Tuesday, August 14

When Casey Neistat Starts A Podcast

When A-list YouTuber Casey Neistat announces he wants to do a podcast, you know podcasting was the right thing to get into 12 years ago. 

In his video update Casey Neistat says he needs to “figure it out first” … no, wait, he says “we need this time to figure things out how to do it, best practises, …” which of course means: someone from his team needs to figure it out, not Casey himself. He briefly touches on things like they need needs a studio, on sound quality and on figuring out a distribution method.

 

Sorry, but to a podcaster who has done this for 12 years, this sounds strange. 

Of course, nowadays, if you use the term “podcast”, it might mean any of 500 different things. It could be a cultural phenomenon or a distribution channel for radio shows. Above all (and this is coming from one of the original podcasters) podcast is real.

All the things Casey mentions sound like they’re looking at a polished production that would be a better fit for radio. And I have nothing against radio. Other than it isn’t podcast. And it is a medium on a time and location limited distribution channel, where every piece has to be edited down to the point where loses part of its soul. 

Podcast is raw, podcast is real, podcast is authentic.

When Adam Savage was hired by SyFy to host their Origin Stories podcast series, I was first thrilled. Then when I listened to it, it turned out to be highly polished versions (dare I say radio-fied?) of wonderful conversations. And with each episode I listened to, I wished they had just left the whole one-hour-or-longer  conversations in there or at least made them available for me to listen. The highly polished versions of those talks just don’t appeal to me. They’re a photoshopped version of a wonderful original. With the wrinkles removed and a few pounds taken off the hips. Hell, I would’ve loved to hear Neil Gaiman’s ummm’s and aaah’s and him clearing his throat. Instead someone took the life out of it.

That’s missing the true potential of this wonderful medium.

With Casey Neistat now working for CNN (they bought his company Beme last year), I can only assume that Casey’s podcast will go the same direction. Polished material edited by people who come from an old media background and who want to cater to an audience that has been conditioned to expect bite-sized polished pieces of sound-bites. People who have forgotten how great raw content can feel.

And there’s one more more surprise in store for Casey: audiences don’t really translate between media. A YouTube viewer will not become a podcast listener. His podcast will not end up anywhere near having the 8.6 million subscribers that his YouTube channel has. His podcast episodes will not get anywhere near the couple of million of listens that his videos get views.

I had to learn this long ago. When I began appearing on US radio, as a guest on Leo Laporte’s Tech Guy show, which airs in over 170 cities in the US and Canada, that exposed me to a sizable audience every week. Listeners have an interest in tech and thus in gadgets like cameras. My hope was that some of that would rub off on my podcast. My podcast listener numbers kept growing, but in the same organic way that they did before. So regularly talking about photography to a lot of people on the radio doesn’t make them also listen to your podcast. A few maybe, but not in a measurable way.

So let me make a bold prediction on Casey’s new podcast: due to lack of audience translation it won’t take off in any significant way. There’s a good chance they will shut it down within a year.

Your thoughts on this?