Podcasting is Closer to Voicemail than Radio

Yesterday, I listened to the latest from the Podcast Brothers featuring an interview with Todd Storch. You’ve probably gleaned that I don’t see the viability of an ad subsidized podcast. As I’ve mentioned in the economics of podcasting, existing broadcasters have huge amounts of money sunk into transmitters, spectrum, studios, and talent. The easiest way to get a return on that investment is from advertisers. These sunk costs don’t exist in podcasting. So, there’s no financial pain for advertisers to heal.

For the sake of not having the advertiser conversation for a moment, let’s put down the radio metaphor.

If someone calls my phone and leaves a message – I get it automatically. When Dave Winer, Tim Elliot, Cayenne Chris, or Dave Slusher publish a new audio file, I get it automatically.

Phone messages are also very personal, relevant to a topic I’m concerned with, and vary both in frequency and duration. All characteristics of a good podcast. Voicemail also isn’t ad subsidized.

As Doc Searls famously asked in the BloggerCon Making Money session:

“What’s the business model of my telephone?”

Lawyers, accountants, coaches, and other professional consultants stake each paycheck on answering clients’ questions expertly and immediately. What’s the value of a voicemail from your accountant? Depends on the question.

How much would you pay for your accountant to leave a voicemail answering a question just before you ask it?

That’s how to make money podcasting.

In Podcasting is the New Voicemail, Ross Mayfield is thinking along the same lines:

“Soon it will be one of the simplest ways to communicate with groups.”

6 thoughts on “Podcasting is Closer to Voicemail than Radio

  1. There are really only three models for obtaining money directly from listeners of podcasts aren’t there? By that I mean excluding the opportunities for syndication to other media – which is more of a B2B activity. These are the models of ‘faith, hope & charity’…

  2. Garrick,

    I’ve been thinking about this post for the past couple of days and think I agree with your assertion. I’ve always thought the best podcasts are passionate recommendations between friends. So Michael Geoghegan could leave me a voicemail to watch “Swingers”, or almost just as easily share the same message with several thousand more around the globe. For podcasting to really be more like voicemail, however, the UI has to be just as easy. Well maybe it is, already.

  3. This is great thinking! First of all, you are right about the “costs” associated with radio vs. podcasting. Also, there is the scarcity issue due to the FCC’s restriction on # of stations and the available frequencies for stations.

    Regardless, the voicemail comparison is a good one. One thing remains true, podcasting is much more “flexible” in its use for the very reason’s radio isn’t.

    How podcasting gets “used” and consumed will be determined by individuals and whatever has the most demand will create its revenue market.

    Great thoughts.


  4. With MixCast Live and BigFeeder.com I’m providing a package that allows group conversations via podcasts. Check out the group communication going on with the mcl-discuss tag on bigfeeder.com


    My customers and I are discussing MixCast Live in a group conversation enabled by simple audio recording and publishing mixed with tag based feeds.

    The future of podcasting is friends, families, very special interest groups, business associates communicating in an ad hoc offline timeshifted syndicated group voicemail. Everything I’m doing at TinyScience is focused on making this easier and more accessible.

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