I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about today, but then I read a blog post from Seth Godin, who I have a ton of respect for, and I knew. From Seth’s blog:
RSS is dead. Blogs are dead. The web is dead.
Dead means that they are no longer interesting to the drive-by technorati. Dead means that the curiousity factor has been satisfied, that people have gotten the joke.
What isn’t dead these days. It’s funny, because I still read blogs, often from my RSS reader, and it’s delivered to me via the web. There’s a lot of life in things we have heard proclaimed dead.
I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Podcasting isn’t dead. And it never will be.
I’m sure there was disappointment in the air when podcasting didn’t turn out to be the next big thing (even though that prediction is far from complete) or that it didn’t turn people into overnight millionaires. The crowd that seems concerned with what is and isn’t dead always seem to be coming from the position of easy money. If you can’t turn a fast buck, or sit back and watch free cash come in without lifting a finger, there isn’t much life left in the corpse, is there?
Which is silly. Take a look at what the comedy universe is doing with podcasting. They are able to reach new audiences, and connect with their regular audience in a way that was extremely limited before. It’s one of the best tools they have for getting their voice to an audience that wants what they are selling (their standup, their shows, their cds). And they have control of what they do, rather than handing it to a TV station. If you want a great example, how about this article from Popstrike about Jimmy Pardo of Never Not Funny:
Do you think that having the podcast has gotten you an audience that you previously wouldn’t have reached? Someone who wouldn’t necessarily have gone to a comedy club in a mall on a Saturday night?
JP: Yes. I will 100% say “yes.” We just talked about it on the most recent podcast. We did New Years Eve in Bloomington, Indiana, and people were there to see me because of Never Not Funny, and that’s happened across the country as I’m going out more and more—I did a lot of dates last year because the Conan show was on hiatus—and I’m seeing a lot of Never Not Funny fans and people that may not have gone to a comedy club coming out to see Jimmy Pardo, and they’re like “Hey, I listen to the podcast. This is my first time at a comedy club.” I’m like “Jeeze. First of all, how are you a fan of comedy not having gone to a comedy club?” I mean, I’m fascinated by that.
And the best part is, it’s Pardo’s voice and style that brings them in. The podcast audience hears Pardo, decides if they want to see him, and probably enjoy it a lot more, since they know what they are getting in to. The audience know’s Pardo, and know they aren’t going to see an amateur, or comedy they aren’t interested in. And it isn’t just him. The comedy world has embraced podcasting as a way of reaching their audience, and generating a new one. With podcasting, they are bringing around another era of comedy that hints at another golden age. That doesn’t sound like a medium that is dead to me.
And now that we know it isn’t dead (or, at least it IS dead in the sense that Mr. Godin alludes to), we can get around to the art of the format. We can make things that are fun, important, and artistic. We can push the format into other boundaries, and shape it into something different. As Seth Godin says:
Only when an innovation is dead can the real work begin. That’s when people who are seeking leverage get to work, when we can focus on what we’re saying, not how (or where) we’re saying it.
So when I get asked questions like ‘Is it worth it for me to start a podcast,’ I can tell them that podcasting is dead, so if they are really interested, dive right in.