Podcasting: is there a business model?

For those of you yet to get into podcasting, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Though it’s not exactly mainstream yet, the ability to donload free content of your choice is incredible.
There is an amazing growth of in Blogs (Technorati is calling it at 26.4 million now, up 5.7 million since I started this blog). And there’s also a huge increase in the number of podcasts too – some sources say that the number of podcasts is on its way to the one million mark.

Inevitably, as the podcast phenomenon grows, businesses big and small will no doubt try to cash in. But is there a business model for podcasting? Afterall, we are now used to the idea of podcasts being free. I can only imagine that podcast listeners would be very reluctant to start paying for podcasts. Advertising and ad revenue doesn’t count – the whole notion of podcasting is that it’s a commercial free environment. Created by anyone and about anything. That’s the beauty of it.

So how can you make money from podcasting, if at all?
Matt and Jon from Bind Inc, the guys behind the Cubicle Escape Pod podcast have coined the term “Modcasting”. Modcasting allows we the podcast listener to have their own customised podcast, based on segments of a show that they opt to hear. It seems like a simple idea, but a great one.
Once you can personalise podcast content, you can begin charging for it. Here are just a few examples I can think of that modcast technology could be used for:

  • An independent music retailer could launch a monthly music modcast. Users could specify what genres of music they like, and recieve their very own podcast to hear new music releases within those genres.
  • A news provider could create personalised audio news reports – news content targeted toward the listeners’ interests, preferences and even geographic location, etc etc.
  • A travel company like Lonely Planet could provide travellers with up-to-date information about the places they are visiting, including top visitor attractions, accomodation trips, tourist traps and the like.

And I’m sure you could all think of many more.

I strongly believe that delivering personalised content on a podcast would be a valid way to start charging for that content. I can easily imagine that people would pay for their very own radio show.
To be honest I’m surprised that there hasn’t been much hype about modcasting. At a time when no-one has suggested a plausible way to make money from podcasting, modcasting seems the obvious one.

Iceland

I, for one think that Iceland seems like a very cool place.

For a start, they have a handful of awesome musical exports including Sigur Ros and Mum.

And an article from the ABC (I heard it first at Shea Gunther’s excellent blog) reports that Iceland is the first country in the world that is planning to convert all of their vehicles to hydroelectric generated hydrogen fuel. It’s part of a longer term plan to wean themselves off oil. Which is a very smart move.

As with businesses, Iceland has a huge advantage in being small.

Indie Music’s Long Tail

The record industry as we know it is dead. Offline CD sales were 7.2% down in 2005, in contrast to digital download sales of music. According to Rolling Stone, sales of digital tracks increased from 141 million in 2004 to 353 million in 2005. And 2005 was the first time in history that online record sales outsold CD sales.

Great news for iTunes. But what we’re seeing here is also great news for Independent musicians. The long tail effect is definitely in place here. The greater choice of music available because of the internet means that people do have more to choose from than Mariah Carey or Britney Spears, and they’re choosing it. As a result, Independent labels grabed a greater share of the music market, while the major labels struggle.

Music industry 2.0 is here. The public now have instant access to any music that they can possibly want. The power is no longer in the hands of the few.

Top fives for 2005

It seems everybody is blogging about top 5s for the year. Here’s my bandwagon-jumping entry.

Top five books I read in 2005

  1. The Cluetrain ManifestoDoc Searls, David Weinberger, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke
  2. Unleashing the IdeavirusSeth Godin
  3. Girlfriend in a ComaDouglas Coupland
  4. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman
  5. Small Pieces Loosely JoinedDavid Weinberger

My top five albums – (Not all new for 2005, but these are the records I’ve enjoyed the most)

  1. Bright EyesI’m wide awake its morning
  2. The Album LeafIn a Safe Place
  3. Josh RouseNashville
  4. The Magic NumbersThe Magic Numbers
  5. Mojave 3Spoon and Rafter

Blogs

  1. Steve Rubel’s Micropersuasion
  2. Signal vs Noise from 37signals
  3. Shea Gunther’s Blog
  4. WorldChanging
  5. Joseph Jaffe’s Jaffe Juice

Podcasts

  1. Across the Sound
  2. The Cubicle Escape Pod
  3. The Web 2.0 show
  4. Inside the Net (from This Week in Tech)
  5. Duct Tape Marketing