– by Temple A. Stark
In the world of podcasting June 28 marked the day of hell for independent voices out there. Apple released iTunes 4.9 and assimilated Podcasts.
“Apple takes over.” Didn’t think you’d ever hear that in your lifetime did you? But it’s just exactly what happened.
Now, if I’m going to have a new leader, Apple is one I can live with. If there are problems they are the ones most likely to listen to the peons. But it is amazing how such a new and field and endeavor can be taken over so quickly.
No, it hasn’t happened, yet. But Apple will now be able to control the direction and the force of Podcasts.
Now, why do I say that?
A quick look at the iTunes Podcast directory shows a high ratio of established voices to those most have never heard about. Certainly, I didn’t even know ESPN had a podcast. But can it truly be labeled a podcast. Or is it just an audio clip? Air America, CBC, NASA, ABC News, BBC News feature heavily alongside other approved “lesser” podcasts. I know I sound like I’m one of those “It’s popular now so I hate it” guys. But, no, it’s not that.
I’m writing this listening to Howard Johnson “Something That Happened” podcasts (www.somethingthathappened.com). Short, small stories of his life, of visiting his mother in a nursing home; of impromptu interviews with curious (in both senses of the word) gentlemen.
I have taken to writing while listening to such shows as Feast of Fools, Relish Radio, Dumpster Bust and Mondo Irlando. Along with The Metal Show, Area 51 and two new addiction with the pod-audio journalist Barry Campbell aka Greenwich Village Idiot, and The Animation Podcast. And many others I have not yet listed on the site.
I don’t know if any of those above will get a hearing. They should. At first blush, however, looking at the iTunes set up – and what’s presented on the Podcast section front page of the music store – none of them will. If you already know of a podcast you can search for it and find it. But how does that attract new listeners?
iTunes has a set list – a stable – of podcasts. It will grow but the questions i have are, will there be limits on content. Will the gay community be well represented. In proportion I think it is an amazingly high percentage of the podcast world. Why? Because there aren’t a lot of radio / audio outlets for straight talk about gays. Same with serial swearers and other groups that have been denied a seat at the table of “easy-on-the-ears” American culture.
Will more unique voices come to the fore of the American mainstream (and beyond)? Yes. Will they even be able to say, “I podcast for a living?” Undoubtedly and that’s a great thing.
But the grassroots “I’m popular” rally that started with podcastalley.com ranking has just taken a significant turn. For the even worse.
Because there’s one word that currently strikes terror in my heart for the weighty potential it portents to portray. That word, under the Top 100 podcasts listed on iTunes, is “Free.” (Also I’m not sure what Top 100″ means right now. I assume it means most subscribed and downloaded.)
The potential then is that it will not be free at some point in the future. Again, if those men and women and in-betweens could share the cash it would be great. But I believe almost all of them will be squeezed out by these “established” voices, where before all were equally important and treated as so.
For once, Apple is the voice of the establishment.
This was first posted on the blog at my Podcast Directory site, BlastYourPodcast.com