Tag Archives: podcasting

No Need to Panic Over “Death” of MP3 Audio Format



mp3 logoIt’s generally accepted that podcasting began to truly coalesce into a recognizable medium in late 2004. Considering the timeframe, it’s no surprise that mp3 became the most popular choice for audio encoding of podcasts. Other formats were definitely available. But mp3 files were a ubiquitous part of the digital-music revolution that had taken place in the years leading up to podcasting’s beginning. Due to its widespread use by consumers, mp3 was an obvious choice for podcasters to use when encoding their shows.

Every few years, one group or another would make some noise about how podcasting needed a “better,” or more “modern” format for encoding audio. Despite those efforts, nothing came around that worked as a true replacement for mp3.

Fraunhofer, the German technology company that’s held patent and licensing rights for the mp3 format for decades, recently announced that its mp3 licensing program was terminated:

On April 23, 2017, Technicolor’s mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated.

We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the defacto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades.

In its statement, Fraunhofer noted that there are more advanced audio codes available today, like AAC. This statement led to a chorus of “mp3 is dead!” cries from the tech press. Marco Arment, developer of the popular podcast app Overcast, took to his blog to shoot down the notion that the mp3 format was now over:

MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year — the last known MP3 patents have simply expired.

So while there’s a debate to be had — in a moment — about whether MP3 should still be used today, Fraunhofer’s announcement has nothing to do with that, and is simply the ending of its patent-licensing program (because the patents have all expired) and a suggestion that we move to a newer, still-patented format.

The “mp3 is dead” meme began to resonate at such a high pitch that Fraunhofer came back a few days later to clarify what its original statement actually means:

…does this mean that mp3 is really dead now, as we have read often in the last few days? Of course not! mp3 is a phenomenon, which changed our way of consuming music forever, and is very much alive in 2017.

The licensing program coming to an end is due to the fact that the last patent included in the program expired. In no way does that mean that the usage permit ends. The only ones deciding on the “death” of mp3 will be the users, who might switch to more modern audio formats at some point, such as AAC, which is included in almost every smartphone today.

It seems inevitable that some other format will eventually eclipse mp3 for both music and spoken-word audio. But that day is not yet upon us. If you’ve been concerned about this news and contemplating a format change for your show, relax! MP3 is likely to still be here for quite some time.


#2PodsADay is a 30-Day Campaign to Promote Independent Podcasts



2PodsADay logoSeparating signal noise can be a challenging task in the internet age. There are so many outlets producing various types of media that it’s impossible for any one person to keep up. With an estimated 300,000 currently active shows, podcasting is still somewhat small in comparison to other digital mediums. But 300,000 of anything is more than one person could hope to process. That’s why it’s helpful for podcast listeners when someone steps in to provide a little guidance.

That’s just what podcaster Josh Hallmark is doing with his #2PodsADay project. #2PodsADay highlights two independently-produced podcasts, handpicked by Hallmark, and features them on the #2PodsADay website. The #2PodsADay campaign began earlier this month, on May 15th, and will run for 30 days until June 13th.

In a recent article on the campaign, Hallmark explained his inspiration for the #2PodsADay campaign:

When Josh Hallmark, the host of Our Americana and The Karen and Ellen Letters, started podcasting a year ago, he didn’t realize how hard it would be— both to produce a show, and to gain an audience. “It is very much a 1 percent industry,” he says. “ You go onto iTunes and everyone that’s featured is people who are associated with networks that have tons of money and tons of leverage. It’s really hard if you’re an independent podcaster to break through that.”

To keep track of the #2PodsADay campaign, click the website link above, join the campaign’s Facebook group or follow the campaign on Twitter.


Blubrry Launches ‘Turnkey’ PowerPress Sites Deluxe Podcast Publishing Service



Blubrry logoThere might be as many different podcast hosting/publishing platforms these days as there are podcasts. This kind of competition is good for podcasters, and for the podcasting space overall, as it provides lots of different options for creators. Blubrry, one of the industry’s longest-running providers of podcasting services, recently launched its PowerPress Sites Deluxe service, which the company is describing as a “turnkey” solution for podcast publishing:

PowerPress Sites Deluxe is a full turn-key solution for podcasters and includes hosting, statistics, and a managed WordPress website. The Deluxe option includes additional WordPress templates, themes, plugins and most importantly, the ability for podcasters to use their own domain for their website. Domains are purchased separately and are added to the site during setup.

PowerPress Sites Deluxe is the second stage in the rollout of Blubrry’s PowerPress Sites service that was first announced in the summer of 2015. The “PowerPress” part of the PowerPress Sites name might sound familiar to many podcasters, as the service relies on Blubrry’s PowerPress plugin to create podcast RSS feeds. Prior to the launch of PowerPress Sites, podcasters had to run self-hosted WordPress installations along with the PowerPress plugin in order to create a fully functional podcast site. A PowerPress Site is also a WordPress site that comes with PowerPress built-in. The big difference is that all PowerPress Sites are fully hosted and managed by Blubrry. That means things like security, updates, and backups are all handled directly by Blubrry.

The new Deluxe version of PowerPress Sites specifically offers:

The Deluxe Site is for podcasters who may want to use their own domain and those wanting enhanced Search Engine Optimization / Discovery with an SSL certificate. It includes the most popular plugins and multiple site templates, as well as a variety of themes to choose from.

A Blubrry media hosting subscription is required in order to use the PowerPress Sites service.

Disclosure: Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane is Executive Editor of Podcaster News and I work part-time with the Blubrry support team.


Instrument Builder Moniker Guitars Launches Podcast



Moniker Guitars podcast artMusicians spend a lot of their time listening to audio. And while a lot of that listening time is probably devoted to music, even the most devoted music consumers have to sometimes take a break. That’s why it’s a smart move when companies that provide products and services geared towards musicians get into podcasting. That’s exactly what Austin, TX-based instrument builder Moniker Guitars has done with the launch of its new podcast.

Moniker Guitars explained its thinking behind the podcast in a recent e-mail blast:

We’re excited to bring you Episode 1 of the Moniker Guitars podcast. And just like Star Wars: Episode 1, we have our own version of Jar Jar Binks, producer and engineer Rick King of King Sound Studios. Just kidding Rick!

Kevin and Steve from Moniker sit down with Rick to talk about his amazing studio, King Sound, in Peducah KY (where?!), and his approach for recording bands such as Hit The Lights, Alta View and many more.

Moniker Guitars seems like a natural fit for producing a podcast. It’s somewhat surprising that more musical instrument and/or audio equipment companies aren’t producing their own.

The Moniker Guitars podcast can be found thru the link at the top of this article. The show is also listed on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, and Stitcher.


TV Show Based on Startup Podcast Releases First Trailer



Alex IncStartup, the podcast that documented the beginnings of podcast production house Gimlet Media, has reached a new level of notoriety. TV show Alex, Inc. will air this fall on the ABC network. The TV show gets its namesake from main character Alex Schulman, who is based on Startup host and Gimlet Media cofounder Alex Blumberg.

Alex will be portrayed by Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State). The show’s cast also includes Tiya Sircar (Star Wars: Rebels), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Elisha Henig, Audyssie James, and more.

Braff will also have a hand in the writing and production of Alex, Inc. The show’s first trailer definitely makes Alex, Inc. look more like a sitcom than a documentary series. Anyone familiar with Startup will recognize certain elements that have carried over to the TV show from the podcast. And of course, there are plenty of things in the trailer that have been embellished for the sake of comedic TV.

Major television networks (including ABC) are in the midst of their advertising upfronts for the Fall 2017 broadcast season. No word yet on how much interest has been generated by Alex, Inc. Regardless of the show’s potential success, it’s still a banner moment for podcasting to have a primetime TV show based on a podcast. Time will tell if Alex, Inc. sets off a trend or goes down as a novel idea.


Seattle PodCon is Crowdfunding for Planned December Dates



PodCon logoIt takes a lot of resources to put on a successful podcasting conference. And by “resources,” I mean “money.” That’s why the organizers of Seattle PodCon, planned for December 9th and 10th of this year, are raising money thru crowdfunding to get their conference off the ground.

PodCon is the brainchild of YouTuber and podcaster Hank Green, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale, and podcast producer Travis McElroy:

They wanted there to be a place where people got together to really just /get into/ podcasts together for a couple days. That’s going to include discussions of what is oh-so right about podcasts, but also some of the issues we have to face. It’s going to include live performances and mashed-up podcasts. It’s going to feature podcasters from tons of genres including fiction, news, science, comedy, drama, crime, interview and more.

We just love this stuff, and we want to celebrate it.

The producers of PodCon are still working on getting all of the details together for the conference. So far, they’ve confirmed live podcast recordings of the shows Dear Hank and John, My Brother My Brother and Me, and Alice Isn’t Dead (a separate, ticketed production of Welcome to Night Vale will be held adjacent to, but not automatically included with PodCon). The conference will also host panel discussions and workshops that will cover a wide range of podcasting topics.

PodCon has currently raised 16% (just shy of $50,000) of its $300,000 flexible crowdfunding goal. Contributors can gain access to PodCon with a $90 contribution. A remote access pass can be had for a $25 contribution. Remote access attendees will receive a special podcast feed that will contain recordings of many of the events happening at PodCon.

To learn more about PodCon and contribute to the Indiegogo campaign, click the link at the top of this article.


CastPlus Partners with Omny Studio for Podcast Monetization



Omny Studio LogoMonetization of podcasts. It’s a subject that could probably take up all of the space on all of the internet’s servers at this point. Podcast monetization has been covered from so many different angles, you’d think there couldn’t possibly be anything left to try. But that simply isn’t true. And that’s why Australia-based media hosting company Omny Studio has partnered with Israel-based CastPlus to bring more podcast monetization options to podcasters:

(the partnership will) …pair influential podcasters with brands and agencies seeking to monetize on the explosive growth of podcasting. Under terms of the partnership, podcasts hosted with Omny Studio will gain access to CastPlus’ extensive list of advertising partners.

In case you’re still not sure about the potential of podcast monetization, CastPlus and Omny Studio  have some stats for you:

According to recent findings from Edison Research, more than 42 million Americans listen to podcasts every week and, unlike traditional radio, podcast listeners are highly engaged with their content: 88% of fans listen to all or most of the episodes of their favorite show, according to Midroll. Further, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released research in late 2016 that shows showing stats podcast ads increase purchasing intent for 65% of listeners. This has led to new market segments materializing for podcast advertising, including music publishers seeking to grow revenues for back catalogs, and radio broadcasters turning to podcast advertising to monetize repackaged shows from traditional broadcasts.

If you’d like to get your monetization on with this new partnership, check out the websites for CastPlus and Omny Studio to get started.


2017 Peabody Radio/Podcast Nominees Announced



Peabody LogoYou know podcasting has truly arrived when a prestigious organization like the Peabody Awards is nominating podcasts to its slate of 2017 finalists. In fact, there’s an entire awards category called Radio/Podcast. (Maybe in the future, Podcast will become liberated from that other, older medium it’s currently sharing the category with. OK, enough editorializing for now.) The Peabodies don’t give awards only to shows themselves in the Radio/Podcast category (example: This American Life, Yeast Radio, etc.). Instead, awards are given for individual pieces created by radio and podcast producers.

Here’s the Peabody Awards slate of nominees for the 2017 Radio/Podcast category:

“A Life Sentence: Victims, Offenders, Justice, and My Mother” Transom.org
One woman’s exploration of a violent crime that resonated throughout political and correctional systems.

“Homecoming” Gimlet Media
A story centered around a caseworker at an experimental facility, her ambitious supervisor, and a soldier eager to rejoin civilian life.

“How to Be a Girl” Marlo Mack, in partnership with KUOW Seattle
An attempt to make sense of the unanticipated parenting challenge of raising a transgender child.

“In The Dark” APM Reports
An investigation into the investigation of a kidnapping victim reveals a larger story about a systemic failure of law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“The Heart: Silent Evidence Series” The Heart
A journalist and documentarian grapples with being sexually abused and chooses to break her silence.

“This American Life: Anatomy of Doubt” This American Life, PBC in collaboration with The Marshall Project and ProPublica (Multiple stations/platforms)
A story that deconstructs skepticism in a rape victim’s case and how it spread.

“The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel” Mars Patel LLC (Panoply)
A serialized, scripted podcast designed for ages 8-12, performed by middle grade children.

“Unprisoned” WWNO and AIR
Based in New Orleans, stories behind families, communities and notions of justice in the age of mass incarceration.

“Wells Fargo Hurts Whistleblowers” (NPR)
On the heels of one of the biggest banking scandals in U.S. history, former Wells Fargo workers describe a boiler-room sales culture that pervaded bank branches across the country.

Find out who the big winners will be when the 76th annual Peabody Awards happen on May 20, 2017 in New York.


Podchaser Is Creating the IMDb of Podcasts



Podchaser logoSince podcasting’s earliest days, there’s been an inherent need to try and organize the chaos that appears to be inherent within the medium. After all, podcasting was born of the old notion that the internet is a free and open environment, where not everything has to be stuffed into a singular vertical. While there are plenty of forces at work today that’d like to fence podcasting in, the medium is still mostly open, and still mostly free. Hence, the need for continued organizing of the ever-expanding podcast space remains essential.

If you’ve ever needed to look up specific information on a movie, TV show, or even a video game, you’ve probably visited the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). It’s one of the oldest and most trusted authorities on all things actor, director, producer, etc. on the web. A new startup called Podchaser is working on creating what it’s calling “the IMDb of podcasts.”

Podchaser was recently introduced via Reddit, where it spawned a lively discussion thread:

Podcast discovery is an ongoing problem for podcast listeners. Some recommendation algorithms exist, but they’re generally based off podcast show preferences, rather than episode preference. Generally, the same 10 or so podcasts are recommended and remain on top charts. So, we are building a system around individual episode ratings and reviews. Our front page will feature the hottest episodes rather than podcasts, allowing users to discover a broader array of content. Users can also check out reviews on individual episodes before diving in. Some podcasts have shows with varying degrees of quality, and now you can just check out feedback in one place rather than googling around fan forums and subreddits.

Podchaser is beginning a beta program on June 10, 2017, and is currently soliciting feedback from the podcasting community to see what features people would like from a service like this. To get involved in that discussion, follow the Reddit thread linked above. To sign up for Podchaser’s newsletter and see some teaser images of what the service may look like, go to the Podchaser website.