Sunday, March 1, 2015

Notes from Podcamp Pt 2: Niche-o-nomics

And now, part 2 of highlights from Podcamp 2015 held recently in Toronto. If you missed Part 1, which looked at the future of content consumption in a world of multiple screens and necks crooked either downward or upward, you can catch up by reading it here. 

If you’re not committed enough to do so, that’s okay too, because today’s post picks up on themes explored not only in the previous post but all over this blog, namely the shift from a primarily mass media broadcast environment of limited choices to a cornucopia of niches in which pretty much anyone can publish, podcast, vlog, and blog.  

Now, there are those who have said yes, anyone can throw their stuff up online, and who really cares, because they probably won’t get anywhere. And in the early days of YouTubing and podcasting that was largely true. Sure, there were occasional ‘viral videos’ that moved around the Internet at the speed of greased lightning; but in many ways viral videos were the worst thing that could happen because they fell into the ‘one and done’ category. The chances of your baby, pet, or grandparent doing that unbelievable thing a second time are almost nil. Out of viral videos with tens of millions of views, careers are not generally made.

But what about a more modest level of success? Something a long way from household name type of stardom, and not enough to get you into a lease for a late model car…but what if you could do more or less what you wanted to? And if the money follows, that’s great. But that’s not the primary objective.

The Internet is the perfect place for such we’ll see from this roundup of the Podcamp panel I attended called Niche-o-nomics. Unlike the world of broadcast media, the Internet loves a niche, and these folks shared some of their stories about the benefits of choosing a thin slice of the market and sticking with it. The panel’s moderator was prolific podcaster Anthony Marco and the panellists were Greg David of and Emily Gagne of the ‘girl powered TV site’ Cinefilles (pictured below, L to R).

Things learned during the panel:

-       Greg David was a writer for TV Guide for 15 years…until that day he got called into the boss’ office and realized that because the HR person was also there this wasn’t going to be a meeting about giving him a new column

-        After getting laid off Greg needed to figure out what to do next. He remembered coming across a website called TV Eh, a fan site devoted to Canadian TV shows and the Canadian television industry. It had been run on a volunteer basis by Diane Wild and and had been lying fallow for a while. It had a great brand and great content, so Greg explored picking up the blog baton.

-       But some sort of funding was required. Why don’t we do an Indiegogo, thought Greg. To his surprise, the campaign was embraced not just by fans of Canadian TV shows, but also by Canadian TV executives, broadcasters, and writers.

-       "Once people found out what we were doing we were getting pitched like crazy, and getting better stuff than I did at TV Guide….because people knew we were passionate about this specific topic."

-       The panel concurred: Traditional media is used to rapid fire questions from the interviewer that will be cut down to a 30 second clip for broadcast. With our format people can slow down and talk for an hour because we’re not about filling schedules and formats with soundbites and our audiences wants more, not less.

Moderator Anthony Marco then asked the panelists:

Is the key to success establishing your niche?

The answer: A lot of years – of paid and unpaid work – that’s ultimately what establishes credibility.

To check out the credible podcasts and blogs discussed in this post, click here for the TV Eh podcast and here for the Cinefilles blog. 

Next week: I'll be heading to Austin for SXSW and the Interactive portion of the festival. With any luck I'll be posting some highlights from the festival and/or pictures of oversized helpings of food, should I encounter phenomena such as Texas toast.

Image courtesy

For SXSW 2015 Post #1 click here

Related Posts: 

The 3rd Wave of Podcasting, And How We Got Here
Podcasting: Art, Craft, or Reaching the Niches?
Podcasts outnumber Broadcasts 2-to-1 on iTunes charts
The Economy of 'Big Enough'
YouTube & filmmakers: From the small screen to the big screen..or not