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Welcome to Season Four of Podcast Pontifications! Thanks for letting me take a few weeks off. I’ll jump right into things with an incendiary comment (of which long-time readers/listeners will not be surprised):
We've dropped the ball.
And by we I mean collectively all of us since-the-early-days podcasters who’ve done more in podcasting than simply produce a podcast. We were blind-sided by a big company in the very early years and we ceded our future, either willfully or ignorantly, to The Suits that run that giant company. (I mean Apple, if I’m being too vague.)
Bowing To The Apple-Sized Elephant In The Room
Acknowledging a very few exceptions, by and large the entirety of influential podcasting people all adopted a stance of “No changes have any hope of going mainstream if Apple doesn’t support them out of the gate, so why should we even try to take bold, innovative steps to advance podcasting?”
So we instead innovated the way very big companies innovate; making small, incremental changes that had limited impact across the broader spectrum of podcasting.
That's why every podcast hosting company offers basically the same set of features for roughly the same price. It’s why every podcast listening app offers basically the same set of features and lists the same shows in the same order. Podcasting is infected with pathological sameness, with differences only seen with edge cases.
It’s homogenization and commoditization. Both of which are needed to a certain degree. Make a user experience too different from the norm and you risk confusing or alienating new users. But we’ve taken it much too far.
And when enterprising individuals did try to do things differently by implementing truly innovative ideas, they did so too early in podcasting’s lifecycle. Ideas before their time were abandoned. Worse, they were assumed toxic, labeled as an idea that tried and failed once, so it’ll never work again. So we trudged along in a sea of sameness.
It Takes A Disaster And A… VJ?
For years we collectively bought into this idea of near-homeostasis. It took a global pandemic and the re-emergence of Adam Curry—who was instrumental in ushering in podcasting back in 2004—to show us a different path some 17 years later.
He calls this new way Podcasting 2.0. And, not surprisingly, we're collectively resisting those efforts. Some of that is likely due to politics. You may not buy into—or perhaps only vaguely understand—some extreme elements that seem deeply entwined with the Podcasting 2.0 movement. I know I don’t have much of an appetite for constant crypto talk, and I’m very OK with shutting the door on mayhem-inciting asshats.
However, the work that the Podcasting 2.0 community—it’s bigger than just Adam and Dave—is doing with the namespace to extend RSS feeds—the lifeblood of podcasting—is truly innovative. Maybe even revolutionary. With these new namespace tags, podcasters can do more. More with their shows. More with their episodes. More with their audiences.
And best of all; it’s working. Sure, it’s a slow rollout, but that’s 100% at the feet of hosting providers, listening app developers, and directory maintainers who are hesitant for all the reasons mentioned.
But not every podcast host or podcast app or directory is as hesitant.
And so finally, for the first time in more than 15 years, we're seeing the bedrock of podcasting shift. And that shift isn’t sanctioned by Apple. It doesn’t matter if Spotify is playing their own tune. In fact, there’s a very good chance that the listening apps you have listed on your podcast’s website don’t make use of these new namespace tags. For now, at least.
You Can Help Usher In The Future Of Podcasting
You may be well-versed in the meaningful parts of Podcasting 2.0 and are just waiting for your podcast hosting company to implement the new namespace tags.
You may be in for a long wait, my friend.
Most podcast hosting companies are taking a wait-and-see approach to the new namespace tags, again because of the reasons mentioned previously. Some, especially legacy providers, may have long-running, interconnected systems that make it difficult to change how feeds are generated. But even the newer companies seem to be waiting for Apple, Spotify, Google, or some other big directory/app to officially bless/sanction these new tags.
But those big directories and apps aren't going to come along to Podcasting 2.0 thinking. Not unless they have to.
History shows us that the big players jumped onto the podcasting bandwagon when podcasting looked attractive to their business goals. When the podcasting space looked like a place they might exploit to their advantage, they jumped on board.
So it's up to us to make the adoption and addition of the new namespace tags look interesting to them else they fall out of step with the norm and start losing market share.
But I’ll be honest with you: unless you’re the kind of technogeek who hosts their own podcast media files and generates their own RSS feed, there’s not much you can do with the Podcasting 2.0 namespace tags.
Beyond applying pressure, that is.
Tell your podcast hosting company that you really, really want to see them adopt and implement as many of these new namespace tags as they can. Send emails to their support team and ask for their implementation plans. Engage with their social media posts, gently (or not; you do you) inquiring as to when they’ll get more involved.
And if you don’t like the answers they give; switch. It’s amazingly straightforward to switch from one hosting company to another. And yes, there are podcast hosting companies more forward-thinking than others who are aggressively implementing the new namespace tags.
Curious who? Go to NewPodcastApps.com and find out. You’ll also see listening apps that support the tags, so you can test-drive a new listening experience too.
I recognize that many—if not most—podcasters just want to sit back, produce the best show they possibly can, and not worry about all this geeky stuff. But I don't think that describes you. If it did, you probably wouldn't be listening to Podcast Pontifications.
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Take These Gifts And Spread Them!
Apple Podcasts has been fumbling the ball since April of 2021. Treat their non-stop stumbling as a gift. Anchor/Spotify is now making RSS feeds optional for all new podcasters that join their platform. Again, take that as a gift.
They’re distracted. They’re doing their own things which may not align with the larger podcasting ecosystem. It's up to you, to me, and to and the companies we pay to host our podcasting content to take advantage of these gifts and push podcasting to the next level. Podcasting 2.0, even.
As I've said for years on this program, please spread this idea with other podcasters and get them as excited about the future as you are. Share a link to this article with them so that they too can take steps that help usher in the future of podcasting for all of us.
And if you love this idea and you want to support me, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.