I have just returned from my 4th Podcast/Portable & now New Media Expo. Once again, a first class event. As most of you know, I have been involved with podcasting since before it even had a name. Having participated in it all along the way, this year’s Expo solidified many of the thoughts I’ve held over the last year. The items in this list are not fully developed; I could easily do a 30-minute podcast on each. These are more a summary of my stream of consciousness top ten take aways:
1. The Expo continues to enable us to re-connect with old friends. There is a real sense of camaraderie among the original podcasters. That was no different this year. Good times with lots of great podcasters.
2. The New Media Expo was once again a great opportunity to meet new people who are excited about podcasting. A lot of fresh faces this year.
3. Tim Bourquin (the show’s organizer) got some flack this year about the exhibit floor being smaller – not true. The show had the exact same exhibit space as in years past: 12,000 square feet. It was a much bigger venue, which affects the perceived size. Kudos to Tim for stepping up and making the financial commitment to lock in the Las Vegas Convention Center. That said, the exhibit space did not grow. In a “growth” industry that spells trouble. My take, one I shared with Tim at dinner this past week, was to lose the exhibitors and focus on the conference. (The conference sessions are where the real value lies in my opinion.) Tim is one of the most diligent and hard working people I know. If he can’t corral the exhibitors it is not for a lack of effort, it is a signal that they are not sold on the market potential. (Curious to see what he announces regarding next year.)
4. A schism is developing between “indie” podcasters and those they thought were focused on supporting them. I had conversations with CEO’s who are now clearly focused on large corporate clients; those with the resources they believe are capable of massive reach. They want to fulfill those companies’ production and ad sales needs. Think podcasts produced by TV networks, media companies and news organizations etc. This makes complete sense from a business plan and sales perspective, but is very different from what you heard from these same companies just a year ago. Some of the well-known employees of these companies have not yet come to terms with this shift. You hear one thing from them and something completely different from their “C” level management.
5. Many content producers have finally realized that if they want to monetize, they are on their own. You are your own best salesperson. Need proof? Look at who did not attend this year. If ad sales/aggregation groups were working as a market segment, they would have been the largest contingent of exhibitors. Most have vanished or “refocused” their business plans.
6. If you insist on trying to monetize your “indie” podcast (less than 50K downloads per episode) I stand by my previous advice: Sell your own ad/sponsor deals. If it is not in your blood – i.e. you don’t like selling/asking for money, my advice is to contact Todd Cochrane. Wow! Big surprise there. Many know that I have, at times, been critical of Todd’s collection of companies. But I also give credit where credit is due. With the shift of everyone else heading to the higher ground of corporate size distribution and budgets, Todd & Co. are the only folks left who passionately believe in the “indie” podcaster. I still think you can and should get more, but if you don’t like the work involved, Todd will give you a fair shake.
7. Passion is critical. Find something you love and podcast about that. Things seem to work out for those who are truly passionate about their content.
8. Corporate podcasting is alive and well. Just as with my presentations at this year’s CES and NAB conferences, companies and the folks they have charged with their podcast initiatives continue to come to sessions to learn how to produce compelling and interesting content. As I’ve said before, the real money is in consulting to these organizations, they have budgets: money to spend. If you carefully look to see who continues to come to NME events you’ll notice many of the monetization experts are in the podcast consulting business.
9. A common thread I heard during conversations with some well-known podcast figures was “I’m figuring out what I am going to do next” and “it was good while it lasted.” See #10 below.
10. I can’t help but end with this: My presentation last year was dead on – I gave everyone a full year’s notice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
UPDATE: 11. (How could I have forgotten 11? Everyone knows all good things go to 11.) Brian Ibbott did an amazing job with the Coverville 500. That took real planning, work and investment. I can’t tell you how impressed everyone was with the event. Brian put on a great show and was ably assisted by Dan Klass as the evening’s MC. Great job guys!