Google, Asian Identity and Diversity: Reflection after Asia Podcast Summit #4
In this episode, I reflect on what happened during the live event of the Asia Podcast Summit, setting it up, and my take on what's coming next!
During the event, we had a couple of talks:
Google and The Future of Podcasting by Stacie Chan, Google
Content Creation With Mics by Adwin Lin, Audio Technica
Podcasting In Asia: Challenges and Trends: a panel discussion moderated by yours truly, with panelists Niki Torres of Chief Best Friends podcast, Danny Koordi of Fabl Productions and Rindo Ramankutty of the Livin' it up in the Lion City! Podcast.
This is Norman from Podlovers Asia, giving you a little update on what has been happening with the Asian Podcasts Summit, or Asia Podcast Summit. Sorry. I just came back to Kuala Lumpur, after spending a few days there to help with the physical event and prepping for the virtual summit as well as the Q&A session. And it's been amazing.
So flying in, we had to prepare for the physical live event at Google Singapore, hosted by Stacie Chan of the Google partnerships department. I'll definitely write Stacy's official title here because it's been, it's quite an early morning we're at 6:40am and I really want to take time to reflect on this so big thank you to Stacie for being able to provide this venue and hosting us, podcasts lovers and enthusiasts.
So MeaVox Live and the rest of the team, we were setting up the event we had Nikolaj Groeneweg and Bill Poorman to help out with setting up tech. Bill was there to monitor us while we were having video sessions of all the talks recorded, so that we can provide them as content later on for avid listeners and fans who want a, you know, a downloadable version of the talks that were happening today, on that day. Speaking of talks, we had quite a few.
We had Stacie coming in to talk about the future of podcasting, and what is Google is trying to do. That's ranging from the Google Creators Program, which is aimed at trying to activate new voices and creating a cohort of teams who are trying to create amazing shows, given grants and provided with mentorship and support in the US, I believe. Another is the upcoming updates and the roadmap for the Google podcast app. We've had quite a lot of feedback from attendees of the summit, as well as those who are using it within the room, the physical event, saying that they really enjoyed the app so far, which is amazing. Great news. That's, you know, that's music to Stacy's ears. And also, what else is Google trying to do to help increase the convenience of searching for podcast content? How is the Google search curating specific content that is related to each and every search? Maybe if you're searching for a specific guest? What shows have they been on? Or maybe if you were searching for the name of a show, could you automatically play it from your Google search? These are considerations that Google is taking into account which is fantastic to hear, that more and more the barriers between someone searching online about a show or learning about the medium of podcasting, the barriers are lowering. It is a lot faster for you to reach the player for the podcast show.
Next we had Adwin Lim from Audio Technica giving us an overview of content creation microphones. With that, he brought it in quite a number of Audio Technica mics. I am using one right now by the way, this is recorded on an ATR-2100 connected to my phone, which is fantastic by the way, an amazing setup. If you're doing a lot of solo episodes but uh, I'm going off topic. So Edwin talked about the different types that content creators would use. From cardio to dynamic to condenser to omni directional etc., given examples of Audio Technica models, I did chat with him later on in the talk. And we discussed about the most popular models that podcasters are using in terms of ease of access, usability, the fact that you can connect by a USB. And, you know, we talked more about the directional microphones because a lot of us use that. Condenser mics tend to attract a larger area of sound, and that doesn't really help when you're an independent podcaster and your room isn't padded, or your environment isn't exactly fitted for a podcast show. Unless you are going for that, that level of immersion, shall we say? That background noise that makes you sound more natural, sound more intimate? But yeah, that means that from Adwin's side from our conversations. Audio Technica is really pushing for more support in the podcasting community. So we are quite optimistic about that. I will keep in touch with him, for sure. amazing guy, by the way, he's fantastic.
Next we have the panel for Podcasting in Asia: Challenges and Trends, bringing a discussion between three panelists who are podcasters, based in Singapore. One is Niki Torres of the Chief Best Friends podcast, she started a show that covers business and friendship together. So, highlighting women who are extremely successful in their career, through their own angles through their own perspectives. And by interviewing them, she allows us to gain more insight on this, on the rise of really successful business and career women who have their own opinions, who feel that there are struggles that they are going through. And by being able to showcase this humane conversation between her, the interviewer and the guests, we get to see just how much hustling is happening in between for the guests that that Nikki is interviewing which is fantastic. I've heard some of her episodes and they are great to hear. So check them out. I will put them in the show notes as well the Chief Best Friends Podcast so that is Nikki Torres.
Next is Rindo Ramankutty of the Living it Up in Lion City! podcast, and this podcast Rindo brings his friends up onto the show, gives them a microphone and has conversations about current issues as well as topics that may not be for everyday conversation, it can be on experiences, on struggles, on alternative history. The one episode that I found pretty interesting was the book that he's read recently on 200 years of Singaporean history and the United Kingdom, bringing up elements of history that wasn't exactly taught in school. And he had a really long conversation about that with his guests. So these are examples of podcast shows that really highlight the advantages that the medium has. Through podcasting, we have the ability to have shows that liberate voices, voices that are not hindered by hierarchical power or any media company that has like a specific motive or specific notion that they want to push forward. These are independent podcasts that are really pushing for their opinions to be heard for everybody. And to be able to provide that, to give that a chance is the beauty of podcasting, really.
Next is Danny Koordi, who is the host of the Economical Rice podcast, as well as, as well as a podcast producer for Fabl Productions, which is an initiative that he's going through that he is pursuing right now, which is fantastic. He is helping with building clients' shows here and oh, not here. I mean, in Singapore, my, my brain is so muddled right now I am still between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. He's helping with his clients in Singapore, creating narrative shows, helping them with building, editing and producing which is great as well. Danny has been podcasting since 2017, building shows of different formats. So he has a wide variety experiences when it comes to producing a show, which is great. He also hosts or is the Founder of Podcast SG, the community of podcasters in Singapore: a Facebook group where Singaporean podcasters would come in together and hang out they would share their struggles about podcasting and they will, you know, drink, eat and party. But all in all, the group is extremely encouraging and inclusive. If you are a budding podcaster based in Singapore, I highly suggest that you join the group, they are really welcoming. And I've met quite a lot of the members when I went there, they are amazing.
Niki, Rindo and Danny talked about the challenges and trends in Asia. The biggest points that I would like to highlight from the panelists, because I was moderating the panel. So I was there to, you know, ask questions, keep the conversation up, and make sure that our Q&A session is going pretty well, there was talking about creating an Asian identity. We tend to use this term called the radio voice, where as soon as the microphone is on, we unleash our own inner radio personality. As we were talking about this identity, this specific voice that we have, it's just an American voice like, but it's kind of strange, because in a panel between four Asians, talking about the Asian identities that we have, for us to create a show and then take in, unleash this American voice as our radio voice. It sort of detracts from who we really are. The fact that we have an Asian history that we have our own accents, the fact that we have like Rojak, aka. a mix of languages, really strong Singaporean accents or even non English shows that we try to mimic the models of shows further out in western countries. There was a need for creating this unique identity of podcasting from Asia. So Asia-specific shows that really show just how Singaporean you are, how Malaysian you are, how Filipino you are, how Indonesian you are, how Japanese you are, how Thai you are etc, etc. It's, at first you might not think of it as much, but it is a growing influence for people to be expecting that kind of radio voice to come out from every single show produced. But, it will only serve as a cultural barrier, another cultural barrier for people to expect only that kind of voice to come out from each and every show. But we have Singaporean podcast producers who are really rocking it when they are hosting their show. They sound really, really localized and that's fantastic. But when you have something like that, then it's just a matter of marketing it. That's just a matter of addressing the level of awareness that listeners, potential listeners have around you in your country in your region. And that is another topic altogether. So there's the need for a unique identity in Asia, a unique vocal identity.
There's also the raising awareness stage of potential listeners, we have quite a few avenues of teaching people what podcasting is in Asia, although at the moment, it's still hierarchical. The majority of the responsibility is still done by media companies. So as independents, we will have to take a little bit more effort to educating each other, educating potential podcast listeners, especially those on Spotify, because Spotify has been penetrating the market at quite a rapid rate, given the percentage of Android users, to teach them about how to access our shows on Spotify and to let them know about the variety of shows. That is the big one.
Another one is diversity. It is a bit related to the vocal identity we can find here. Diversity in trying to activate certain kinds of voices. So, you know, to not paint us only as Asians, but also to paint us as those by our nation, by our race, by our region, our village, our town, our traditions. The more that we can map out and highlight all of these unique shows of hosts who are of different backgrounds, the more colourful the entire Asian podcasting landscape.
I'd like to highlight one post from George Putong, who is the APAC Content Marketing Exec and LinkedIn, who wrote a post about the panel itself, which I find really quite useful. So major props to George, thank you so much for attending. Really, you're amazing.
He wrote the three main takeaways from the panel. Quote:
Podcasts, celebrate a diversity of voices. Find what you can relate to, or create one yourself. Podcasts are a way to know more about your region or to tell stories about your region.
Point number two: Embrace your accent, Singlish, Filipino, whatever it is, put it out there and have people relate with it. No big need for that radio voice. Be you.
Number three, this third point is more about podcasters or budding podcasters who wants to start their own show. Quote: Just start. The panel unanimously agreed here, get started, tell your story, plan, execute distribute.
Now for all the members of the panel, we all started very differently. Rindo started just with recording into their phone. Danny, Niki and I started with microphones. And then we all gave each other feedback, well, the Podcast SG group gave each other feedback for the members. And now Rindo doesn't use just his phone anymore. Now he has proper microphones, etc. But the act of starting the act of having an episode zero and Episode one, etc. It is a huge step for any budding podcaster. So I would highly recommend that you do that, if you are thinking of starting your own show.
If I remember correctly, some of the questions include access to listening metrics across Asia, which is still lacking, but I will try to cover that in another episode, as well as the fears of getting and starting your own show, and disadvantages of marketing audio content versus other mediums like video and written content on social media. Personally, I disagree that we have a disadvantage. It's just a matter of how creative you are in marketing your audio content in other formats as well. Do you want a video version of your podcast? Do you want a version of your podcast show notes, summary quotes and create conversations. So really, even if it is a podcast, as long as you have that user journey of engaging your audience.
It's been a long time coming for the summit: a couple of months of work to set up the virtual summit. I'd like to thank my fellow team members, those at MeaVox Live so Raven and Ling-Ling, as well as David from ClickWP and Sheen as well, who helps with all sorts of tasks. We had quite a lot to do from setting up the website to press releases, email marketing systems, testing our digital marketing channels, from paid to content, to outreach to guests and speakers, and finding potential sponsorships for the summit. We got quite a number a quite a turnout for the event which is great. I really, really am grateful, so grateful, for that. And I hope to see more support for the next Asia podcast summit happening in 2020. Let's see how much bigger we can make it. I'm sure we'll be planning it a lot earlier than the the set time. And we'll see who can support more shows for judging, and all that.
Right. That's it for me. Enough rambling from my side. I do want to take the time to say thank you to everybody who attended the Summit, as well as the shows who nominated themselves for the awards. Congratulations to all the different categories, the Best Education, Entertainment, Technology, Business, and Asia's Best Podcast categories, and all the best. I hope you wear that badge proudly, for those who have one and for those who were finalists as well. And, you know, I would probably reach out to you for an interview. Probably. I want to see your stories, I want to see how you started from zero, how you started from those ideas that you've had circling in your head to actually creating an episode for your listeners to consume and enjoy. And that's it for me.
This is Norman from Podlovers, Asia, signing out. I'm always so grateful to cover the podcasting scene here. And this is but step one of reaching out to all the shows the speakers, the finalists, the attendees, and to see what they're looking for what is needed in the landscape. Maybe we need a research house to cover the listening metrics. Maybe I need to reach out to each and every hosting platform and ask them "Hey, can when I get listener metrics for, you know, all the Asian listeners?" maybe I can get insight from other experts on their the market in their country. That would be fantastic. I would love to have more and more discussions on this.
I'm also exploring other ideas for potential physical meetups, maybe monthly meetups, as well as monthly Zoom calls. I would love to do something akin to a Roundtable: where I invite speakers and experts to talk about a unified based topic, a theme, and people can chime in and join in on the chat session. And we'll see how that goes. But for now, ideas are just ideas. It's more about execution. And now I need to execute. Norman now signing out. Take care, and I will see you in the next episode. Bye.