I have been listening to podcasts and watching videoblogs since September 2004. As the first podcasts and videoblogs improved the value in their content, I started to see a trend in myself. I stopped listening to the radio. I stopped channel surfing in front of the boob tube. I became a lot more discriminating in what I chose to spend my time listening to or watching.
But my tastes were not changing. I was simply choosing to only watch and listen to that which was within my tastes. I now see TV and radio channel surfing as wasting my time looking for mainstream media to put something on that I might like. Instead, I pick out podcasts and videoblogs with content I really care about, TiVo or download those TV shows I know I enjoy, and spend my time consuming that. And best of all, I don’t have to fast-forward through commercials.
This has resulted in my gaining several hours in my week, which were previously spent bored to death flipping channels. And by moving my pre-selected video watching to the weekend, my weeknights are now totally open. I now have more time for friends and family.
Every two to three months, I switch on the car radio to see if there’s anything new, but I find the exact same songs as two or three months ago! Even the radio commercials haven’t changed! Meanwhile, I get a dozen different artists’ songs in a single day from Indiefeed and Music 4 iPods, with no annoying, repetitive, boring, commercials. It’s not that the commercials on Indiefeed and Music 4 iPods are better. These podcasts have no commercials at all. Update: I am not against commercials in personal media, I’m just glad there are no commercials in these feeds right now. I am more of a believer in listener support, through donations, of the podcasts I really enjoy.
I am not the only one that is noticing this change in how we increasingly engage with media. Established radio and TV producers that have turned to podcasters and videobloggers themselves have noticed, that the people that watch and listen to their online productions “talk back” a lot more than mainstream media consumers used to.
Dave Raven, of BFBS Radio 2, has been in mainstream radio for many decades. He produces and hosts a one hour blues radio program that is broadcast weekly in the UK, Raven ‘n’ the Blues (RnB). He started podcasting RnB in late 2004. He has noticed that he has a more engaging audience in the podcast listeners, than in the millions he ostensibly reaches through the radio waves.
There already is a large number of podcasts and videoblogs out there, and the growth doesn’t seem to be abating. There is clearly a market for personal media. Personal media not only challenges, but improves on what the mainstream media offers. Personal media does this by either filling a niche that mainstream media choses not to fill (i.e. podcasts and videoblogs about hacking and open source software), or by doing a better job (as in the case of the indie music shows.)
As mainstream media continues to throw away their money on DRM and in lawsuits, trying to defend their business models, personal media will continue to grow and attract more people by being open. I find it hilarious, that in trying to defend their business, they are only marginalizing themselves in a world growing daily with more open media choices.
The smart producers and artists will jump ship and start producing and creating personal media before the mainstream media boat completely sinks. Those remaining will be the incompetent, lazy, and money grubbing. They will sink with the Titanic. Hopefully they’ll take with them more than a few corporate IP lawyers for good measure.
I say, good riddance.