The March issue of Fast Company features perceptive insights into why “The future of media is podcasting,” in an article by staff writer Rebecca Greenfield. While she is doubtlessly obligated to mention Serial in her set up, I love how she quickly broadens the scope, writing,
“But enough about Serial: the podcasting world will produce bigger hits in the years ahead. What’s most interesting about the series is that it is but the most prominent example of an experiment that could reshape business models throughout the entertainment industry.”
Experimentation, I’d argue, is one of podcasting’s most valuable characteristics.
PRX’s Jake Shapiro rightly observes that, “Content production, marketing, the technical distribution, the audience experience, and then the business model: There’s innovation at every one of those layers.”
Midroll’s own Adam Sachs offers some clear examples of content innovation in the form of Earwolf’s The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project and With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus. Both of these shows tinker with the podcast form to generate brilliant and hilarious results, that also bring in listeners. “Every time we roll out a show with an inventive format, it surprises us at how well it does,” Adam says.
As a medium podcasting has benefitted from being unshackled from many of the assumptions and restrictions that have cooled innovation in older media. This tabula rasa along with a low bar to entry encourage creative risk-taking.
Furthermore, podcasting’s ability to reach a global audience easily frees it from terrestrial radio’s dependence on local audiences, permitting podcasts to serve niches and interests that cross borders. Forward-looking broadcasters have seized upon podcasting’s advantages, though born-digital shows are the site of most invention.
While podcasting still faces challenges to its continued rise, they really are opportunities for innovation, from new listening platforms and improved metrics to growing and diversifying revenue. Combine this with the culture of prolific experimentation that is particular to podcasting, and it becomes clearer why the medium really is the future of media.