In many ways than one, the world of podcasting is in its ‘wild, wild, west’ moment with so much happening but it also begs the question: are celebrities ruining podcasting?
As we’re well aware, the podcasting industry has had such a massive influx of interest from major streaming platforms over the past year. Surprisingly, non-traditional platforms like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Twitter have made a focus on podcasting/audio by adding podcasts/social audio to their platforms.
Naturally, the clientele these platforms work with, combined with 2020’s global lockdown steadily pushed celebrities into towards this medium.
Between 2020 and 2021, there are now thousands of celebrity hosted podcasts with Spotify produced majority of these via their deals. Apple is soon to be banking in on their own exclusive podcasts. With many other platforms joining the podcast/social audio sphere, the future is certainly shining bright for the podcasting industry.
Celebrities in podcasting
The impact of 2020’s global pandemic and lockdown meant that virtually everyone in the world stopped working: that is ofcourse aside from our key workers.
The lockdown meant that for once, everyone: celebrity and non-celebrities were treated with the same laws surrounding travel/work. It meant that movie/music releases were pushed back due to travel/working restrictions that majorly affected the entertainment and travel industries.
Alas, with everyone at home, the surge at which the podcasting industry grew was surprising but mostly welcomed with open arms. This meant that with schedules clear for months, plenty of celebrities flocked towards this medium as a way of connecting with their audiences and creating new content.
Ofcourse, for podcasting networks and streaming giants like Apple/Spotify/iHeartRadio, the insurgence of celebrity hosted podcasts is a no brainer because the returns (profits) are guaranteed: which makes perfect sense.
Big names equal big audiences, and with podcast advertising forecasted to hit atleast $1 billion, it’s are more likely to throw cash at a podcast with an A-lister attached. Take the Joe Rogan deal as an example.
“It’s easier to rest on established audiences rather than learning what it takes to create a new one. Whether a big network or an independent, neither know how to market a new podcast, so the answer becomes ‘Let’s put a celebrity in it and rely on their years of experience building their own brand.’” Renay Richardson, founder of Broccoli Productions, a London-based podcast production company
Are celebrities ruining podcasting?
Celebrity podcasts are a breath of fresh air and offer a totally new perspective of the individuals we see on our TVs in music videos or on cinema screens. The problem is however that naturally, the ‘under dogs’ (i.e. niche podcast creators with much smaller audiences) become lost in the sea of celebrity worship.
For instance, in March this year, Spotify announced a focus on female creators with the the creation of the EQUAL hub on the app. Apple had also announced a ‘Spotlight’ feature that promises to offer better discoverability to new podcasters.
The problem with both features is that when you access both apps, you’ll notice that female celebrities (musicians/podcast hosts) dominate these spaces. Podcast discoverability is already a massive issue in the industry and whilst features like this are created to address this issue, it doesn’t seem like much of it will be favourable towards smaller podcast creators. Which begs the question: where does this leave podcasters with smaller platforms but with equally important messages to offer their audiences?
We’ve also noticed that podcasting giants have invested a fair amount into solidifying the future of the industry. One can only imagine that these recommendations were heavily influenced by podcast creators.
Therefore, with the influx of celebrity podcasts, does this mean their outtakes and feedback will over ride/be taken more seriously that of regular creators? Ofcourse it’s not to say that niche/smaller podcasters’ recommendations will be swept under the carpet but rather, will celebrity responses outweigh other opinions?
The perceived problem isn’t to do with the saturation of the podcasting industry but rather with the influx of a small group of people whose sudden interest to the scene may change/alter the landscape of podcasting.