How Apple will change everything about Podcasting

(This
is a series of posts I made over a few days shortly after Steve Jobs
announced Apple iTunes would support podcasts. I have reposted them
here so they can be read in chronological
order.)

Introduction: We temporarily interrupt not talking
about Apple. (5/26/2005)

1. iTunes won’t be the eBay of
podcasting,  it will be the iTunes of podcasting.
(5/27/2005)

2. How much could Howard Stern make podcasting
via iTunes vs. broadcasting via Sirius?
(5/29/2005)

3. A
long tail of podcasts on iTunes will make us stop thinking of
“podcasts” as just Wayne’s World programming or radio-like
genres.

(6/1/2005)


4. How
Apple will
change everything about Podcasting, #4 — They’ll make it
simple.
(6/5/2005)

5. How
Apple will
change everything about Podcasting, #5 — Five potential unintended consequences of iTunes
embracing podcasting.
(6/23/2005)

(5/26/2005)

We temporarily interrupt not talking about
Apple:
I can’t help myself but I have lots of
thoughts that follow up on the Steve Jobs “announcement
regarding iTunes support for podcasting (thus, its support for RSS
enclosures). Such thoughts are forcing me to drop temporarily my Apple-free speech
movement
.

Over the coming days, I’ll be devoting several posts to the topic, “How
Apple Will Change Everything About Podcasting”

A good place to start, however, is to
listen to Dave Winer’s 17 minute podcast yesterday
.
(For the two rexblog readers who don’t know, Dave created RSS and
podcasting. However, if you really, really read the rexblog, you’ll know that on
October 11, 2004, in a post titled, “Marconi personally taught
me how to podcast,”

I said the following: “Such inevitable debates over who is responsible
for any innovation has led to my practice of always crediting Dave
Winer, no matter what the innovation.)

I hope in the next few days to address the following;

1. Why, if you use Safari on the Tiger-version of OSX and have it sync
to NetNewsWire
(I do), you can already understand how easy it is going to be for Apple
to make RSS-enabled subscriptions to MP3 files a one-click no brainer.
In fact, because I subscribe to podcasts that way, it’s hard for me to
understand why Steve Jobs thinks iTunes isn’t “enabled” already. (Let’s
see: I notice a page has an RSS feed and click on that blue(?) RSS icon
in the Safari location bar, it subscribes automatically on NetNewsWire
which, when an audio enclosure is recognized, automatically downloads
the file and syncs it to iTunes, and thus, my iPod. All I do is
one-click in Safari and then click once in NetNewsWire confirming my
desire to subscribe. Am I just living in the future, or
what?)

2. How, if you slap a Griffin
iTalk

onto an iPod and create an MP3, you’ll recognize a conceptual pathway
to how easy it will be to use an iPod itself as a program-creation
platform (or, if you just want to reach a small group of family or
friends, a personal-memo podcasting tool.)

3. How, if you slap a Griffin
iTrip

onto an iPod and “broadcast” tunes to your car’s FM radio, you’ll be
able to conceive a
pathway to the not-so-distant-future when that MP3
file you create on your iPod can be beamed to your AirPort and synced
with your .Mac account’s Podcast studio (which is another conceptual
no-brainer).

4. How “re-metaphorizing” the software GarageBand
can be Apple’s killer ap for those who want to add professional quality
production values to their Wayne’s World programs. I plan to discuss
how a conceptual “GarageBand – “Podcast Studio Version” could
substitute metaphors of musical tracks and “loop” metaphors with “radio
programming” metaphors like: “Theme song,” “Interview track,” etc.
Users of iMovie who are podcasters will “get this” in a heartbeat, but
I hope to explore it a bit more in the next few days.

5. How
iTunes’ 99¢ download model should make a light bulb go off above the
heads of conference and seminar & convention planners,
motivational
speakers, audio tour-guide creators, etc. that makes them go, “Hmmm,
every speech made at every conference we put own can be sold via
iTunes” — for a lot more than 99¢, in some cases. In other words: A
BUSINESS MODEL that even a media company executive can understand. (And
to help the lightbulb go off a little easier, say hello to the new
buzzword, “conference-jacking“).

6.
And, like Dave has already said in his podcast yesterday, it was
inevitable that Apple would come to dominate something called
“podcasting.” Duh. Now, it’s theirs not to screw up due to Steve Jobs
wanting it to be too slick or OS-centric (which is, at least on the
distribution side — iTunes is a windows product, also — unlikely).

That, and more.

(5/27/2005)

How
Apple will change everything about Podcasting
, #1 — iTunes
won’t be
the eBay of podcasting,  it will be the iTunes of
podcasting:

(Note:
This is #1 in a
series of posts I’ll be making during the next few days
on
this topic. If you
hate Apple, relax, I’ll be including a post that points out lots of
ways
they can blow it and why, in a perfect world, this wasn’t about to
happen. But it is. So get over it. Or
rejoice.)

See
that list of folk music over on the left. It’s flowing directly from
the Apple iTunes
store via RSS. Not only that, the links go to an iTunes
affiliate store I set up and so, if you click on a tune and purchase
it, I get a commission from Apple. Not only that, it updates everytime
there are new, new releases.

Wow. An RSS-enabled financial transaction between you and me
and Apple.
Now, imagine an RSS feed from the iTunes store that says “Top 10
favorite podcasts on the topic of bird watching” or “Last ten podcasts
from your favorite trade association’s annual meeting.” Imagine that
and you can start conceiving the myriad ways having the Apple’s iTunes
store step into podcasting will change things. Just remember,
there were MP3 players before there was the iPod. Just remember, there
were ways to purchase and download music files before there was an
iTunes store. Just remember, iPods & iTunes work on the Windows
platform as well as OSX.

As much as I have harped on
my belief that podcasting is
successful to
this point because it is a movement, and not a business
,
I can’t ignore
the implications of the 800 lb. gorilla of audiofile aggregation
assuming the central marketplace role for do-it-yourself, RSS-enabled
audiofiles. And fortunately, the folks at Apple don’t use terms like
“central marketplace.” They just create cool things and market their
coolness. In reality, Steve Jobs announcement is simply about Apple’s
decision to spread its
mojo dust (and, frankly, it’s the only tech company around 
that
actually has mass mojo dust) on the
do-it-yourself audiofile and distribution scheme that as a
gazillion-dollar-branding-bonus to Apple, was christened
“Podcasting.”

I’m just a user of Apple products, okay. I’m not a developer
or
even a tech person. But because of some weird coincidences of the way I
use my PowerBook to record and edit bits and pieces from my son’s music
lessons…and from being an
early listener to and subscriber to podcasts and a poweruser of NetNewsWire,
I’ve had countless eureka
moments
about Apple & podcasting for months. They’ve led me to imagine
several things that could happen the day Steve Jobs finally realized
podcasting is a gift to Apple from the marketing
gods.

Just imagine when iTunes starts offering access to podcast
programming like it sells hip-hop songs. Just imagine an 
iTunes
directory of podcasts that can be sorted by location and interest and
format with
community features like “iMix”  enabling
listeners
to find programming recommended by others they’ve grown to trust.

Just imagine what’s going to happen when Apple lets
loose these
folks

on the assignment of making podcasting hip. Bless Adam and Ev (wait,
that’s funny, Adam & Ev & Apple — gotta save that for
another post) and whoever else is getting press coverage promoting
podcasting. But the first :30 second TV spot from the folks who create
the iPod advertising will be, perhaps, the pivotal event marking
podcasting’s jump from  geek cult movement to pop culture
phenomenon.

Just imagine the day when 
iTunes enables anyone who wants, to
market a podcast (or indie produced music, for that matter)
via the iTunes store. Why should Apple care if it’s offered free or for
a payment? It’s all going to sell more iPods in the end. (This is a
topic I’ll discuss in the upcoming post on “ways they can blow
it.”)

When that front page of the iTunes podcast
store appears, it will change everything. There will be
a sound throughout the land that goes, “Ooooh, I get it. It’s like I
can
click on this button and then listen to that person’s podcast show
anytime I want to. Wow. That’s cool. And look, tomorrow, that show will
appear here automatically. Wow. And look, it will go straight to my
iPod.”

(5/29/2005)

Songs
I Heard on The Nashville Nobody Knows
Podcast

The link above goes
to an iMix I made of a few songs I’ve heard on the wonderful podcast,
The
Nashville
Nobody Knows
,”
produced and hosted by Candace Corrigan.

The
ability to create an iMix (and to link to the URL of any iMix) is one
of those subtle features already found in iTunes. In this demo, the
link goes to a URL that will credit the  iTunes affiliate
store
I’ve set up for this demo. Candace could easily set up such an
affiliate program and do some of the things I describe in this
article.

As for the “iMix lists,” fast forward to when iTunes includes podcasts.
Then, you’ll be able to
create, in grandest K-tel fashion, any iMix of podcasts you want, for
example:

“These 5 podcasts made me laugh
out loud”

“Best tech podcasts of the
week”

“Dave Winer’s greatest
hits”

As
iTunes already has some subtle networking features baked in (users can
grade the quality of an iMix someone has created and search other
iMixes they have made), iMixes of podcasts will evolve into a way to
“find other podcasts like this.”

How
Apple will change everything about Podcasting
, #2 — How much
could
Howard Stern make podcasting via iTunes vs. broadcasting via
Sirius?

What
if Howard Stern had chosen iTunes as his
distribution channel rather
than Sirius? Could he
have generated the $100 million annually he is
reportedly receiving from the satellite radio network?  In a
minute, we’ll ponder the math of the Stern deal vs. a hypothetical
iTunes one. But first, let’s consider some easy
arithmetic.

In the quaint old days, ten years ago,
MIT Media Lab’s Nicholas Negroponte put
forth a
theory in a Wired column

that
suggested (it was merely a theory, remember) that NY Times technology
writer John Markoff could make $1 million a year if a small percentage
of internet users (and this was in 1995) paid him 5¢ each for each
story they read. (Later, in his book, Being Digital, Negroponte reduced
that number to 2¢

and still figured a way for Markoff to make his annual
$1 million.  Fortunately,
for all involved, Markoff continued to write
for the Times
and has not, as far as I can determine, hired Negroponte for financial
advisory
services.

Micropayments weren’t going to work for a long, long
time.

Indeed, it can be argued that it was not until
Apple iTunes cracked
the micropayment
conundrum, that someone showed that
Negroponte’s  theory that a vending-machine “byte” media
business
model could work. (Ringtones are another micropayment success
story, as well.) Apple
has, with iTunes, created a platform on
which millions of  customers are willing to pump 99¢ into the
coin
slot and have “content” spit out. What’s more, they have
integrated the means by which those buyers can fund such purchases
with a credit card, a parent’s allowance, a gift certificate, PayPal,
pre-paid cards one can purchase at
retailers like Target and even bottle caps from a Pepsi purchased from
a
non-metaphorical, atom-based (sorry, another Negroponte concept)
vending machine.

At least in this context,
Negroponte was correct, except for the
John Markoff part. A business
model based on micropayments can succeed if a universally-accepted
platform and currency is in place to
facilitate it. The virtual vending machine-based business model works
because the right party, Apple,
pieced together the right infrastructure, the right interface, the
right advertising, at the right time. And the right financial
incentive, the Apple business model was based on selling iPods and not
music.

Only a few people will get to play in the big
leagues
of this type of podcast economy. (I doubt John Markoff is one.)
Fortunately, there will be lots of
smaller opportunities for the rest of us. Take, for instance, the
demonstration I’ve set up as a sidebar to the left. In it, I display
how the podcast The Nashville Nobody Knows and Candace
Corrigan
,
the host and producer of the show (who pays ASCAP & BMI fees to
do
so, “legally” plays the songs of the musicians she loves) could
generate
a 5% commission on any iTunes download of those songs she may generate
from her listeners. (She has such an
arrangement with Amazon.com

already, but I doubt she even knows she can do this via iTunes.)

In the future, if her show is also
available via iTunes (and, if I were in charge, I’d get it on as one of
the first podcasts to be offered), she could (although I hope she
doesn’t) offer a
subscription model wherre I might pay, say, 10¢ per program for an
RSS-fed subscription
to her program. If I did that, it would
generate
$5.20 a year in revenues for Candace, with Apple taking some cut of
that.

Now, consider the sidebar again. After listening to her show for
only five weeks, I would be happy to sign up at iTunes for an
RSS-enabled subscription that would also allow Candace to become my
purchasing agent for 10 songs per month. I wouldn’t have to pay more
than the 99¢ per download I already spend as Apple will pay her a 5%
commission through their affiliate marketing program — I’d just be
subscribing to the 10 songs per month
advisory service and paying for it via my iTunes account.
(Sidenote: Also, the lesser-known artists she features on the show also
benefit
directly, her stated aim of doing the podcast.) Under such a
hypothetical scenario,
Candace (again, with existing RSS technology already baked
into iTunes) becomes not only my favorite podcaster, but my music
purchasing
agent. For the service, I willingly allow her to earn a 5% commission
from Apple for the 10 songs a month she selects for me, 
adding
another  $6 per year of revenue that I have generated for
Candace,
or a total of $11.20 (minus whatever Apple charges to facilitate the
10¢ per show transaction).

Will this work? Even
without such a subscription, I’ve already purchased ten songs via
iTunes that
Candace has suggested. And she didn’t get any commission. In other
words, Candance is now serving as my music purchasing agent, but she’s
not getting paid for it. As I’ve displayed in the sidebar, this is not
a technology issue, but a connect-the-dots with RSS issue. Perhaps
she’ll have two versions: A free one for her purchasing agent
customers, and a 10¢ per program subscription for those who just want
to download her program.

I have no idea how many
people there are out there who would do such a
transaction with Candace. However, I suspect she won’t get rich with
this
business model. But,
then, podcasting is not going to make many who produce such audio
content
rich. Like blogging, podcasting will be a hobby or passion or maketing
tool for most folks. And it will
be among the nichiest of niche media: Wayne’s World for the rest of us.
(More on that in my next post.)

However, what if
Howard Stern had chosen the podcasting route via the
iTunes subscription model rather than sign on with Sirius for a
reported $100
million a year? What would happen if he were able to follow my
hypothetical Candace
Corrigan business model. Well, Sirius is paying Stern
$100 million a year based on the belief that a certain percentage of
his 8 million listeners will purchase the hardware necessary and then
pay 58¢ per show ($142
per year
/250 weekdays = 58¢ per show). Of course, for
that $142, the listeners can listen to everything else Sirius has to
offer (Adam Curry, for example), but, we’ve been led to believe that
Stern is the Pied Piper that
is
bringing his followers to Sirius; it is he they are willing to spend
the money for, not the
other content. A survey
in February reveals

the challenge Sirius is facing, as only a small percentage of his
listeners seem ready to step up to the plate when they learn of the
hardware
investment plus $142 per year they’ll be required to
spend.

Now, let’s consider the following:

What
percentage of Sterns 8 million listeners (18-34 year old males) have
iPods or would rather purchase an iPod than purchase hardware to listen
to
Sirius? How many of them would think it’s a better deal to spend $25
per
year (10¢ per program) to get their daily Stern fix than the $142 per
year (58¢ per program) they’ll be paying Sirius? Okay, let’s do the
math: For each Stern listener
who pays him 10¢ per program, his gross is $25 per year (minus Apple’s
cut). This is easy: 1,000,000 subscribers = $25 million, 2,000,000
subscribers = $50 million, etc.

Now, let’s say his
listeners will pay for the purchasing agent model I
suggested Candice offer — a “premium” RSS-enabled Howard Stern iTunes
subscription where I pay for his program and 10 songs per month, which
costs me about the same amount the Sirius
subscription would cost me. As a listener/customer of Stern, I get his
show and 120 songs on my iPod for the same price I’d pay for his show
and the chance to listen to other Sirius programming. Stern would
receive an additional $600,000 per million listeners who sign up for
the premium version. (Sidenote: The record labels would make lots more
money than
they’re getting from Sirius for the rights to play that
music.)

Again, the Sirius
deal was a no-brainer for Stern. Sirius has bet the ranch on him and is
offering him $100 million a year. But what happens if his listeners
don’t scale the price barrier he’s erected for them? No
doubt, the most loyal listeners will (Jeff Jarvis will, of course.).
But in the end, what is the better longterm deal for the Howard Stern
franchise: $100 million from 4 million listeners paying 10¢ per day
(the iTunes/podcasting
model) or the X-factor number of listeners willing to paying 58¢ per
day to
generate the revenue necessary to make the Sirius business model work?

Not counting the folks who will
figure out a way to get it all for free
, anyway.

(6/1/2005)

Wow. Look. You can already
purchase this really swell 19
minute book-promotional “podcast” interview with Jack Welch

for only 95¢ at your friendly iTunes Store.

If you look hard enough, there’s already plenty of
“podcasting-like”
content on Apple iTunes. It’s content from Audible.com that is, in
turn, distributed via the iTunes platform. (Metaphorically speaking,
Audible.com apparently is
serving as a digital Ingram Book
Co.
for Apple, in this regard.)

For example, below you can find links to several
professionally
produced podcastable products. The only problem is a pricing strategy
that guarantees failure. Terry Gross & Ira Glass at $4 per show
may
work in the one-off book world, but would I subscribe to a year’s worth
of programs at that price. No way. Really, as I explained the other
day, Howard
Stern is going to cost his listeners 58¢ a day
, and they’ll
have Sirius programming out the ying-yang thrown in as a bonus.

I feel reasonably confident predicting that its producers
would
generate more revenue by charging 10¢ per Fresh Air download than by
charging $4 per download. But, then again, I’m no economist. I just
play one on the Internet.

April,
2005 Fast Company


$7.95

Harvard
Business Review,
April, 2005

$7.95

Ira
Glass, This American Life:
“Miracle Cure”

$3.95

Terry
Gross, Fresh Air:
“Interview with Dave Chappelle”
(September 2, 2004)

$3.95

Harry
Shearer’s Le Show
April 24, 2005

$3.95

How
Apple will change everything about Podcasting
, #3 — A long
tail of
podcasts on iTunes will make us stop thinking of “podcasts” as just
Wayne’s World programming or radio-like genres:

(Note: If they gave Oscars for buzzwords, Chris Anderson would
easily
receive an Academy Award for biz-speak term of the year for “longtail”.
It’s a concept capturing the economic principles at work when a product
so obscure only the creator’s Mom would buy it, finds itself sold on
Amazon or eBay or iTunes. If you read about “longtail” on Chris’s weblog,
then I won’t have to explain it, thus allowing me to jump right into
what can happen when podcasting “content” is stocked on potentially
endless  shelves at the Apple’s iTunes
warehouse.)

Except for e-mail and Google
News
, my
wife is not a big computer user. And while she puts up with listening
to me talk about blogging and podcasting, I think her agreeing nods are
more politeness than understanding. However, on Saturday, after reading
this
story in the NY Times
about students creating their own art
museum tour guide “remixes” and posting the MP3s for download
on this website
, she had her podcasting epiphany moment:
“What’s this mean for Acoustiguide?” she
asked.

Most chatter (by me and
hundreds others) during the early days of
podcasting has centered on the concept being “like radio” — but sort
of amateur Wayne’s World (as Steve Jobs called it) radio. I am the
first to celebrate the diversity of format, purpose and production
value of the RSS-enabled distribution of do-it-yourself audio files
(hey, I’m a regular listener of Dave Winer‘s
podcasts that merely are him talking (and ocassionally singing) while
having a cup of coffee in the morning). But trying to define podcasting
by format or genre or production value is like trying to describe what
a blank sheet of paper is supposed to look like before “content” is
added. That blank piece of paper could end up on a refrigerator or on
the wall of an art gallery. (I’ve been harping on this point for a
while
.)

I
believe if you want to understand the economic implications of
podcasting (audio files distributed via RSS enclosures) meeting up with
the dominate platform facilitating micropayments for audio files
(iTunes), you must set aside your notions that podcasting is about a
given format or genre.

Let me repeat one thing and
make it perfectly clear before I continue:
I believe the chances of an amateur, do-it-yourself podcaster striking
it rich through podcasting — even if you’re lucky enough to get your
podcast on iTunes — is about as remote as your chances of playing in
the NBA.  I advise you to podcast for fun and passion or to
promote your business or to serve mankind. Or, for some extra cash on
the side, like selling stuff from your attic on eBay.

However, I also believe that the NBA will continue
to hold drafts and
pay multimillion signing bonuses to a microscopic percentage of all
basketball players, and likewise, I believe there will be break-through
success stories (beyond the Adam Curry-Sirius program) when it comes to
podcasting.

Here are a few examples of the kind of podcasts  I’d actually
pay
for if podcasters price it low enough and Apple iTunes makes the
vending machine part of this transaction as easy and simple as
everything else about using their service (and please, if you have
programming ideas that you’d purchase from a budding podcaster, add it
to the comments of hthis post). I believe some of these ideas can be
multimillion dollar ideas (the seminar podcasting one, for example)
while others will be only multithousand dollar
ideas.

Here goes:
1. City tours (really, any kind of tours, including
museums, historic battlefields, national parks,  etc.) : I
would
purchase downloads of MP3s  I could listen to in a rental car,
driving into a downtown from an airport. Not like GPS directions, but
fun, helpful information that tells me what I’m seeing as I drive in
and gives me ideas of what to do while in town. Or, produce a series of
“jogging from your hotel” directions that tells a jogger what he or she
is running by.

2. Mash-up music-news programming:
I’d pay for a version of a 30
minute program of business news each morning that had jock-jam-type
music in the background playing at my jog pace. I need music to get me
over the next hill, but I also like listening to the news. Can’t
someone smash up the two?

3. Seminar sessions: I
doubt I’m going to attend your $1,200
conference. But if it sounds compelling enough, I might pay you $100 to
download each session a few minutes after it is finished. Rather than
cannibalize your registration revenue, your session downloads are
merely samplers for getting people to attend future meetings. Besides,
I hate to break the news to you, but the real value of that convention
you’re putting on is the networking taking place between the
sessions.

4. MP3 books — self-publishing model:
iTunes could, if they want to
extend the long tail out long enough, become the Amazon.com of audio
books — Amazon.com is
trying to do that itself, however. And Audible.com
has such a headstart that Apple already partners with them. But (and I
want to be sensitive here, as I’m a loyal and appreciative customer of
Audible.com) who needs Audible.com and their short-tail, boutique
approach to retailing audiobooks at ridiculously high prices? Watch
this space for major disintermediation.

5. Motivational, self-help, weight-loss, exercise, how-to
audio: This content
is all over the place already…even on iTunes. (And I touch on it in
an upcoming post in this series.) It appears to me that
iTunes will provide a robust marketplace for such programming — not
only from the masters of this genre, but it could provide the platform
necessary to add fuel to emerging cult figures in media microniches.
(Personally, I nominate Merlin Mann of
43folders.com
to pioneer this — I’d pay to subscribe to
anything he produces.)

6. Acoustiguide should sell
anything they produce via iTunes. They
probably won’t as I imagine they view their business model revolving
around hardware rental, or something. In reality, I doubt they’d
cannibalize any of their rentals at museums as most people won’t think
ahead. However, the incremental sales on programming already produced
will only increase the value of the short-shelf-life
products.

7.
As I said shortly after hearing the word “podcast” for the very first
time, this is a perfect medium for
certain CEOs.

Unlike blogging, it
doesn’t require the CEO to sit down and write something. In this
medium, a “scripted” presentation would sound awful. Authenticity would
be rewarded and more times than not, when you get rid of scripts, CEOs
can actually sound intelligent and passionate and thought-provoking. I
would gladly pay Apple iTunes for an
RSS-enabled daily feed of anything Bill Gates wants to talk about each
morning. (I’m
serious
.)

(6/5/2005)

How Apple will
change
everything about Podcasting, #4 — They’ll make it
simple.

I
had a very long post prepared on the point I’m about to argue. When I
completed it, I thought, how ironic is it to spend so many words trying
to explain how Apple can make podcasting — everything about it —
simple.

Forget hip. Forget micropayments. Forget marketing juggernaut.

Just, simple.

Simple, as in I don’t have to
set up any new software or comprehend
what’s taking place. Simple, as in I don’t need to know what RSS is.
Simple, as in I just have to click on something to
subscribe.

So,
you can stop right there and not read anything else.

All the words
after this are several ways I’m guessing Apple will make podcasting
simple.

Simple thing 1: You will
subscribe to a podcast with
one click and without the need (and corresponding hassle) to set up
anything.

The major RSS
newsreaders (on both Mac and
Windows platforms) offer elegant and intuitive methods of synching up
podcasts (RSS-enclosures) with iTunes (and, I assume, other platforms
on which people organize their audio files and download them to MP3
players.) However, those elegant approaches are merely transitional
solutions and, frankly, are a hassle for those who have low tolerances
for coping with something that needs more instruction than “click
here.” Indeed, this low threshold is perhaps why people don’t even
download and set-up RSS newsreaders in the first place.

Apple
will make subscribing to a podcast as simple to understand and execute
as it is currently to subscribe to a streaming MP3 audio program
(called Radio now on iTunes) using iTunes. (Wait. Some people don’t
know that,  in
addition to the hard-coded radio streams available on iTunes in the
Radio folder, you can
listen to any
MP3 stream

via iTunes. Look for one of those hardcoded “podcasting” folders, but
I’m guessing you’ll still be able to subscribe to any podcast you want
in much the same way.

For podcasters, this “Simple thing 1” means that
whenenver anyone you
know who uses iTunes (i.e., anyone with an iPod) asks how to subscribe
to your show (or whatever it is you do), all you have to say is this:
“Go to my podcast’s URL and drag that orange “XML” button  (or
maybe a “iTunes this” button) into your iTunes playlist folder that
says podcasts.” Then you’ll explain, “Everytime I have a new show (or
whatever), it will automagically appear in that folder.” (End of
instructions.)

Simple thing 2: If you want to, it will be easy (one
day) to sell your podcast through iTunes.

Most
of you won’t ever sell podcasting content. (I hope.) But, if you do,
iTunes will make it simple. And not merely because they’ve already
created the defacto micropayment transaction platform for audio files
(that integrates Paypal, credit cards, pre-paid cards available at
retail outlets, parent’s allowances, and gift certificates), but,
theorectically, at least, they already have a model and process in
place to service a new “supply chain” and channel in commercial
podcasting. If you want to get a feel of how it will work, here
is a link

to the online application they use now for independent record labels
and individuals who want to sell their music via the iTunes store. I
assume Apple is now working on nailing down “programming” feeds from
the
“major labels” of potential commercial podcasting (whoever they may
be). A similar online applicatioin will be available to the “indies” of
commercial podcasting.

Once you have an account, when
you finish
producing your podcast programming (more on that next), you’ll
be able to upload it to the iTunes store via something that will likely
be called, “The iTunes
professional podcaster producer

(registration/approval/secret handshake required). It will likely add
some “evil” or “necessary” (depending on your
point-of-view) Digital Rights encoding and send the file on its way to
the iTunes Stores warehouse shelves. Also, when Apple starts stocking
your
podcasts on the iTunes Store, they’ll offer you marketing support
through something that will likely be called “iTunes Podcaster
Marketing Support
“.

Simple
thing 3: You’ll be able to produce pro-level-production-value audio
using software as easy-to-use as iPhoto or iMovie or…

iPhoto and iMovie
and iTunes display how Apple can make amazing software that enables
those willing to scale a slight learning curve to create and manage
digital media. GarageBand
is an equally stunning software platform for the less-than-pro audio
producer. However, it is packaged and marketed as, well, a product for
creating music. I’m guessing that’s about to change. Or, it
should.

Producing
and posting a high-production-value podcast will get a lot easier when,
sooner or later, Apple strips out some of its music-centric features
and repackages something called “GarageBand – Podcaster Version” or,
simply as “iPodcaster” or something similar.

And here’s a bonus thought for those of you who are slightly
more geeky and Mac-centric
than the typical reader of this weblog:  Don’t forget there
are rumors (as
in, the suing kind of rumors) of a “fireware audio
device

that, in effect, will serve as an external control board for using
GarageBand for audio production. This device will give
most people (exception:  high-end music production pros) all
the tools they should
need to produce quality audio.

Simple thing 4: You’ll soon be able to
“create” podcasts on the
iPod

Don’t care
about production value? Here’s one for you.

A few simple tweaks will enable iPods to serve as a
production
platform as well as a sound capturing, storing and listening platform.
I’m guessing
it won’t take long for Apple to introduce an iPod, podcaster version.
As I’ve
noted, one can see the pathway to this product by considering that
today,
a Griffin
iTalk
& Griffin
iTrip
,
can in a rudimentary fashion, create and broadcast MP3 files. With
higher quality input and wi-fi output, you’ve got what I’m talking
about.

Think about that: An iPod that allows anyone within
the range of a
wi-fi access point the opportunity to podcast on location. Come to
think of it, you can do that today with a cell-phone, but saying that
you can do that is not nearly as impressive as implying that doing it
on an iPod is
something new.

(Also,
watching Dave
Winer create a podcast on his Archos
is enough to make me
think Apple would be crazy not to.)

(6/23/2005)

How Apple will change everything about
Podcasting, #5 — Five potential unintended consequences of iTunes
embracing podcasting.

Okay.
It took me a bit longer than anticipated, but here is the last of my
posts regarding How iTunes will change everything podcasting. As
it
appears

the launch of iTunes 4.9 is being fast-tracked, I figured I have little
time left to procrastinate on this, my “what can go wrong when Apple
supports podcasting” entry.

In previous posts, I have outlined
numerous ways — mostly positive — I believe the support of RSS
enclosures and the recognition of “podcasting” as a viable “content
category” on Apple Computer’s iTunes platform will dramatically change
podcasting. However, here are a few of the concerns I have about what
negative things can happen when podcasting becomes “iTunified,” a list
of potential unintended consequences Apple adding RSS enclosure support
and a podcast tab to iTunes:

1. Some people will start thinking “podcasts” are
found exclusively on iTunes’s baked-in podcast tab:

As much as you and I have heard the
term, a vast majority of people
will learn about podcasting when Apple puts it on the front page of
iTunes. In the hype surrounding that launch (as hype surrounds
everything Apple launches), many podcast listening newbies will think
the only podcasts available via iTunes will be those “baked” into the
podcast tab. (It should be noted, I don’t know if there will actually
be a baked-in list of podcasters; I’m merely assuming there will be as
that’s what is offered now on iTunes’ radio tab. Here are some screenshots
of what the podcast-supporting iTunes version is supposed to be
like
.)
I assume, based on my unscientific research of asking people, that the
“baked in” problem already occurs with the current Radio tab in
iTunes. It is my opinion that most users of iTunes do not know that any
MP3 streaming source can be bookmarked in a playlist and played via
iTunes. I fear the same confusion will occur with podcasting. For this
reason, it will be especially important for podcasters who are not on
the “official” podcast tab to educate their listeners that a one-click
action is all it will take to enable them to subscribe to future
podcast posts.

2. The term “podcast” will be co-opted by those who
don’t know that the “-cast” part of it means RSS syndication:

As I’ve noted earlier, posting
audio files on the web is nothing new.
Calling the posting of audio files on the web “podcasting” misses the
point of what the RSS-enclosure facet of podcasting means in terms of,
well, I’ll skip words like asynchronous and say, simply, that it misses
the cool feature that makes podcasting like TiVo for web-distributed
audio.

3. The podcasting “movement” era will end:

As much
as I’ve displayed in the thousands of words I’ve written on this topic,
I still fear that before becoming “an Apple thing,” podcasting needed
more time as a movement before becoming a product. As I’ve said before,
the podcasting concept has been successfully spread because it has been a
grassroots movement

— not a marketing campaign. No company — well, perhaps with the
exception of Apple — could have pulled off in ten months what the
podcasting community has done since last October. If podcasting becomes
an “Apple thing,” that confusion may cause some slow-down in the
movement, especially on the corporate podcasting front where things
related to Apple, even a Windows version of iTunes (due to bandwidth
considerations) are met with resistance by the “IT folks.” For example,
I know a large company that has banned iTunes from their work force due
to bandwidth challenges. This would be an ideal company to use
corporate podcasting. Because, however, it will be viewed as an “iTunes
thing,” it will be dismissed before being considered.

4. People will think podcasting is something you
buy:

From rumors and reports, it appears
the first iteration of podcasting
on iTunes will not focus on the availability of “pay” podcasts via the
iTunes Store. However, as I’ve shown in an earlier post, a system
already is in place for Apple to facilitate the micropayment
transactions necessary for a podcasting economy. However, the
commercialization of podcasting may be misinterpreted by those who are
new to the concept. This will lead, inevitably, to over predicting the
financial potential of podcasting which will lead to the follow-up
disappointment when the podcasting economy does not develop at that
rate. (See a
long-ago rexblog post

concerning Paul Saffo’s concept, “micro-myopia”). Despite the “iTunes
will allow you sell podcasts hype” you’ll be hearing in a couple of
weeks, the financial impact of podcasting will more ambiguous than the
mere sum of transactions.

5. Podcasting party poopers will show up:

I hate to say out-loud this final
fear. I really do. But when
podcasting goes from the edge of the Internet (sorry, folks, that’s
where you are if you’re reading about this topic) to the center of the
internet (iTunes), the lawyers will appear on the scene as record
company executives are going to realize that podcasting has the
potential not only to grow the music industry dramatically, it has the
potential to reduce their significance. Somebody’s going to wake up and
say, “Hey, when one person can distribute MP3s to hundreds of people
who simple click on a button, well, that sounds an awful lot like
things we want to sue.”

Some people always try to ruin a
good thing.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

That’s it. The most words I’ve ever blogged on one topic. I’ll
never do it again on this blog. Promise.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

A
Post Script: In an earlier post, I listed several types of podcasts
formats/programming/content I thought could catch on. That post led to
lots of e-mail and trackbacks with some great ideas. Alot of them were
related to classroom recordings and educational/training audio. Several
people e-mailed me suggesting that sermons would be great podcasts —
as the son of a minister, I agree. Some folks e-mailed me to say there
are already tour-oriented podcasts and I even received an e-mail from
my friend Ellen Pryor at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts
saying the museum was jumping into podcasting.

The point is, with
the new tools to create audio files, Odeo, for example and a plug in
for my favorite software, NoteTaker or popping a Griffin iTalk onto
your iPod, or using tools like Garage Band, it’s just a matter of time,
folks. Get ready.