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Podcast Movement 2021: Nearly 400 speakers converged in Nashville as annual gathering proceeded in person and online

A small part of Gaylord Opryland Resort

Podcast Movement, the largest gathering of podcasting creatives and industry execs, returned to the physical realm in 2021 after an all-virtual installation of the series in 2020. This year’s gathering was at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, a grand and complex faux-outdoor domed environment and conference facility.

The PM organization hedged its bet on a Covid bounce-back to in-person staging by creating a simultaneous online event with its own ticketing package. We chose the in-person route, and several other attendees noted that Podcast Movement provided their first travel opportunity since the RAIN Podcast Business Summit on March 4, 2020. This week’s face-to-face event appeared considerably smaller than in 2019, when over 3,000 attendees were reported to attend.

COVID-19 precautions were supported at this event, but not mandated. Masks were voluminously proffered, and mostly unused by attendees. Three large buttons were available to signal Covid comfort levels: Green for approachability, Yellow for caution and fist-bumping, and Red to request personal space. (These in addition to the traditional bragging buttons signalling how many PMs the person has attended.)

The keynote stage set for Tom Webster.

As in the 2019 Podcast Movement, Tom Webster (SVP, Edison Research) started the proceeding with a keynote address. He brought Edison survey knowledge to enlighten the audience about podcast discoverability, noting that word-of-mouth is the primary and vital path to growing audience. “Make the show easy to recommend,” he advised, and also suggested applying listener surveys. 

As in his 2019 address, Webster drilled the audience on the importance of YouTube as a key distribution and discoverability platform. “YouTube is there already,” he observed. When he noted that 80% of Edison survey respondents use YouTube to find podcasts, many in the audience gasped. 

Podcast Movement proceeded along seven topical tracks: Creation, Monetization, Marketing, Industry, Society/Culture/Advocacy, Technical, and Spanish Language. There were also three special stages for presentations of various kinds. 

The main schedule of panels, interviews, and solo talks ranged over three days (Wednesday to Friday), with nearly 100 sessions. A handful of workshops, bootcamps, and orientations were placed on Tuesday. Nearly 400 speakers took seats on stages. (And spoke.)

Friday is the getaway day for most attendees who are jamming in final sessions until 3:30. A highlight is a public recording of the New Media Show, a longstanding vidoecast hosted by Blubrry Podcasting founder Todd Cochrane and Libsyn exec Rob Greenlee.

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Brad Hill

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