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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

SPI 375: The State of Podcasting in 2019 with Matt and Pat

SPI 375: The State of Podcasting in 2019 with Matt and Pat

By Pat Flynn on

Podcasting is obviously a really important part of my business, and the exciting thing is that there’s a LOT of potential for growth. If you look at the numbers, there are less than a million active podcasts out there. Compare that to YouTube and blogs, those numbers are about five hundred million each. It’s why I’m so dedicated to helping you get your own podcast out there with my Amp’d Up Podcasting and Power Up Podcasting courses, and why I wanted to sit down with my friend and co-conspirator Matt Gartland, COO and CFO of Flynndustries LLC. We talk about the state of podcasting in 2019: what we’re thinking about, what tools we’re excited about, and where there’s room for innovation.

The biggest news that we talk about is Spotify’s recent acquisition of two key podcasting businesses: Gimlet Media and Anchor.fm. With Gimlet, they have a powerhouse production team that puts out great shows like Startup and Reply All. With Anchor.fm, they have a publishing platform that makes it easier for people to get from having an idea to actually publishing a podcast. For Matt, it means that they’re establishing the kind of end-to-end ownership they need to create a walled garden of content. That gives them all sorts of options for innovation with the way they do ads, pay models, and more.

From there, we talk a lot about the innovations we’re dying to see in the podcast space, like recommended content and more analytics for creators. Matt and I have actually been doing some work in this space, so if you haven’t checked out the WordPress plugin we created for podcasting, be sure to visit SmartPodcastPlayer.com. We also go through the tools we use to fill in the gaps. There’s a lot of information packed into this episode, but the bottom line is that there has never been a better time to start podcasting, so get out there!

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Pat Flynn: Hey, you know what I love about the fact that you’re listening to this right now? The fact that you already know what a podcast is. Now, whether you already have a podcast of your own or not doesn’t really matter. But what’s cool is we’re talking about the state of podcasting in 2019 because there’s a lot of changes that are happening, a lot of cool things that are relevant to you whether you have a podcast or not, so make sure you stay around, pay attention, because it’s me and my COO Matt talking podcasting. But first, the intro.

Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host. He wants to invent a hot sauce called “Pat on the Back,” Pat Flynn.

Pat: What’s up, everybody? Welcome to Session 375 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. My name is Pat Flynn, here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people, too. And did you know, fun fact, there are less than one million active podcasts? Just less than one million. 660,000, to reference study by Nielsen, I think, last year. Probably a little bit more than that, but still probably less than a million. Which is kind of crazy when you consider there are over five hundred million YouTube channels and over five hundred million active blogs. It’s just insane. We’re still in the early days of podcasting, which means you’re going to see a lot of changes and things happening. And we’re, guess what, already seeing those changes right now. I thought it’d be very, very interesting and important to talk about this based on a lot of the latest news and latest software and latest tools, and the latest whatever’s happening right now in podcasting with all of you, with a good friend of mine who knows a lot about the tech side of stuff, Matt Gartland, my COO and also CFO of Flynndustries LLC. My partner in crime. He and I, we’re here together to talk about podcasting with you and we’re just going to dive right in. So, let’s do this. Matt, what’s up, man? Welcome back to the show. Thanks for being here.

Matt Gartland: Hey. Love being here. Thanks for having me back.

Pat: You’re back from—last time you came on to talk about the team and the transition, and the next big steps in the business. Now, this time we’re going to talk about sort of the next big thing that’s happening in podcasting. Podcasting, in my eyes, with how long I’ve been doing this, is taking a similar path to what blogging was ten, fifteen years ago. Do you feel that that’s kind of happening, too, with a new medium that more people are gaining more access to and now people are kind of going to to consume content? Do you see alignment there with podcasting versus blogging?

Matt: Completely. For a couple, I think big reasons that we can unpack here. One is that we have tremendous influencers like Seth Godin that are weighing in with that opinion. Seth said somewhat recently, probably in the last three to four months, that podcasting is the new blogging. So, when you have someone with such credibility and authority taking a stand like that and seeing the potential for the medium, that means a lot. Two, which we’ll get into as well, the tech innovation is amazing right now. And it’s adding—

Pat: Oh, it’s so fun.

Matt: It’s adding so much more professionalism to the final product that us, being fans and consumers of podcasts as much as we are creators as well, the level is so much better that creators can create right now. The professionalism, the quality, and then legitimacy as a media and medium is uncharted for the audio or the podcasting industry and it does mimic, I think, how blogging grew into a very credible outlet as well.

Pat: Yeah. Credibility and legitimacy is very important and we’re seeing a lot of larger companies now and celebrities like Conan O’Brien and big, big, big companies . . . Kevin Hart, start podcasts of their own and flocking toward this medium to be able to deliver more value and give people this content. But when you look at the numbers, it’s still very young to me. There’s less than one million active podcasts, I recently saw. And there’s five hundred million blogs. There’s five hundred million YouTube channels. Even with such “small” numbers, with air quotes in that, why do you think these celebrities and bigger players are diving into podcasting, too?

Matt: Several reasons. I think they want to be ahead of the curve and continue to be influencers and this is definitely a market and a medium that is entering the next great phase of its own growth, right? So, I think that they see an opportunity to have an impact, a positive impact. I think that they, number two, have . . . They’re motivated and incentivized to just fuel their own audience growth. You mentioned Conan O’Brien, the integration of media from digital channels to traditional channels like television, those gaps are decreasing. Things are getting more integrated. For Conan O’Brien, he’s incentivized to try to have relationships with his viewers that aren’t just on television. How can he serve them? How can he interact with them? How can he learn from them and receive feedback from them in different ways? And because podcasting is expanding its integrations into yet other digital channels, social media and whatnot, I think creators like that are further incentivized for it. Three is just the barriers to entry are decreasing, even for those big players. It makes more sense for them to make the investments of time and resources and their staff and whatnot to create in those channels because there’s also a demand there.

Pat: Right. And there’s also some big news in terms of tech and acquired—things that were acquired. Do you want to go into that a little bit? And if people don’t know, Matt’s going to tell you what big moves were made and lots of money was involved in the podcasting space. Then we’re going to kind of jam on, okay, what does this all mean for us? We’re kind of just laying it all out there right now. So Matt, do you want to take that?

Matt: Yeah. Thanks for giving me the opportunities to share the news, especially of folks that haven’t heard. We’re talking in April here. Early in the year, 2019, this year, Spotify acquired Gimlet Media and Anchor.fm in a basically joint acquisition, which is a bit—to me anyway, and I would love to hear your opinion, Pat—but I think that was sort of an earthquake moment for the industry, like super exciting, monumental, and is going to really change things up in I think a really innovative, disruptive way. Gimlet Media, obviously, probably the darling or one of the big darlings right now in all of professional podcasting. The creators of the Startup podcast that started it all, really. And they have Homecoming, Reply All. They’re probably up to what, twenty, thirty shows right now? Maybe even more.

Pat: Yeah, I think so. But there’s only a few of the top ones that are consistently in the top two hundred podcasts in iTunes.

Matt: True, yeah. But in terms of the dollars, you’re hinting at the dollars. Spotify spent $230 million on just Gimlet media alone. I don’t believe that the number for Anchor.fm was publicly disclosed, at least I haven’t seen it, but yeah, that’s major-league tech-oriented or tech-level funding here, right? To do those sorts of acquisition moves. And all the tech writers are writing about it. In addition to social media influencers and companies like ours, just on the media side, it’s getting a lot of attention from every angle, and to me, that’s exciting, because it’s inviting new critical thinking about the future. Not just of the technology, but the business models that underlie a lot of this stuff, there’s so much now discussion and hypothesizing around: is Spotify going to start charging podcasts, especially the Gimlet shows that they’ve just acquired? There’s a lot of big questions that are now getting more publicly discussed, and I think that’s a good thing because I think that more commentary about these bigger topics and the future of the industry, for both the creators and the consumers, we need to have those conversations at a larger scale.

Pat: What do you think Spotify’s purpose of buying those companies and acquiring those companies are? Let’s go with each of them. Because I don’t think Spotify wants to become a place to produce sort of lower-end podcasts, like one might think Anchor.fm would be used for. Not lower in sort of a degrading kind of way, but more like the nonexclusive, non-celebrity type podcast, but podcasts that anybody can create a platform on Anchor.fm. But I don’t know what that play was for Spotify. The Gimlet Media I could see, and like you said, there’s going to be some interesting business models. I would imagine there were going to be, for example, exclusive content that’s just on those platforms. They’re probably buying a lot of the people who are there working at Gimlet Media as well, and just the knowledge of Alex Bloomberg to help inform what they can do to create newer, better shows, but the Anchor one I’m still curious about. I’m not sure if you have an opinion on that.

Matt: I have an opinion that is informed, just to be open about it, from some really good tech writers that have written, that I read. Owen Williams is a great specific one to mention. He publishes the Charged newsletter. Highly recommend his work. Really great technology writer. And he has talked about, among others, how actually the closer integration of tooling—because Spotify is a tool, it’s a platform—the greater integration of tooling to both create and listen is a big incentive for Spotify to more just own more the end-to-end process. And when you can own anything that’s more sort of end to end, you can start to get into territory where one of the buzzwords from the tech community is like a walled garden. That you kind of control soup-to-nuts and then kind of have total control and total domain over what goes on there, largely from say an economic standpoint, from what you can charge and how you charge for it, and how you continue to grow the market. If you’re Spotify and you see that Apple, for example, has really been doing no major innovation in podcasting for forever and yet they still dominate market share in terms of users on their podcasting app and how iTunes is still the defacto place that all podcasters need to go to get their show listed, and that’s the primary feed. People subscribe in iTunes. Even us at SPI, we still drive people predominantly first and foremost to iTunes, do we not?

Pat: Yeah, we do. Absolutely.

Matt: But this sort of a move by Spotify opens the doors to challenge not even just the tech innovation and how can we improve the tooling, but to create a more cohesive integrated system that makes it easier and does up the quality level, to your point, for creators to put out better shows and figure out ways to potentially generate economic advantage off of that. I think a more integrated technology platform plays into the long-term vision of Spotify that they have themselves even discussed, being not just related to say, music. That’s obviously where they got started, but their vision in terms of a corporate vision is about audio.

Pat: All of audio, right?

Matt: It’s just all audio. We could start to certainly hypothesize, as people have, around audiobooks going to Spotify, around all sorts of even audio snippet material that could easily get produced and then published into social channels, which is I believe a capability even of Anchor.fm, and that’s where maybe Anchor enters the picture here and why they were interested in them.

Pat: Yeah, I mean. That’s how Anchor started was to be the Twitter of audio. And I remember getting on that platform and I was really excited about it. But the problem with that is you can’t scroll through audio and quickly digest to kind of go deeper. You have to hear clips and it’s these clips, you can’t speed through them. It’s just a totally different experience. But anyway, I didn’t even think of that, Matt. So, thank you for the whole sort of walled garden situation, like you said. And Apple, obviously, is just a directory. But they’re sitting on millions and millions of listeners. And it just boggles my mind every time I think about what Apple has in front of them in terms of the podcast world and the podcast app and their platform, and how much control they have. And yet they’ve done nothing with it. Only recently have they sort of woken up a little bit and turned back on the new and noteworthy section so we could start to see who’s new in the podcasting space. That was dead for three years and they finally came back right after all this Netflix . . . Or sorry, not Netflix. That’s another topic we’ll talk about in a sec. But the Spotify stuff happened.

But why do you think Apple’s been so dormant in the podcasting space for so long? For me, I just think it’s because podcasting is free and that’s not their primary motive, right? They’re about design. They’re about these experiences with their hardware, and they just happened to stumble upon podcasts, which kind of grew and it’s just, it’s still archaic in terms of the way it works and how it looks, and how it feels. Findability is absolutely grossly terrible. They could be doing so much more. Apple could’ve created their own hosting platform. They could’ve created their own advertising platform on top of that where there’s a lot of money, obviously now involved in that and they missed out on it. I mean, why do you think Apple’s been sleeping on this?

Matt: You said it, and it’s hardware. Hardware is the answer. Apple, for its entire origin and growth, and amazing growth, and an amazing history, obviously, it has been first and foremost a hardware company. From personal computers, PCs obviously into the dawn of the smartphone era—

Pat: iPod.

Matt: Into yeah, certainly music, but in a hardware sense with iPod, exactly, and only relatively recently, so we’re talking maybe the last couple years—again, if you follow the tech industry and read the really smart tech journalists—is Apple truly realizing that their hardware verticals in their business, chiefly iPhone in the last maybe couple fiscal cycles here, is starting to peak? There’s this other buzz term from the tech industry called “peak iPhone,” or just peak sort of anything is the broader buzz term. And in terms of unit sales, in terms of adoption curves that can get tracked, and obviously a lot of these companies like Apple that are publicly traded on the stock market, they have to release a certain amount of their numbers, right? We’re seeing, essentially, peak growth there. So, when you’re a major business and you’re starting to see some of your major growth verticals start to diminish or start to reach a certain plateau, you start to maybe panic. And I don’t know they’re motivated by panic, but they are like, “Okay, how do we start to basically innovate away from,” at least in Apple’s case, “hardware.” And now we’re seeing a lot of software, a lot of subscription-based services that Apple’s doing—

Pat: Apple Music.

Matt: Coming out with, they’re investing a ton in Apple Music, absolutely. That’s a big thing that they’re doing. They’re starting to foster real genuine partnerships with other companies. So, a great example is that until this year, until January of this year, you could not access iTunes on, say, a smart television. But in January, they announced a deal with televisions where you could go, if you had an LG TV with the smart components, you could access your iTunes movie directory. So, if you bought an HD or a 4K I should say movie in iTunes, you can now access that straight through your LG TV without needing to integrate, say, an Apple TV, the hardware Apple TV product. We’re seeing Apple’s growth from a software standpoint, software integration subscription-based services. They’re clearly making a play with software and I think this is where now especially with Shopify . . . I’m sorry, not Shopify. Spotify coming in and obviously making major moves of their own, they’re like, “Whoa, we’re going to probably need to do something,” so I would not be surprised and all the, again, tech writers seem to be suggesting the same thing, that we’re going to see some renewed innovation coming from Apple because they are now forced to.

Pat: And obviously, they’ve tried to innovate in other ways, like with the watch and the . . . What was it? The home pod or something, the iHome pod?

Matt: That’s their speaker.

Pat: Which bombed, by the way.

Matt: Yeah, because it didn’t have . . . What was it? It didn’t have the smart component in it.

Pat: It just wasn’t as good as Alexa.

Matt: It was essentially just a glorified Bluetooth speaker, but it wasn’t Alexa. There was no built-in AI to it.

Pat: Right. It wasn’t as smart as—

Matt: At least not initially.

Pat: . . . Google Assistant. And they had the . . . Apple was going to recently announce the, oh gosh, the wireless Air Pad. I think it was actually called the Air Pad.

Matt: Which they canned.

Pat: They canned it. And so that’s just ridiculous. The software, I see for sure, but we’re forgetting one major software-related component that Apple does have, and I know we’re getting into the nuances of just Apple and big business now, but I think it’s just fun to talk about and we’ll get back into podcasting in just a sec, because this does inform why Apple’s been so dormant and hopefully maybe they’ll wake up or do something because they have a lot of people who could potentially subscribe to things or do things. But the app store, and the thirty percent . . . not commission, but essentially they get thirty percent—

Matt: Fees.

Pat: . . . of all profits from any app sales, which is a huge part of their business. I’d be interested to learn what percentage of Apple’s revenue comes from apps versus hardware versus Apple Music and such.

Matt: Exactly. That’s even a great point to integrate back with just Spotify and what’s happening there, where if you went from, for example, a Spotify free plan, just downloaded the app and you were listening to music, which you can do, but you get served ads or you can’t listen to whole albums, right? And you wanted to, say, upgrade to a paid plan, you cannot do that in the iOS app, because Spotify doesn’t want Apple to get thirty percent of that transaction. You’re forced to leave the iOS app, go into a web browser, go to Spotify.com, log in with your account, and upgrade there. Which from a user experience standpoint, obviously is suboptimal and sort of atrocious. But the economic incentive for Spotify is huge. They don’t want to just lose thirty percent because of that, right?

Pat: Yeah, I saw they came out with a commercial that was like, “Hey Apple, why are you doing this?” It was kind of cartoony and it was a big announcement from Spotify to Apple, basically calling them out for the thirty percent. But then Apple responded saying like, “Hey, we kind of built you. We kind of made you happen on our . . . You wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for us.” It’s just been a really . . . the tech industry is weird like that and those big players take shots at each other like that. But let me bring the conversation back to podcasts. I think another cool thing that has happened since the Spotify acquisitions is the sort of idea that there might be somewhat of a Netflix of podcasting in different ways, and there’s a lot of different companies that I’ve never heard of before that I’ve now heard of, like Brew.com and I think Polymash is another one, and another one. And there’s more. But what they’re trying to do is have paid subscription services to listen to certain podcasts. So what they’re doing is they’re taking a lot of investment capital and pouring it into having celebrities come on, similar to like what Audible is doing with a lot of the audiobooks, and they’re having people like Mel Robbins come on to do an audiobook that’s exclusively an audiobook for her next stuff. And I don’t know if that’s working very well. What are your thoughts on like a Netflix of podcasting? Is that something that could even work because podcasting has been free for so long? Would you pay money to listen to your favorite podcaster?

Matt: I think I would, but I do have some nuance here. I’ll first acknowledge Hank Green, whom I love. I think you’ve watched his stuff—

Pat: Yeah, Hank is great.

Matt: He had a whole vlog episode on exactly this question, the Netflix of podcasting, would it work, would it not. There was actually a really great comment left by someone, one of his fans, on that YouTube video—on the YouTube platform—that got just a ton of upvotes, with I think a really central, really clear idea, which is to say that Netflix really worked because Netflix took something that was typically pretty expensive, like a cable subscription that you might be spending a hundred dollars on a month and making it less expensive. But to make a Netflix of podcasting is the opposite of that, at least conceptually speaking, going from something that is free and has always been free to now charging for it, and that the fundamental shift in the different direction there from say, again, Netflix and what they did to television may, in fact, be a barrier to success or a certain amount of adoption for folks being willing to pay for it for podcasting. My nuance, personally, though I do like that opinion and I think there’s a ton of merit to it—that one commenter of Hank’s—I think that there’s potentially two tracks here. I could see a scenario, for example, where in Spotify you have the app. I don’t want to subscribe and therefore pay, so I could still get, say, Reply All from Gimlet media and listen to that, but I get served all of the ads that are in that show, including ads for Spotify, to become a subscriber and contribute to their economic engine.

Or if I am a subscriber and I am paying, then I can listen to that same Reply All episode and it has absolutely no ads in it. And I think what could be really interesting is, on the creation side for the production teams that are putting the Reply All show together, they create one audio experience, one episode, upload it, and again, with now Anchor.fm being incorporated into their toolset, the creation team just needs to upload the one episode, and then Spotify can do dynamic ad insertion probably on its own with major algorithms. And then as a consumer, it’s just going to render to me either the free version of that episode or the paid version just based on whether or not my user account is logged in or not as a subscriber. The creators don’t need to do anything else.

Pat: How would that work for Reply All in terms of getting paid? Would it be essentially Spotify would be paying them versus, traditionally, they’d have like an email service provider in the middle of their episode, like literally integrated into their episode? So, it just begs the question of how would creators be served in this way and is this something that only would be available to the sort of higher end celebrity-type creators or people like us who just want to do and have a YouTube situation? What I would love to see would be more of a YouTube of podcasting versus a Netflix of podcasting, where things are free, but there is a community, which is what makes YouTube successful. There’s comments and the ability to react and have conversations with the creator right there in the comments section, which is nonexistent on any podcasting platform. I would love to see that. Secondly, a lot more better findability. So, I listen to one episode and then I’m given a recommendation of episodes that were similar, or great second topics, or—based on algorithms understand what people listen to next and should I listen to those as well. Recommended podcasts, very similar to YouTube. And more than that, I’d love to see, especially as a creator, just better analytics. To be honest.

Matt: Oh my goodness, yeah.

Pat: I think it’s Ben Sullins, the founder of Teslanomics, who is a good friend of mine. He lives here in San Diego. He has a podcast, he also has a very big YouTube channel in the Tesla space. We actually had him on the show a while back. Or actually, it was either on the show, I think it was on the show, but he was also featured on my YouTube channel. He had won two Tesla roadsters for all the referrals he did for it for Tesla, which is pretty amazing. But he had this genius idea. We were sitting at lunch one day at work and he was like, “You know, what if YouTube just became a podcasting platform? Like YouTube itself could become the host where you could host your podcast for free and then get all those analytics, and it already has the built-in audience. You could subscribe to a person who has both videos and podcasts, and you could potentially choose to have both in the feed that will automatically deliver those files to you or just one or the other.” To me, I was like, “Wow, that would be amazingly perfect, if it was a situation like that.” But that’s not quite how podcasting works, at least at this moment in time.

Matt: I do think we will see more interactivity with podcasting.

Pat: Oh, god. I hope so.

Matt: I think like you’re suggesting, absolutely.

Pat: To everybody listening to us right now, I have to tell them, “Hey, go to Instagram. Use @PatFlynn and say hello,” which by the way, you should all do that right now, as well as @MattGartland on Instagram. And it’s just like, you can’t comment on this unless you come back to the blog or do something else. Why not just in the app itself? The only correspondence we get is through one-sided conversations in the ratings where somebody could leave a rating, good or bad, and I can’t do anything about it except report it, but it takes a certain number of reports to do anything about comments and what if it was a hateful comment or something that was purely wrong or misunderstood? I can’t do anything about that. I definitely hope, like you said, engagement becomes a part of something in the podcasting space soon.

Matt: Yeah, I think there’s a use case to make for—whether it’s authenticating with social network sites, Facebook and Instagram, directly into say the Spotify iOS app, so when you have the player open on your phone and you’re listening to that episode, there’s some way to, in real time, interact with other people that are listening to that exact same episode—

Pat: Oh, like a chat kind of thing.

Matt: . . . at the exact same time that you are. And maybe in a more public square, so not necessarily private chat, I don’t know. Even though we’re in a moment of major conversation about privacy as a society and social media networks, and there’s a lot of motion, even from Facebook, to shift some of this actually back into private, like DM or group DM conversations. All that said, I definitely think that user interactivity within a mobile player, within the Spotify app or even within the iOS podcast app, straight from Apple, I think is probably something that there’ll be some innovation and experimentation with. I could even see, on the commerce side, subscription side, maybe to even put Spotify on the sidelines for a second, with Apple’s own innovation or their need to probably start innovating quickly in the podcasting space, coupled with their clear interest in their Apple credit card that they just announced—

Pat: Yeah, credit card, Apple Pay.

Matt: With their integrated Apple Pay, I could even potentially dream of a scenario where, if you’re using the iOS podcast app from Apple and you’re listening to an episode and, say it’s SPI and Pat, you’re having an episode and we wanted to do a fundraiser drive for Pencils of Promise or another charity and we were trying to raise money, and it’s like, “Hey, if you care about this cause and you want to contribute to this cause, and you’re on an iPhone, just like tap here right now, use your thumb or have that facial recognition ID,” and then you can collect money right there instantly, like in the podcast experience, if you will.

Pat: That’s cool. What would the Android users do?

Matt: Google would follow suit and build something similar.

Pat: Yeah, probably right.

Matt: I think that as there’s greater consolidation of the tech companies, and there’s obviously major conversation and debate as to the pros and cons of that, but it’s happening, just to call it out. So, as we see Apple gaining probably far more dominance even with mobile apps, as we see Google continuing to innovate and acquire other companies and pull them into the fray, and we’ll certainly see what happens with Spotify, yeah, I do think we’ll see, again, more kind of walled garden user behaviors and user scenarios where I can listen to a show, I can somehow pay for that show—either through a subscription or through an Apply Pay sort of transaction experience that’s either just to pay for the show or to contribute to a fundraising or almost like a Patreon sort of component to that show. More of those user experiences, including all the social stuff we talked about around interacting through comments or something, all natively within a single mobile experience without the need of needing to jump out of the player and go somewhere else to do it.

Pat: Do you think it has to be Apple or Spotify that does that? Or Google versus . . . I know there’s a lot of other app companies that have tried to come up and create apps to serve the podcast listening audience like Castbox and other ones?

Matt: Sure. That’s a great question. If I were to have to make a bet on that, what I would bet is what we will see, some of those other smaller companies, those startups will, especially if the APIs are still available from the big players, try to build on top of those, build some innovative new capability and—

Pat: Get bought out.

Matt: . . . the best ones are going to get absorbed. They’re going to get acquired. That’s the universe we live in now. And again, we can debate—

Pat: Let’s build that out.

Matt: . . . whether that’s good or not, but yeah. Exactly. I think that in the longer arc of this—which it’s anybody’s best guess and I am not the most qualified person to be probably making the best projections here—but in two years, I think we’re going to see tremendously integrated capability from discoverability, as you say, smarter AI-based recommendation engines within podcasting mobile apps. So, if you’re listening to SPI, at the end of the audio episode—maybe this is something that even creators can’t control at some point because the big tech giants want to do it on their own—you listen to an episode and then there’s like an audio thing that plays at the end. “Hey, if you liked SPI, we’d love to introduce you to this other show. Here’s a sample episode,” and then it just starts playing automatically. I don’t know.

We’re just going to see, I think though, more of those interactive components. I think that’s a good thing because, again, kind of potentially bring it full circle to some of the original points we launched off on, it continues to promote podcasting as a professional medium. It increases the bar on quality. It celebrates creation and creators like us that believe in the future of audio and how we can use audio to tell stories and engage audiences, and build community around audio-based experiences that—I still love reading and writing—but I think there is something truly special in engaging with audio and we’re only touching, or scratching the surface of it, right now.

Pat: I agree. Like what you were saying earlier, the technology is a lot easier to use now and there’s new technologies coming. There are new companies, small companies that are building solutions where there exists problems in the podcasting space. Couple that I know about are Chartable and Podkite, because Apple and Spotify and these other directories don’t do a good job of reporting to us creators, us podcasters exactly what’s happening with our rankings and a hub for all of our reviews. These tools came out very recently. There’s another one, I shared it with you on Slack the other day, HelloCast. Were you able to see that?

Matt: That’s right. Yeah. I only tinkered with it quickly but yeah, I thought that was a great find on Product Hunt.

Pat: Yeah. It was on Product Hunt. Shout out to that team, because actually Matt and I had that idea a long time ago, but we just didn’t have the time to get around to doing it, but it’s the idea of a podcast editorial sponsorship, show management tool. And it looks really slick. Super cool that that exists and it just, these are all signs that podcasting is, A, here to stay. Which for the longest time, I don’t know if you remember, Matt, but for years before any of this big news, it was like, “Podcasting’s dead, podcasting’s dead. It’s growing only so slow and all of these other mediums are going so fast.” But in an article I read about podcasts, it said to . . . I’m reading, I’m quoting it here. It’s from the Guardian. “Global monthly podcast listener figures are forecasted to grow more than six-fold from 287 million,” this is listeners, “287 million in 2016 to 1.85 billion listeners in 2023.” And so with listeners and with people come new solutions and new options, and it’s really exciting. Have you found any other tools in the podcasting space that are sort of new and coming out right at the right time now?

Matt: I was definitely going to share the one that you had shared with me. Highly recommend, editorially speaking, that platform plays into how we operate and is really important. I love some of the platforms that we use and know. Admittedly, we have relationships with a couple of these companies, but like Buzzsprout is great and just trying to do good things at a hosting level. I think just how these technologies again sort of start to play together hopefully, I’d love to either see some of these companies be creating more open APIs for developers at other companies to integrate with, because in the spirit of trying to move the industry forward together I think is really, really interesting. You called out a couple great ones. No other specific ones coming to mind. [Full Disclaimer: I am a compensated advisor and affiliate for Buzzsprout.]

Pat: But they’re coming.

Matt: They’re coming.

Pat: What about the obvious one, Matt? Probably the best technological tool that was ever invented for podcasting? You know which one I’m talking about?

Matt: Smart Podcast Player.

Pat: That’s right.

Matt: Probably.

Pat: Our tool.

Matt: Our tool. SmartPodcastPlayer.com. Yeah. Which is still, to be honest about that, an amazing thing. You had that idea way back in, what was it?

Pat: 2014.

Matt: Yeah. I was going to say, at least four years ago. It remains a WordPress plugin. It’s about time we add some more innovation. We have supported and grown it incrementally, but as you and I have discussed over the last couple months of this year even, it’s like, “Okay, it’s time to go exponential. There’s a lot more that we can do.” Because a lot of these technologies are improving across the web, the audio experience for podcasting shouldn’t just be contained within a mobile phone experience. That was a big reason, I think, why Smart Podcast Player came along to begin with, it was your seminal idea. Like, “How can we make audio enjoyment and audio consumption of podcasts on the web in the browser better and more engaging, and not just limited to, again, like a mobile app?”

Pat: Yeah. On your blog where your podcast is hosted. For those of you who don’t know about the Smart Podcast Player, it was created primarily just for me. We hired a developer to build a solution just for me, and it was specifically to house the AskPat podcast, which was coming out so much, it was five days a week, that we needed to build a tool that could nicely display and make it so easy for people on the website to play the episodes, to see the show notes, to go from one episode quickly to the next and all that sort of stuff. So that we can have all the episodes literally on one page.

And we had so many people ask us, “Where did you get that? How can I get one?” And at first, Matt, I was like, “Ooh, you can’t, because this is ours, and how cool are we that we are the only ones in the world that has something like this?” And then I was like, “Wait, this is a huge business opportunity.” So, we ended up turning it into a WordPress plugin for distribution. We also included the single track player, which is far superior to other single episode players that are out there. And it does so much for you to help you get more downloads, to get more shares. You can even build your email list through your player, and that was a feature that was requested by a lot of the customers and we’re continuing to do that. For example, our latest feature was the sticky player, which means that in addition to your track player on your individual blog post and the full track player if you want, or the full archive player if you wanted that as well, you also have the ability to include a little sticky player that lives on every single page of your website that will play the latest episode, and it’s there no matter how people enter your website. So, every time somebody comes to your website, they’ll see your podcast right then and there, even if they weren’t on a “podcast page.” And we’re going to do more things to give more customization to that in the future and we have some other fun features that are coming out soon and, by the way, if you have a podcast and you’re interested in the Smart Podcast Player, go to SmartPodcastPlayer.com. You can actually see it in action there. I don’t even know how many customers we have now, but that business—

Matt: Thousands. Genuinely thousands.

Pat: Thousands. And it’s taking off. And we’ve, so far at the beginning of this year, 2019, we’ve had the best year ever for it and it continues to grow because of the business and how it’s set up and how we’re continually adding value to the subscribers and the customers there. It’s been a lot of fun to do that and it’s making me definitely want to create more solutions for the podcasting space. How about you?

Matt: Oh, completely. And one other small little feature that we do currently have for Smart Podcast Player, to kind of share and geek out about for a quick second—show notes being so important to the engagement and shareability of your podcast episodes across the web—could play and—probably should play—into your sponsorship strategy if you are landing paid sponsors for your podcast is we have clickable time stamps now. So, you can put into your show notes certain minute and second timestamps that a user can click and it’ll jump directly to that audio segment in our track player, so you can help navigate your readers that are reading your show notes directly into those precise segments of your episode.

Pat: Yeah. I mean, so many great things.

Matt: So many cool things. Sorry, we could talk for forever.

Pat: No, yeah. We totally geek out about that. But Matt and I have definitely discussed other problems in the podcasting space that we do have the capability to build for and you may hear about those things in the future, but anyway, we just want to thank you for listening in. This is just more of a general chat about what’s happening in the podcasting space because Matt and I just want to geek out about this. But more than that, our customers of Power Up Podcasting and Amp’d Up Podcasting just want to be informed, and if you are not a podcaster yet, I would highly encourage you to go check out the cheat sheet that’s available to help you get started with your show. And you can find that at SmartPassiveIncome.com/podcastcheatsheet, that’ll get you started. There’s also some training videos to go along with that, too, to speed you up a little bit. And just to all the people who are members of my courses, just thank you for speaking up and asking for this, and hopefully, this will provide some value to you and gets you even more excited about the content platform that you are now a part of. And Matt, any final words to anybody out there listening, podcaster or not?

Matt: Simply, just genuine—and honestly practical—encouragement here is it’s never been easier to start a quality podcast because of the tools, because of the innovation, because of the interest and demand to consume podcasts. If you’ve even had a tickle of an interest, go try. Go try something. Get your show out there for the first time. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Pat: Absolutely. Matt, thank you so much for being on. Stick around, everybody. I have a few final words before we sign off. All right. I hope you enjoyed that episode with me and Matt. Matt and me. Matt and I. We just, either way, love the fact that you listened all the way through and we appreciate you for that. And, by the way, if you want to start a podcast of your own, like I mentioned in the episode, just go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/podcastcheatsheet. One more time, SmartPassiveIncome.com/podcastcheatsheet. That’ll take you to a checklist of everything you need to know from start to finish to get your podcast up on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and all the good places. One more time, SmartPassiveIncome.com/podcastcheatsheet. No spaces, no dashes. It’s all there for you. It’s free also, by the way, so make sure you check that out now.

And if you want to check out the show notes and get the links to everything that we mentioned, a lot of the tools and the articles that we referenced, all you have to do is go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/Session375. And whether you are going to start a podcast or have one already or not, doesn’t matter. I hope you are excited about the future of podcasting because it’s great. I love it as a content creator and as a consumer as well, and it’s just really exciting to be living in this moment of podcasting because I think it’s going to be skyrocketing from this point forward, and I hope you come along with us on the ride.

Cheers. Thanks so much. Team Flynn, you’re amazing. Make sure you hit subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already because we’ve got a lot of great content coming your way. So much great, like I’m looking at the list of what’s coming for the rest of the year and I don’t want to ruin it for you. Make sure you hit subscribe and it’s going to be awesome. Just keep crushing it, guys. Love you guys. Thank you so much and Team Flynn for the win.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at www.SmartPassiveIncome.com.

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