2021 has been an incredible year for podcasting, but what does 2022 have install for us? Let's find out with Sam Sethi, podcast industry veteran and knowledge curator.
Can you believe it's almost the end of 2021? What a year! I always like to review what's ahead for us in the podcasting industry, so I invited Sam Sethi, a 30-year podcast veteran, to tell us what he thinks. Sam is the Operational Director at Viral Tribe, the Managing Director at River Radio, and the host and producer of Podland News. A terrific podcast that he does with James Cridland from Podnews.
I am so glad I reached out and asked him to chat with me because he shared some fantastic insights into what we should look forward to next year and the future.
We touch on what Apple and Spotify have been doing right and wrong this last year, what impressive development is happening with independent developers in the space, and why Sam doesn't bet on YouTube podcasting lasting. And so much more, so make sure you listen through to the end.
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Ep 77 - Sam Sethi
[00:00:29] Heather Osgood: Hello, and welcome to the Podcast Advertising Playbook. I'm your host, Heather Osgood. And today on the program, we have Sam Sethi. Sam and I sat down a couple of weeks ago and did a “live” on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube talking about our predictions for the upcoming months and years for the podcast industry.
[00:00:50] Heather Osgood: It was such a great conversation, that I wanted to bring it to you here on the podcast as well. If you're not familiar with Sam, I would definitely recommend you check out his [00:01:00] work. He's the operational director at Viral Tribe and the managing director at River Radio. And the host and producer of Podland News, which is a terrific podcast that he does with James Cridland from Podnews.
[00:01:15] Heather Osgood: It is a terrific podcast, and if you haven't had a chance to check it out, I highly recommend that you go and listen to the show. They talk about all things in the podcast industry, and it's definitely a big resource. Without further ado, here's my conversation with Sam Sethi.
[00:01:32] Heather Osgood: Welcome to the program, Sam.
[00:01:34] Sam Sethi: Hey. Thanks for having me, Heather.
[00:01:37] Heather Osgood: Now you are obviously in the UK, and you come into that. You're in Manchester right now, which is about how far away from your home?
[00:01:46] Sam Sethi: Three hours by train. And it's wet. It's cold and it's miserable. But hey, that's what you expect of England, so what else?
[00:01:53] Heather Osgood: I have to say, anytime I talk to somebody from the UK, they always talk about the weather and how wet and cold it is.
[00:01:59] Heather Osgood: [00:02:00] Is it really true? Is it really all that wet and cold?
[00:02:03] Sam Sethi: It's always wet and cold. Why we don't actually all just leave this island and go somewhere warm, I have no idea. We collectively have this amnesia about what warmth looks like, so we seem to be happy. But then when we speak to Swedes, we go- actually it's much better where we are, so we're fine.
[00:02:21] Heather Osgood: I do not. I am, well, I live in Florida for a reason. Because I really do like the warmth. But man, I just, I don't know. I don't think I would not be as happy a person if it were wet and cold all the time. For sure.
[00:02:35] Sam Sethi: Yeah. That's why we have sarcasm and pubs. That's the reason we invented those two things.
[00:02:41] Sam Sethi: Yes.
[00:02:41] Heather Osgood: Yes. For sure. Well, so Sam. If people aren't familiar with you, can you just give us a quick overview of your history in the industry?
[00:02:50] Sam Sethi: Yeah. So sadly, 30-years in the industry.
[00:02:54] Heather Osgood: Wow. I didn't realize that. That's crazy. Congratulations.
[00:02:57] Sam Sethi: Yeah. Thank you very much. I'm not sure where [00:03:00] congratulations are in order, but there you go. Yeah, I've been around a while. Started out in the very early days of a company called Microsoft, that many people didn't know when I joined it. Certainly, my parents had no idea what I was joining. And then I joined a company called Netscape, which no one knew about. And I remember explaining what a browser was to people.
[00:03:18] Sam Sethi: That was hilarious. And then subsequently did a whole bunch of startups of my own, and then something called, Tech Crunch. You know, this well-known online thing. I sort of got involved, and I started the European version of Tech Crunch. And then I sort of rang James up one day, and I said: “James Cridland, I would like to be your Robin to Batman.”
[00:03:38] Sam Sethi: So would you let me join you? And we'll create this thing called Podland, and that's what we did.
[00:03:43] Heather Osgood: That is awesome. Very, very cool. Well, thank you so much for sharing. In terms of your, I would say position within the industry, I think what is so cool is that you have this perspective of all of these different [00:04:00] things, right? You are an outside opinion in many ways, and you get to see the inner workings of a lot of different happenings.
[00:04:09] Heather Osgood: Would you say that that's the case, just because of how much information comes to you guys?
[00:04:14] Sam Sethi: Yeah. I mean, we have no influence or knowledge really. We just look around. And no, genuinely what I'd say is that look, if you've been around the industry long enough, you've seen the things come around. There's very little that's new.
[00:04:28] Sam Sethi: And what I love about podcasting, it reminds me of the early days of blogging, and how that evolved, and where it went. And so when I'm looking at things like the Podcast Index, or I'm looking at new podcasts or production companies, I can anchor those back to some of the early days of blogging and where that started.
[00:04:46] Sam Sethi: Yeah, I guess I am an outsider completely. I'm not in a corporate company. I'm not in a podcast startup that requires me to be doing this. So in that sense, yeah, we look at it and we are [00:05:00] ambivalent to what's going on with companies, and therefore I can just say, look, we think Apple's wrong, and Spotify's right.
[00:05:06] Sam Sethi: Or someone's wrong, and not feel that we've got any allegiance to anyone.
[00:05:11] Heather Osgood: Yeah, which I think can be some of the most fun conversations. One of the things that I was talking with someone the other day about, and I would guess with 30 years in the industry, you've seen this more than most is, often we see these new companies that are coming in and they say things like.
[00:05:31] Heather Osgood: Oh, you podcasters. You really don't know what you're doing over there. You're missing out on so many things. I'm going to come in, you know, my company, all of my VC funding, we're going to come in and we're going to save you all. We've got this great brand new idea.
[00:05:46] Heather Osgood: I don't know why you guys haven't thought of this, or why you're not doing this, but we're going to come in and help you out here. I find that the longer I've been in the industry, the more and more I see that happening. Is that something that I would guess you see as well?[00:06:00]
[00:06:00] Sam Sethi: Sorry. Were you talking to Mark Cuban and Fireside?
[00:06:05] Heather Osgood: Oh my gosh. That was great. That was really a great conversation. Well, I guess it wasn't a conversation because he was talking at us, but you know. Yes, it was not a fireside chat.
[00:06:16] Sam Sethi: The problem is when industries like podcasting begin to take off, and it is. Apple did a good enough job to keep the industry ticking over podcasting for about 10 years but really didn't do anything to make the industry grow or evolve. And then Adam Curry, bless his cotton socks, you know, the “Podfather” came back and started saying, well, why don’t we add some tags to the RSS, and changed and shifted up a gear a bit.
[00:06:44] Sam Sethi: And suddenly in the last two, maybe three years, the industry has started to see a fundamental change in growth. And I think, also, agencies and PR companies and brands are beginning to wake up to the opportunity that podcasting [00:07:00] offers. Now look, there are 4 million-plus podcasts, and the long tail isn't going to get much traction right now.
[00:07:06] Sam Sethi: Mum and dad might look at someone's podcast. It's well known that you know, something like 70% of the Anchor podcasts started and ended. And a lot of people say by the seventh episode, most people drop off a cliff. So, there is a lot of crowds out there in terms of the 4 million isn't 4 million active, but all the active podcasts that are growing and the production companies that are coming and the opportunity to reach niche audiences, or growth audiences.
[00:07:36] Sam Sethi: And I think suddenly the industry is waking up and saying, okay, yeah, I can see how I can use dynamic ad insertion to get involved here and do this and whatever, or present a lead script. And of course, what that brings with it is people who have money, but no understanding of the industry. They just go, oh yeah, I can see this money in there.
[00:07:56] Sam Sethi: I'm going to drop into the middle of this industry and I'll tell you how to do it. Cause I [00:08:00] have money. That doesn't work. I think there are some amazing production companies out there like Wondery and others who are around there, like Gimlet, who've done really well and they've grown great content.
[00:08:13] Sam Sethi: I think they're the ones that you want to look at and say, you know, how are they evolving and building and monetizing and looking at the different ways. Not people who come in VC-backed with tons of money with no experience.
[00:08:26] Heather Osgood: Right. Well, I have found that too and I totally agree with you. I have found that a lot of the companies that come into the space, come in, and they've already established doing something else.
[00:08:35] Heather Osgood: And they're like, oh, we're just going to tack podcasting on. And to me, I feel like that in itself, isn't super effective because it's like, they just see that there's opportunity. And so they feel like if they can just tack podcasting into what they already do, that, you know, they might as well. It's an obviously growing industry.
[00:08:54] Heather Osgood: Let's see what we can do over there. From your perspective, when you look at all [00:09:00] of the different changes that have happened in the last year, is there anything that stands out to you as maybe something that was most impactful?
[00:09:09] Sam Sethi: Yeah, I think there is a sea change occurring. You've got the closed camp. The Sagar, as I call them. You know, Spotify, Apple, Google, and Amazon.
[00:09:20] Sam Sethi: And in case you don't know, Sagar is the over-fifties insurance company in the United Kingdom for old people. So that's why we call them The Sagar Camp. I mean, they're over there. Look, they're doing their thing, and they've got big budgets and they will grow. But the exciting stuff's happening over on the other side, which is the Podcast Index stuff that Dave Jones and Adam Curry are doing. And I highly recommend your listeners go and look at some of the stuff that's happening.
[00:09:48] Sam Sethi: Because what they're doing is creating all these exciting new ways for monetization, such as the value for value. New and exciting ways for actually getting your podcast [00:10:00] discovered. New and exciting ways for code commenting. So there's a new standard, which allows all of these third-party podcast apps like Customatic and stuff.
[00:10:11] Sam Sethi: It allows them to share comments across streams. And so suddenly that's where the exciting change, the growth, is coming. Over on this side of the fence, I think, it's business as usual. They're just going to take exclusive shows, try and monetize them with advertising, and try and just grow an audience short-term, and then try and find the next exclusive.
[00:10:36] Sam Sethi: And that's fine. That's what they want to do. And that's fine. But that's the exciting part of where I see podcasts. And I'll talk more about that if you want, Heather, later. But that's where I think in 2022, we'll certainly be where we'll see a sea of change in podcasting.
[00:10:52] Heather Osgood: That's interesting. So it sounds to me like maybe the big money that has come into the space, you're not [00:11:00] really seeing that as being as impactful, perhaps as maybe more of the independent work that's going on?
[00:11:09] Sam Sethi: Yeah. Hello. Spotify has deep pockets, so they throw how much at Joe Rogan? Look at Michelle Obama, who I love, right? I absolutely love her as a person. But, you know, her podcast was dull as ditchwater. It was boring as hell. And she got an exclusive and got paid a lot, right. Bruce Springsteen and Mr. Obama got another one. Right? Great, but did that actually move the needle in terms of subscriptions for Spotify?
[00:11:37] Sam Sethi: That's what I'd love to know. Did a hundred million actually return two hundred billion to Spotify? I doubt it very much. And so what is that strategy really there for? Is it a vanity strategy? Is that a strategy that says, look, we're bigger than you, Apple, for whatever reason they want to do it. I'm not quite sure. The stock price, [00:12:00] it moved a bit, but was that because of green rooms? Was that because of their acquisition today of audiobooks, or it doesn't have for me, a joint up strategy? And I've got a prediction that I've said with James for a long time. I see Netflix and Spotify merging in 12-months.
[00:12:19] Heather Osgood: That is so interesting. So tell me more about that. Why do you think that they would want to merge?
[00:12:25] Sam Sethi: If you look at Amazon, Amazon has got music, films, it's got the product. Jeff Bezos is talking about adding an Amazon coin. There are other areas. They certainly want to look at a Clubhouse-like service. I’m sorry with all my predictions, but I suspect Clubhouse won't survive much longer.
[00:12:44] Sam Sethi: It will be an acquisition by Apple or Amazon. One of them will buy it. But in that one membership of Prime, you will suddenly have the ability to have TV, video, podcast, audiobooks, et cetera, et cetera. So you've got this spectrum of audio and [00:13:00] video. You look at Netflix, its video and they dabbled with a little bit of audio where they produce an audio of a show, which then is like a companion app to the video.
[00:13:12] Sam Sethi: You look at Spotify, and they're having to broaden out of music because music is not a revenue generator in the long term volume. So they're acquiring other things. They've got their Clubhouse version. They've now gone into books. But they haven't got video, not to the extent of having a Netflix library.
[00:13:30] Sam Sethi: And then you go to Apple. Apple's got Apple + TV, it's got Apple Music, it's got Apple Podcasts. So both Apple and Amazon are very well targeted to the consumer of providing multiple ways of entertainment. And I see Netflix has got one thing, Spotify has got another, it just to me makes a lot of sense to merge.
[00:13:51] Sam Sethi: And then the other thing you need to look at, Heather, is who's on the board of Netflix and who's on the board of Spotify. Strangely, there's a couple of people who are on the board of [00:14:00] both.
[00:14:02] Heather Osgood: Interesting. I love that prediction. Do you think that there's a point at which these mega-companies have too much going on and they're not really serving their audience well because they're not focused on them?
[00:14:20] Sam Sethi: I think when you look at Apple, if you look at the last product announcements, podcasting has about 30-seconds of an announcement or less. Oh, and we've done subscriptions. Thanks, Tim, and we move on. So you've got to imagine in Tim's world, of all the things that are going on, podcasting represents 0.01% of no interest to him at all.
[00:14:43] Sam Sethi: That generally reflects on the fact that the Apple Podcast app has not really evolved. So we'll see. Spotify, I think, is all in on podcasting. I actually genuinely think they are trying to move the needle forward. I think [00:15:00] the UI (User-Interface) is awful.
[00:15:01] Heather Osgood: I think it's awful too, and I don't understand why more people don't talk about it. It's really weird to me.
[00:15:07] Sam Sethi: Yeah, I think they've got the innovator's dilemma. I think they're struggling with how to take what they've got as an app and merge that with podcasting and audiobooks and green rooms. I was saying to my colleague on Podland, James, maybe they need to do a meta or an alphabet, and a renamed Spotify Roost, and Roost means voice in Swedish.
[00:15:33] Sam Sethi: And I just think that they should come up with a different name and say, look, we have an app for music, and we're going to create an app for podcasts. And take podcasting out of the Spotify app. Create a standalone app. Have a standalone app for green rooms, for live audio, and a standalone one for books, and just separate them out.
[00:15:52] Sam Sethi: So they're doing an awful job of merging them because I don't know if you've tried green rooms. Yeah, Heather, but [00:16:00] now you see, I have to log in with a separate new account and have to create a new thing. So hang on, I'm a Spotify customer, why am I logging in with something else, right? And even though today as a listener to a green room, I can now go to the website, and just log in and just watch a green room.
[00:16:18] Sam Sethi: I don't get that synergy. There's no synergy. That reminds me a little bit of Instagram and Facebook. I can log in with Facebook and I know they have built more links between WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, but they're still separate products. And that feels like what Spotify has. So maybe because it's all of the moment and trendy, they'll rename themselves to some meta number, name, and that's their strategy.
[00:16:43] Sam Sethi: But their UI is awful.
[00:16:46] Heather Osgood: It is. And sometimes I go in and I think, is it just me? Am I the only one who doesn’t like this app? And then I feel like I consistently hear people say again and [00:17:00] again that they don't like it. If you had been a Spotify user for years and years, I think that it is something you're much more comfortable with.
[00:17:07] Heather Osgood: And it's not that I hadn't used Spotify. When Spotify made the announcement, I had the app on my phone, right? It wasn't like I wasn't shocked that all of a sudden, you know, I had to go into Spotify and ask what was this new fangled thing or anything. But that's the most frustrating part to me when I try to use something and it doesn't work.
[00:17:22] Heather Osgood: And I think, I want to like this. I don't. So yeah, I think that they really could, they could serve the podcast community so much better with a better UI.
[00:17:34] Sam Sethi: Yes. I mean, look, there's a couple of things I'll say, Apple has done one thing well, they created channels, right? Which I thought was quite a nice idea.
[00:17:41] Sam Sethi: Aggregating multiple podcasts into one channel. Certainly for somebody like myself who owns a radio station with lots and podcasts that we do. Creating one radio channel for me, where all my podcasts are, fantastic. But they don't go far enough. Why can't I now subscribe to the channel? So I could [00:18:00] subscribe to all the podcasts in that channel, but I don't.
[00:18:03] Sam Sethi: So they don't think it through. A good example is, you can go to Spotify, and I can aggregate episodes from an individual podcast, but I can't aggregate podcasts into a single playlist, right. So, I don't know who is using these technologies, who are devising this software . Because you're right, Heather, or anyone else who uses podcasts, and cares about it.
[00:18:30] Sam Sethi: So I don't know. It's just weird.
[00:18:34] Heather Osgood: It is so strange. Yeah. I have to ask about YouTube because I really do think that YouTube could totally change the face of podcasting if they wanted to. Any thoughts about YouTube’s position in the marketplace?
[00:18:52] Sam Sethi: I think it's Google at its worst and best isn't it, typically?
[00:18:56] Sam Sethi: So, yes, I see what you mean by, look, [00:19:00] stick podcast up onto YouTube. Create it. It's another channel, right? The problem is typical Google. They've got Google podcasting now, they've got YouTube developed. They just recruited a person to run Google, YouTube Podcasting, right? But that's not the same person who runs Google podcasting.
[00:19:18] Sam Sethi: And that's a bit like Google messenger and chat, and all these other products. I don't trust Google. Sorry, I know that sounds like
[00:19:28] Sam Sethi: I don't trust them since they destroyed the RSS reader, which was my go-to tool for everything. Right? And the day they destroyed that, I didn't trust them. Because every time I invest time, energy, and money into Google, they get bored of a product and they decide to, ah, I've had enough. Yeah. It didn't make a billion this week, right? Eject, next. And then it's just like, oh, why can't I, why couldn't you just keep a product going and see it through, because there are people who use it. I [00:20:00] mean, let's not talk about Google's social media strategy, because there wasn't one that started and died. Right? Google Plus.
[00:20:06] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I actually totally forgot about that.
[00:20:08] Sam Sethi: Yeah. So all of these things that Google does, I never invest any time into anything new that Google does anymore.
[00:20:14] Sam Sethi: And Google Podcasting and Google YouTube Podcasts, whatever they want to call it. You know, I won't, I don't recommend putting any time, energy, or money into it because it will be short-termism from Google.
[00:20:27] Heather Osgood: And your prediction is it will be short-term because it's not going to make the kind of money that they're interested in.
[00:20:33] Heather Osgood: So, will it be like a similar Apple thing, where it's like, eh, you know, it's there, but it's almost more of an annoyance than an actual thing.
[00:20:42] Sam Sethi: Yeah. It's probably 0.0, 1% on the balance sheet. And so, you know, when Sundar Pichai looks at it and goes, Hmm, podcasting what's that then? It doesn't matter to them, right?
[00:20:52] Sam Sethi: It doesn't. And so I can't see that actually becoming a focus of their attention. [00:21:00] I think if, as we said earlier if there is much more of an evolution away from blogs and from other areas into podcasting, where PR agencies and companies understand the value of podcasts and what they can deliver to audiences, then maybe they will do it.
[00:21:18] Sam Sethi: I mean, Google's got another big problem, by the way, Heather. That hasn’t to do with podcasting and has to do with smart digital assistants. They are absolutely, excuse my French, screwed. Because you and I, when we do a Google search, get 10 results. Agreed? And then we get three ads at the top and a whole bunch of ads down the side.
[00:21:36] Sam Sethi: Well, ask your Google assistant the next time, the number for your Chinese takeaway. You get one result. Imagine if you got 10 results, four adverts? You've never used your Google assistant again. They've got so many other worries to worry about with Amazon Alexa, and Google assistants, and search not being the way that we use eventually, because of voice.
[00:21:57] Sam Sethi: I don't think podcasting is even on their radar. [00:22:00]
[00:22:00] Heather Osgood: Hmm, that is really interesting. Well, I appreciate that feedback. So, let's circle back to Podcast Index. I know you were talking about that being your big prediction. So tell us more about that. And to be honest, I'm not super familiar. I haven't spent a lot of time really focusing on that.
[00:22:17] So tell us more.
[00:22:18] Sam Sethi: So, two very clever people. Adam Curry, “the Podfather” and Dave Jones, sat back properly and said, look, you know the needle on podcasting isn't moving. What can we do to come up with, I suppose, a better name, RSS 2.0. So they extended the XML namespace and came up with a bunch of tags.
[00:22:42] Sam Sethi: So they started off with the people tag. Now proprietary-wise, Apple had been doing that for a while. So if you go into your Apple Podcast App and you find famous people, Apple somewhere hand-coding, are adding those people to the podcast as a [00:23:00] people. So who's the host, who's the guest. That's great, but that's not scalable, right?
[00:23:06] Sam Sethi: Not certainly to 4 million podcasts. And then they started looking at other areas, things like the location of where the podcast talks about, not where it was recorded, but where it talks about. Then they started adding other tags. So there are now three or four phases of tags. I think what they're doing is saying, look, we're going to make it so that the open podcast apps have as much of a chance to compete with the closed proprietary platforms.
[00:23:34] Sam Sethi: I said earlier, one of my backgrounds, I was one of the early Netscape product managers. And I was in the browser war. And I remember very well fighting Microsoft in the trenches. And if you can remember back to Internet Explorer, six or seven with active ex, that was going to save the web and they were going to make it all, but it's totally proprietary to Microsoft. And the open web, which was what Netscape was [00:24:00] about with all the HTML extensions, and I feel we're in that same war. We're in a podcast war. We're in a war with Apple and Spotify, which are the proprietary closed platforms, who are not serving the community per serving themselves. And I think you're seeing the Podcast Index, and the guys behind it, and all of the supporting apps that are out there, are trying to evolve the way that we consume content through podcasting.
[00:24:29] Sam Sethi: And I think they will be nimbler, faster, and much more responsive to the needs of podcasters. So that eventually, they will offer a better option to consuming content, rather than the way that we consume it through Apple and Spotify.
[00:24:47] Heather Osgood: That would be amazing. So in terms of tags, is the purpose of the tag just for searchability?
[00:24:56] Sam Sethi: Yeah. So, let's say you're on [00:25:00] Podchaser and you wanted to find out all the podcasts that Heather's been on. As both the host and a guest, right? That's the people tag. You might want to find out all the different things related to, let's say comments about this podcast, right? But today, how do you comment on a podcast?
[00:25:20] Sam Sethi: It's very difficult, with most clients. But comments and interactivity on that feedback loop are what we as creators of podcasts want. We want to know, did you enjoy it? Did you hate it? What did we do, right? You can't do that inside of Spotify and Apple, but I want to have that. And if I get that, so Castapod and Fountain and all these other exciting new young apps are bringing in commenting.
[00:25:48] Sam Sethi: So again, audiograms, the ability to snip it, parts of the show, and share that easily. So there are all of these different ways that we want to be able to provide. Now we were talking today [00:26:00] on Portland about a really clever new app called Clever.FM. And they're using AI to transcribe in real-time, the podcast, and look at all the links. Let's say, we've just talked about the Podcast Index. We talked about Netscape. We talked about all sorts of other things. In the show notes, they're automatically exposing links to that out. So as a listener, I've already got all the info about Heather and Sam, and I've got all the information cards, about all these other things.
[00:26:28] Sam Sethi: So suddenly, the audio that we're talking about becomes much more metadata, that the listener can get. So those sorts of evolving ways that we can use podcasting to expose the rest of the web, and what we're talking about, and break it up into nice little chunks of information that we can share on social media.
[00:26:48] Sam Sethi: We don't want to do this. Today, you and I, I'm sure after this Heather, you've got the unenviable task to listen to this again with me, otherwise not. And then find the snippets of information you [00:27:00] want to take, and put those out onto social media. Why can't we find it? AI. Now I know there are things like Lately and Headliner who do that, but I think,
[00:27:10] Sam Sethi: that's never going to come from Spotify and Apple. That's what I'm trying to say. They're not going to evolve the platforms fast enough to actually add value to the listener, and also to the creator.
[00:27:23] Heather Osgood: Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. One final thought, and then I know we need to start wrapping it up here. So I was so frustrated this last weekend, and it's happened to me many, many, many times.
[00:27:34] Heather Osgood: I'm sure it's happened to you as well. I was listening to a podcast, and I really liked the guest. And of course, they talked about the guest’s podcast. So then, I went on to Apple and I searched for the show, and I couldn't find it. And then I went on Castbox, which is the other app I use, and I couldn't find it.
[00:27:50] Heather Osgood: And I was very frustrated that this guy obviously gave the wrong name of his podcast. So I was walking, I got back to my desk, I went and looked for it, and oh, [00:28:00] I forgot the "the" right? So if I had put in "the", I would have found the podcast, but because I forgot that one really important word, I couldn't find the show. And it was so frustrating to me because I just want to say, how, how can we be this far and yet this far behind. Right?
[00:28:20] Heather Osgood: For me, I'm like that in and of itself really kills discoverability. If, for instance, the other day, I had a question about a staff-related issue I was having. So I went onto YouTube and I typed in, hey, I want videos about X, Y, and Z. Oh, wouldn't you know, like, a million videos pop up about that topic. I would love to go into a podcast player and say- I want to listen to podcasts about this particular thing. You know, how to make sourdough bread for instance, right? And then I'm going to kind of get a whole list of all the podcast episodes talking about how to make sourdough bread. How is it that we are, like I said, so [00:29:00] far down this evolutionary road, and yet basic search capabilities still seem so, missing? So absent from the space.
[00:29:10] Sam Sethi: Yeah. I mean, the biggest problem in podcasting is discoverability, right?
[00:29:14] Sam Sethi: That's the challenge we all face. Is when you take a thirty-minute, fifty-minute, one-hour, Joe Rogan, four-hour podcast, how do you find the content within the content, the value? That is where the metadata level, the stuff that the Podcast Index is doing, the show notes, the chapters, the imagery around chapters, all of these other things that we do. AI like in Clever.FM, trying to extract that content.
[00:29:42] Sam Sethi: So that eventually, yeah, Heather, you should be able to go to Google, who are indexing all of the podcasts now and say, I just want to find something that is about sourdough making. In the middle of all the blogs and the podcasts, and then be able to filter and just say, just podcasts. And there it is, and then go down to a chapter [00:30:00] level, which is the chapter that just talks about it in a whole podcast.
[00:30:04] Sam Sethi: Will that come? I guess it will eventually. It's just a slow burn. We're getting there. Will we get it from inside the big four? I don't think so. Will we get it from everyone else doing it? Yeah.
[00:30:17] Heather Osgood: Yeah.
[00:30:20] Sam Sethi: It will take time. I'm confident given the energy and the input from some super smart developers, who are really working hard to make this stuff work together, I think that's where we’ll end up. You know, some of my favorite products on the market, Descript, do you use it? We do. We love it. Yeah. Now imagine editing your podcast before Descript. It was just a nightmare, right?
[00:30:43] Sam Sethi: For me, it was anyway. And now it's a cinch, I love it. I mean, is the transcript great? No, it's about 80% good, right? So they've got a way to go. But some of the tools they have to make podcasting much easier. Headliner, now auto [00:31:00] enables you to create a nice little album cover, but also they've just added, have you heard of Disco, the product they've come up with?
[00:31:06] Heather Osgood: I feel like I have heard of it, but I haven't dived in.
[00:31:11] Sam Sethi: So what’s nice, imagine you've got your website and you use Disco, which is not in. It looks at using AI, and the transcript of this podcast as an example, or your other shows, and it will recommend another podcast within your podcast series.
[00:31:31] Sam Sethi: Yeah. So suddenly you've got the linkability and clicks. Now, all of these are taking their time. Is it perfect? Probably not. When we talk about 2022, I'm really bullish on the growth of podcasting, on the revenue of podcasting, and the tools of podcasting. I still think we've got a way to go.
[00:31:54] Sam Sethi: I think we've got a two, three-year window of massive growth in the world of podcasting. And that's why I'm excited [00:32:00] by it. What beyond the three-year window? It's not worth even trying, but I think in the next two, three years, we will see better tools to help us monetize, discover, and share, and interactively comment. All of those things are coming. And that's what I think will make podcasts even more exciting.
[00:32:21] Heather Osgood: Well, Sam, thank you so much for joining me today. The conversation has been terrific, so I really appreciate you being here. If folks are interested in connecting with you, where can they go to do that?
[00:32:32] Sam Sethi: So I'd recommend going to Podnews or Podland.news. Come in and visit us on @podlandnews.
[00:32:39] Sam Sethi: If you want to find me personally, I'm on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter @SamSethi.
[00:32:45] Heather Osgood: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Sam. It was great chatting. And thank you guys for listening in today. We will talk to you again soon.
Founder and Podcaster
Sam is a 30-year veteran of the IT industry, having worked in senior director roles for Microsoft, Netscape, and Gateway Computers. Sam has also sold four companies, started TechCrunch EMEA, and owns a podcast-first radio station called River Radio. You can catch him on his podcast, Podland News, that he co-hosts with James Cridland of Podnews. In his spare time, Sam teaches martial arts and imports German wine to the UK.