Free podcasting, and why we should learn our lessons

Manton Reece:

Anchor seems to be going for the YouTube model. They want a huge number of people to use their platform. But the concentration of so much media in one place is one of the problems with today’s web.

Cannot stress this line enough: > Massive social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have too much power over writers, photographers, and video creators. We do not want that for podcasts.

I want podcasts to be as mainstream as possible. I live and breathe them. But, as Manton points out, the platforms that have been running an it’s-free-and-we’ll-raise-money-elsewhere model should have taught us big lessons by now.

They went downhill for users, and sold out. They had to do both of those things, there was no other model for them. They landed up damaging the medium they made mainstream.

Take YouTube, for instance. It is the only place you go to both create and consume video content. YouTube has complete control over the medium itself, and that’s the problem. It translates to control over the creators. What happens when you’re done with YouTube and want to take your viewers elsewhere? Or if YouTube deletes a video, or your account, even if accidentally. What is your recourse to retain what you’ve created?

What does it matter if you outrage over an algorithmic timeline being the only option on Instagram? Everyone you know is there, your followers are there, and although Instagram (finally) allows you to export your content, what can you do with that so that people who want to see your photos can continue to do so easily? Nada.

The models that these platforms sit on can only be run by advertising. Advertisers are their customers, and the platforms will continue to tweak algorithms to ensure best value for their customers, not their users. Which is why Facebook continues to be brazen about all of its data misuse, and why those privacy approvals were vague to begin with.

I haven’t even gotten to ownership, but those thoughts are in a separate post if you’re inclined.

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I cannot but be firmly in the camp that believes this model cannot be the default, and will harm the medium it sets foot in. I get that a content creator is bound to find it difficult to pay monthly subscriptions when compensation seems unlikely or at least years away. But I also know how great it is to be able to tell listeners they can listen to me in any channel they prefer, to own my shows in their entirety.

When I switched hosts last year, I was able to simply redirect my domain & feed, thereby retaining my data and the people listening to my shows without them having to change the way they consumed them.

Why shouldn’t it be like that?

Chirag Desai @Chirag