The New York Times on Apple’s Dominant Position in Podcasting

John Herrman, writing for the NYT Saturday:

Interviews with over two dozen podcasters and people inside Apple reveal a variety of complaints. The podcasters say that they are relegated to wooing a single Apple employee for the best promotion. That sharing on social media is cumbersome. And that for podcasters to make money, they need more information about their listeners, and Apple is in a unique position to provide it. The problems, they say, could even open up an opportunity for a competitor.

“The lack of podcast data is kind of shocking,” said Gina Delvac, the producer of “Call Your Girlfriend,” a popular show about pop culture and politics.

Data data data. Publishers crave data — but one of the things I love about podcasts is that the format blocks the collection of most data, because there is no code that gets executed. JavaScript has brought the web to the brink of ruin, but there’s no JavaScript in podcasting. Just an RSS feed and MP3 files. The assumption that more data will somehow allow shows to make more money — I don’t buy it.

Apple’s stance as the giant of the industry remains undisputed, though, and podcasters are left to navigate a complicated relationship with the company. Most send messages to the company at a general email address. To those who have direct contact, their relationship centers on one person: Steve Wilson.

Mr. Wilson, podcasters say, acts as Apple’s de facto podcast gatekeeper. Attention from him can be the difference between a hit and a dud — and between a podcast that pays and one that doesn’t.

It’s fascinating that Apple and iTunes remain so dominant in podcasting.

Monday, 9 May 2016