The PodX consumer-based podcast convention in Nashville last weekend didn't draw huge crowds, but the 300 or so who came to hear from the hosts of their favorite shows were rabid fans. And the experts who came to speak on various panels made them happy by noting podcasting is not a trend, but a business with a bright future.
Pocket Casts CEO Owen Grover believes all the statistics point to nothing but growth for the industry. "I look for steady growth, just like we've seen in the past few years. I'm confident this is not a fad,” he said as a panelist replying to an audience question. Grover also mentioned the enormous room for growth. "Only 50% of Americans at this point report ever having heard a podcast. Still within the industry people are asking, ‘can we really sustain another crime podcast?’ You never hear people saying another book? We can't possible put another book out. There are so many books already!”
There are now more than 700,000 podcasts available, but Grover called that “a really small number” and told podcasters worried about getting lost in the crowd it could prove to be more of an advantage than they realize. “It’s not something to be concerned with,” he said. Instead, Grover thinks growth will also come through diversity. "More women, more people of color creating podcasts will grow the business,” he said.
Another podcast host warned the PodX Nashville attendees not to expect to get rich overnight. Toby Ball, co-host of Crime Writers On, said there's still a long way between creating a podcast and making sustainable money. He told the audience his podcast, which reviews true crime shows, took about 18 months to build an audience to a large enough mass in order to start getting sponsor dollars. “Don't expect to drop 10 episodes and get millions of listeners and sponsors lining up,” Ball said.
New Hampshire Public Radio reporter-turned-podcaster Taylor Quimby, the writer behind the popular Bear Brook podcast series, talked about the difference in doing a radio show and a podcast—and how the podcast format is evolving.
“Working on a broadcast clock means you have a structured show. We have fit the content to the clock, which sometimes means using material you don’t want to use to ‘fit’ the clock. That’s not a problem for podcasters,” Quimby said. “You can have a 20 minute or a two hour show, depending on what you need. Podcasting is more flexible.”