Friday, September 28, 2007

Podshow Party: 'Just Hit Record and Go'

Podshow is a mixed bag in my opinion. I think the concept is absolutely fantastic -- it provides a connection between unsigned bands and musicians and the podcasters who want to play music without being sued by the RIAA. It also gives unsigned bands a great distribution method for the material and helps them get noticed not just by podcasters and podcast listeners, but by music fans of all shapes and sizes on the Web.

My only beef is that the music to be found there leaves much to be desired. But I'm an elitist snob, and as Ed Ovett, host of "Ed's Mixed Bag" podcast -- a Brooklyn native, no doubt -- told me tonight, "you gotta dig" for the good stuff. Fair enough.

Which brings me to the party, which was excellent (it's still going on, but I wanted to get back and jot down some of my thoughts). Most of my efforts to bring up the newspaper business were met with excitement -- a newspaper sent you out here to look into podcasting, great! -- but most of the talk was about music, although I consistently tried to swing it back. I spent much of the time talking with Ovett and "Podshow Radio" host Brent Bradley. Bradley, who says he's a diehard print fan when it comes to getting his news, was more than enthusiastic about the idea of news podcasts, pointing to a few other organizations that already do them. We discussed the podcasts put out by 60 Minutes and Meet the Press, but agreed that they are only carbon copies at best of the programs themselves, and not Web-exclusive content. When it came to a newspaper podcast, Bradley stressed that reader response is key, saying "letters to the editor" should be as large part of the focus and that audio voicemail with host response is killer.

Mostly, I spoke with Bradley -- whose show focuses on one podsafe artist each episode -- and Ovett about the music business and how the Net has allowed artists to avoid the trappings of record company deals or at least get their music out without those deals. Are artists who use Podshow or Facebook or MySpace just trying to get their music out there -- or are they hunting for record deals? And, if a Podshow artist goes mainstream, is that a win for Podshow or a betrayal? Ovett and Bradley, as purists, were fascinated by the question, but didn't have an answer.

Note: This all led to an idea for a great podcast we could do. Won't make it public here, though.

I later had the chance to speak to Podshow exec Adam Bloom. He was quick to say that a Podshow artist gone big-time would be a triumph. As for newspaper podcasts, he wasn't much help. After I told him the name and circulation of the paper I represent, he asked if it was an alternative weekly. Blame it on geography -- or on his own expectations. To be fair, it's not his field. At any rate, he stressed video, video, VIDEO as being the medium of choice right now. Like me, he's a radio/audio guy, but "more people watch TV."

I also met Chris Naaden, who runs a podcast transcription business, but also happens to be a huge Dodgers fan (married to a Red Sox fan, his business partner April). We spent a good twenty minutes talking about a Yankee podcast, mainly about the benefits and drawbacks of having a beat writer host it -- as opposed to the grass roots, fan-based approach.

Naaden came around to the idea of a beat writer podcast, but raised an interesting question that's been on the back of my mind: Are independent podcasts successful because, though they sacrifice polish and editorial balance, they are full of passion and fire? Would a podcast hosted by a carefully chosen fan be more entertaining, or does the beat writer's access to the clubhouse and exclusive interviews give him an insurmountable edge? I've always thought the latter, but so many of the best sports blogs are run by amateurs who live and die with every play, which other fans can relate to. Beat writers are forced to be impartial, which takes some of the color away. Do people expect a more straightforward approach from newspapers because it's what they've always gotten -- or because it's what they really want? Anyway, it just got us both thinking.

Finally, as the room started to get too crowded and I started thinking about heading for the door, in walked The Podfather, Adam Curry. I don't think I made much of an impression, as I simply told him I was a big fan and that he was one of the key inspirations for me pitching podcasts at work for the last two years. I asked him if he had any words of wisdom and he started talking about how he and Podshow have created content for newspaper Web sites in the UK. I apparently disappointed him because I didn't seem interested in his sales pitch. Had I had more time, I would have been, but, instead, I told him I was far more interested in our own original content.

Said Curry: "Great. Just hit record and go!"

And then a couple of cute blondes cut in and my time was at an end.

1 comment:

Geoff G. said...

re: fan vs. beat writer.

Get both. It could be the curtis and kooby of the 21st century.

re: I'm too lazy to write two seperate comments

I think ambrosia did make barrack. and yes, along with your pillow throwing, i was also terrified of your barrack skills freshman year. it's surprizing i didn't jump out a window!