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Among Good Company


Once you’ve written a book or two you can’t help but wander by the section where they should be when browsing in a book store. Sure if you’ve written a NY Times bestseller you know they have it, but when it comes to technology books you’re always curious. I grabbed this shot yesterday with my iPhone at a local Borders. Not a bad selection of podcasting books. It is always nice to see when they carry both of mine.

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A Good Old Fashioned Podcast Legal Battle


Nothing legitimizes New Media like a good old-fashioned court battle. Unfortunately, it would seem that this one is more about sour grapes (and previous competitive issues) than anything else. Regardless, it’s official; two Essex County, New Jersey Videographers are now in a legal battle over their respective Wedding focused podcast efforts.

I’ll let you decide for yourself what is really going on after reading the original Star-Ledger story. Full disclosure: I have been involved in plenty of media stories that prove the rule that the media are generally only half right/accurate.

One thing all court cases need is expert witnesses. It is clear from this “spat” that both parties are in need. Feel free to contact me. As one of the true podcast pioneers involved from the very beginning I have the expertise they require. Though, I can also name 10 different ideas I developed that they have both infringed upon. Heck, maybe I should sue them both! Did they list “Podcast” as the genre in iTunes – I won’t bore you with the details but that was my hard fought public battle back in the very early podcast days. Many of us worked countless hours to develop this medium. We were working to build a platform for all to share, not something to parse into ownership segments. Unless I am missing something, it is sad that two wedding videographers will possibly set a precedent. Perhaps an Amicus Brief is appropriate? One thing that amazes me – a podcast effort that is not yet making money, is suing other financially unstable podcast entity. That tells me it is personal. Am I missing something?

New Media Expo Interview

I forgot to pass this along. Here is an interview from my friends at Relevantly Speaking.

Cheese v. Cochrane et al – New Media Showdown


Todd Cochrane posted an interesting piece entitled: Richard Cheese the Ultimate Classless Act. I was at the event in question and remember exactly what I was thinking as it was happening. Interesting issues are raised. (Disclosure – I have been a long time Richard Cheese fan. The last concert of his I attended was a blast but much like comedy acts, it is clear the audience has a large influence on the “experience.” Some nights you kill, some nights you bomb.)

Let’s clear the decks: spitting (actually, it was more of a spit take) was plainly rude and unacceptable. Not funny. However, I have a slightly different take away from the event than Todd. Richard Cheese (RC) repeatedly asked people to stop filming him. I get it. He is a performer, and makes his living from this; he doesn’t want his whole act posted on the Internet. It is meant for those who have paid to attend and see it. Unlike Todd, I was surprised that after RC repeatedly asked and then basically demanded people to stop filming him they continued to do so, right in his face. Just watch Todd’s video. I have no idea what the law is, but unless it is newsworthy, stop if I ask. Think of any notable celebrity. Can you shoot pictures and video of them coming out of the Ivy? Sure. The paparazzi work under the “newsworthy” and “public figure” idea. Can you take those same cameras into a playhouse and capture their stage performance? Nope.

Here is the part that amazed me. Todd submitted a “post produced” video with commentary title cards to all the major video sites. A quick synopsis: it contains a performer repeatedly asking/demanding not to be recorded and includes portions of his “unique” performance of the Nine Inch Nails song “Closer.” You can just imagine all the rights holders who could claim to have been infringed. Todd argues that cameras were explicitly allowed. I was there and I don’t remember that. This was a separate event from the Expo at a different venue. To me it was no different than going to a Vegas show at one of the hotels. Even if cameras were allowed, when asked to stop – the polite thing to do is oblige. Just because the new media folks have come to Las Vegas doesn’t mean all the rules have changed. Need proof? Just try using your video camera at the black jack tables or your cell phone in the sports book. You’ll find out quickly.

Todd points out,

It appears that Richard Cheese had some ridiculous clause in his performance contract that no video would be allowed during the event.

This might shock us new media types as being “ridiculous” but in the rest of the world – this is standard. Just think, if I were to re-record your next podcast and post it to my site, would that bother you?

Brian Ibbott did an amazing job with the Coverville 500. But we all know that no good deed goes unpunished. I’d hate for this new media “brush up” to cause him trouble. Todd’s update indicates the possibility exists. If Todd really wants to push the issue he should make a pledge to indemnify Brian from any issues his actions may cause. I know that sounds extreme, but as an entrepreneur I have dealt with my fair share of both threatened and filed lawsuits. I’ve never lost, but it is always the small nonsense issues that are most painful. Last one I had dismissed cost $10,000 in attorney fees. If I’m Richard Cheese – this one seems to be served up on a plate.

(Oh, and interesting legal issues asides, I too am less of a RC fan now. Uncomfortable performances are just that – uncomfortable.)

UPDATE: Todd has since removed the video mentioned above.

New Media Expo: Top Ten Take Aways


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!

Wizzard Q2 2008 Results: My Take


There has been a bit of fan-fare today regarding Wizzard’s press release about it’s Q2 2008 financial results. Both Paul Colligan and Podcasting News have highlighted the “bright” points of Wizzard’s press release. For those that think Wizzard is proof that podcast advertising is the answer I’d like to offer some context and thoughts:

  • Wizzard reported gross revenues of $1,465,874 for Q2/2008 – how much is podcast advertising and how much comes from their original “core” business of speech technology? It is never defined. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is all podcast related.
  • Operating expenses for Q2 came down to $2,159,433 but things are still clearly in the red.
  • Wizzard is a 12 year old company (founded in ’96) loosing millions per year.
  • Wizzard makes no mention of their original business of “speech technology” in the substantive portion of their press release, it is all podcasting. What does that tell you?
  • Wizzard is a public company with only an estimated $6M in gross revenues – would you invest? (You Can: WIZD)
  • 3% revenue growth over Q2 2007. That is the nail in coffin. If they were in a mature industry such as the steel, oil or auto business that would be great, but an “explosive” growth segment such as New Media Advertising? You do the math.
  • A reported 1 Billion downloads last year and only 13 advertisers secured by their “sales pioneers.” 13! That is 1 advertiser per 76 million downloads.

I know a lot of people see $1.4M in a quarter and think wow – that is a lot of money, but given expenses of $2.16M it is not. If they were a new startup it is one thing, but this is a “mature” public company 12 years in the making. I know some of the folks at Wizzard – they are energetic, enterprising and I have high expectations for their future accomplishments. Just make sure you read their press releases with a bit of contextual balance.

UPDATE: I had a nice conversation with Chris Spencer, the CEO of Wizzard yesterday. We probably chatted for a good 20 minutes. I’m glad we got the opportunity to meet each other, and enjoyed our exchange. I’m still looking for explosive growth in the segment. We’ll see what the future holds.

New Media Expo 2008

NME_Pass.jpgI am off the New Media Expo this week. I have been asked to present: “Corporate Podcasting the Disneyland Way: Case Study from the Place Where Dreams Come True.” (Thursday 8/14/08 2:00 – 3:00PM) I am preparing a presentation that will blow the doors off how we have produced the Official Disneyland Resort Podcast over the last 3+ years. I’ll cover how it started, how it has evolved and where we are today. For Disney fans, podcast producers, consultants and people charged with corporate podcast initiatives I’ll present the information you need to know and the tips, tricks and techniques to ensure a successful podcast production. This is an opportunity to get a behind the scenes peak at how the longest running Fortune 100 company produced podcast is done.

As past attendees know, I have a habit of giving the audience the straight scoop. (This year will be no different.) Last year, I created a bit of controversy with my infamous “Podcasting is Dead” presentation. Given the events of the past year – big surprise: I was proven right! While it frustrates me that many people read that title and did not bother to listen to the substance of my argument regarding the business New Media producers are really in, I understand how things work and have accepted the predictable flack. As for my statements last year, I now have another year’s worth of “proof” points and some new predictions for the year to come but it has been suggested I hold them for a few days until the Expo starts – the reasons given make sense, so I will.

One thing to clear up is that I am bullish on podcasting – always have been. Heck, I authored two books on the subject. My critical statements often get misconstrued and misquoted by well meaning commentators but that is the bane of the eternal optomist. (If you don’t want to get continuously misquoted, don’t become a podcasting pundit.) I had hoped that podcasting would open up opportunities for everyone, that it would develop into a true industry. That never happened. That is not to say that there is no money in podcasting, there is, but it is not something the average person can count on. I have made a nice living as a Podcast Consultant over the last few years, but it is not a business the average person can enter and survive in like real estate or insurance etc. Podcasting is not an Industry, it is a niche and recognized expertise is required.

Meanwhile, I am contemplating a Smith & Wollensky’s or Nobu dinner in Vegas for Thursday evening. Interested? Shoot me an email or Twitter.

Richard Cheese to Play New Media Expo

Ricgard_Cheese.jpgRichard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine is set to play Coverville 500 August 15th during the New Media Expo in Las Vegas. I’ve been a long time Richard Cheese fan subjecting countless friends to his music as well as dragging many others to his concerts. If you’ve never seen RC, you are in for a treat. He is a lounge singer who performs his “unique” versions of songs such as: Baby Got Back, Hot for Teacher, She Hates Me, 99 Luftballoons and the Britney Spears classic Crazy. If you are curious about his albums, I’d suggest looking at Tuxicty or I’d Like A Virgin as a good starting place.

You can hear some samples on his website or check out this performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. If you are going to the New Media Expo, this is a must attend event.

GrapeRadio Wins 2008 James Beard Award

08jamesbeard.jpgAlong with my partners at GrapeRadio, I am excited to annouce that we have won the 2008 James Beard Award in the category of webcasting!

The James Beard Foundation Awards are the nation’s preeminent honors for culinary professionals. Often referred to as the “Oscars of Food and Wine” more than 60 awards are given out each year in the categories of cookbooks, restaurants and chefs, design and graphics, broadcast media, journalism, and achievement. Award winners are selected by their industry peers, with more than 600 culinary professionals involved in the voting process. This year’s award ceremony in New York was hosted by Kim Cattrall and Bobby Flay and other winners include such name as Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Top Chef.

Thank you to all of our fans who have given us such great support over the years.

Click the image below to see our video that won the award: Stewards of the Land

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Michael W. Geoghegan is founder and CEO of GigaVox Media, a production, consulting and technology company focused on audio/video new media.

As a pioneer of podcasting, Michael created some of the first corporate podcasts, including efforts by Disney. Michael is also creator of the 2008 James Beard Award winning "GrapeRadio" and "Reel Reviews: Films Worth Watching". He is editor-in-chief of the Podcast Academy™ book series and co-author of Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting.

Michael speaks frequently on podcasting's impact on new media and its corporate applications and is often quoted by the media including in The New York Times, USA Today, CNN and Wired Magazine.