Podcast Movement 2018 – report from Philadelphia

Chris Stevens took a trip to Philly for the Podcast Movement 18 event. Here’s his report for eRADIO and RadioToday.

Imagine a radio conference attended by over 2000 enthusiastic broadcasters, leading industry experts, and with up to 10 different sessions taking place simultaneously. That’s what I’ve just returned from in Philadelphia… except that it wasn’t radio, it was podcasting.

The scale of the event was incredible. But the scale of experience and listener figures was just as wide, ranging from new podcasters with a handful of listeners through to those who have built successful businesses out of their podcasts, with tens of thousands of downloads per episode.

Commercial radio also attended, although it did feel a bit “them and us” in places – as if radio was a little startled by all the noise (no pun intended) being created by the podcasters. But it’s not just radio embracing the pods… you didn’t have to stroll far to see lots of recognisable names in the exhibition hall, including Sennheiser, Shure and Adobe.

Monetisation is always a popular discussion point, with multiple companies willing to insert ads into podcasts and host your episodes. And with audience stats, revenue models and technical discussions echoing around the rooms, the conversation topics did feel strangely familiar.

Of course, it’s not just the USA where podcasting is growing. Here in the UK, the Rajar MIDAS Spring 2018 report shared that 6 million adults use a podcast in an average week, and in the states it’s 48 million and rising. Serious numbers, serious growth.

From a radio perspective, podcasts are a fabulous opportunity for us to share new and evergreen audio content, creating new revenue streams. That back catalogue of interviews and best-of shows can sit online at minimal cost, ready for listeners to enjoy at any time. Not to mention content that might be too niche for a traditional broadcast but can find a loyal following across time zones and demographics – the BBC are starting to do some great work here.

And all that’s without mentioning smart speakers. Podcasting used to be something for the technically switched-on… with the majority of smartphone users not even knowing that their phones have a podcast app inside… but now you can ask Alexa to “Play Marketplace”, the technical barriers are falling fast.

For what it’s worth, I’ve already booked my tickets for Podcast Movement 2019… See you in Orlando!

Chris Stevens runs Devaweb and Ignite Jingles out of MediaCityUK. Devaweb’s recent podcast production has included the imaging for the chart topping podcast “Love Island: The Morning After”.

This report was first published in eRADIO – the weekly newsletter sent to radio professionals each Wednesday. Use the form below to receive your own copy via email.

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