Thursday, April 13, 2006
ADVERTISING: Podcasting marketing hits its stride
Podcasts Coming Of Age
March 31, 2006
By Antony Bruno, Billboard
SOURCE: Billboard Magazine
A year ago podcasting was just a fad with a cool name. In recent weeks, the
format has taken several steps toward becoming big business. The audio blog
phenomenon that began as free, grass-roots rantings is being commercialized
through advertising and subscription fees.
In early March, for instance, the creator of the British sitcom .The Office.
began charging $2 a pop for his comedy-themed podcast after generating 250,000
downloads per week from Apple.s iTunes Music Store.
Media companies like NPR and Clear Channel now sell 10- to 30-second
commercials for their podcasts, prompting the emergence of startups formed to
insert ads into amateur podcasts whose creators are unable to sell the ads
The trend has even expanded into the mobile space. On March 27, Mobile
podcasting service Pod2Mobile introduced an automated advertising program that
inserts 20-second audio ads at the beginning of participating podcasts.
The motivation is clear. A recent eMarketer report predicted that podcast
advertising spending will increase from an estimated $80 million this year to
$300 million by 2010. Venture capitalists at Sequoia Capital.which participated
in the $8.85 million funding of podcasting pioneer PodShow.say the market could
grow to as much as $2 billion in the next five years.
Of course, to reach these figures, podcasts need listeners. According to Bridge
Research, there are about 9 million podcast listeners today. Conservative
analyst projections peg that the audience will reach around 12 million in the
United States alone by 2010.
The .corportization. of podcasts is contributing somewhat to this growth, as
the big media brands take over the format from the geek fringe. But almost
every pundit agrees the biggest killer app for the format is the one most
difficult to obtain.music.
To date, the major labels have been reticent to license full-track songs to the
podcasting community because podcasts are downloaded files free of digital
rights management protection.
But there has been some movement. Noncommercial radio station KCRW Los Angeles
has posted audio podcasts of its programming since last March, and in January
expanded into video podcasting.
On a case-by-case basis, KCRW has scored permission from major labels to
podcast the in-studio performances of acts that appear on its .Morning Becomes
Eclectic. show. Such acts as She Wants Revenge, Medeski Martin & Wood and
Robbie Robertson are included. KCRW plans to soon launch a new .Song of the
Day. podcast, featuring music by emerging bands.
But the music in these podcasts is limited to what is recorded in the studio or
from independent acts. Getting full-track studio cuts of major-label content is
next to impossible.
.The major labels aren.t interested in digital distribution or promotion
through podcasting,. KCRW assistant GM Jennifer Ferro says. .I think they.re
waiting for it to go away..
Emerging to meet this challenge are firms focused on distributing podcasts over
wireless networks. NPR, with KCRW, made a splash March 27 by becoming the first
major media company to contribute its podcasts to the Mobilcast wireless
podcast service from Melodeo.
Mobilcast, like Pod2Mobile, streams podcasts to mobile phones. Because there is
no download, labels do not have to worry about distribution of unprotected
Melodeo.s service even adds a direct-purchasing option. The company also
operates a full-song download service for Canadian wireless operator Rogers
Wireless and others. So songs streamed via the mobile podcast can be purchased
over the air.
Others include startups.like PodSafe and the Independent Online Distribution
Alliance.s Promonet service.that aggregate libraries of tracks that
participating labels have cleared for widespread use in podcasts.
But aside from the case-by-case exceptions, major labels are still not onboard.
Some artists signed to these labels are beginning to express frustration.
.Podcasts are this big unknown to them,. says Brandon Curtis, vocalist for
Reprise act Secret Machines. Tracks from the band.s album .Ten Silver Drops,.
due April 25, have been sent to MP3 blogs and leaked to file-sharing sites as
part of a pre-release buzz campaign, but not included in podcasts.
.Meanwhile, they.ll license this shit out to .The OC. for pennies,. Curtis
says. .Record company people have agendas. The music can go on some ESPN sports
highlight program, but it can.t be on a podcast? Whatever..
(Additional reporting by Todd Martens)
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