When podcasts were first gaining popularity, the term primarily meant “on-demand audio content for download.” In other words, an audio program of some sort that a listener could download to their desktop, and later to their mobile device. Before apps took over, even before iTunes came on board with the concept of podcasts, grabbing a podcast to download meant you had to be familiar with capturing RSS or XML feeds directly from the content creator — not very user-friendly outside of the tech community. If “FeedBurner” means something to you, you might be one of these folks.
Both technology and listener preferences have massively shifted in these few years of podcasting’s existence, with most podcasts now seeing their traffic from streaming through apps, such as iTunes, TuneIn, or the public radio-focused PRX. This shift from downloads to streaming exists across content, as musicians are noting, as well. For podcast aficionados, podcatchers are apps that grab all of your favorite podcasts that you tell it to, so you can click and listen whenever you want. Popular aggregators include Stitcher (now owned by Deezer), PlayerFM, and Agogo.
While those of us whose passion for music has led us to create podcasts, the wild frontier of its early days is yielding to “overnight success” podcasts from major media entities (a la Serial, the most successful podcast to date, coming from the folks behind This American Life, the most successful public radio program in the US). Much like bloggers before us, the grassroots nature of podcasting is shifting, and a variety of forces are changing the medium itself and the relationship to the listeners.
I welcome your thoughts and questions about podcasts, as a creator or a listener.
Do y’all have a podcast theme, recurring thread, or podcasting technical question you’d like me to cover in this section? Pop me a note via the Contact link, and I’ll do my best to serve it up soon. As always, if you know of a great roots music podcast, we would love to have them upload it to No Depression — all a podcaster has to do is join at the top right of the page (free!), read & agree to the FAQ & regulations, and post under “Podcasts.”