How can something with hundreds of millions of monthly downloads being a niche media form? Enter podcasts. For those who haven’t dived off the podcasting deep end yet, podcasts are like listening to (hopefully) interesting people discuss subjects you (hopefully) care about. Have a deep passion for French cinema? There’s a podcast for that. Australian non profit organizations? That too. In short, they’re great. But why isn’t everyone listening?
Tell me a story
No mandatory ad breaks or network slots is a great recipe for diving deeply into cool subjects. Dan Carlin’s excellent Hardcore History series is a fine example of long-form storytelling, so if you fancy catching up with the Mongols or feel the need to brush up on your Sumerian history, fill your boots.
It’s also fair to say that many people would love to have a bit more time in their days to spend on listening to long-form stories. Hardcore podcast fans like being the ones in the know, and have no problem digging out the content they want to hear. When they hit the gym, go for a run, or go on their commute, they have content already lined up. What would be great is content – and content discovery – that makes it easy for new listeners to get up to speed.
The long and the short of it
Sometimes people want something light, funny, whatever – and they want it now. They might also want something that can be listened to in a 10-minute walk to the cornershop – sorry Dan Carlin. There is a pretty big opportunity for podcasters to attract new listeners by creating short-form audio, as long as people can find it – and listen to it – when they want it. Get it?
This is where the robots can help. Instead of looking through a library to find a couple-of-minutes long snippet, AI can do the legwork for you. Imagine a world where robots understand what you want, and give it to you. Both long-form – and short-form in particular – would experience a nice little bump in audience numbers. Woohoo.
(Audio)feed your mind
How will this world where short-form and long-form content magically finds the right listeners come to be? A couple of tweaks will do the trick. AIs that learn your taste and choices and bring the content you want much closer to your ears are already being developed.
These need to be backed by audio platforms with purpose – places that prioritize positive change over a few bucks. We’ve seen what commercialized content discovery has done to Facebook – let’s put people’s needs ahead of those of companies.
And there you have it. Keep your ear to the ground, changes are afoot in the podcast universe.