Friday, February 24, 2006

Getting a few things off my chest

I'm sorry, I feel like I really need to get something off my chest. Call it what you will.

Please don't be fooled into thinking that there is one and only one way forward in the podcasting world. There isn't. There are lots and lots of folks in on the act now and sadly I've found the world of podcasting, on the one hand a vicious place, and on the other a lovely place.

A lot of folks follow characters in the podcast world around like some great prophet, unfortunately the word for some is spelt p-r-o-f-i-t.

Let me get one thing straight ok? I do this because I LOVE it. I don't want to take money off you - I happily pay it out and invest time in bringing you the best show I can. I simply love the fact that you are willing to listen. No catch, no gimmick, no sign here... no financial gain.

When Alex, Neil, Adrian and I put on Podcastcon we did it at OUR OWN risk. The thing cost near five thousand pound to put on, we had a sponsor in to shoulder the cost. We did it, because we love podcasting. It's a great hobby.

I've stopped listening to some podcasts because of the incessant advertising, I shunned commercial radio to get away from that.

I have bottled this up for ages, but I was really disappointed that everyone shouted about podcastcon - THE world's first podcast conference (solely dedicated to podcasting). There was not one word from Adam Curry about this who seemed to shun it, and that hurt. This wasn't some half-baked thing that was written on the back of a cigarette packet. Folks flew in from all around the world and the event was covered by the BBC, Financial Times, Independent, Times.. you name it, it was covered. Yet no mention from the depths of Guildford. Why? I believe it was perhaps stuff to do with that abhorration to the English language; 'monetising'. It didn't fit into the strategy of things probably. Here I'm only presuming, and I am happy to stand corrected.

For the record, I asked Adam Curry if he'd like to speak..... silence prevailed. I asked a few further times and then just shrugged my shoulders at the contimuing silence and carried on. The worldwide following of podcastcon was palpable, and the serious media took it to the next level. I was a bit nonplussed at the outright shunning of such a seriously reported conference at such a high level but nevertheless carried on doing what I though was a great thing - doing stuff freely and promoting podcasting as much as I could, i still do that incidentally, and will continue to do so.

At any rate, I continued to listen to the DSC and in the last few weeks sadly came to the conclusion that I just couldn't listen any further to 'monetising' and 'strategy casts'. I freely accept the fact that some do like to listen. I am not one. I'm bored of it. This is a great hobby. I've made some wonderful mates and promoted some exceptional musicians, I'll continue to do that, because I love it.

I sneer at the QYDJ thing. I have to say it's the biggest load of old clap-trap I've heard in an age and works on the basis that (a) You're slightly retarded and want to be paid in magic beans (b) You enjoy being patronised (c) You hate what you do for a living.

Why on earth would I want to quit being a lawyer? I've studied for 10 gruelling years (8 of them back in the mid 80's / early 90's) and put in 22 long years to get to the stage I am. I'm committing a further two years study.

I absolutely love what I do for a living and love what I do for a hobby. I feel privileged I can do both. QYDJ is a little like asking a surgeon to quit his day job so he can become a full time stamp collector / model railway enthusiast. If you're poking poo from spikes in a sewage plant on a daily basis, I can just about see the attraction.This will NEVER pay, though it will make some great advertising revenue for the spike at the top of the triangle. At the bottom of the triangle is one large base. Does everything podcast have to boil down to money? Can't we just do this because... and here's a thought.... we actually like doing this as a hobby?

This 'monetizing' thing is absolutely driving me up the wall, I fear it is also driving a wedge between the folks who really love doing this and folks who are desperate to try to make the thing pay - at any cost.

Everyone is talking about PUM. Well, nearly everyone. That's another story. Again, no 'monetising'. A group of 12 of us gave our time freely to promote something we love. The next edition will be out soon and I'm really excited about it. 12 folks giving their time freely. No payback, just good, nice, community. The Swaziland podcasts were done in the same vein - a great community thing that I absolutely loved. No monetising at all - in fact, it was an expense I happily bore and I am desperate to do that again.

Adam Curry, Dave Winer - other names I don't even know have put their time and effort into this, and I applaud them for it, I really do. I just do not understand why the great community hobby has to make money - monetise (or is it monetize?). Why?

Now, after all that hypothesizing, I've come to realise one thing. Adam Curry and Podshow and all of the monetising has its place. Its not my thing, but then again, my thing probably isn't theirs. However, people do tend to look to Adam and some of the big names for direction - and I really do not think they need to. Honestly, I don't. There are plenty of maps, compasses and places to play.

Am I fed up at being ignored? No, I really am not, honestly. I just felt like I needed to blog this, it's nice, therapeutic and I really am over it. I just feel a bit sad really. There are some horrible, bitter twisted and downright nasty posts on different forums, and I would never scrape that barrel. I felt like I would like to articulate my voice on this issue sensibly.

As more folks come into podcasting, more characters will come in, and more direction. Don't feel as though you have to follow one camp. There are lots of voices and lots of diverse things going on. I really like some of the stuff going on, and not really that bothered with some of the other stuff. Stuff is precisely what I am looking at - there's lots and lots of it and this is just one tiny slice of the podcast pie.

I'm not going to talk about this any more now, I'm bored of it.


jEN said...

Wow! I'd make you a nice cup of tea if I were nearer! :)

Curry is trying to make a living. It's what he does. He can't be completely faulted for that, though it's not the path for most podcasters.

PodcastCon UK was an amazing feat and I'm so proud of you four for getting it off the ground like you did. I was glad to volunteer where I could too. We had so many great folks involved that the next one will surely be even more successful!

The magazine sounds like it's a true passion. Are you guys going to continue to do it for free or do you have plans to try and print it? It's a slippery slope to get involved in the politics of ad revenue and retail shelf space/distribution if you go that way. (Or do you guys intend keep it non-profit? Either way will be challenging.) Whether it turns into an earner or not, all my luck & best to you for promoting podcasting in such a positive way. (Just try not to get the commercial guys get you down. :) )

podcastpaul said...

cheers Jen!

I just don't want folks led by the nose, it really irritates me.

Looking forward to the next edition of the mag (March 1st) and the next Podcastcon.

Bernadette in Australia said...

You do sound like you need a nice cup of tea Paul.

But I agree it does appear that Adam Curry and the Podshow crew have forgotten what differentiates podcasting from broadcasting in the first place. Most of us early adopters have switched off mainstream / commercial radio because of the monetisation (if that is even a word) and formula based entertrainment.

Then was inevitable I guess. Commercials / Sponsorship or fee-based subscriptions (such as the Ricky Gervaise model) or some other business model were always going to happen somehwere along this journey. I don't know of too many human endeavours that someone hasn't tried to make money out of at some point.

I don't have a problem with podcasts asking for donations...or even subscriptions. I understand that even as a hobby it costs you guys money and some people just don't have that kind of money. If I enjoy a show I'll pay a 'reasonable' fee to listen to it. But I won't listen to adds.

Martin GD said...

Paul good buddy, I can see where you are coming from. OK so AC doesn't acknowledge the work you do/have done in the past.But hey if we were in this for the fame I think most of us would have given up ages ago. No matter what the game is there are always going to be those who want to lead (and even more that will follow)But that's the beauty of PodCasting you do it your way, without restraints. As you know I was the first UK PodCast but I very rarely get acknowledgement for the fact. I have "broken" more you acts on to the PodCast scene than most, but still no public recognition. Do I care? Heck no, I do this because I can and no amount of hype by self proclaimed leaders is going to stop me from doing it. Keep on doing what you are doing Paul, we love ya for being you.


(BTW I have advertising on my show and have done for the past 12 months - do you notice it? lol)

podcastpaul said...

Martin - here's the thing - I actually don't mind advertising that is helpful to me - i wish there was a place for cheap mikes, software, decent ISP's etc.

What you do is retain the enthusiasm for podcasting and make it pay - but not to the detriment of your podcast. I've got no probs with that at all. In fact, it actually may even be helpful if the content is placed and put right.

I like community, not exclusivity and that's the very thing I was trying to get over.

I am over it...phew.. I feellike I've given birth to a 30 pound monster...


Time for some nice helpful postings and podcasting now I think!


Jimmy Crackhead said...

Right on Paul! I love being a Registered Nurse in the State of Pennslyvania and don't need to be told to Quit My Day Job. I believe you were referring to the PNE last November. I went with Andrew from solely as a podcast listener and came away with the desire to start my own videopodcast for the love of it.

Podchef said...

Paul, Great post. I think a lot of us have felt this way at one time or another. Just like anything else there is a mainstream--Podshow, Ricky Gervais, Vobes--who must seek money because it's what they think it's all about, and because they are copying the very model they claim to be wishing to overthrow--fair play to them, I hope it works out; some will succeed others will fail. And then there are the mavericks, the hold-outs, the independants--whatever you want to call them--who are pushing the limits, damn the torpedos, I'm doing what I want to do because it's interesting, or fun, or whatever. We few. . .we do this because we want to. Sure it's nice to get a sponsor occasionally, or have someone send you something from your wishlist, or a bit of cash--that's icing on the cake.
Podcasting, I think, has to be seen as value added. It will hopefully replace mainstream media, but only if it remains free and open source. If people can know they can come to you for informaiton and you give it away, no strings, then they'll keep coming which will in and of itself lead to more--maybe not fame, or measurable success, but knowledge of your own and contact with like-minded people around the globe. That, to me, is the real payola and the reason to continue podcasting.

Jack said...

Jeez. Does QYDJ require you to quit your day job? No. I think the idea always has been that there will be some people who will get to a level that they could, if they so desired, quit their job and podcast fulltime for a reasonable paycheck. They just as easily could just look at it as an opportunity to makes some extra money, maybe even double their income (if it truly came up to the QYDJ level). Why is that bad?

I'm happy that you love what you do, and you have invested much time and effort honing your skills. But that's not true of everyone (like the aforementioned poo-poker). I for one used to have a job I was called Radio DJ and Production director. Unfortunately, the direction that business has taken made it less fun, and pay less (except to the chosen few Sterns of the world) than other endeavors. So I quit and got a "real" job. Unfortunately, the "real" job has no creative outlet, there's no sense of accomplishment, I get no buzz from selling shit (some do, and if that's your gig and you enjoy it, great. I do not). Podcasting allows me that creative outlet that I used to get at my low-paying smaller market radio jobs (my biggest market was Denver, which is number 23 or so).

I don't fault anyone for wanting to do something creative and fun and have it pay the bills. Who wouldn't want that? If it can happen, I'm all for it. And it doesn't mean Podcasting will turn into commercial radio. Although commercial radio, I'm sure, would like it to, and is doing it's best to crowd original programming down off the page on iTunes.

Christine said...

A very well expressed thought and one which, to some level, I agree. I'd like to point out a couple of things though, in an effort to contribute some to the discussion. :)

The first thing is that I believe Adam Curry gets probably several hundred emails per day. Possibly thousands. He seems to be a generally busy guy, which means that in all probability he is very behind on processing his email. I believe at one point I heard him mention having over 2,000 emails in his box to go through. When you send an email and get no reply, it stings a bit. I know.

I've sent him a few as well as having made comments in his weblog. I haven't gotten any replies in email and no replies in the weblog that I can be sure were to me. The ones that could have been to me, could have been equally meant for other comments. I've even sent him an audio comment that hasn't yet been listened to after eight days. It stings a bit, but I remind myself... A. My contacting him places no obligation on him to read, acknowledge or respond. Even in the realms of polite behavior it does not, because it was a 'cold contact'. It would be nice, certainly. The fact is though, he may not even have seen the email with my audio comment yet. and B. Sometimes I go days without reading my email because I'm just too busy. So I have to give him the same slack I ask for. and C. Sometimes when I finally read my email and the event discussed is past, I might not reply if it's not someone I know personally. I imagine the pressure to keep replies to a minimum is even higher for him, due to his celebrity status. His time is as limited as ours is, with far more people demanding portions of it. (I'm not saying you demanded anything, just pointing out that others do and this probably affects him.)

The second thing I'd like to discuss is the whole monetization thing. I love the idea of podcasting. In fact, I'm working hard on producing my own despite the universe's seeming determination to stop me. However, I have no money to put into it. I imagine there are many like me who either can't work, got fired/laid off for some reason, or who have a job but make just enough to survive and pay for their internet connection who want to podcast but literally don't have money to put into it. I'm doing it anyway. I have no mixer, no mic preamp, no off-computer usb recorder/soundcard. I'm using a cheap computer a cheaper soundcard, and a microphone that can be bought online for less than $7, which I've had for years... bought it back when I did have money to use for a karaoke machine.

I see this as a hobby, yes... but let's be brutally honest. Without some form of monetization... be it commercials in my podcast (which I offer, as well as PSA's and Promos, at scheduled times and limited lengths), ads on my website (I've integrated adsense into my podcast website), or sponsorship of some kind... I simply will not be able to succeed. I am hosting the website myself, on a DSL connection to my home. The same connection I use to access the Internet myself. My upstream bandwidth is limited to about 500kbps, less than a decent ISDN line. At that rate, with my weekly show, I can handle about 85 listeners per week or so. Of course, that slows down the website, which runs on the same connection, as well as lagging my use of the Internet, and lagging the bbs and muck I host.

The point being, that without monetization of some kind, My podcast will eventually fail. It will either get no listeners or it will reach a point on the yeast-growth law where lack of resources prevents growth, and will lose a few listeners who get frustrated with slow downloads and balance at a new optimax. Ideally, I would love to podcast full time. I'd have to, to be able to produce a show a day. I don't seem to have the knack for this that a lot of people have, and putting together this show is a lot of work for me.

So, there it is. I love the idea of podcasting, I want to contribute, but I am limited in resources. Do I bow out and not bother, or do I look for some way to at least pay my expenses so I can get the show hosted on a server with some decent bandwidth? Do I accept that I can never do more than one show a week even if I had unlimited bandwidth, or do I work to be able to do five or six shows a week like I want to do? Do I keep using low quality old equipment until it burns out and my show ends with it or do I work to be able to buy better equipment to provide a better show?

Please don't take this as an attack, it truly is not meant that way. I do agree that it's best done for the love of performance and creation, the enjoyment of a hobby that others can benefit from as well. I do think the other side of it should be given a fair hearing though. If you are in a place in life where you have enough extra money to just enjoy playing with your hobby and not needing help to meet the expenses, I applaud you. I take great joy in your success and am smiling and hoping it only gets better for you. I even agree that if you have no interest in the monetization process that you shouldn't listen to podcasts that discuss it, after all, I'd rather you work on another podcast than have you be bored listening to someone else's. I do think that monetization is a valid area of discussion for the hobby though, because not every podcaster is a lawyer, surgeon, or celebrity.

Mermu said...


The fact that you are so tortured by the fact that Adam Curry isn't giving you any love is proof enough that podcasting isn't just about doing something you love for a hobby. Why do you care that Adam Curry validates you or not? People, all people, want to be recognized for their good work. For some that is getting to say they are a lawyer who insists on taking no money for their hobby and it's well-received and one of the best in it's field anyway. For others, it's being able to make a living at doing something they love and it's well-received and one of the best in it's field anyway. I imagine if the world were filled solely of Podcast Paul's we'd have little or no conflict at all; but then again I think not.

PoetryPod said...

Focus on your own reasons for Podcasting & you'll enjoy yourself all the more.

Keep it up!

Ken Purcell said...

Funny this should come up. I hadn't tuned into "The Daily Source Code" for awhile now. I got the latest show via iTunes and started playing it. Withing 20 seconds I was hearing an Earthlink commercial. As soon as I heard that I unsubscribed and deleted all of Curry's DSC's back to about version 20. Sorry Adam, you just aren't interesting enough to listen to anymore, especially with radio spots. Now if we could just get PDub back! I would pay him directly for his podcasts.

Jack (another one) said...

I wouldn't get too hung up about it Paul. Remember, Podcasting IS AC's day job - therefore he HAS to make money doing it. No-one is asking YOU to give your legal service for free. I don't suppose AC makes any money with HIS hobby and, no doubt spends more on it than you do on podcasting. As for encouraging others to make money out of it - why not? Personally I'm with you on this point - I do it becuase I enjoy it AND enjoy my day job. But remember, there are loads of people who hate what they do to pay the bills, and AC and Podshow are just trying to help them out. You may be right about the "magic beans" but I guess they have little to lose. Anyway, keep doing what you love and don't get too upset if not everyone sees things the way you do.