Life is a like a snow ski slope, once you reach its pinnacle, the descend might be smooth and relaxed or rocky; depending how steep is the slope, the ride could be fatal or safe.
If you never ski before and picked Black Diamond or Double Black Diamond, I guarantee you a rocky start with a bad outcome. Although, I have never reached the top of my career as a podcaster, I decided to take the Green Circle (Bunny ride) and come down easily and relaxed; ergo, I am not doing more episodes for my podcast. This could changed if the planets alignment state the opposite. Maybe this will be a leave of absence from podcasting and return with a new approach. Only time will tell. Nonetheless, this decision, which was taken like a plunge into a freezing lake, was not made impulsively or hastily, as this post.
For a few weeks, I have been analyzing listeners’ downloads and subscriptions to my podcast. I have reached 520 subscriptions, but only one or two people, who I love and considered my real friends, are the only ones leaving comments or likes to my episodes. Not even my Patreons has said anything publicly, only three of five patreons has shown some degree of sadness to my decision.
What schocked me was the incredible amount of downloads on the 15 minutes audio uploaded on November 11, 2020 announcing my withdrawal (to put it nicely) from the podcast world. In an hour I had 190 downloads, it was like everybody was looking for that announcement. Although there were four comments of gratitude and support from dear friends from Spain, that showed their support towards me. Besides those comments, nothing from people who I never interacted before. Nicht.
This farewell audio showed and proved that rest of listeners are silent. Moreover, the latest four of five episodes, at least, have less than a hundred downloads in an average week, when others surpassed the three hundred downloads in previous months. What have changed? Is this reduced number of downloads an effect of Covid19? or, the people are more into listening music and less conversation? or, they got tired of my content.
Whatever, the answer might be, it is a fact that producing a podcast is time-consuming and financially a burden. There is a probability that I will never have an answer to all these questions. But I am pretty sure that there are many podcasters who will not share my views or opinions posted in this editorial.
I have seen a few podcasts whose contents are not at all appealing to culture or in any way addressed situations that requires some kind of introspect thinking from the audience. Those so-called story-hunters podcasts is all the same: lame stories using language that allure to an audience who consume whatever media puts in front of them. Lets call those podcast trashy podcasts in honor of that famous 80’s movie Better Off Dead .
Here is an example of what I am talking about: If you look at my episodes with the most downloads, you will notice that the number of likes does not passed five people. However, those episodes have over one thousand downloads. Why is that? Do people did not like the content of my latest episodes? If that was the case, why it has over a thousand downloads? Was I asking too much for likes and shares at the end of every episode? Was it right from me to ask for it? Or, should I have left it to free will of the audience? Many questions, and not that many answers. Right?
Before I embarked on this podcast “mayhem”, I listened to hundreds of different podcasts. All I did was mirrored their way they try to engage with audience. They asked for likes, comments and shares on social media. I did not invent the wheel nor discovered fire thru striking two rocks. I listened to many podcasts hosted by celebrities, famous radio hosts, comedians, and independent podcasters. They all did follow the same script: asking for love via likes, comments, and shares in social media. This does not require a great effort to oblige to ones wishes.
However, podcast world trend is easy to understand if we look at these two scenarios:
- If you are a celebrity, audience will downpour their likes and comments on any episode that these people do. Even though content is important, people are more attracted by host’s name because they know that the celebrity will deliver a great product (this term is the concept behind the market we are addressing). This “guarantee” of great content is based on all the people working behind the celebrities’ podcast curtains; opposed to a independent amateur podcaster who does everything by herself/himself.
- If you are an independent podcaster, there is a likelihood that your total of likes and comments will be no more than five or ten, in your lifetime, for each episode. But for every rule, there is an exclusion: if your program’s topic is one that attracts thousands of listeners, then the trend will change. The interaction between host and audience will be much different to someone whose podcast covers a special niche that not everybody is into it . That is the case of a friend of mine who covers stories about paranormal phenomena whose downloads on a given week surpasses three thousand.
Going back to first scenario posted, why we are more attracted to celebrities? The answer is very simple. They are a brand supported by many in the industry. It is hard to compete against a Marc Maron or Conan O’Brien, to name a few, on a market that they have been working on for over twenty years. Why is we are inclined to listen to them over an independent? Because we are voracious consumers of whatever big networks put in front of us for streaming.
Please, do not misunderstood me. I do like both of their podcasts. But reality is inescapable. These people began from the bottom and built their empire with a big push from agents, networks, and so forth. That is their value in our Internet World. We, as consumers, value more what comes out from a big network or celebrity over what a small independent podcaster streamed in a specific platform, where he has to pay a license or fee from his own pocket. Independent podcasters find hard to be supported or sponsored by any brand. In a nutshell, your “product” (as a hater once called my podcast) might not be a seller to them. They look at statistics; it is all about the numbers. If you want proof or evidence of my assessment, check in YouTube any “influence” that post videos about decorations. These people created a name brand on themselves and are supported by big 500 companies. The data is out there, stop listening to bad podcasts and do your research and become an intelligent consumer.
But this trend is not new, it has been like that for decades. Take for example the case of independent network and broadcast radios. These entities struggle year-round to make money in order to keep their licenses fees and infrastructure. The same rule or theory (speaking scientifically) applies to Pop and Mom’s shop stories. People that have to deal with mogul stores and compete against them. If you do not believe me, watch the movie You’ve got mail; the answer is right under your eyes, but you can read this New York Times article. If you still not believe what I am saying, check this link and then leave a comment below. I love to be proven wrong, but a word of caution: I am an attorney and I have done my research. You better be better than Donald Trump (a lame duck whose claims are baseless, as his financial stability) in challenging my assessment.
But lets go back to our Hollywood celebrity that launched a podcast and this time his podcast is about nothing (sorry Jerry Seinfeld, your amazing skits always comes to my mind). I bet that people will be overflowing the analytics of downloads and likes awaiting for any shout-out or maybe a like from that celebrity host. Because we, humans, are self-centered. Yes, we are selfish beings, and we are narcissistic. We love to brag when a celebrity liked or left a comment in our posts or tweets. But sometimes our world of fantasy brings to my mind that famous remark from Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men: ” You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties,”. The same applies to this new cyberworld. We brag about that and we are looking for that acknowledgment from someone famous over a independent podcaster. Because for you, the audience, that independent podcaster is a NOBODY. Yes, that is the truth, and we cannot or are not able to handle it. But you should remember, those celebrities, before being one, they were also a NOBODY. So be careful in dismissing someones work. Maybe in the near future, that NOBODY will become a somebody and you will regret that you did not interacted with her/him previosly.
That is how our World of Communications work. Someday you are a nobody and suddenly, out of nowhere, you become famous. Nevertheless, that is the world that I never felt to be part of it, and I am not willing to succumb to it; and that is fine. It is my decision. However, I am not judging if you do surrendered yourself to this way of life. Everyone is entitled to pursue its happiness, follow their weaknesses, their desires, and even their liking of bad or good podcasts. Although, I should make a caveat, there is an organization that opines different to me. Here is the link if you like to read it. See how flexible am I on accepting others opinions?
I do not want this editorial post to look as a rant. Everyone is free to support whoever they like. We are free to support indie podcasters or celebrity brand podcasting. The issue is not, essentially, whom we support, but how we interact with. As a former podcaster, yes that would be my term from now on, audience opinion is very important to any podcaster. You are podcaster’s inner voice, your opinion matters, let them know if what they are doing is worth or not. You are a quintessential part of this World. Without you, there were no need of doing episodes every week or biweekly. We decided to be away from our families and spend time producing programs because of you; your opinion and comments does really matters.
Yes, we love to hear from you, we need your input, your likes, and love. Because at the end, it is all about spreading love, and as addition a little of culture. Do you remember the part of being narcissistic that I mentioned before?. Well, take the eraser and do your work. It is not being narcissistic, but being accepted by you. We do this work for you, we want to feel accepted and approved by you. Even though we love the work and production, your acceptance and approval is crucial. If you like an independent podcast or a celebrity podcast; share your love. Tell them how good you felt after listening to it podcast. It will no do any harm. Au contraire, it will lift the creator/host spirit to continue improving and producing a better podcast for you.
At the end, everything a podcaster does is for you and she/he is patiently awaiting your opinion. Please do not make her/him take the Double Diamond Black Slope or Green Circle. Leave your love and support. It will mean the world for her/him to continue producing her/his podcast.