Podcasts are booming but just why are they so popular now?
Six hours – that’s how long people in the UK are listening to podcasts. Six hours every week. The survey by Audio Time has found that podcasts are going from strength to strength. Despite how busy our lives are, podcasts are taking up huge chunks of our time. People are tuning in for roughly the same amount of time as people spend gaming. Gaming though is an industry that’s dominated by money. Podcasts are the complete opposite. They’re incredibly low on the technology scale. Most people don’t even need to buy new equipment to make one. Yet, it’s this simplicity behind podcasts which are making them take off.
“Creating a podcast has a very low barrier of entry,” Kevin Goldberg, founder of Discover Pods website says. “Sure you can spend more on fancy equipment, recording studio, marketing, and so on, but at the core, you just need a way to record your audio and push it out to the internet. Simple as that.”
“But at the core, you just need a way to record your audio and push it out to the internet”
Discover Pods is one of the biggest podcasting websites around. Its reviews help connect audiences with pods in their area of interest. Such a site is needed when there are tens of thousands of podcasts in existence. New listeners may not know where to start.
However, the plethora of podcasts means that there is a niche for everyone. Part of the popularity of podcasts is the uncensored nature of them. Nothing is off the table. Anything can be discussed, whether it’s Milk the Cow going on a rant about Tories or podcasts such as No, Totally! examining intersectionality in films, everything can be talked about.
“The interesting result of the accessibility of podcasts and the low barrier of entry is the lack of appealing to the masses,” says Goldberg. “With radio, for a station to be successful they needed a large audience and therefore their music selection had to be targeted enough so you knew what genre they were but still played the most popular songs.
“With podcasts, anyone can create a new channel as long as you have a mic and the internet, it’s that easy. With Discover Pods, we’ve featured podcasts about indie comics, conspiracy theories, random lists of top 10s, and several other themes with hyper-niche populations. With podcasts there’s a high likelihood there’s a specific podcast catered to your exact interests already in production. And guess what? If there isn’t, you can create one easily.
“There’s a high likelihood there’s a specific podcast catered to your exact interests already in production. And guess what? If there isn’t, you can create one easily”
“I think we’re at a perfect storm right now. Because there are all these podcasts with such a variety of interests and in tandem, it’s never been easier to communicate, like-minded communities are popping up all over.”
The open nature of podcasts means they’re a perfect platform to debate politics. Russell Brand has his own podcast and several major publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph host their own shows. Politics is dominating the media right now thanks to the ludicrous antics of Trump and the stunning rise of Corbyn. So, are political podcasts the way forward?
“I think political podcasts are the future of talk radio because again, the on-demand convenience,” says Goldberg. “Political personalities have had radio shows for a long time, this is simply the next evolution to reach the masses. What’s interesting is the adoption levels by both parties. Liberal and left-leaning personalities have been quicker to adopt the podcast medium, where conservative types are lagging a bit behind. This may be a result of age breakdowns between the parties and their subsequent consumption habits. As I’m writing this, only one overtly conservative political podcast is inside the top 15 political podcasts on iTunes (The Ben Shapiro Show).
“In regards to what genres will reign supreme within podcasts, I think that might fluctuate a bit and we’ll see trends ebb and flow. Right now true crime, society and culture, and story-based podcasts are extremely popular. However, interview podcasts were the initial genre of choice, and there’s still an area where sports could grow. There are also genres that haven’t quite peaked like food, music, movies, self-help, and several others.”
Everyone with a passion can turn to podcasting so long as they have internet access and at least an app to record. They’re great for light hearted content but also more serious debates. Their incredible variety is their strength. Podcasts then might just be the perfect medium for young people trying to make their voices heard.