Podcasting – New Era in Content?

The birth of Napster sparked a war between the recording industry and the consumer.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

As virtually everyone knows, the Napster shutdown served only to aggravate the war, which is in contrast to the RIAA’s assertion of stamping out Internet piracy with the Napster lawsuit.

The recording industry has made several claims that downloading hurts the artist, but they are all invalidated by the latest trends in intellectual property in a digital atmosphere.

The recording industry claims that they are only protecting the artists as they sue more then 10,000 of their own fans for transferring copyrighted works over the Internet.

To add to that, they are trying to sue people who make software. When they do not get their way in court, the industry goes as far as changing local law, and even as far as international law through the UN.

Enter the world of podcasting. Podcasting is typically digital content made by people who wish to distribute their content over the internet. Most, but not all, of these podcasters use the Creative Commons license to protect their work, while at the same time distribute it in a convenient way for both them and their users.

In contrast to the recording industry, who sues people for redistributing their content, artists in the podcasting world depend on people sharing content and, in general, spreading the word of their show. They do not have the overwhelming publicity power the recording industry has.

Some content creators are turning their back on the recording industry, grabbing their microphones and cameras, and hitting record.

A good example is Kevin Rose and his partners in crime from TechTV.

Kevin Rose was part of TechTV, before it was turned into the primarily video game orientated G4. Many of Rose’s technology shows were cancelled, but Rose still had to negotiate his way out of his contract.

He then went on to make Revision 3 and other shows which immediately followed. Kevin Rose starred in The Broken, Systm (which recently had a new sub episode called ‘SubSystm’), DiggNation, and TWiT (Video/Audio)(You may want to utilize Google for the older episodes of TWiT). TWiT (This Week in Technology) was originally called TRotSS (The Revenge of the Screen Savers), but they changed their name by the third episode.

Podcasting is known for other shows too, like The Scene, Teh Scene, Teh Fux0red Scene (They do not officially have a host, but the episodes are available if you search for them hard enough), Tech Talk, Red vs Blue, Nerd TV (It’s worthy to note that Nerd TV is created and hosted by PBS).

Making a podcast show was simply not affordable for the average person to make before. Now, with the advances in technology, it is very possible today. For example, before it was very expensive to produce music. In fact, studios would typically charge tens of thousands of American Dollars per album for artists to mix and record their music. Now, one can purchase Fruity Loops for as little as 50$ USD. This piece of software allows one to make professional quality music, with no time limits, or additional fees (excluding extra third party plugins).

The true power of podcasting was illustrated in a recent BBC report. The BBC reported that Xiang Xiang, a Chinese singer, reached 1 billion downloads of her own music.

“It’s unprofitable to publish a song on the Internet, ” says Xiang Xiang. “There’s no money. It’s purely a kind of communication. I get feedback and suggestions or comments on my work and then I can make changes.”

A number of artists can be found via The Scene’s download page who are more then happy to offer free music. Some of these artists use CNET’s Music Download Page to distribute their music.

The question remains, from where does one download podcasts? There are a few websites that offer competitions for podcasters to compete for podcasting supremacy. These websites include Podcasting Alley, iTunes Podcasting, Odeo.com, and Our Media.

It is worthy to note that iTunes podcasting and Odeo.com podcasters depend on RSS feed subscriptions to improve their ranking.

Some podcasting services, including OurMedia will host the podcast files.

Podcasting ranges from technology education, to political debates and interviews to personal issues to just plain fun entertainment. There is a little something for everyone in podcasting.

There are many important differences between TV and podcasting. TV goes through a very thorough screening of censorship, corporate legalities, and, for the most part, all the things that entail a business suit and thousands or millions of dollars. Podcasting, on the other hand is made by anyone who has the motivation and the equipment (not necessarily very expensive equipment either). No one is sitting around and approving or disproving which shows should be aired on the Internet.

While the RIAA is trying to sue their customers back to an old business model, podcasters are reaping the benefits of technology and free publicity, while consumers gain the benefit of choice.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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