In today's episode, I chat with James Cridland, founder and editor of Podnews, the leading industry publication and newsletter.
James has a long history in the audio space, with over 20 years in radio and online business. I asked him what changes he's seen since then, and he shared why he's actually surprised at how little has changed in that time, and longer. He does see a lot of opportunity in podcasting, which can only be good news for people that love audio.
There's a lot of talk in the industry around the role of RSS as the default podcasting distribution method. However, as Apple Subscriptions and Spotify's changes show, there seems to be a move away from this method. James predicts where he sees RSS going beyond just delivering audio, especially with the work the Podcasting 2.0 community is doing.
One of the areas where James feels there's a big opportunity to stand RSS apart from what some platforms are doing is in the transcript space. There's a change for app developers to really make this a more interactive medium, as well as podcast hosts, through transcripts. But the problem is we're not close enough with accuracy, at least with the automated transcript services, and this is something that drastically needs to improve, not least for accessibility.
While larger podcast platforms may be looking to wrestle some control from podcasters, James shares why he's so supportive of what the Podcasting 2.0 community are doing when it comes to namespaces, and that's respecting what creators want, as opposed to platforms dictating what they should want.
We should be pressurizing companies a little bit more to respect what creators are doing.
As someone who grew up in the UK, lives in Australia, but works with several companies in North America, James has a unique perspective as to how the different cultural approach in these places impacts podcast listening behaviour. This carries through to how ads are seen in podcasting, and why there's a reticence on the behalf of some podcasters when it comes to asking listeners for money.
Since Podnews is a daily publication, and it's all put together by James himself, he's had to learn how to automate the process as much as possible. This has resulted in him coding things from scratch, so feeds and stories can be pulled automatically by tags and filters. It's one of the things James feels creators can improve at - understanding the tech behind the medium.
With so many big money acquisitions and what looks like a consolidation of apps and platforms in the space, James shared his take on whether this was a good or bad thing for the industry.
With the recent Ambie Awards nominations drawing ire because of an indie podcast nomination not actually being indie, there's a lot of chatter online around what defines indie podcasting. For James, though, it's the wrong conversation as this immediately devalues what podcasters are doing, and instills an excuse mindset that we don't really need.
I don't feel we should be backing indie podcasters into some form of protected silo or anything else.
James shared an example of how he heard the same ad eight times while listening to a podcast, and how that's a perfect example of where a lot of advertisers are missing the boat when it comes to adtech. Given the tools advertisers have when it comes to DAI and SAI, there really should be better quality control, and James advises how that can be done.
02:28 The Biggest Changes in Media Broadcasting from 2004 to 2022
04:01 The Impact of RSS on the Podcasting Industry
05:59 The Benefits of Podcast Transcript Tags
10:53 The Importance of Transcripts for Podcasts
11:58 The Differences in Advertising Acceptance Between Countries
16:30 The Impact of Advertising and Listener Support on the Podcast Industry
19:50 The Process of Publishing a Daily Newsletter and Podcast Episode
30:59 The Future of Podcasting: An Industry on the Rise
38:46 The Impact of 'Indie' on Podcasting
41:55 The Benefits of Dynamic Programmatic Advertising
Connect with James:
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: these contain affiliate links, so I may get a small percentage of any product you buy/use when using my link.
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And at the end of the day, the most amazing thing about podcasting, and it's the thing that I think we forget quite a lot, is that it's such a level playing field. You are in the same this podcast is in the same podcast directories and the same podcast apps as some of the biggest podcasts out there as Smartness and this American Life and The New York Times Daily. You are in that same directory. You're in that same podcast app. You can't say that about any other medium.Danny:
Today. I'm excited to welcome James Cridland to the show, a name that needs little introduction for anyone in the podcasting space. James is founder and editor of leading industry publication Podnews, which has over 22,000 newsletter subscribers and celebrates its fifth birthday. I guess this summer for me, but this winter for you. The podcast version of the newsletter is also hugely popular, with many industry newsletters referencing Podnews for their own updates. We'll be chatting about that and more in this episode. So without further ado, the Brit who left the UK behind for the sunny shores of Australia, James Cridland. Welcome to the show, James.James:
Thank you very much, Danny. And it's great to be on. Thanks.Danny:
And I'm just curious, what made you, apart from the sunshine and the beaches and the golden blue seas and all that good stuff, what made you move to Australia?James:
Oh, I met a girl. It's always the way, isn't it?Danny:
It's always the way, yes.James:
After our daughter was born, it was a question of where do we go for school? And it turns out that London is almost impossible in terms of schools and Australia is very different. So that's why we ended up moving here.Danny:
That's nice. I've got a similar my wife is Canadian and I moved here for her. So I kind of followed you a little bit there. Now you've got a really rich history in the media. Obviously, a lot of us know you from podcasting, but you've had like 28 years spent in radio and online publications and online business. And indeed, you launched the very first daily podcast from a UK radio station back in 2005, which is just a year after you Pod chat. Lovely top that you're wearing. The listeners can't see, but your Firefox top from 2004. So it's fair to say that you've seen a lot in your time. And I'm curious, what's been the biggest changes you've noticed, both maybe from a traditional media broadcasting world and a podcasting space?James:
I think the biggest changes that I've seen and the thing that has surprised me most is actually the lack of change is actually the fact that who would have thought, here we are in 2022. Who would have thought that still, nine out of ten people every single month listen to the radio as one example, you would kind of assume that whether it was the Buggles in 1082 saying that video killed the radio star, or indeed just the advent of television in the 50s, you would assume that radio would be long since dead. And I think that it just shows that actually things don't change as quickly as we kind of expect them to. So I think that's been really interesting. But of course, the growth of podcasting somewhere in the 40% Mark now is the total amount of people who listen to a podcast every week in places like Canada and the US and down here in Australia. So just seeing that grow has also been really interesting and really exciting, I think for anybody that loves what you can do with audio, and I'm curious.Danny:
I know there's a lot of talk, and then you'll be leading the talking discussion as well about how podcasters claim the shows and does it need to go through RSS now, etc. With email and all of the fun stuff that you shared about getting your email scrape for marketing, newsletters and stuff, is RSS going to remain as the lead de facto method of distribution, you think, for getting podcast, or can you see a change coming down the line?James:
I think that's an interesting question. I mean, RSS at the moment is the way of getting podcasts out, and I don't see RSS necessarily going away, but you can very clearly see that Apple is making changes in terms of if you produce a subscription show for Apple, for example, then Apple will Apple isn't using RSS for that. Apple is using a different mechanism. Similarly, if you are doing things internally with Spotify, if you're putting shows up on Megaphone, for example, my guess is and it's just a guess that Spotify isn't using RSS internally to get into there as well. So my suspicion is that we will probably see RSS still as a very important thing. But some of the bigger podcast directories and podcast companies will be potentially moving away from RSS to power more interesting things from their point of view. And I think what we need to be careful of in the podcasting space is just to rein them in a little bit and make sure that if you're wanting to do this because you want to add transcripts, well, let's work on an open platform for transcripts, for example. If you're wanting to do this because you want to be able to have better links to other places, well, let's work on the RSS standard to end up doing that. The beauty about RSS is that it's extensible so you can add additional Tags and additional information in there, and it doesn't break anything, which is a wonderful thing. And I think if we focused on that a little bit more, then that's probably good news for everybody in the podcasting space and certainly with the podcast and 2.0 guys.Danny:
David Adam, I know they're pushing a lot of the Tags and the movement for different namespace and different Tags, et cetera. So can you see a lot more support from apps, or does that still need to happen for Podcasting Point or to really get that buying, so to speak?James:
I mean, I think that there is a fair amount of activity from apps. I think one of the difficulties there is there's a bit of chicken and egg in terms of do you wait for the apps to put something in place, or do you wait for the podcast hosts to put something in place? And actually, if both sides wait for the other side, then we'll get nothing done. So I think what's exciting is actually seeing some of the Tags that Adam and Dave have been working on. And to be fair, it's not just Adam and Dave, it's the entire community. Some of those Tags are already being implemented both in podcast hosts like Buzz Sprout, which has been doing a really good job of supporting a lot of them, but Captivate supports a bunch, and other people support them too, both seeing that and some quite niche podcast apps at the moment. But nevertheless, there are some quite niche podcast apps which are supporting a bunch of these things. I think the secret is the podcast transcript tag, which enables every podcast out there to have a proper transcript. And not just a transcript that you can see written down, but also if you want them closed captions or subtitles, I would call them, so that you can actually consume podcasts by looking at the screen. So it's better for both robots looking at them. But also, of course, for people who have difficulties hearing as well. I think the transcript tag is a really important tag, and I think if we were to focus a little bit more on that tag and getting that tag up and running, then I think that there will be real benefits to everybody in the podcasting world.Danny:
I know I chatted about this or some of the Suvivo terror in the first episode, and he mentioned that because the likes of Apple and Spotify haven't adopted a lot of the Tags yet. That's where the stumbling block is. I'm wondering. I'm always surprised when I see Amazon. I use Amazon Music, and that's got a great option on it on the app where you can play an album and the lyrics will pop up and they'll scroll along the screen. And I'm just surprised that no one's really done that for, say, podcast transcripts to your point of where it's flown on the screen completely for you so you can easily listen along and read at the same time.James:
Yeah. So there's a few apps which are doing that at the moment. Pod Friend is one of them. And there's another one which also starts with Pod, which is Blue, and I'm desperately trying to remember its name, but I can't who knows? Who knows? I'm desperately trying to think. But anyway. Yeah, so that is built in. I mean, one of the problems there is that you obviously need a transcript to be made, first of all. And if you automate transcripts, well, that's fine to a point. But actually automation of transcripts normally means that you're about 90% accurate, 95% accurate, which sounds great until you actually see something written down. And you realize that means that one out of 20 words is wrong. And if one out of 20 words is wrong, legally wrong, then you've got problems. My example is if you had a transcript of somebody saying that Adam Curry likes children, but actually what you end up seeing in the transcript is Adam Curry eats children, then that might be an actionable thing. He doesn't, by the way. We just need to be a little bit careful there. And I think quite a lot of the work that the podcast namespace has been doing is really around understanding and respecting what creators want. And it's the right thing for a creator to be in charge of their transcripts, if that's what a creator wants to do. And so it's the right thing for a creator to be able to give a transcript to somebody like Amazon Music. Right now, you can't do that. The only way of getting a transcript out of the Amazon Music Podcast app is on a few Amazon exclusive shows, and it's all completely automatic and using the Amazon tools. And so if you are a podcaster who wants your transcripts into Amazon Music, well, tough, because they won't actually accept them. And that is, I think, a bit of a bit of a sad thing. And I think we should be pressurizing companies a little bit more to respect what creators are doing and to basically say, okay, if you've got, for example, transcripts, then we will gladly take those as the canonical transcript of a particular podcast.Danny:
I think that's a really important point. I don't know what the exact figure is. I had a number that was looking at, and I think it's about between 16 and 17% of people over twelve in the US have a hearing impairment. I think that's a huge amount of people. And as long as just like 5% of these listen to podcasts or 40%, as you mentioned earlier, that's a lot of people that aren't getting the full benefits of that episode because of the lack of the transcript.James:
Yeah, absolutely. So it's really important that that's done. And frankly, it's the law that it should be done anyway in most countries. It's certainly the case in the US, and one would argue across Europe as well. So if podcasters aren't doing that, then that's a problem as well. But yeah, but it's just one of the examples I think, there of making sure that the RSS standard is enhanced to allow that sort of thing, because that's an important thing that all creators actually want.Danny:
Now, we mentioned earlier that originally you're from the UK, as we can tell by your dog sit on, which I always find really relaxing when I'm listening to the podcast episode as opposed to reading newsletter. I can still read the newsletter in your voice. So you're from the UK originally, you're now in Australia, but you also work with a lot of companies in North America. And I'm curious, what's the difference that you see or you've noticed in listener behavior and creators podcaster behavior in these different contents?James:
Yeah, I think one of the big differences is how much advertising is deemed acceptable by people in different countries. So I grew up in the UK, as you rightly say. Now, for those who don't know, the BBC is big in terms of radio and audio. In the UK, it's got over a 50% market share. So that compares with the CBC in Canada, I believe has somewhere in the region of 15%. And NPR has even less in the US. So there's a really large amount of market share that the BBC has. And the BBC doesn't take any advertising whatsoever. So you can very easily grow up in the UK without having any commercials, any advertising in the media that you consume. And in fact, my parents forbade me to watch ITV, which is the only commercial television channel at the time. They wouldn't let me watch when I was young, probably because it was full of ads for toys and things like that that I would want. And so I didn't see any TV ads for a long, long time. And I think that's a big difference. In the US, people are used to a lot of advertising and accepting of a lot of advertising around their podcasts and other parts of media. And they're also accepting of listener drives as well. Their local NPR station all of a sudden breaking off from their normal programming to do a fundraising drive and to ask for a lot of money over a particular week to become a member of this particular radio station, to support our fine work and et cetera, et cetera. And that's something that people in the US are very familiar with and very comfortable with. And people in the UK find it very weird to either ask for money in that way or certainly to give money in that way. And so I think that there's differences there. I think also one of the things that surprised me when I moved here to Australia is in the UK, the law is that you're not allowed to be biased in any way if you're on the radio. So if you are taking someone who has one point of view, then theoretically you are supposed to get somebody with the opposing point of view so that you aren't giving too much airtime to one side of an argument rather than the other side of an argument. There are faults with that, but mostly that works very well. And then I moved here to Australia and I was listening to a man called Alan Jones, who was doing a breakfast show here at the time. And he went on about how climate change was a hoax for about ten minutes and shouting and shouting and screaming about how climate change was a hoax. And I was there thinking, well, this is going to be interesting because he certainly backed himself into a corner here. How is he going to be unbiased? Is there going to be a guest on to explain that actually climate change is real and blah, blah, blah. And what I instead got was an advert break followed by something else completely. And I was thinking, oh, it's different here. The world is a different world. So I think it's just all of those little sort of culture differences which you don't necessarily expect when you move and when you work in a different environment as well. I ended up working for a Canadian radio company for two years, and it's a radio station already, a group called Vista Radio, which runs a lot of very local radio stations. And again, it was fascinating seeing the difference in the radio industry and the audio industry for Canada in comparison to the radio companies that I've worked with in the UK and in other countries as well.Danny:
And I wonder if you'd mentioned about the RSS feeds and companies going direct to Apple subscriptions, for example, Spotify has got their subscribers feature. I wonder if that because you've got big companies like that and they get used more and more as people come into listen to podcast. I wonder if that's really lower the barrier for people, for listeners, particularly in a country like the UK, being more Deemable to ads coming through their content or paying for a subscription to have an ad free experience.James:
Yeah, I think that may well certainly help. I think what media people in the UK. I think what they feel is that they are so unused to asking for money. They're so unused to saying, I make a podcast. I hope you get great value from it. If you do great, get great value from it, then please donate. And I think that is something that in the US comes naturally because you hear that all the way through your life with funding drives and things like that. In other countries you don't. And I think even from a creator point of view, it's just a really weird thing to beg to ask for money. And I think that's one of the things when you're listening to some of the new podcasts, which are using a new podcasting thing called Value for Value, where you can ask for bits of cryptocurrency and things, how some podcasters are just very nervous about the whole thing. And I think it's just one of those differences of culture. And I think one of the things that never fails to surprise me is just actually how different we all are. You must have realized this when you moved to Canada. That Canada. Yes, they speak English, but Canadian people are very different to people from the UK. And similarly, the same goes for people here in Australia and in the US, very different, in spite of the fact that we think that we understand each other. Actually, there's an awful lot of differences in terms of the way that we behave and the way our cultural references as well. There's another example that I occasionally give around freedom, because in the US, freedom, I believe, actually means something completely different to what it means in Europe. In the US, freedom, it seems to me, is freedom to do whatever I like. That is what freedom is all about. It's freedom for me, too, if I want to drive around with a gun or whatever it might be. Whereas in Europe, freedom seems to mean freedom from harm from others. And there's a real difference, I think, in terms of just the understanding of that phrase. And it's something that I don't think that either side necessarily understands, actually, that there's a big difference there. I think freedom to go out and bark as my dog has just proved. So I think from that point of view, there's just those interesting differences that I find fascinating.Danny:
You publish a daily newsletter, a daily podcast episode for Pod News. And I'm curious what's the process like? I mean, I get tired trying to do a weekly or even a bi weekly show. I'm not so much tired, but it's just like it's just a time strain and what it takes to put the show together, et cetera. I can all imagine what's like to do with Daily One. So how does that come about?James:
Yeah, well, so Pod News is really there to curate the news of the day in terms of podcasting, I have a great benefit in that the time zone here in Australia is moderately useless for most things, but it's really good for putting together a daily newsletter. So you in North America, go to sleep at about midday. You certainly stop producing news that's good news, because that then allows me 6 hours straight or 9 hours straight, actually to take what happened in the podcasting industry, which is still very much focused on North America, and to then read through the many RSS feeds that I read through every day to try and find out what are the most interesting stories that I can actually get out. People also send me an awful lot of email as well. And so that typically will be sometimes four or 5 hours to go through all of that, to write stuff up, and then I will record the podcast. The podcast is actually one of the most favorite things of mine because I enjoy occasionally being creative in terms of the audio. I had to take a very, very boring statement from Spotify the other week, and it was very tedious and dull. And I thought I've got to read this out on the podcast. But how do I do it?James:
In a way that will be obvious that I think that this is nonsense.James:
So I sped it up by 25%.James:
It sounded like the small print at the end of an ad for drugs on the TV. So all of that stuff I really enjoy doing.James:
And then typically that then means that Pod News here goes out at 09:00 at night, which is a really good time. And quite a lot of it was all around working on the workflow, making sure that it was easy and straightforward to put together because I've got other jobs as well. So to make sure this is easy and straightforward to put together so that I can, if I need to put it together in 1 hour in an airport lounge because I'm flying somewhere, that was a very important thing. And so there's a lot of scripting, there's a lot of automated tools that I've written which will take the audio for example, and package it up in different formats, add the artwork upload, it automatically, all of that kind of stuff. So a lot of it is built very much around taking the non creative drudgery away. So I can just focus on the actual creative work every single day.Danny:
And you do all. So I was going to ask you if you had a research team, but you just answered that there. I think when you said that you spent hours upon hours going through RSS fees and articles and blogs, et cetera. So it's all just you.James:
It is all just me. I mean, I have worked out how to use the technology to my advantage. And I think one of the real benefits was when I was at school, I didn't do sport because I didn't enjoy it. So I hid away in the computer room and I learned how computers work. And that was a fantastically useful thing because what that's allowed me to do is I've written all of the code for how Pod News works. So with the exception of the mailing list software, I've written everything else. So that has enabled me to write lots of tools which make things really fast and really quick. So there's a section of Pod News, for example, which is all around podcasting news and it's got little thumbnails of the new podcasts and things like that and all of that, and all of that is completely automatic. So if I've linked to a podcast, the code recognizes, oh, you've linked to a podcast, you're in the podcasting news section. Therefore I must lay this paragraph out in this way and I will go off and find the thumbnail and blah, blah, blah. And all of that is completely automated because I haven't got time to sit there and fiddle around with tables and images and uploading images and everything else. So I'm not doing any of that. And I think that's been one of the things that I would really recommend. If you are whatever job you are doing, if you are involved in doing something online, then make sure that you understand a little bit around coding, because you will find it so useful in the future in terms of being able just to cut the corners of the stuff that frankly isn't really helping you and enable you to be more creative and to put your energy into creation rather than in just tedious button pushes and things like that.Danny:
It's interesting to see that schools are now teaching coding as part of the curriculum will be cool to see what my kids, for example, they are turning twelve, what they will be doing. Like when I was at school, it was just your boring math, history, geography, all that stuff, maybe play some rugby, that's it. But now it's cool to actually see kids getting coding lessons built into their actual curriculum.James:
Yeah, absolutely. Just watching my daughter, who's nine, navigate her way around her iPad and everything else. I mean, we found her editing multi track audio the other day. Well, you're just going, okay, we haven't taught her that.James:
But she's completely got that.James:
I find all of that stuff fascinating, but I think one of the things that I haven't worked for large radio stations in the past and large broadcasters in the past, one of the things that I was very keen on doing is to see if I could work out something where you only type something in once. If you're going to write a program schedule, for example, or you're going to write a list of the songs that you're going to play, write it in once into something where you can then take that data and use that elsewhere. And it's all around the metadata. It's all around making sure that your information is stored in a way that you can do things with it in the future. And so, as one example, one of the things that I wanted to start doing around six months ago was just to see what sort of gender split I was achieving in talking about people in the Pod News newsletter. There's an assumption that the podcast industry is all blokes. I don't think that's necessarily a particularly fair assumption. But if you have a look at the top podcasts, I think 20% is hosted by women. So there's still obviously some work to be done in there. So I thought, right, I wonder how I can do a little bit of code that will work out how many men I'm talking about versus how many women. Working on ways of doing that that could benefit me in other ways has been really helpful. And so what I've ended up doing from that is it's a two minute piece of work that I do at the end of a Pod News, which is just going through it spots all of the names because the name is typically two words, both with capital letters at the stars. So that's really easy. So spotting all of those names, recognizing them if I've noted them before, or me adding those if I haven't, and also associating a Twitter name, because if I can associate a Twitter, and then all of a sudden I've got another piece of data which is here's, all of the people on Twitter that I have mentioned in this particular episode, which I can then tweet. And so, of course, people know that they'd be mentioned in a pod news. So just grabbing all of that information and working out what you can do with it is really helpful. So, yeah, that's been great fun to always be learning and always be playing around with new things. The only concern I've got now is that, of course, I've not been going anywhere for the last two years and I'm beginning to get on planes again. And I'm worried about the additional pieces of work that I've added onto my workflow, and I'm not quite sure what that's going to mean for me in terms of time. But we will see, won't we?Danny:
And I'm wondering, does that help you? You mentioned that 20% of the names of the people of the Top show sorry, are women podcaster stories that help you at all? Does it shape you or guide you when you put in a newsletter together or a story together that you might look at the code you put and say, oh, I've only got 30% talking about women in the industry or women led shows or anything like that. Does that guide your decisions, or do you just pick the stories that you feel interested in, regardless of gender or anything like that?James:
I think it's a little bit of both. I think I mainly pick the stories because of the stories, and I don't necessarily do positive discrimination in terms of particular stories that I cover. However, that said, of course, one way of pushing that gender balance up is to actually mention if women are involved with things. So one of the things that I have noticed me doing over the last couple of months is to actually mention where hosts of new podcasts are women, where the CEO of new podcasts are women getting that information in there. And actually, that's I think actually quite helpful because it does show it does make women in the industry more visible. But also, of course, it's pushing up that gender balance, which I think is 37% now from memory. So in terms of that, it has been quite useful. It's been quite nice having that, having a little bit of a it's not quite a target, but at least having some form of a monitor there to allow me to know exactly what's going on there.Danny:
Now, one of the things we spoke about earlier was the changes you've seen since 2005 when you first started back in the UK. And one of the main things that I guess dominating the news and podcast space at the moment is the big acquisitions and how Spotify Buy and XYZ try to compete with Apple, et cetera. And I wonder what's your take on this? Is that a good thing for the industry? Is that a little bit of bad thing in between? What's your take?James:
I think more money into the industry is good. I think more awareness of what podcasting can be is good. And you only need to see when Prince Harry and Megan jumped into podcasting how excited people were about podcasting in general, because, wow, Harry and Megan are involved now. And that's great news for the industry. I mean, the fact that they've only bothered to release one show is kind of neither not there. I still think it's great news for the industry. And I think as long as we're in a position at the moment now and numbers wildly differ. But I think we're at a position now where we have Spotify at about a third of all podcast consumption, we have Apple at about a third of all podcast consumption, and everybody else is going for the remaining third. And I think that's actually very healthy because there's some proper competition going on there. There's some proper vying for supremacy in one way, but also just sort of proper well, let's see what new features we can do. Let's see other ways that we can support the industry and so on and so forth. I think we're probably at a very good, healthy stage of where we are in comparison to four or five years ago where Apple had the Lions share, 65%, 70% of all podcast downloads. We're at a very different place now, and I think, frankly, far more healthy. I just think we just need to be careful to guard against there being another time where you've got a large company that may be Spotify coming down the road of more than 50% market share. And I don't think that's helpful to the industry, and I don't think that that is a good thing. But the amount of money going in, the fact that you have large companies like Sirius XM and I heart jumping into podcasting with both feet. And of course, the work that Rogers is doing in Canada and Chorus not quite sure how much Stingray is doing, but there's a certain amount of real work going on in that space which is growing the entire industry, not just them. So I think from that point of view, that's great. And at the end of the day, the most amazing thing about podcasting and it's the thing that I think we forget quite a lot is that it's such a level playing field. You are in the same this podcast is in the same podcaster stories and the same podcast apps as some of the biggest podcasts out there as Smartness and this American Life and The New York Times Daily, you are in that same directory. You're in that same podcast app. You can't say that about any other medium. It's almost impossible to launch a magazine that gets placed in the same place as every other magazine or a newspaper or getting a TV channel up and running and making sure that you're carried on all of the networks and blah, blah, blah. We've got all of that in podcasting, and I think that's a fantastically, exciting thing.Danny:
Pod Chat actually takes me nicely onto your question. This is the interactive part of the episode I mentioned on Twitter Community. I'm on that I was chatting with you today, and there was a couple of questions came up, if that's okay. But one of them speaks perfectly to that point. No, get off. One of them speaks perfectly to that point, actually, James. And it's from Jeff Townsend, whose podcast father on Twitter, and he was questioning, what do you think about indie podcast, or should it be judged differently from the big shows, like a Cereal War, This American Life from, say, production value, content value, that kind of stuff? Or should we not being given excuses, so to speak, for podcasts because we have the opportunity to do post production, all that kind of stuff?James:
Yeah. I mean, from my point of view, I have a real problem with the word indie. I know what it's supposed to mean, but it does quite often to me sound like an excuse. Oh, it's an indie podcast. So therefore I'm going to sound as if I'm on the moon and all of that kind of stuff. I don't think that that's particularly helpful. I'll be honest. I think being an indie podcaster, yes, it's a badge of honor that you can launch something as good as the big iHearts and Spotify and Pushkins and Q codes of this world. That's a fantastic thing. But I don't think we should necessarily be trying to back indie podcasters into some form of protected silo or anything else.James:
Pods, for example, has a chart which I'm all in favor of because Pod News is very high in the chart. But it's a chart of where you can flick a button and you only see indie podcasts. And at the end of the day, I'm not convinced that anyone turns around tomorrow and says, oh, I don't think I'm going to listen to that because I think it's funded by iHeartRadio. I don't think that's the way that normal people think. So I don't think necessarily that we should be giving ourselves any excuse, make great content that works fantastically, that sounds as good as you possibly can be, and you will compete with anybody else out there. That's the beauty of this industry that we're in.Danny:
Do you think we should maybe start to remove the whole indie, not misnomer that's wrong. The whole indie front end prefix from podcast. We're just purely podcasters. That's it.James:
Yeah. I mean, I don't know what indie means. And no one can really give me a good definition of what indie means. I mean, at the end of the day, who pays your wages might be part of that. But if you're an indie podcaster but you happen to be on a cast, does that stop you from being Indy all of this kind of stuff? I'm not quite sure what India is supposed to mean. I know what it kind of means emotionally, but once you start trying to define it on paper, it gets quite difficult. I guess on the other side, when you look at podcast awards, for example, I don't want to see I'm very against the idea of an indie podcast award that goes alongside the others, because what you're saying there is you're saying that indie podcasts aren't good enough to win the main podcast awards. And so that's why we need an indie category. And I think that's 100% wrong. So I think we should be proud pod chat. We do. I'm not sure that the word indie really helps us, to be honest.Danny:
Interesting. I like it. Now. The report was notebook. I'm not sure his name is the podcast title, but an interesting question, actually. And that's around ad tech. And he or she seems that he feels that most ad tech is geared towards weekly and bi weekly episodic shows, as opposed to, say, podcasters that create bingible seasons where they're starting to build the audience up in the long term. And as someone that works with brands and businesses and on the ad side and obviously, Brian overtime profitable, do you find that our partners are maybe missing an opportunity with the kind of shows are going after, or is this more down to the podcaster and what they should be gone for?James:
Yeah, I wonder whether it's an issue with the advertisers who are buying into these particular shows. So I binged. For example, recently I binged the Trojan horse affair, and I heard the same ad probably six or seven times, and it was really annoying. Yes. Ezra Klein, I'm very now very familiar with your podcast. No, I'm still not going to listen. But yes, I'm very familiar with your podcast. But that should be controllable in terms of opportunities to hear, in terms of total frequency, all of that kind of stuff. I think the real benefit that we have with Dai and with ad tech generally is that it should enable us to be a bit cleverer in terms of what we do around advertising and making sure that people don't hear the same ad ten times and making sure that people do actually hear. I mean, the other thing around the Trojan horse affair was listening to it, hearing them going into a commercial break, and then there being a beat, second pause. And then it was welcome back because they hadn't bothered selling any ads down here in Australia. I do wonder whether some of the perceived issues that there are around. Dynamic programmatic advertising isn't necessarily a problem with the technology. It's more a problem with the fact that it's not been booked properly into the system. And there should be a frequency cap, and that frequency cap should be kept relatively low. It'd be really nice to get some research about how low the frequency cap would be, but there should be a frequency cap there there should be cleverer tools in terms of how you buy this kind of stuff. But I do think that Dai and that sort of thing should really help if you're producing a fiction podcast, which is an evergreen piece of audio that can live on a podcast directory for years and years and years, then using dynamic ad insertion, which captivate offers, but which many other podcast hosts now offer, using that sort of tool will still allow you to keep making money from your great content in the future. And that's an important thing.Danny:
And speaking of cool tools, like this morning, this evening, yesterday evening, times all over the place. The latest episode of Pod News shared a pretty cool tool called Spooler, which looks to be using dynamic dynamic content. Pretty cleverly. I'm wondering, apart from stuff like that, what's got you most excited about forecasting and where tech could take us and dynamic insertion could take us?James:
Yeah, I think there are real opportunities in terms of dynamic ad insertion and dynamic audio insertion, and I think we probably shouldn't call it dynamic ad insertion. That's the wrong thing. But yeah, I mean, I ended up playing around for April Fools last year. I ended up playing around with a podcast which I launched in a blaze of excitement on April 1 and said, it's a podcast for our time and you can listen. It's our complicated relationship with the clock. And literally all the podcast was me telling you what the time was. But of course, all of that was dynamic audio insertion, produced automatically whenever you downloaded that podcast. It was just clips of me reading out what the time was, just as a little bit of fun. I think that there are things that we can do that we can do some very clever things. There's a brilliant company out there, for example, called A Million Ads. And I know this is about ads, but you can do this in terms of content as well, where they have loads of different bits that produce a great advert. So if it's an ad for Starbucks, then if it's a cold day, you can advertise a nice warming latte. If it's a boiling hot day, then you can advertise an iced Frappuccino, whatever it is that they call them. And for example, if you know the name of the person who is listening, then they have the barista in the background shouting latte for Danny and that sort of thing. Some very clever little tricks and tools. And you can also obviously advertise caffeine drinks in the morning advertise something else in the afternoon, you can do some very clever pieces of work. And I know that's around advertising, but in terms of content as well, in terms of normal podcast content, then you can do some fascinating things there as well. I think so. I'm very excited about what that future might be, what Spoola announced recently around. They've basically made a podcast without any of the drawbacks of a podcast, which is once it's recorded, it's there, it's done. So being able to go back and change the story order, change one of the stories out to a new story which is just broken, produce all of that and have the technology producing essentially a news bulletin for you at the time that you press the play button is really exciting. And you then wonder to yourself, well, why aren't radio stations doing that? Why isn't the local Rogers News 680 or whatever it is? Why aren't they doing that sort of technology? Why aren't they building their entire radio station out of those building blocks of individual pieces of audio? Why do they stick on producing live radio where actually they could probably produce a better product if they were producing lots of different pieces of audio that they could then schedule properly? So there's all kinds of really exciting things I think there on the horizon.Danny:
Yeah. I love to check out Millionaires. That sounds really cool. I could picture it. Sounds like, as you mentioned, you can schedule it for morning, afternoon, evening, depending on where the IP is for the listener based on the time of playback and guessing, because it'd be pretty cool if you could go pick the kids up from school and you could put in your interest in your podcast app and they'll know that. Okay, it's almost 04:00 p.m. Danny's going to pick his kids up. We're going to put this podcast episode of this dynamic content sorry, into the favorite episode and talk about the soccer results for my kids, for my son, or like gymnastics and cheerleading results from various competitions for my daughter. That kind of stuff that taps into based on time and location, it's been really cool.James:
Yeah. There is so much stuff that you can do, particularly if you're doing this on a logged in platform like Spotify, for example, in most podcast apps, the only thing that they know about you is an IP address. And the IP address doesn't instantly go back to you as a person, although you can do that if you add additional data. Whereas of course, if you're listening on Spotify, knows everything about you and knows how old you are, whether you're a boy or a girl, what your interests are, what your music choice is and everything else. And so you can begin to do some very clever things with that. Now, of course, there are Privacy issues there as well, but I think worthwhile thinking about this. It's a pretty well one way street. They don't know that you're called Danny. They might know that you're called Danny, but they don't necessarily know exactly where you live, exactly who you are, et cetera, et cetera. They can still divine a lot of information out of that. And yeah, I think it's a good balancing act, but I think the opportunities are really good. If, you know, for example, that I have kids in the car or I have a nine year old daughter and it's drop off time, then probably you might want to feed me the version of the podcast where you've edited out the naughty words, for example. That might be a really simple, straightforward thing. So, yeah, real opportunities, I think in the future.Danny:
And especially when dynamic content and dynamic audio is still fairly new, at least for the mainstream, for the market, podcasters got access to it. So it will be pretty cool to see what that's like revisit and even a year down the road, never mind like five, just the way it changes so quickly, just seeing what it's like twelve months from now. March 2023.James:
Yes. No, indeed. I think that there will be an awful lot of really interesting ways of thinking about how to use dynamic audio insertion that we've not thought about in the past. I think Spooner is a great example of that, of actually taking something and going what would happen if and producing something which could potentially turn the world of news podcasts on its head, that you can all of a sudden produce these shows which are up to the minute. And I love the fact that they call it a live it's a live podcast. It's continually updated between six in the morning and midday. Well, that's very clever, very smart. So, yeah, really interesting to see what happens there.Danny:
So, James, I could talk to you all day and continue to pick your brain because I'm a podcasting geek and I love speaking with good folks like yourself. But I know you've got another episode of Pod News to get prepping up together and a whole bunch to go over. So for people who want to know more about Pod News, the newsletter, the site, the podcast, et cetera, or yourself, Where's the best place to connect and check all that cool stuff out?James:
Yeah. So you'll find all of email@example.com. I know that we've talked about the podcast, but the newsletter is better. So grabbing that is a good plan, because the newsletter links to all of the stories that I'm talking about. So that's kind of the point there. Yeah. And you'll also find in there things like events and job opportunities and stuff like that. So all of that is there. And if you want to follow me personally on Twitter, then I'm at James Critland and I'll be sure to obviously drop all the links into the show notes.Danny:
Speaking about links so that if you listen on your favorite podcast app or you're visiting the Pod Chat website, all the links will be there linking out and it's a request for you, I should say a quest for any reader of the newsletter to spot when James is being sarcastic or got a little sort of funny bone kicking off on about a news story because you can kind of tell what it is, but it's fun trying to see that little piece of copy that says yes just occasionally the wrong way. So again, James, I really appreciate that and I recommend anybody that likes or interesting podcasting, whether you're a listener or a podcast yourself to subscribe to the Podnews.net newsletter. It's a really amazing resource so well worth getting in your inbox each morning. So again, James, thank you so much for your time today.James:
Thank you. Bye.