast Movement, which was even bigger and more bustling than last year. We got to go to Chicago and meet lots of new podcasters ready to get behind the mic, and take the pulse of what’s new in the biz.
More features for more podcasting
Podcasting really came of age in 2016 with its rise in consumption, and producers are looking to keep up with the demand with quality products that sound and feel professional. With that in mind, we set to work on our apps for both our creators and listeners.
Podcasts like Kaitlin Prest’s The Heart have really revolutionized the way podcasts sound with its highly produced content, utilizing sound effects and music to heighten the storytelling. We took the tip and introduced the Epidemic Sound Library, full of quality audio tracks to pick and choose from, as well auto-ducking, to the Spreaker Studio console. That dedication to content also lead to the ability to plug in chapters throughout episodes that can mark and enrich segments with outside links, titles, and images, giving your listeners a complete sensory experience.
From a management point of view, we introduced the CMS, or content management system, in order to streamline the entire podcasting process. Setting up and scheduling episodes, adding titles and images, retrieving code and customizing the embedded player, and enabling auto-sharing to social networks all get taken care of from a single dashboard.
But listeners are just as important as podcasters, and the need for a simpler listening solution, through which you can find and save great podcasts, is a definite priority at Spreaker. This year we updated Spreaker Podcast Radio on iOS to match our Android counterpart, and added auto-generated personalized playlists set to your tastes, a favorites section for your all most listened-to podcasts, and curated lists created by our own team and fellow partners.
And if you don’t mind us gushing for a minute — we were so proud that all that hard work got us featured on Google Play in 2016. It was truly awesome.
As podcasting morphed and changed in 2016, Spreaker did too. From within and without the company, from the new features we got to work on, to the pleasure we had talking with both new and established podcasters, we’ve seen a new story in podcasting that we hope carries through all of 2017.