The Great Podcast Die-Off of 2010

Screenshots from some of Canada's Dead Podcasts

Ladies and gentlemen…I firmly believe that some sort of weapon of mass destruction was unleashed on the Internet between September 2009 and December 2010.  It was a smart bomb, that drained the passion and interest out of everyone who was sitting at their computer at the time that it went off.  There may have been multiple bombs, that I do not know, but I know one thing for certain: it knew when they would be sitting there formatting a new blog, or uploading a new podcast…

And as a result, a huge number of music podcasts and blogs just…stopped.

I noticed the phenomenon (do dooo do-do-do) earlier this year while doing research.  I was trying to find blogs who might feature a new artist’s video.  I am not kidding you…and clearly I didn’t do a sample of ALL blogs in the world…but more than half of the blogs I came across STOPPED in 2010, and by stopped I mean just that.

It was the digital equivalent of finding a steaming cup of tea and warm toast in an otherwise abandoned town.


It’s officially creepy how often I come across a music blog and I find a final post with the date 2010.  In some cases they say “This is my last post!” but in others they seem so hopeful: a review is upcoming, a show is next week, they’ll be back after the weekend.

…and now it’s happening to Podcasts too!

This is a working spreadsheet...Red is a Dead Podcast, Yellow is useless or tied to a radio show, Blue is francophone, Green is...potentially useful.

I’m trying to research music podcasts, specifically Canadian ones but I’m not picky.  I need podcasts which= will feature new music from new artists.  See that picture above and you get the point.

Some thoughts:

  • Podcasts are hard!  It takes preparation, time to record, to edit and tweak, and finally upload
  • Podcasts, like blogs, don’t offer instant gratification.  If it’s a passion then the creation is the reward…but sometimes it’s tough trying to gauge if you actually have an ‘audience.’
  • Getting your name out there isn’t as easy as signing up for iTunes.  How do you let people know that you exist? It’s disheartening to think you’re talking into an empty room.
Those three elements alone are enough to discourage anyone who’s put time and effort into a podcast.  Blogs are easier to maintain but even they can be easily cut down by time restraints, loneliness, and the inability to increase your readers.
There’s another thing to note: most existing and successful podcasts and blogs are tied to traditional media…sad to say but true.  The big internet revolution allowed thousands of budding music reporters and lovers to speak their mind, but despite the open concept it’s still radio stations, TV shows, magazines and newspapers who have the audience.
…because they already have the product, plus the equipment and time to do it. They have a trained team to upload and promote it. They have the audience to push it to.
If you think about it…the rest of us…we aren’t pushing…we’re trying desperately to pull and don’t know if the rope is tied to a cow, a dump truck, or a fan.
Some websites have tried to bridge the gap…Podcast Alley, Technorati…by acting as portals.  Though, I’m not sure even THEY have the audience they need.  You can have a nicely organized list, and use the noosphere to weed out crap, but in the end if no one knows you’re there (or what you’re there for) you’re as useful as a jello doorstop. (WTF? Tug of war with a dump truck?  Jello doorstop?  What did you eat last night, Roo?)
What to do?  Good question.  I have some ideas:
  • Blogs and Podcasts need to act like the artists we talk about…treat your creative project like a band…build a fanbase, support them, give them something other than your reviews and opinions, listen to them.  You (the reader) are hopefully a fan of me!!!  Am I doing enough to recognize you?
  • Blogs and Podcasts need to work together.  I occasionally slip (moving, work, excuse, excuse part 2) but I try to keep close ties to the two blogs closest to my type and (luckily) region – Sound In My Memory and Moon Vs. The World.  I should also branch out…cross-promote…which could help get the word out and find new fans
  • If you’re serious about what you do and want to draw people…consider putting some money in outreach.  Connect to a local radio station, even a community station, see if they would like you to do a segment on one of their shows.  Maybe start off with a local paper, or look into a regional and drop some money on a small ad for your podcast or blog.  It seems counterproductive to do a free blog on the free internet and pay a paper for advertising, but you know what they say about ‘free.’
  • Learn a ‘tiny’ bit about marketing.  Don’t take away from your creativity, but take time to educate yourself on techniques and approaches that might help you get the word out.
I love blogs, I love podcasts, and it saddens me to see them in such bad shape!  Let’s see if the next wave of new media (new wave new media?) can be a bit healthier and not all succumb to a smart bomb…or VIRUS!  Damn, I should’ve gone with the virus metaphor!
What do you think?  Am I way off base?  Did I just happen to look in the part of the online world where podcasts and blogs were sick…I mean bombed?  Let me know!!

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5 Responses to “The Great Podcast Die-Off of 2010”

  1. mike5816 Says:

    Perhaps the creator of Tword can offer you some clues as to why these things just suddenly die…

    My hypothesis, though, is that after the economy hit the floor, most people’s parachutes ran out about 2010. That’s when I started noticing the bad effects of the economy here. And when the momentum that was carried over from before the economic collapse runs out, podcasts take the far back seat to things like paying bills, finding work, evading foreclosure, that sort of thing.

    • Roo Says:

      That makes sense. Though Tword was a game that no one wanted to play 😉 I went from 20 people asking me to get it started again to at most two replies each day 😉

      The economy should inspire creativity! Especially free creativity 😉

  2. Rob Says:

    Quite the problem.
    I’ll admit, that after finding you and Jay (MVTW), I have had a hard time finding blogs that I enjoy checking out, and that are updated…a few times a week, at least.
    I know when I started SIMM, I was updating daily (I started with top10 albums of 2010, so that kept me pretty busy), but now I am finding that it is getting easy to skip a day or two. Hell, my fav post, 5 for Fri, was late 2 weeks ago (I hold my head down and feel shame).
    For me, this is just ‘that time of year’. 3 days a week are taken for my kids to play ball, and soon that will be 4. Plus, I play ball, so make that 5 days a week that are taken up by sports. My oldest son has guitar, so now that is SIX DAYS A WEEK where I have family commitments…SIGH…
    I hate to admit that the quality of my posts have suffered as a result. Truthfully, I have not put the same ‘effort’ into my 5 for Fri the last few weeks that I normally would.
    I have also noticed that my views on the blog are down as of late. But, the good news is that I do this for me, for my love of music, and not for ‘views’.
    So, that’s my excuse(s).

    • Roo Says:

      I totally get where you’re coming from. I’ve skipped blogs more often recently (though I’m trying to keep at least five days a week) and despite keeping things up my views are dropping as well. High views are inspiring however I still write even if I’m averaging a tenth my highest day (I’d say real numbers but…I have no idea if I’m supposed to or not!!)

      We need to get together, the three of us, maybe try doing a podcast or something: Sound in my Pink Moon? 😉

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