During its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in 2018, Apple Inc declared that more than 555,000 podcasts were in existence, of which 525,000 were active. The podcast total has since rocketed to 700,000, comprising 29 million episodes. So it seems that podcasting is big business. (Spotify, for example, has earmarked up to $500 million for acquisitions of podcast companies in 2019.)
For resellers of professional-grade audio recording equipment, the opportunity to capitalise on this burgeoning market is great. They just need to tailor their business model to reach a new group of consumers that may not be as tech savvy as existing clients.
A brief history
Roland Professional AV manufactures hardware that enables end users to record or live stream AV via their PC.
Manager Marc Allen says the company’s video mixers combine multiple sources of video and audio – such as a camera, phone, microphone, computer or tablet – and switch between them seamlessly to achieve a professional broadcast or recording.
“In the past three years we have seen a sharp increase in sales as the technical aspect of recording/streaming became simple enough for anyone to manage,” he says.
“The applications for content have broadened enormously.”
Sennheiser has also reported sales growth for its ‘plug and play’ digital solutions.
The company’s pro audio solutions product manager for Australia and New Zealand, Adam Karolewski, says the growth is directly attributed to the rise of podcasting.
“It’s not just established broadcasters and mobile journalists that are looking for professional recording equipment. The barrier to entry is low, so the everyday consumer is also the audience for these products.”
In particular, the ‘new professional’ is driving this uptick.
Budding podcasters generally begin with whatever recording application they have at hand, as content is their main interest rather than the delivery method.
As podcasters improve their skills they realise that good equipment is essential for truly engaging and intelligible content.
Marc says podcasting has also been shown to help organisations radically increase the size of their audience, which has also been a factor in the sales growth of related solutions.
“There are almost limitless activities, businesses, religious communities, special interest groups and general community information channels that can benefit immensely from the audience expansion that podcasts deliver.”
The reseller’s role
With any tech trend, the AV reseller plays a substantial role in bridging the gap between manufacturers and consumers.
As far as podcasting is concerned, the opportunity for resellers is to recognise the huge potential of the technology and present real-world solutions tailored to specific demographics, such as churches, schools, corporations, special interest groups and small businesses.
“Consumers really appreciate a ‘one stop’ solution to achieving their goal,” Marc says.
“Resellers are in a position to bring together all the components in a single package.
Beyond this, there is a great opportunity for resellers in reaching out to new audiences, such as ‘mum and dad’ consumers.
The challenge is tapping into this group, which may be unfamiliar with conventional music stores and professional audio retail channels.
“Resellers need to position themselves differently to speak to this new category of users,” Adam says.
“There would need to be a trend away from listing the detailed specs of products and a move towards educating end users in the benefits of better audio.
“Resellers could be making podcasters aware of the type of equipment available to improve the delivery of their content.”
Kit and caboodle
Marc says the selling point for a podcast ‘kit’ would be the provision of a complete solution that is simple to set up and easy enough for a novice to use.
Essentially, the equipment required is a microphone, camera, headphones and a computer. The addition of a video switcher ties all of this together, making professional and polished content possible.
According to Sennheiser, the key is an excellent microphone.
“A podcast is the delivery of the spoken word in its purest sense,” Adam says.
“It is speech without the comfortable shroud of musical backing. Capturing every nuance and intonation is paramount in delivering engaging content.
“Couple that with ease of use and simple set-up. We’re not talking about sound engineers here – these are people for whom the message is key, not the audio engineering.”
Marc says avoiding poor equipment is as important as seeking high-quality solutions from reputable providers.
“A bad kit is complicated with lots of separate components, requiring knowledge that the novice will not have.
“A good kit will streamline the equipment and combine as much of it as possible in a single device. For example, the Roland VR-1HD combines an audio mixer, video switcher, audio clips and the USB streaming/recording converter.
“It’s really like having a television studio in a lunchbox.”
Adam says it is always recommended that podcasters use a quality microphone rather than the inbuilt microphone of their phone, computer or camera. These can often result in poor audio quality: distortion, lack of speech intelligibility or external noise pick-up.
Cast a glance
The immediate future seems promising for the podcasting market as more companies vie to become serious contenders.
Also, more people will begin to understand how accessible the technology is, and what a difference it can make to any business or event.
(It’s important to note that the equipment required for podcasting can easily produce content for staff training, remote conferencing, corporate websites, product releases, and social and digital engagement at every level.)
As podcasting continues to grow in popularity, the solutions offered will multiply as end users search for their perfect set-up.
“More podcasts are popping up every day on almost every topic imaginable,” Adam says.
“Podcasting is a platform for anyone to voice opinions and commentary in a way that will engage and challenge their peers.”