Rob Greenlee is the VP of Content and Partnerships at Libsyn. He is a podcasting legend, a seasoned veteran expert, and evangelist for the podcast industry. A 2017 Inductee into The Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame, Rob spent many years focused on the early development of the internet, the world wide web and technology with a nationally syndicated radio show called WebTalk World Radio Show, which started in 1999 and went through to 2006.
Rob is also the chairperson of a relatively newer organization called The Podcast Academy and The Podcast Academy Awards, and co-host of the New Media Show with Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry Podcasting.
Rob Greenlee, VP of Content and Partnerships at Libsyn, joins John Corcoran in this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast to talk about the evolution of the podcast industry. They also discuss the fundamental structure of podcasting as well as implications of recent developments by Spotify, SiriusXM, Apple, and Amazon’s Audible app on the podcasting space.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Rob Greenlee talks about the evolution of the podcasting industry since 1999 and the pros and cons of podcasting
- Rob’s advice to people who are interested in starting a podcast but is intimidated by quality issues
- Rob discusses the metrics of people listening to independent shows versus larger shows
- The impact of Spotify and SiriusXM’s actions on the podcast industry
- Rob talks about Amazon’s advancements on their Audible app
- The fundamental structure of podcasting compared to other social media platforms
- The limitations of RSS feeds for podcasting
- How Apple has been impacting the podcasting industry over the years
- The recent growth of video podcasting and how to improve listeners’ experiences
- Why Rob got involved with the Academy of Podcasters and what the organization does
- Rob’s thoughts on podcast downloads and best practices for podcast advertising
- The people Rob acknowledges for his podcasting achievements
- Where to learn more and connect with Rob Greenlee
- The Podcast Academy
- The Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame
- New Media Show
- Rob Greenlee’s website
- Rob Greenlee on LinkedIn
- Rob Greenlee on Twitter
- Rob Greenlee’s email: [email protected]
- Todd Cochrane on LinkedIn
- Dr. Jeremy Weisz on LikedIn
- INspired INsider Podcast
- National Podcast Radio (NPR)
- Audible Originals
Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing.
Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally.
If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing.
A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network.
To learn more, go to Rise25.com or email us at [email protected].
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Welcome to the Revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we asked today’s most successful entrepreneur to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.
John Corcoran 0:40
All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast. And if you’ve listened to this before, you know that I get to talk with smart, amazing interesting CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs of all kinds of different companies and organizations every week like YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, Open Table, X Software and many more. I feel it’s such a privilege to get to talk to these people. Today is no exception. I’m also the co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And I’m excited today because my guest is a podcasting legend. His name is Rob Greenlee. He’s a seasoned veteran, expert and evangelist for the industry. And in fact, just a couple years ago in 2017, he was an inductee into the Academy of podcasters Hall of Fame spent many years also focused on the early development of the internet, world wide web, and technology with a nationally syndicated radio show called WebTalk World Radio Show, which started back in 1999 and went through about 2006. He’s also the chairperson of a relatively newer organization called The Podcast Academy, which we’ll talk about that as well and the Podcast Academy Awards at the PodcastAcademy.com. He is co-host of the New Media Show with Todd Cochrane, spelled slightly differently from my last name, I think I’m pronouncing that right, CEO of Blubrry Podcasting. He is also the VP of Content and Partnerships at Libsyn, which I’ve been a customer of for 10 years or so. So we’re gonna dive into that.
Before we get into this episode, though this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media. And look, I don’t need to tell you the world has changed. And I’m not just talking about the pandemic. But the question is, the world has changed, what do we do about it. And in this economy, it’s more important than ever, to be able to connect and build strong relationships with clients, referral partners, strategic partners, even when you can’t be face to face and something I’ve been doing for 10 plus years, I tell everyone, they should do it. At Rise25, we have 20 years of experience in the b2b podcasting space connecting and building profitable relationships with clients, referral partners, and strategic partners using a podcast. We’ve helped hundreds of b2b businesses to do the same thing, getting more clients referral partners, and land collaboration for dream clients. So if you want to learn more about that, go to rise25media.com. Or you can also email us at [email protected] All right, Rob, it’s such a pleasure to have you here. And you know, you got started with web radio. Back in 1999 or so in the 90s. Correct. Okay. And I have to start with this first restaurant, you must have seen where things are going perfectly, clear vision, you knew that this is where we’re going to be here today, right?
Rob Greenlee 3:15
Oh, yeah, totally. No.
It’s, it’s had a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. But I’ll just say that. That Well, it’s, it’s great to be here, John, Thanks for the invite. But it’s great. The path and the journey that this medium has followed, because it hasn’t always been publicly, a smooth ride. It’s been a little bumpy through the years, during like the midpoint of the industry, probably around 2008 to 2010. That’s when social media really took off. Right? Yeah, Facebook, Twitter. And it kind of took away the attention that podcasting had garnered in the earlier part of the decade, in 2004. To 2007. So you know, it’s had its ups and downs, but steadily if you look at the data on listeners and content, it’s steadily grown every year. So
John Corcoran 4:09
yeah, it’s funny, because I heard you mentioned that in another podcast interview about how 2007 2008 people started getting infatuated with Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and all that kind of stuff. And a lot of these larger companies that had gone into podcasting came out of podcasting. Yeah, put their resources into social media. But if you look at the numbers, if you look at awareness, all the different stats that they track around podcasting downloads, listenership, how many people have listened to a podcast before how many people use the word podcasting? all those different stats? It’s been this steady climb over the last 1015 years.
Rob Greenlee 4:46
Yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s it, that’s what’s really kept my enthusiasm for the medium because I always figured, if I could just last it. If I could stay in the medium long enough. We would get there eventually, but it certainly has not been 100 Still rising in the development of podcasting. It’s been a long haul. So in it’s ups and downs more of the ups and downs have been around exposure of the medium itself, like in the news and the media and things like that. And the attention that the medium has gotten has been variable. And that’s what’s given people, this perception that the industry has had, it’s had its roller coaster ride, when it’s really if you look at the actual numbers, it really has been pretty steady. Right?
John Corcoran 5:27
So talk, you know, for someone who’s listening to this and listens to podcasts, and they’re curious about the industry, maybe even thinking about getting involved in it at some point, which I’ve been telling them for 10 years since I started, I’ve been telling everyone, they need to do it, because it’s just you get such tremendous value. Talk about some of the pros and cons to getting involved with the industry. Now, of course, you know, if you talk to someone, they’ll say, Well, is it too late? Right? Is it too late now for me to get involved? You know, I wish I’d started 10 years ago, but I say to people, one of the pros is people know what a podcast is now, you know, 10 years ago, you had to explain to people how to do it, it was really hard to download an episode. Now it’s like it’s getting baked into cars, and it’s easier to listen to them on your phone. So talk about some of those pros and cons of getting involved in the industry. Now.
Rob Greenlee 6:12
I think there’s kind of a complex way of looking at it, I think that, you know, sure, there’s a lot more podcasts out there than there were in the early days of the medium. But I also think like you were just saying, there’s a lot more listeners, there’s a lot more awareness. And I think that there’s still genres of content out there that really haven’t been fully, you know, developed. And as far as audiences and things and it as we see more diversity come into podcasting, podcasting is reaching into areas that are exactly a mirror reflection of the world’s population and the diversity of the world’s population. And so it’s really continuing to grow and develop and it’s not too late to get involved in the medium. But I think with the numbers comes a certain amount of responsibility to new content creators and ones that are currently creating content to kind of little bit up their game a little bit around quality around value that they’re delivering to their audiences and their production qualities. I think, in the early days of the meeting, we were a little bit more constricted by bandwidth and, and those kinds of things that really limited our ability to really fully go after the quality aspects of podcasting. But, if you think about this medium as an intimate medium, where people listen very, very much intentionally. It’s a medium that has so much potential to connect with people at a very deep level, that you do have a responsibility to create that listening experience. Right. And I think that’s the key thing that is, is pleasant, and it’s enjoyable, and it’s fun. And it’s and it’s not painful to listen to, right, or it’s not, not full of value. And I think that’s the shift that we’ve seen, we’ve shifted to about quality, and we shifted to value. And then when I talk about quality, that’s the spectrum of actual audio quality, video quality, and just production quality. And I think those are the elements that we’re moving into. And it’s a little bit why I got involved in the podcast Academy was to to develop the professionalism of this medium, if at all levels. And I’m just not talking about just the big companies of podcasting that need to do this. I’m talking about all levels of podcasting. And I think, never before in the past, have we had inexpensive tools to enable quality productions than we have today.
John Corcoran 8:44
Right? Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I totally agree with you on one, there are certain ways that it’s so much easier to improve your quality. Now, for example, you can buy a microphone easily on Amazon, it’s delivered Two days later, it’ll really improve the quality of your sound, you shouldn’t be recording on a phone in a kitchen where it’s echoey, or in your car or something like that. Sometimes it’s really poor. So there’s kind of simple things you can do. But on the other hand, I talk to people all the time, who, you know, they’re a big fan of how I built this, or they’re a big fan of This American Life. And they’re like, I want to do a show like This American Life. And I’m like, good luck to you. I mean, what’s your budget, right, you know, so people are kind of comparing themselves to these really deep budgeted productions out there. And even TV companies like tenderfoot media are jumping into podcast production, and they’re producing amazing shows, which I love listening to. But it’s hard to compare yourself to that, especially if you’re a larger guy or just getting started. So what do you say to people that are interested in getting started in the industry, but they’re a bit intimidated by the quality that’s out there?
Rob Greenlee 9:50
What I mean, I think it depends on the genre and what you’re doing and what your expectations are and what your goals are, what you’re trying to accomplish with the show. I think that your example of having these high production values like tenderfoot, TV, or wondery, or some of these, those are very specific, you know, usually True Crime type podcasts, they’re very journalistic. They sure that they have big teams behind them that they’re developing and funding and things like that. But really, those types of programs are not the core of podcasting, the core of podcasting is shows like we’re doing john, I mean, these are genuine conversations, the shows that are comedy programs, ones that are out there, sharing and building community are the really the backbone of the industry. And, and I think most people have the the ability to, to start a program, it may not be great to start with, but it’s consistency of production, it’s consistency of trying to get better and learning and growing and, and building those connections with with people are what really make a podcaster successful. And that doesn’t actually happen overnight. So it’s something that you have to be very committed to. And you have to work hard at it, every day. I mean, I’ve been doing a variety of different podcasts myself, Well, over the 16 years that I’ve been involved in this medium, and it’s okay to pod fade and start something new, you know, I’m in the middle of trying to come up with something new myself. So it’s, it’s always, you know, what have you done most recently is what’s what’s, what’s important out there and learning and growing. And, and, you know, and I think that you can grow your career, you can grow a business, you can grow all sorts of stuff in this podcasting medium. So I think that the opportunities are still strong out there.
John Corcoran 11:41
I heard you say on another podcast, that about 50% of the audience out there is listening to independent shows and 50%, or listening to these larger shows out there, which I was pleasantly surprised to hear since I come from the independent world. And for me, for many years podcasting, what was most interesting was these independent productions, or someone who wouldn’t otherwise be producing something doesn’t have a big budget behind it. So talk a little bit about that, how that metric has changed, or, you know, what it looks like the landscape looks like now, in terms of independent versus larger productions.
Rob Greenlee 12:15
Well, that number that you’re quoting came from the Edison research folks, they did a study on, you know, the shear year and what people are actually listening to out there and what what, what programs out there, what big networks are actually seeing the most connections with listeners on a frequency basis. And so you are seeing a fairly even split between those listening to what would be considered big media shows, and ones that are independent, like this show and the show that Todd Cochrane and I do every twice a week. I mean, they’re just talk shows, essentially, but they’re very much grass roots type of type of programs. And, and so I, I think that that distribution of 5050, between those two sides of the medium is pretty healthy. I mean, I, I think it is, I mean, the bigger budget productions are going to tend to grab a significant portion of people’s interest, you know, on National Public Radio, I mean, look how popular that is. And it’s been a backbone of the podcasting industry for many years, though, if you look at the sheer numbers of shows coming out of public radio, it’s pretty small. So the vast majority of the shows and the podcasting meeting are independent produce programs. Right. And yeah, those may not have any individual standpoint, as big of an audience is like a, This American Life or, or those kinds of things. But they are in total, they add up to a lot of Yeah, unique listeners.
John Corcoran 13:54
Yeah. And, you know, one of the, you know, messages I want to share with people is that you don’t have to compete with those larger productions, the NPR of the world and stuff like that. And if you try, it’s gonna be really difficult. But having said that, since you brought up NPR, I think it’s a great point. I think I read recently that they were estimating that this year, their advertising revenue from podcasting was going to eclipse terrestrial radio, which is really amazing.
Rob Greenlee 14:26
Yeah, I think that was their, their vision of what might happen and why Public Radio has really embraced podcasting is that they, they were seeing that that radio listener was aging on them, and that they were seeing podcasting as a younger demographic. So they were seeing their future, being more on the digital side as you look to the future. And the radio side would probably over over the decades kind of fade a little bit. So it was, it was very much a kind of, I think a long term survival tactic in podcast. is very much compatible with that sponsorship model that public radio has. And I think podcasting has learned a lot from public radio and radio has learned a lot from public radio. And I’m talking about commercial radio too. Though, I think that there’s a lot of economic pressure on commercial radio to replicate the revenue that’s been generated on the right on the commercial radio side for many years. That is, they’re finding it more difficult to do that than then they had for many years on the commercial, broadcast radio side. So trying to replicate that revenue. And podcasting, in commercial radio is a little bit more of a challenge. I mean, just think of it from an advertising load standpoint. I mean, radio has had, what, 16 minutes of ads per hour of commercial load and podcasting, you really shouldn’t venture past maybe four or five minutes in an hour of advertisement. So yeah, you can see a little bit of an imbalance for commercial radio.
John Corcoran 16:00
Yeah. And I mean, truthfully, there when it comes to advertising listeners have a completely different level of expectation, right? In radio, you expect advertising. And you know, one of the top complaints you hear from podcast listeners, if they don’t like listening to ads, I was listening to a Joe Rogan episode recently. And the first eight and a half minutes was ads. And the other thing is, I just skipped through all of it. But I was shocked by that by the fact that the first eight and half minutes was like 17 different ads.
Rob Greenlee 16:29
It’s like, what will this do for many years with television, is you can always hit that fast forward button. Right. And I think that’s, that’s unfortunate that that’s happening in podcasting, in some ways gonna be if you look back to the very origins of podcasting, it was a, a reaction to over commercialization of radio is why podcast one of the big reasons why podcasting was something that got off the ground as it it was like, kill radio was the theme of the early days of podcasting, and stick it to the man and and we’re not going to be commercialized is Yeah, that’s really what the motto was of this medium. And, and I fear that, you know, some of the commercial interests in the medium, are pushing us back towards that commercial model again. And while I, while I think that there’s a place in that side of the industry, at a certain level, I think there is a cap to that before we start getting back into the pushback that happened against commercial radio.
John Corcoran 17:30
So there are some interesting models that are coming out. Of course, one of the big gorillas on the block right now is Spotify, which has gone into podcasting in a major way, right. They’ve had a lot of major acquisitions. They also have some ads within their app where it’s a visual ad, in addition to an Audible ad. So that’s interesting. And you know, some people say that they’re trying to build like a Netflix of podcasting. So that would be a different revenue source. So let’s talk a little bit about the impact that Spotify is a big wave, headline grabbing changes, and, you know, moves have impacted the industry.
Rob Greenlee 18:11
Well, Spotify, got involved in podcasting. And you know, many years ago, actually, I mean, it’s, it’s been a long journey for them getting in the medium. And it wasn’t always a easy pathway. They didn’t get it right. In the early days. I mean, they’ve been trying to get into podcasting for probably at least five years now. So it’s, it’s been quite a credit journey. And I’ve I’ve worked with them quite a bit. In the two companies that I was I worked with on the podcast hosting site, I was with spreaker in the past, and worked a lot with Spotify when I was at spreaker. And then with Libsyn now, but in the early days, Spotify just really didn’t know what they were doing with it. I mean, it was really kind of, they were relying on a lot of the podcasts hosting platforms to submit shows to them on spreadsheets, in the early days. And it was really kind of a difficult process. And they were being picky with what shows we’re going to and they were trying to figure out if they were going to create an advertising model around podcasting and all that stuff in the very early days. And he just, they they launched it for a while. And then they had a change of staff leadership and they stopped pursuing it. And then they jump back into it again. So Spotify has had a very much of a spotty effort in embracing the podcasting space in quite honestly, for many years. Because of what I saw with Spotify. I was very skeptical. On the early days whether or not the streaming music platforms were going to be able to, you know, do it, pull it off, get involved in podcasting, because if you go back and you look at the origins of the medium, if you look at iTunes, supporting podcasting, or in the early days, I work for Zune, which had a music platform as well, that added podcasts that I was involved in in helping get off the ground and And those were music platforms primarily. So I kind of always thought that the merger between these music streaming platforms and podcasting would eventually happen. I just was, I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull it off. Because I kind of always thought that listening to music and listening to podcasts were two different things, right, and trying to blend them together into one experience. Didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. And when I talked to the music streaming platforms, they were like, yeah, we don’t see how it’s gonna work. Because I mean, most of the people that worked at the music streaming platforms were just music people, right, they were like, hardcore music people. And they just didn’t see the connection between the two. And that’s been my experience in the past too. But Spotify has come in and really kind of, you know, played around with the models and, and tried to come up with, you know, taking the advice of people like myself and others in the medium to make changes to what they were doing. bring in more shows and get more content in there. And when the podcast community heard that Spotify was going to open it up to everybody, instead of having the hosts submit their shows by spreadsheet, then the whole thing exploded. And everybody got all excited about getting into Spotify, because Spotify was reaching a little bit of a different demographic audience. It was meeting, it was reaching a younger listener base, which podcasting needed. podcasting was in the early days, the medium was leaning a little bit on the older side, it was meeting the he was mainly getting listened to by people that were over 35. But then, when Spotify started to come into the medium, we started to see the age group of listeners start to, to go down into the 20s. And now we’re kind of moving into the teens now. And that’s been a big shift. And I do believe Spotify was one of the key catalysts that has basically got that off the ground. But, Spotify is trying to do something, some things that are unique. I don’t know that there will ever be a Netflix of podcasting out there. I think it’s a term that’s been described out there. And if you look at all the companies that have tried, they’ve all pretty much failed in doing another
John Corcoran 22:17
Yeah, I mean, another one is, you know, Sirius XM that recently acquired Stitcher, so maybe they’re trying to do the same thing.
Rob Greenlee 22:25
Yeah, well, Pandora, Sirius XM and Stitcher. Now, that company is I think that they’re, they’ve got some decisions to make. I mean, I’ve been working with Pandora and those folks for, off and on for a few years now, as they’ve kind of tiptoed around podcasting. And they may come at this a little bit differently than what we’ve seen with Spotify. So they are a US only company at this point. Now that may change with the acquisition that they just made, because stitcher is a global podcast listening app. So that may shift their emphasis into getting their content out on a global scale versus the Pandora platform, which is primarily US based. But they may come into the market with a little different model around advertising. And they may be the ones that kind of push the envelope on advertising and podcasting and working directly with content creators around all that. So we shall see. You know, I think that the jury’s still out. The company acquired a lot of podcasting assets when they bought Stitcher. And we shall see how that all sorts out with their internal efforts around satellite radio and their other properties that they have like Pandora. So it’s still a project in progress as well. Yeah, say on it. That’s about all I can say on it. Really?
John Corcoran 23:50
Yeah. It’s really interesting, though, you know, these companies, I’m sure if I’m serious, I’m thinking, you know, podcasting could be a major threat to your business. And you don’t want to be like Kodak where digital photography comes along, and you don’t adapt, and you go out of business. You know, another big company that has been making moves in Word coming from a different direction is Amazon with their Audible app. So they hear you have your Audible app, which is mostly audio books, and they’ve been moving towards podcasts, bringing podcasts making that app more of a podcast player. So that’s interesting, too, slightly different from what Spotify is doing coming from the music world. So talk a little bit about those moves.
Rob Greenlee 24:30
Well, I think if there was going to be a Netflix of podcasting, I would say Audible is probably the best candidate for that. Considering what they’ve been doing for many, many years that I’d say Audible is really a pioneer in the premium audio space. There, they really lead the charge with audiobooks, and they’ve dabbled into podcasting off and on over the years. And the problem with Audible, I mean, it’s not a problem, but just The inherent friction in Audible between what they’ve done with audiobooks. And what podcasting is, is that Audible is a very proprietary platform, right? So it’s at a, you know, it said, subscription base paid content access. And podcasting is an open medium write, freely distributed, typically no subscription, paid subscription link to it. And so in some ways podcasting conflicted with their business model. So, but they’ve tried to get in involved in podcasting over the years, even even using the term podcasts to describe shows that were only available in the proprietary platform of Audible, which, which was a little bit of a wasn’t the correct referential terminology, which I think they moved away from now. I think now it’s called. It’s called Audible originals now, which is not using the term podcasts anymore. But they have had some external podcasts. But what’s new, and what’s happening now is the Amazon company, which is, which owns Audible is getting into having their own podcast catalog. So if you think about how that might extend out to Alexa, the smart speaker platform, and I’m sorry, if I triggered your your smart speaker, I
Unknown Speaker 26:23
John Corcoran 26:24
That happens all the time. Right, right. Yeah. So I think the host on another episode, you’re doing an interview on spelled it out a l e x ray. Just probably smarter.
Rob Greenlee 26:35
Yeah, so. So those catalogues are gonna really help that smart speaker platform develop into something better, because they’ve been relying on I Heart Radio, and Tunein as their source of podcasts content on the smart speaker platform for Amazon. And both of those catalogs are incomplete. And not not the best kind of user experience. From a, you know, a vocal command kind of thing because they built you know, their own apps and things like that. So yeah,
John Corcoran 27:10
actually, I have a nine year old who loves podcasts, he listens to the well in the world podcast guy Roz from NPR does. And he constantly complains to me in the evening, he wants to listen to this podcast, but he doesn’t want to listen to it on the smart speaker, because it’s a bad experience exactly what you’re describing, he can’t go back and wording the call in the cataloger. It’s really difficult to do. So he’s always asking for my phone, so he can listen to the podcast on the on the phone said,
Rob Greenlee 27:34
Well, that’s also, I think, one of the friction areas too. And I think some have tried to say that this is not as big of a factor. But podcasting tends to be a, you know, a one to one medium. And, and a smart speaker tends to be, you know, kind of like a one to many type of experience, which I think over time is is going to change because that that platform is is evolving into becoming what’s called a smart agent technology platform, which means that that, that the back end software and the technology that is going to cater to individual needs over the long term, right? So that that service could be installed on your phone, it could be in your car, or it could be on your refrigerator, it could be it could that account may travel with you, while you travel, and you go on trips and stuff. And those types of listening platforms might be able to recognize your voice and access your account. Yes, so you’re kind of it’s a little bit of a, of a future looking kind of experience of what is possible there. And I was really excited to see Amazon and I’ve been encouraging amazon for four years now to add podcasts to their amazon music offering and now they’re actually starting to do it. It hasn’t been launched yet. But they are gathering content. So if you’re a podcaster, and you host on Libsyn, you can submit your podcast over to Amazon. That’s great. And then there’ll be launching that at some point in the future. But, you know, that’s the effort that we’re doing right now is trying to get as much content into the Amazon directories as we can prior to their launch.
John Corcoran 29:20
Right, right. You know, you brought up a great point that I want to circle back to which is about the fundamental structure of podcasting. And without getting too wonky. You know, people talk all the time, or they think about like, Oh, I might start a podcast or I might start a YouTube show, or I might do an Instagram show or something. And social media is just fundamentally structured differently. podcasting, to me is more like real estate ownership, you own your feed, which can go to multiple different places. versus if you build a YouTube channel, you know a channel which is owned by Google, Google changes the rules of the road, you have to comply, you’ve got no other thing you can do about it. And so All your eggs are in one basket. So talk about that fundamental structural difference, because I think that’s such a critical distinction for people to understand.
Rob Greenlee 30:07
Yeah, I think if you think about the web and the internet, just in general, we’ve seen the growth and development of proprietary platforms, like, I think YouTube is a great example of it. Facebook is a good example of it. Twitter, you just go through the list. And if you go back in the early days of the web and the internet, you know, there was AOL, which was to many people was the internet back then. Because most people didn’t experience anything in web browsers outside of AOL. So what we’re seeing with podcasting is, podcasting is an open medium, which means that it’s available really on all sorts of proprietary platforms. But it’s also available outside of any proprietary platform, right in a Web Player on a browser or on a mobile app, or one that doesn’t require login, right. So content access is freely available, there’s RSS feeds that have linked to the mp3 files. So there is a layer of podcasting that is not constrained by a proprietary listening platform. So sure, the industry is embraced proprietary listening platforms like Spotify, and now Pandora and, and others out there that have login experiences, right, and maybe have premium content in there and are building layers of monetization and in those platforms, but that’s the structural difference with podcasting is that it’s an open standard base medium. And there really isn’t any other open standard base medium that exists out there that has grown to the scale that podcasting has on a global scale. You know, TV, movies, music, all that stuff, and audiobooks are all sitting behind passwords on proprietary platforms. So that’s what’s really unique about podcasting.
John Corcoran 32:01
Right, thank you for explaining that. I think that’s an important distinction. And kind of a related concept. I think you kind of touched on it. But, you know, some people talk about kind of the limits to the way that the feed was originally built. And I’m getting really over my head really quickly here, because I’m not an expert in these things. But like, for example, you know, there, some people will say that the podcasting experience doesn’t integrate other features such as social, like discussions and stuff like that. It kind of like that, if you’re on Twitter, people have discussions and threaded discussions and things like that, or on Facebook. And that’s not built into the fundamental structure of RSS feeds, which were built, you know, 20 plus years ago. Right. So talk a little bit about those limitations. And is there anything we can do about it at this point? Or is it kind of like rebuilding the plane when it’s flying at 30,000 feet?
Rob Greenlee 32:55
Well, I think it’s, it’s one of those examples of Be careful what you wish for, because I think what is enabled is a lot of different companies to jump in and offer technology layers to podcasting that is separate from the RSS, right? So though, though, I must qualify that and say that there may be some efforts, and some some, you know, desires within the industry to add more extensions to RSS to add more capability and functionality to what is supplied from content creators to proprietary platforms or other open listening platforms. So I think the jury is still out on whether or not we’re going to extend RSS into other features and functions and capabilities. But I, I, I must say that if you talk to any of the purists in the medium, they they will tell you that don’t make things overly complex when it comes to the fundamentals of podcasting, because, you know, it kind of limits the opportunities that could be created by other companies, startups or what whatever they can add layers to this that maybe are not directly linked to RSS. So RSS as is, it’s one of those things that you have to be careful if you tamper with it too much, you might break it. So hence why I don’t get involved in this. Right, right. I mean, it’s, it’s just one of those things. I mean, a lot of companies have jumped in and added what’s what they would call namespaces, which Apple did very early in the medium where they basically add their own list of tags. Now, when I say tags, that’s a area in the XML document that asks for certain metadata, right, or links to different resources, or tags or descriptions or titles or, you know, just metadata to populate a user experience, right? So you could add a layer into the RSS feed that adds functionality like sharing data on guest BIOS and guest photos, or you could add layers of links to donation models, you could add all these layers that can add a deeper experience coming out of RSS into listening platforms. But what we’ve seen is that the listening platforms typically want to add that layer. And if you’re pushing your layer onto their layer, which layer are they going to support? Right? And that that’s the thing that’s always been the pushback is that is everyone going to support any new tags that are added to RSS? And that’s when Todd Cochrane and I, with the new media show, we started a little bit of a group called the RSS coalition, which is trying to bring together all of the listening apps to say, okay, we want to extend RSS. What does everybody want? And will in will, you know, Stitcher or you Apple support it? Right? Is it something that will pass through? Is it worth us adding to RSS, and what words and experience in the listening platforms? Right, and what’s the state of that? Was there any consensus on changes? Um, yeah, I think we had some general things. But the thing, the thing that Todd and I learned from it is that it’s a very difficult conversation, because it may or may not limit what those individual proprietary listening apps might want to add to their platforms. I mean, if we’re integrating in with a third party technology company to provide some data source in there, then they’re forced to work with somebody that maybe they don’t want to work with. So it’s, it’s a complex issue. And sometimes it’s just better to keep things simple. Yeah,
John Corcoran 36:47
yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. Now, I can’t believe I’m asking about all the exciting new ones on the block, right, the Spotify is this year sex, AMS. But you brought up Apple, which is still the biggest gorilla out there, depending on who you believe, different statistics, I’ve heard that between 50% and 70% of all the downloads are going through apple. So share with us a little bit your observations of what Apple is doing that is affecting the podcasting industry. And, you know, is there anything coming down the block that they’re doing that’s affecting podcasters today?
Rob Greenlee 37:23
Well, Apple has been a good steward of podcasting over the years, I think they face some probably some fairly unfair criticism over the years, because maybe the perception is they didn’t invest in podcasting, in the early days a lot to, to, you know, make it bigger, make it more successful, or ad monetization. Or maybe their apps weren’t as good as what people would have liked. So Apple has faced some, some critical criticism over the years. But at the end of the day, when you look at what Apple has done, they’ve, you know, if we didn’t have Apple supporting podcasting, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. So with the scale, and the amount of shows and the amount of listeners that are engaged in the medium, because they are a source of you know, from a directory perspective, I mean, if you submit to Apple, you actually get your show into not just Apple, but you get it into like maybe a dozen other listening apps out there. Because a lot of the other listening apps source all their shows out of an API that Apple provides to the industry for a bunch of smaller listening apps. So in some ways, Apple has been, you know, very supportive of, of, you know, some innovation and some other players in the medium that want to come in and build an app. And, you know, Apple likes to encourage app development because they have an app marketplace. Right. So it’s, it’s, it’s been a great relationship Apple has. I’ve known the apple staff for many, many years. I mean, even the staff, prior to the staff that’s there now. I mean, there’s been a complete change over the years of people that work over there on the podcasting area. But I can tell you over the last two or three years, they’ve been adding more people to their Apple podcasting staff than I’ve ever seen them in the past. So they are heavily investing, they have a new guy that’s in charge of global podcasting now and there’s all sorts of business development people there’s technology people, you know, people that are helping people in the industry they are they started a new and you know, a new content initiative at the company to create our original podcast content that would be available on their their their platform. So they’re getting in the content game now to which they have often done that over the years as well. But Apple is one of those platforms that still supports video podcasting too and I know you have expressed an interest in talking about that, too.
John Corcoran 39:52
Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s another big question that people ask about. Should I do a video podcast? Should I do in an audio one, you know, what are the differences between the two. So share with us your thoughts on that.
Rob Greenlee 40:04
Yeah, the video podcasting side has evolved over the years. If you think back to the early days of the medium in the 2007, to probably nine timeframe, there was a lot of even going back further, even back to the 2005 timeframe, there was a fair amount of video podcasts that were created and uploaded as like an mp4 file. Yeah, to the RSS feed, just like what you see with audio today. And so I would say about 25% of the market was video podcasts in the early days of the medium. And then after YouTube launched and started to grow its user base, people started shifting their video podcasting over to YouTube because it was free hosting. Because typically, people podcasters had to pay for more storage, and maybe some bandwidth to deliver video files. When it’s a lot easier to deliver audio, those files are a lot smaller, and the storage that it requires to store those files is a lot less. So people started shifting over to doing everything on YouTube. And that’s what caused the video podcasting space to erode. Though I think we’re down to like 5% of the podcasting market is video podcasts. Now, considering it started at about 25%. But Apple is one of the few platforms that still supports video podcasting. And the show that I do the new media show that I do with Todd Cochrane is available as a video podcast, and it’s an hour and a half video file, which is it’s like a I think it’s like a terabyte and a half or, or something like it’s Yeah, it’s big.
John Corcoran 41:43
Yeah, yeah. So what I do is what I actually changed to do, and my business partner has done a video podcast for the entire time he’s done a podcast, Jeremy Weiss says it has been about 10 years, and he’s done it video. And I think he changed the money to use different hosting platforms. Now he uploads it to YouTube, same as I. So we upload it to YouTube. And we basically embed it on a post on our website. But the reason that I started doing that about a year ago, after only doing audio prior to that was because I’d heard so many people saying they listen to podcasts on YouTube and they didn’t care that much about the video. They just were like walking around the house or whatever. And they would put it on and they listened to it through YouTube.
Rob Greenlee 42:21
Well, yeah. And you’re seeing now the shift from Google Play Music over to YouTube Music. So I think you’re seeing that shift happen, right, right now too. As YouTube recognizes that, you know, people are listening to a lot of music on that platform as well. They’re they’re watching, you know, video versions of music, right, just like what’s happening in the podcasting realm. And, and I think there’s a lot of people listening to podcasts over it or YouTube. But I think it does tend to skew towards shorter podcasts and ones that cater to a younger audience is what’s popular over there.
John Corcoran 43:04
Yeah, we’ve danced around this a little bit. And you’ve mentioned a couple of times, but I want to ask directly about the listener experience and the different apps that are out there right now, because I have read and I’ve listened to some criticisms that there are some ways that it could be improved. Are there any ways that you see different apps, podcasting apps that are improving experience now? Or are there any ways in which you’ve thought that companies should be improving the listeners’ experience from a malicious perspective and using an app and discoverability? and all that kind of stuff?
Rob Greenlee 43:41
Well, I think what we’ve seen over the last couple years is we’ve seen the bigger players, some of the other bigger players get in the medium, like Spotify and Google podcast that we’ve, we’ve kind of gone backwards a little bit on usability of podcasting. And when I say backwards back to a much more simpler experience. I think we went through a phase with like an overcast app, and some of the pocket cast and some of the ones that have been around for a long time that I’ve spent a lot of years adding a lot of advanced features and functionality to the listening experience. Start to pull back a little bit and try to make the experience a little bit simpler. And I think part of it has to do with the shift over to kind of the perception of just click Play consumption of podcasting versus the subscribe, download and listen later model, which has been the predominant model of podcasting for most of the life of the medium. So we’re basically simplifying, if you look at Spotify today, it’s just a list of episodes and click play. You know, that’s that’s how that’s how things have changed now. Now, I believe Google podcasts just rolled out the ability to once you’ve logged into your Google account in the browser. It will start searching Your subscriptions right are things that you’ve favorited in there. So I think that there’s some basic functionality in there. But I think what we’ve seen is that the industry is kind of pulled back on advanced features and functions in the listening apps for the simple reason is that we’re trying to reach scale, we’re trying to reach listeners that maybe are not what what would be considered to be kind of advanced listeners or podcast, listening geeks, whatever we’re trying to mainstream it right. And part of the path to mainstreaming it is to simplify the experience. And then we’ve seen the bigger platforms, Google, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple, taking full transcripts of all the episodes that they have in their platform to create better search, indexing and search results to help people discover and find podcasts that are relevant to them. Though, I don’t know that Google, I mean, Apple is fully deployed yet, but I do believe that all these platforms are building that database of deep contextual information about what’s actually in the content. And there will be something that some benefit that comes out of that whether or not freely available transcripts of the audio that’s included in there. And if you think about Google, Google would love to get access to a textual based reference to episodes right, just for their search index. So that’s, that’s the other big direction that we’re seeing in the industry right now. Is getting deep context into the content itself that can generate better discovery processes for listeners?
John Corcoran 46:40
Yeah, well, right now, I, you know, I’ve done transcripts for a while for my show. And I encourage everyone to do it. Because, you know, if you put it up on your website, that helps tremendously, you get 3000 to 5000 words, you know, keyword rich words on your website. So it helps with SEO value. But that’s a great point that you make about also adding the value and discoverability within the apps themselves, which is where a lot of people are discovering shows, I want to shift now to asking you about the academy Academy and podcasters and why you decided to get involved in that. And, um, you know, what your goals are for it. You’re the chair now, right? Yeah,
Rob Greenlee 47:16
yeah. I’ve only been the chair since March, the organization was started back in February. And it was really led at that point by Hernan Lopez, who was the CEO of wondery. And so he’s the one I mean, he’s still on the board and still active in the organization around the awards, but I got involved in the organization, just because I saw what was being developed there. And I, I think it was a huge opportunity for the medium. And I wanted to contribute. My years of experience to that group that the founding board members, which a lot of them haven’t been around the medium very long. So they have a, they had a very kind of short window of exposure to what the medium was all about. So I got involved, hopefully, to try and make sure that the independent producer side was well represented in the goals and the initiatives of the organization. And the goals of the organization are really at this point are fairly simplistic. And, because we have to start somewhere, and that is to build an academy podcast awards type of process that can be like maybe a global podcast awards, that rewards excellence in content production, and, and talent. And, you know, from hosts to the content, producers editing, kind of like what you envision with the film industry with the Academy Awards, right? It’s the same type of thinking processes that we’re, we’re thinking of ourselves as a content medium now more than ever, so it makes sense to reward terrific content that comes from all levels of content creators, and get that build that as a member organization, which means that individuals that are working at these companies and hosting these podcasts are the backbone of this, this academy, and we’re all helping each other mentoring each other. We’re sharing knowledge, we’re doing webinars, we’re doing, you know, educational initiatives. And we’re basically pulling together awards that can get attention for this medium on a global scale, or at least in the US to get started with here. And so we’re gonna have an award ceremony coming up in 2021 that we’re going to, you know, recognize some terrific podcasters and podcasting, and then how have webinars and initiatives around education and mentoring and things like that in the meantime, and then hopefully, we’ll I’m building as well as maybe some standards bodies that can come out of this organization that can help on some of the things we had talked about earlier, which is, you know, extension star assess, maybe more technical standards around advertising and monetization models. Maybe, you know, the medium needs, like a professional, to some degree, a professional organization that can help with these things, and train new editors and new producers and new directors, and I mean, all these things that are our key to a content industry. And that’s really the goal of the organization. So we are open for membership right now, that opened up on June 22. And it’s currently only $50 a year right now. And that will go up to $100 a year. So if you were interested in joining and becoming a part of this, this new global industry association of sorts, you can go to the podcast academy.com. And go ahead and sign up.
John Corcoran 51:00
And one of the great things about this industry right now is we’re about six months into this global pandemic. And this isn’t one of the few industries it’s actually been continuing to grow in many respects, both in terms of you see job postings out there, you see new shows starting, we’ve been growing, you know, there’s been a lot of growth in this industry in spite of the downturn.
Rob Greenlee 51:21
Yeah, I agree with you. 100%. I mean, we’ve seen content growth, like we’ve never seen before. I mean, it’s, I think over the last three or four months, we’ve seen, you know, 100,000 new podcasts come into the medium each month. So, you know, I don’t know how long or how long some of those shows are gonna last. But it’s, it’s, it’s just been an explosion, as people, you know, have been forced to stay home, they’ve had extra time. They’re not getting in the car commuting every day. So they have extra time. And a lot of people want to create something for themselves. And it is possible to create a business around podcasting. Yeah, I think that’s great trying to pursue that.
John Corcoran 51:59
I think that’s great. And the more the merrier. It’s delivered such tremendous value to my life over the last 10 years and met such amazing people. And so I tell everyone, they should do it. Anything else before we wrap things up? Anything else that we haven’t touched on that you want to share that you’re keeping an eye on in terms of the industry of the medium that you want to share with the listeners?
Rob Greenlee 52:21
Yeah, I think we’re in a phase right now of us getting clear and getting focused on what are the best experiences around podcast advertising, and how we count podcasts. We’ve been going through a process or since about 2014, of creating a standard around podcast measurement and how to measure downloads and what the proper methodologies are for that and coming across with a national mean a global standard way of doing that, that advertising industry recognizes and the industry has been working with the the IAB which is a you know, it’s an advertising based technology organization that focuses on coming up with best practices in, in digital advertising. And so the industry has been working with that for many years now. And we have a standards based platform that podcasts hosts can get certified with the way that they count downloads, and we have that today. And so that’s really exciting. And so that’s building a solid based on the advertising side, for those that want to build an advertising base podcast, a lot, a lot of larger companies are wanting to do that. But that’s not the only way you can monetize in this medium. There’s donation models, there’s doing it to support other other business activities that you have. There’s branded podcasts there, but it’s really going mainstream right now. So it’s an exciting time, and it’s not too late to start a show.
John Corcoran 53:58
Yeah. And on the downloads piece, big caveat. If you check your downloads, I actually don’t check my downloads, because, you know, it’s it’s kind of like grades, like it’s never gonna be quite what you want it to be, you know, unless you’re an A plus student, right? It’s never quite good. So, personally, you know, I just don’t check them because for me, it’s really just it’s not a metric that really I found has influenced. I don’t want to hold me back from using the Python way that I have. What are your thoughts on that?
Rob Greenlee 54:28
Yeah, I tend to agree with that. I think it depends on the goals of what you’re doing your podcast for. I mean, if you’re doing it to network with others and build your professional reputation and things like that. I’m not sure the numbers mean a lot. I think it’s, it can be and I learned this early in my activities in podcasting, too. It was about my professional development. It was I mean, sure if I can make some money from it. It was great. But if I could build a reputation for my career and I could, I could meet really cool and smart people and learn from them and That was enough of a reward. So I think that there’s a lot of motivation to do this medium, not the least of which is honing and developing your ability to present to us in large groups. And I think now more than ever, your ability to get on a camera like this on a on a video, and come across professional and know what you’re talking about is one of the most valuable professional skills that you can have now, I believe,
John Corcoran 55:28
right, especially when we’re all at home in sweatpants. So
Rob Greenlee 55:31
John Corcoran 55:32
it’s very important or less or less exactly right. Well, I want to wrap things up, and I didn’t prepare you. I apologize, I usually warn my guests beforehand, but I think you can handle this last question that I’m going to ask. And that is, especially because you are the head of an organization that gives out awards. So let’s pretend we’re at an award show. And you were inducted to the Hall of Fame. So you’re probably prepared for this. But what I want to know is when you get an award like that, for Lifetime Achievement, who do they who are the mentors, who are the friends were the peers were the other podcasters, you know, initiative family and friends, which of course they count to, but who else out there? Would you acknowledge in your remarks?
Rob Greenlee 56:16
Well, I think it’s, I know that that is such a big question. Because there are so many elements, especially if you’re talking specifically about podcasting. every interaction that you have doing your podcast is contributing to your success. So you really should think everyone that has anything to do with your podcast, but but I do think at the end of the day, it’s you have to have support of your family, and you have to have support of your friends in order to keep going because you know, for many podcasters in the early days, it’s it’s difficult to keep going. So and I do have a trend going by, but by all right, it’s difficult to keep, keep going. And so you need the encouragement of a spouse or a girlfriend or you need to have that support layer, because there’s going to be times when you’re not going to feel like doing the show. And you’re not going to feel like that anybody’s listening, especially in the early days. So I think thinking everyone and being appreciative of everyone that is supportive of what you’re doing, and contributes to what you’re doing, I think is the right thing to do. Because there can be I mean, you’ll be amazed when you start a podcast how many people you connect with and how that changes your viewpoint in life in general. You know, it can be extremely powerful. I’ve seen it happen so many times with other people is that it just completely transforms their lives. And so being thankful to everyone that was involved in that process, I think is the right approach.
John Corcoran 57:51
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Rob Greenlee from Libsyn, and Podcast Academy, where can people go learn more about you Rob or connect with you?
Rob Greenlee 58:02
Well, I do have a website, RobGreenlee.com, and that’s with four Es. So RobGreenlee.com and I also am pretty active on Twitter. So if you’re an active participant in Twitter, you know, go over and check out that I talked a lot about podcasting over there. And that’s just at Rob Greenlee with my full name. And I’d say and if you want to send me an email, you’re certainly welcome to do that. If you have a question about podcasting, if we can help you with anything. And this is something I’ve done for years and years and years in the medium. And that’s Rob G. And that’s [email protected] And feel free to send me an email.
John Corcoran 58:42
And I’ve been using Libsyn since the very beginning for 10 years now and recommend to all our clients to use it, it’s an amazing tool. So they’ve made a great contribution, and ej and all the other companies out their lives and really deserves credit for everything that they’ve done to help build up this industry. So it’s a great company for you to join forces with. And I’m excited for where it leads in the future.
Rob Greenlee 59:05
Well, and we have a new version of Libsyn coming out later in the year called Libsyn Five, which we’re very excited about. It’s gonna modernize the platform and create a much much better kind of user experience around creating podcasts.
John Corcoran 59:20
That’s exciting. Cool. I’m looking forward to that. All right, Rob. Thanks so much.
Rob Greenlee 59:24
All right. Thank you.
Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com. And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the Revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution podcast.