Podcasting On the Rise

Podcasting has accomplished many extraordinary feats recently. Inexpensive by nature, almost anyone with some spare change can start their own Internet radio or TV show.

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

With a little marketing skill, it can easily take off. Podcasting is taking on a larger roll then ever with new shows being published and older shows sticking around for the long haul.

Think back 20 years ago. Imagine telling someone that a thing called the Internet would be the technological future and would allow people from around the world to connect to each other. People would think you were high. Think back 10 years ago. Imagine telling someone that average people online will one day be publishing their own shows and it could cost less then a thousand US dollars to do it. People would probably think you spent too much time on Napster. Today, people are doing just that at an ever-increasing number.

The more well circulated shows include The Catholic Insider and The Scene. More recently, it’s been shows produced by Revision 3 and Leo Laporte. Of course, these aren’t the only accomplishments of the podcasting genre. On September 6, 2005, PBS would go where no other television station has gone before. They produced a show called Nerd TV that was solely distributed on the Internet, for free, and under a Creative Commons license.

There are other stations that broadcast clips. News stations such as CTV and The BBC broadcasted clips on demand that aired on their respective news stations. There was also some shows on the CBC such as Air Farce and The Rick Mercer Report that are available to stream and even download in some cases over the Internet. However, some podcaster critics say that streaming isn’t true podcasting.

Podcasting by large media networks doesn’t completely sport the true meaning of podcasting, but it does play an interesting roll in it. Two great blogs dedicated to podcasting are IPTV Shows and IP Ratings. With the large number of shows they advertise, it certainly looks like podcasting is booming right now in terms of content.

The great part about podcasting is that it doesn’t take much financially to keep a podcaster afloat. Many rely on donations and fan-based stores (some even forming an alliance with J!nx to help them out by making shirts and forwarding a percentage of profits. Podcasters also seem to be seeking financial help by advertising willing companies such as GoDaddy (who seemed to have been helping a lot of podcasters out by offering special discount deals.)

One thing is for certain, unlike some big media cartels who would panic, change laws and massively sue an entire populace if their content made it’s way onto the internet, most podcasters are thrilled to see their content spread throughout the internet since that means more people watching their shows.

There is a downfall worthy to note. Most podcasts are technology help and/or technology news based. With many shows being of that genre, at this point, the specific type of content might already be saturated. It’s not to say that all podcasting is about technology. There are shows based on travel like Fly With Me and Betty in the Sky with A Suitcase! There’s also a cooking show called The Angry Chef. There’s even a podcast on knitting called KnitCast. It certainly takes more to find things based on something other then strictly technology, but with a little research, it is quite possible. Some sites that index podcasts are Odeo, PodNova, Our Media and Yahoo! Podcasts Beta.

Free content isn’t just for TV and Radio based content. In fact, musicians are getting in on the ability to cheaply distribute. One of the biggest music distributors for people to freely download music is CNET’s Music Download site. Thousands of artists rely on this site to distribute their music. Still, there are artists who prefer the more traditional business model. Many independent artists rely on music stores such as Audio Lunchbox to sell their music. The interesting part about Audio Lunchbox is the fact that it has a similar business model to that of iTunes, but it doesn’t have DRM on their music, giving users the freedoms they wanted from iTunes all along.

So with music and TV being given away for free, what better way to complete the list then with a movie? Movies are expensive to make, you’d think that no one in their right mind would just give it away for free. Not so. A Finnish film crew made it possible on September 9, 2005, releasing Star Wreck under a Creative Commons license and putting their movie onto BitTorrent. Another movie that is in the works is called Orange and promises to be an interesting animated movie.

With strengths and weaknesses, free content is marching ahead and possibly leaving The Big Four media giants behind.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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