Quick Hits: Podcasting’s golden age; BBC Music App viewpoint; Radio 2.0

Brief news items and worthy reads from around the web:

Podcasts and a golden age of audio: Janan Ganesh at The Financial Times rhapsodizes about podcasting as the space where passions can take flight. Citing a podcast about the artist Prince, Ganesh says, “A generation ago, devotees of an artist had to live on whatever analysis broadcasters and print media gave them. They can now dive into this kind of specialist trove at their leisure and at no cost.” The author says that the high volume and quality of podcasting esoterica comes partly from a lack of commercial potential: “There are no fortunes to be coined in this game.” That disregards the institutional interest, and dollars, flowing into the space, along with quickly increased sophistication of podcast advertising. Still, the point holds: For the consumer, the wealth of content is indifferent to the wealth of its producers.

Mark Mulligan on the BBC Music App: Two weeks ago we noted the release of the BBC Music App, a new mobile streaming venture by the venerable British broadcasting group that marked its first step in creating a digital-first survival strategy. Midia Research founder Mark Mulligan published his perspective of the app as “a well considered path for the BBC as it tries to carve out a role for itself in streaming era.” He notes, though, that partner companies Spotify, Deezer, and YouTube are necessarily hooked into the app to accomplish the streaming. That represents a potentially problematic difference from the traditional BBC model in which discovery and consumption are tied together. Because of music licensing constraints in the streaming realm, the BBC is forced to “drive an arbitrary wedge between the two.” To whatever extent that is an awkward workaround, in Mulligan’s view it is necessary, lest the BBC eventually lose its audience entirely to native digital platforms.

Radio 2.0 (the book): Journalist, professor, and author Matthew Lasar notes: “The whole ‘2.0’ trope is, admittedly, a bit of a cliche.” But he justifies it in his new book, Radio 2.0: Uploading the First Broadcast Medium, (currently in pre-order status), which delivers historical scope. Lasar identifies the 1.0 period as a span of about 60 years in which the broadcast audience was a synchronized population of listeners all hearing the same thing at the same time. That model still enjoys enormous reach, of course, but things began changing in the 1970s as media ownership became deregulated, and the pressures of competition at scale changed the locality of radio, undermining the previous audience model. The era of Radio 2.0 is in full swing now, with the many aspects of streaming in growth mode. “How can we synthesize the best of Radio 2.0 with its historical predecessor?” Matthew Lasar asks in his book announcement. The publication date is March 31.


Brad Hill