In this seminal podcast, Podshow Strategy Cast 2.0 (mp3 115 min.) Adam Curry and his business partner Ron Bloom talk about where podcasting is going, and what their business plans are. They plan to release free do-it-all podcast software on their Podshow.com, and, I think, want to turn it into the Amazon of Podcasting. It took years and lots of money before Amazon made money. They have the money and plan to invest it building podcasting. They also have plans galore to monetize podcasting. All of which sounds like a juicy target for a leftie like me to attack. But I’m not attacking, not at all.
What strikes me here in listening to the podcast is they have given podcasting serious thought and genuinely want to create an alternative medium to challenge the stifling out-of-ideas medium of corporate radio. They’re assuming no doubt that if they provide the platform, and podcasting goes mainstream, then the money will take care of itself. They also want podcasting to be open to all, and if you want ads in your podcast they’ll feed the ads to you and you get a cut. If you don’t want ads and just want to get a message out, they’ll help with that by providing free tools and software. (In fact, they already have. Curry spearheaded the creation of iPodder, which allows podcasts to be downloaded automatically and this is what really made podcasting happen.)
It not just about the money. They, and the other inventor of podcasting, Dave Winer, made serious money elsewhere in software and have both morphed into podcasting evangelists. Winer also invented blogs and blogging and is leery of the coming commercialization of podcasting. Behind the scenes, he’s quite influential, and his sometimes acerbic comments provide a useful counterpoint to Curry’s front man enthusiasm.
Will commercialization ruin podcasting? It could, but I doubt it. It’s too decentralized for that. Sure, we will soon have mega-corporations doing bland podcasts filled with ads, but there will also be thousands more small podcasts, filling every conceivable niche, from politics to music to whatever. As Curry points out, money didn’t destroy the Internet as we’d all feared it might, and now it’s difficult to imagine life without the Net.
Podcasting is a paradigm shift. It bypasses radio, allows anyone to get their voice out there, and evades the corporate monopoly on broadcasting entirely – and these are very good things indeed.
Activists and progressives should not be leery of podcasting because it might get commercial but instead should view it as a powerful way to get their message out to a much wider audience.