Announcements, crowds, and startup energy at Podcast Movement

podcast movement 03 300wThis week the U.S. podcast industry descended on Chicago with a collective enthusiasm and entrepreneurial energy, for the second annual Podcast Movement (PM) conference.

The event is attended by over 1,500 participants, features 80 stage sessions in eight parallel tracks, and features an exhibit floor where established brands nestled with newcomers angling into the podcast sphere with fresh ideas. We talked with one exhibitor (music licensing for podcasts) which started up two weeks ago.

Eight event stages are presenting panels and keynotes over two days. This means attendees choose among six to eight concurrent learning sessions at any time — a richness of content that can feel overwhelming even as it ensures that every hour is productively spent by podcasters hoping to gain production skills and industry knowledge.

Many dimensions of audio, analog and digital, are represented at PM, which wraps up Friday evening — broadcasters (“I’m here to learn”), podcasters (naturally, the biggest group), public radio leaders (many of them speaking on panels), data companies, and podcast network leaders.

We have spoken to solo podcasters hoping to make a splash, established creators here to network, and representatives of non-profit organizations exploring how podcasting might advance their missions. There is a tantalizing spirit in the air which combines the growing institutional quality of podcasting with the starry-eyed hopefulness of a new and still largely unexplored media category.

At least seven established companies used the gravitational force of Podcast Movement to launch strategic announcements:

  • AdsWizz partnered with National Public Media (NPM) to create a podcast-specific advertising marketplace. The announcement (covered here on RAIN News) was rather threadbare, and we learned from representatives of both companies attending PM that more details about market participants would be forthcoming.
  • Audible launched a subscription tier called Channels, which will contain original and externally produced content. Existing Audible subscribers get Channels at no extra charge, as new members have the option of buying into Channels by itself for $5/month. That announcement came before Eric Nuzum (Audible SVP, Original Content Development) took the stage here in Chicago. In the spotlight he fleshed out the vision of Audible Originals, a newly formalized production venture with 40 new shows in development.
  • Veteran podcast host Libsyn has acquired a distribution link to iHeartRadio, where any Libsyn-hosted program can opt in to stream on iHeart, which has 85-million registered users.
  • Another deeply experienced podcast host, Blubrry, joined up with tech provider StreamGuys to revive a podcast streaming initiative called Podcast2Radio, first launched last December with Live365, mere weeks before Live365 was caught in the undertow of the CRB’s rate decision and sank beneath the turbulent waves which resulted. Over the fine Americana cuisine of Howells & Hood, a short walk over the Chicago River from the conference venue, Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane described to RAIN News the suddenness of Live365’s demise, and his decision to refund all the sign-up fees he had received for the first version of Podcast2Radio. He is glad for the second chance to execute this strategy.

The exhibit floor of Podcast Movement is populated by 45 presenters in various stages of enterprise. Audio equipment vendor Shure is there, demonstrating a microphone-tablet combination that puts mobile recording and editing in any podcaster’s rig. Also on the production side, Ringr is exhibiting its remarkable technology that enables high-quality recording of remote guest interviews through a VOIP app which records each side of the conversation separately and stitches them into one file in the cloud. An app we had never heard of called Otto Radio is a deeply evolved streaming product that seems to be a stealth play reminiscent of Swell, a sort of Pandora-for-podcasts which was acquired by Apple — except Otto might have more interesting technology and features under the hood.

The exhibitor list is HERE — scroll down below the well-known sponsors and click into the websites for a sense of the podcast-related startup culture that’s happening now.



Brad Hill