Change comes for all of us at some point, and podcasters like you and me are not immune. Neither are those individuals who run companies that provide services to podcasters like you and me. The same goes for those providing services to podcast listeners. They aren't immune either.
So really; no aspect of podcasting is immune to change.
We often think of changes to podcasting as something predicated by a massive upheaval in the podcasting landscape. And yes, huge inflection points have happened during podcasting's two-decade journey and have caused unpredictable ripples that put a lot of plans—business or otherwise—in peril.
But it doesn't take a single, massive event to disrupt your own stable podcasting world. Mostly because that stable podcasting world you think you live in is an illusion. At best, the stability you're currently encountering is a temporary condition. One you may not notice has actually expired, leaving you working under a set of assumptions that are no longer perfectly tailored to the reality of podcasting today.
Let me assuage your fears: Podcast Pontifications is not in immediate jeopardy. I have several more months of content to produce before Season Four comes to a close. I reserve the right to make changes with Season Five, of course. But if you've been listening to me for a while, you know that's standard procedure. Every season of this show has been a bit different than the ones that came before.
The Rate Of Change In Podcasting Seems To Be Increasing
Change is inevitable and has been with podcasting since the beginning. But as I look back at recent months, it sure looks like changes are coming at us a whole lot faster than they were before. Today, I want to shine light on just three of the indicators I've noticed.
1. "Inactive" podcasts are swelling, whatever that means.
I haven't done a detailed analysis, but chatter amongst the people who care about such things say that the percentage of podcasts with valid RSS feeds that haven't produced an episode in 90 days or more is on the rise.
Generally speaking, I don't care much about this number. In my view, a lot of the analysis and punditry towards the totality of all of those shows is, in my opinion, flawed. Not every show that hasn't produced an episode in 90 days is abandoned. But that's a different soapbox.
For now, and taking the analysis provided by others at face value, it's enough to know that that the percentage is on the rise. There are many, many reasons why a podcaster makes the decision to stop podcasting at a certain point. But one commonality is that something has changed for that podcaster from the time they started podcasting to the time they posted their last episode.
What those changes are doesn't matter. Nor does the length of time between the beginning and ending state. Change happened. That's that.
2. Podcast-listener-focused services getting out of the game.
I'm thinking specifically of Bello Collective's recent announcement, but they're not the only listener-focused service that has either closed up shop or plotted a different course. Reading the post by Bello, they make it abundantly clear that it was changes to the landscape that led to their halting—or at least pausing—of operations. Changes that happened over the relatively short time span between 2016 and the first month of 2022. Changes not only to podcasting, but to how people listen. And to what people listen. So any service speaking to listeners of podcasts will have to change too.
3. Podcaster-focused services are consolidating.
Big, mega-mergers that mint new millionaires make the news, but flying under the radar are a slew of smaller announcements that don't have envy-inducing price tags. Over the last few years, we've seen lower-level players come up with a cool idea, run it as a business for a while, and then opt to sell it or roll it into another similar product or service.
Why did the original creator choose to get out if it wasn't a massive payday? Too many reasons to count, and it's pointless to speculate. The key part is that rather than just leaving their users in a lurch, the consolidation move lets them continue with as little disruption as possible.
If there's a takeaway for you in all of this, it's simply a reminder that change comes for us all. In podcasting. In life. In business.
For those of us who've wrapped all three of those things together, it sure is making for an interesting ride.
I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.