Maybe podcasting does make sense? I didn't really think so, until I received an i-Pod Shuffle for Christmas. Now I'm wondering why my local museum won't let me download the audio onto my Shuffle before I get there. And thinking about the role of advisors in satellite radio. Permit me to explain...
More visual art than auditory art can survive over the centuries, because it is possible to experience it faster. You can listen to far fewer symphonies in your life than you can take in paintings and etchings, for example. One result of this situation is that the only the best music and theatre survive the centuries, and the mediocre is generally lost.
Today, with our desire to have everything FAST, I wondered how long pod-casting, a time-bound serial sort of experience, would survive. People send me invitations to listen to their pod-casts, but I rarely get through them. That was before I actually had an i-Pod myself (and had to listen from my desk).
Now, I could take it with me on the subway if I chose, or to the gym. I still don't want to waste my time on something that isn't interesting and relevant, however -- and neither do you, right? So that sets the production standard fairly high.
Multi-channel satellite radio
Satellite radio, heading the same direction as cable and satellite TV, is going to give us many more channels to choose from, and cause a massive fragmentation in what was left of the commercial audio media market. While the advertising world is anguishing about that, I am wondering how listeners will cope.
Unless you are a serious audiophile, how will you choose what to listen to? Won't the role of critics (i.e. advisors) become more important than ever? And instead of just advising us on specific music, they'll now be recommending channels and programs, rather than individual pieces or artists. Coming soon to your local newspaper's arts and entertainment section.
Understanding Segments Critical to Success
Segmentation, king of marketing science for decades, will come into play here big-time. Take my two buddies, Brian and Jacques. Brian's an investment advisor, and talks to people all day in his office. He gets his news from newspapers and on the web. He wants satellite jazz in his car for the commute: all music, no talk, just try to relax in traffic. The satellite radio offers more novelty than putting on your own CDs, so it adds to the brain stimulation.
The other buddy, Jacques, is a national sales manager and spends much of his day in the car, and most of it on his cell-phone. He describes public radio (CBC in this case) as "my lifeline". He doesn't have enough time to spend with the paper every day, and also wants that companionship that radio has always provided to loyal listeners.
Now there's also room to take your pod-cast into the car. Missed that interview with KD Lang? No problem, just download it and play it later. It's like Tivo for audio.
In this kind of world, content providers won't just need great content; they'll need distribution and promotion savvy.
Pod-cast those gallery tapes, please
While pondering these trends, I visited a museum. I was thinking how great it would be to download the museum talk online and take it with me on my i-Pod. They could still charge me. But they could offer me more program choice, like children's versus aesthete, or historical versus artistic viewpoint. If I missed the show, but bought the catalog, I could still listen to the commentary later. Ultimately, they could get rid of the tape kiosk, and replace it with a download kiosk.
We're just beginning to see the potential for many of these new
communication technologies. It's the start of a new oral tradition.
A note on i-Pod package design:
I know we go on and on in this blog about good design, but I have to tell you that opening my new i-Pod Shuffle was a delicious event of aesthetic bliss. And you can't say that about many products, leave alone their packaging. The box itself evoked the notion of something precious inside, with the simple elegant packaging. The colors and paper quality were all created to be a delight to the senses. Nothing was bundled in an ugly way. I almost hated to dissasemble it, it looked so good.