I own over 1,000 vinyl albums and hundreds of CDs.
I subscribe to Spotify Premium, with access to 30 million songs from every imaginable genre– including Ukranian Glam Metal and Swedish Glockenspiel Emo.
But I don’t listen to music very often.
I’m a podcast fanatic.
My ears crave information, comedy, political analysis, entertainment, business secrets/wisdom, news, celebrity interviews, personal confessions, history, crime stories, popular culture reviews, and, well, whatever strikes my fancy.
No matter what your interests are, there are podcasts to satisfy them. Select from over 250,000 podcasts available in 100 languages.
And you thought Netflix gave you freedom of choice.
The popularity of podcasts has been growing steadily 10-20% annually.
Last year, 112 million Americans listened to podcasts–– that’s 40% of our population if you’re counting.
86% of those people listened to all or most of their podcast episodes–– a pretty amazing figure considering some pods are over three-hours long.
For example, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. It tackles subjects like World War I in six-parts and over 26-riveting-hours. (Spoiler alert: we win!).
People, podcasts are not a fad, they’re a growing movement.
And 100% engaged.
Podcasts are a panacea for people bored by the limitations of other media choices.
Why is pod popularity growing, and, I predict, soon to be a major sensation?
Because podcasts are perfect for the digital age, where technology enables people the ability to curate specifically to individual tastes.
You can listen to specific subjects that pique your interests–– hosted by personalities you like, trust, and respect.
For pod broadcasters, it’s crucial to have a strong and unique point-of-view. This medium is not about pleasing the masses; it’s about grabbing and holding attention–– two ears at a time.
Successful podcasts feel intimate, personal, vital.
Comedian Marc Maron was one of the early pioneers of the medium. He began his WTF Podcast 2009 producing over 850 interviews with comics, actors, musicians, writers, and artists. I believe Maron is the best interviewer working in any medium because of his sincere empathy.
How good is he? So good that last year President Obama came to his L.A. garage studio for an interview.
But Maron’s podcast is just an appetizer.
“The Daily” from The New York Times lets you know the feature stories it is reporting and other topics in the news. You decide if it’s fake news or not.
“How I Built This” is interviews with successful entrepreneurs talking about how they did what they did in building their thriving businesses.
“Slate’s Whistlestop” features captivating stories of presidential campaigns throughout American history. If you think politics today are dirty, listen up.
You can also go inside San Quentin Prison with Ear Hustle, and hear what it’s like for the two million people living behind bars. Fortunately, after every episode, you get sprung free.
“S-Town Podcast” is one of the wildest rides you’ll ever take; a fascinating novel-like tale of a singular Alabama man who battles demons and a variety of windmills. This series set a podcast record, securing 10-million downloads in four days.
“The Thread With OZY” manages to connect Lenin with Lennon. Don’t ask, just listen. Fascinating stuff.
And the previously mentioned Dan Carlin hosts two of my favorites, “Hard Core History” that makes the past come to exciting life through context and perspective, and “Dan Carlin’s Common Sense”–– a look at the sorry state of contemporary politics in our two-party system.
I won’t detail all 61 podcasts I currently have on my pod app, Podcruncher. I’ll just tell you my ears and brain love the variety of choices.
Currently, 52% of podcasts are listened to at home and 18% in the car. But that will change fast.
Today 200 car models are equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so getting pods will be as easy as attracting digital ads on your Facebook feed.
Brands are noticing the podcast boom. Square Space, GE, Slack, Casper Mattresses, Stamps.com, Virgin Atlantic, eBay and more are getting on board with sponsorships. And 65% of podcast listeners say they are more willing to try a brand or service they heard about on a broadcast.
As a marketer, podcasts are an exciting medium. You have narrowcasting by subject matter, with an engaged self-selected audience.
With the incredible popularity of intelligent personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, the ears are the new promised land, and podcasts are an important part of that landscape.
I highly recommend podcasts. They’re perfect for exercising, working, commuting, cooking, and playing.
Maybe I should start a podcast about podcasts.
Then again, maybe not. There’s probably already 600 or 700 of those out there.
Perhaps a Ukranian Glam Metal pod is the ticket.