Monday, January 24, 2005

More Thoughts on Audio -- Part 2


"Blog" was the Word Of The Year for 2004. This year it's likely to be "Podcasting". Podcasters are bloggers who are doing just exactly what I did with "Grasshopper" and, in addition, providing a way for listeners to subscribe to the files the same way you subscribe to a list of blogs. Every time the podcast is updated, your computer downloads the file and readies it to be transferred to your iPod or other MP3 player.

The first podcasts (this was within the last 6 months) were a bunch of computer geeks playing with the technology and telling each other how cool it was. The number of subjects covered now is expanding at an exponential rate.

For the first time in history the individual has at his disposal a method to distribute his own audio files to a world-wide market at virtually no cost to him. This is an innovation that makes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press look like a tempest in a teacup.

Think of this: an online zine that publishes podcasts of short stories. Instead of being updated on a monthly or quarterly schedule, it's updated with new stories on a daily basis. John Q. Public subscribes to this feed, and every morning on his way in to work he can listen to a new story.

Of course this imposes additional demands on the author. Now she not only has to write the story, she has to record and edit the recording as well. That takes time, though not as much as you might think. Even knowing as little about the process as I did, it took me less time to record and edit "Grasshopper" than it did to write it. And it was just as much fun. The more recording and editing you do, the less time it takes. To a point.

Now some authors won't want to do this for whatever reason. I understand that. But a market for recordings will create and support a market for those willing to do the production on an out-source basis.

At this point in time no one is paying to read the stories published by the online zines. Similarly no one is paying to download and listen to podcasts. So where is this market I'm talking about?

The market already exists because the demand exists. What we have to do is expand the market and transform it into one that pays. I'll talk about that in the next installment.


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