A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files that a user can download to a personal device for easy listening. Streaming applications and podcasting services provide a convenient and integrated way to manage a personal consumption queue across many podcast sources and playback devices.
A podcast series usually features one or more recurring hosts engaged in a discussion about a particular topic or current event. Discussion and content within a podcast can range from carefully scripted to completely improvised. Podcasts combine elaborate and artistic sound production with thematic concerns ranging from scientific research to slice-of-life journalism. Many podcast series provide an associated website with links and show notes, guest biographies, transcripts, additional resources, commentary, and even a community forum dedicated to discussing the show's content.
The cost to the consumer is low, with many podcasts free to download. Some are underwritten by corporations or sponsored, with the inclusion of commercial advertisements. In other cases, a podcast could be a business venture supported by some combination of a paid subscription model, advertising or product delivered after sale. Because podcast content is often free, podcasting is often classified as a disruptive medium, adverse to the maintenance of traditional revenue models.
A podcast generator maintains a central list of the files on a server as a web feed that one can access through the Internet. The listener or viewer uses special client application software on a computer or media player, known as a podcast client, which accesses this web feed, checks it for updates, and downloads any new files in the series. This process can be automated to download new files automatically, so it may seem to listeners as though podcasters broadcast or "push" new episodes to them. Podcast files can be stored locally on the user's device, or streamed directly. There are several different mobile applications that allow people to follow and listen to podcasts. Many of these applications allow users to download podcasts or stream them on demand. Most podcast players or applications allow listeners to skip around the podcast and to control the playback speed.
Podcasting has been considered a converged medium (a medium that brings together audio, the web and portable media players), as well as a disruptive technology that has caused some individuals in radio broadcasting to reconsider established practices and preconceptions about audiences, consumption, production and distribution.
Podcasts can be produced at little to no cost and are usually disseminated free-of-charge, which sets this medium apart from the traditional 20th-century model of "gate-kept" media and their production tools. Podcasters can, however, still monetize their podcasts by allowing companies to purchase ad time. They can also garner support from listeners through crowdfunding websites like Patreon, which provide special extras and content to listeners for a fee.
"Podcast" is a portmanteau, a combination of "iPod" and "broadcast". The term "podcasting" was first suggested by The Guardian columnist and BBC journalist Ben Hammersley, who invented it in early February 2004 while writing an article for The Guardian newspaper. The term was first used in the audioblogging community in September 2004, when Danny Gregoire introduced it in a message to the iPodder-dev mailing list, from where it was adopted by podcaster Adam Curry. Despite the etymology, the content can be accessed using any computer or similar device that can play media files. Use of the term "podcast" predated Apple's addition of support for podcasting to the iPod, or its iTunes software. Some sources have suggested the backronym "portable on demand" for POD to avoid the loose reference to the iPod.
The verb "subscribe" has often been used to denote the process of receiving podcasts. By 2021, as the term could be insinuated as to suggest that receiving a podcast required a paid subscription, Apple, Amazon, Audible, Spotify, and Stitcher had shifted to using the verb "follow" to align themselves with terminology commonly used on social networking services.
In October 2000, the concept of attaching sound and video files in RSS feeds was proposed in a draft by Tristan Louis. The idea was implemented by Dave Winer, a software developer and an author of the RSS format.
Podcasting, once an obscure method of spreading audio information, has become a recognized medium for distributing audio content, whether for corporate or personal use. Podcasts are similar to radio programs in form, but they exist as audio files that can be played at a listener's convenience, anytime and anywhere.
The first application to make this process feasible was iPodderX, developed by August Trometer and Ray Slakinski. By 2007, audio podcasts were doing what was historically accomplished via radio broadcasts, which had been the source of radio talk shows and news programs since the 1930s. This shift occurred as a result of the evolution of internet capabilities along with increased consumer access to cheaper hardware and software for audio recording and editing.
In August 2004, Adam Curry launched his show Daily Source Code. It was a show focused on chronicling his everyday life, delivering news, and discussions about the development of podcasting, as well as promoting new and emerging podcasts. Curry published it in an attempt to gain traction in the development of what would come to be known as podcasting and as a means of testing the software outside of a lab setting. The name Daily Source Code was chosen in the hope that it would attract an audience with an interest in technology. Daily Source Code started at a grassroots level of production and was initially directed at podcast developers. As its audience became interested in the format, these developers were inspired to create and produce their own projects and, as a result, they improved the code used to create podcasts. As more people learned how easy it was to produce podcasts, a community of pioneer podcasters quickly appeared.
In June 2005, Apple released iTunes 4.9 which added formal support for podcasts, thus negating the need to use a separate program in order to download and transfer them to a mobile device. Although this made access to podcasts more convenient and widespread, it also effectively ended advancement of podcatchers by independent developers. Additionally, Apple issued cease and desist orders to many podcast application developers and service providers for using the term "iPod" or "Pod" in their products' names.
Within a year, many podcasts from public radio networks like the BBC, CBC Radio One, NPR, and Public Radio International placed many of their radio shows on the iTunes platform. In addition, major local radio stations like WNYC in New York City, WHYY-FM radio in Philadelphia, and KCRW in Los Angeles placed their programs on their websites and later on the iTunes platform.
Concurrently, CNET, This Week in Tech, and later Bloomberg Radio, the Financial Times, and other for-profit companies provided podcast content, some using podcasting as their only distribution system.
As of early 2019, the podcasting industry still generated little overall revenue, although the number of persons who listen to podcasts continues to grow steadily. Edison Research, which issues the Podcast Consumer quarterly tracking report, estimates that in 2019, 90 million persons in the U.S. have listened to a podcast in the last month. In 2020, 58% of the population of South Korea and 40% of the Spanish population had listened to a podcast in the last month. 12.5% of the UK population had listened to a podcast in the last week. The form is also acclaimed for its low overhead for a creator to start and maintain their show, merely requiring a good-quality microphone, a computer or mobile device and associated software to edit and upload the final product, and some form of acoustic quieting. Podcast creators tend to have a good listener base because of their relationships with the listeners.
IP issues in trademark and patent law
Between February 10 and 25 March 2005, Shae Spencer Management, LLC of Fairport, New York filed a trademark application to register the term "podcast" for an "online prerecorded radio program over the internet". On September 9, 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the application, citing Wikipedia's podcast entry as describing the history of the term. The company amended their application in March 2006, but the USPTO rejected the amended application as not sufficiently differentiated from the original. In November 2006, the application was marked as abandoned.
Apple trademark protections
On September 26, 2004, it was reported that Apple Inc. had started to crack down on businesses using the string "POD", in product and company names. Apple sent a cease and desist letter that week to Podcast Ready, Inc., which markets an application known as "myPodder". Lawyers for Apple contended that the term "pod" has been used by the public to refer to Apple's music player so extensively that it falls under Apple's trademark cover. Such activity was speculated to be part of a bigger campaign for Apple to expand the scope of its existing iPod trademark, which included trademarking "IPOD", "IPODCAST", and "POD". On November 16, 2006, the Apple Trademark Department stated that "Apple does not object to third-party usage of the generic term 'podcast' to accurately refer to podcasting services" and that "Apple does not license the term". However, no statement was made as to whether or not Apple believed they held rights to it.
Personal Audio lawsuits
Personal Audio, a company referred to as a "patent troll" by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed a patent on podcasting in 2009 for a claimed invention in 1996. In February 2013, Personal Audio started suing high-profile podcasters for royalties, including The Adam Carolla Show and the HowStuffWorks podcast.
On August 18, 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced that Adam Carolla had settled with Personal Audio.
On April 10, 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidated five provisions of Personal Audio's podcasting patent.
Types of podcasts
An enhanced podcast, also known as a slidecast, is a type of podcast that combines audio with a slide show presentation. It is similar to a video podcast in that it combines dynamically-generated imagery with audio synchronization, but it is different in that it uses presentation software to create the imagery and the sequence of display separately from the time of the original audio podcast recording. The Free Dictionary, YourDictionary, and PC Magazine define an enhanced podcast as "an electronic slide show delivered as a podcast". Enhanced podcasts are podcasts that incorporate graphics and chapters. iTunes developed an enhanced podcast feature called "Audio Hyperlinking" that they patented in 2012. Enhanced podcasts can be used by businesses or in education. Enhanced podcasts can be created using QuickTime AAC or Windows Media files. Enhanced podcasts were first used in 2006.
A fiction podcast (also referred to as a "scripted podcast" or "narrative podcast") is similar to a radio drama, but in podcast form. They deliver a fictional story, usually told over multiple episodes and seasons, using multiple voice actors, dialogue, sound effects, and music to enrich the story. Fiction podcasts have attracted a number of well-known actors as voice talents, including Demi Moore & Matthew McConaughey as well as from content producers like Netflix, Spotify, Marvel, and DC Comics. While science-fiction and horror are quite popular, fiction podcasts cover a full range of literary genres from romance, comedy, and drama to fantasy, sci-fi, and detective fiction. Examples of fiction podcasts include The Bright Sessions, Homecoming, Wooden Overcoats and Wolverine: The Long Night.
A podcast novel (also known as a "serialized audiobook" or "podcast audiobook") is a literary form that combines the concepts of a podcast and an audiobook. Like a traditional novel, a podcast novel is a work of literary fiction; however, it is recorded into episodes that are delivered online over a period of time. The episodes may be delivered automatically via RSS or through a website, blog, or other syndication method. Episodes can be released on a regular schedule, e.g., once a week, or irregularly as each episode is completed. In the same manner as audiobooks, some podcast novels are elaborately narrated with sound effects and separate voice actors for each character, similar to a radio play or scripted podcast, but many have a single narrator and few or no sound effects.
Some podcast novelists give away a free podcast version of their book as a form of promotion. On occasion such novelists have secured publishing contracts to have their novels printed. Podcast novelists have commented that podcasting their novels lets them build audiences even if they cannot get a publisher to buy their books. These audiences then make it easier to secure a printing deal with a publisher at a later date. These podcast novelists also claim the exposure that releasing a free podcast gains them makes up for the fact that they are giving away their work for free.
A video podcast or vodcast is a podcast that contains video content. Web television series are often distributed as video podcasts. Dead End Days, a serialized dark comedy about zombies released from 31 October 2003 through 2004, is commonly believed to be the first video podcast.
A number of podcasts are recorded either in total or for specific episodes in front of a live audience. Ticket sales allow the podcasters an additional way of monetising. Some podcasts create specific live shows to tour which are not necessarily included on the podcast feed. Events including the London Podcast Festival, SF Sketchfest and others regularly give a platform for podcasters to perform live to audiences.
Uses of podcasting
The most basic equipment for a podcast is a computer and a microphone. It is helpful to have a sound-proof room and headphones. The computer should have a recording or streaming application installed. Typical microphones for podcasting are connected using USB. If the podcast involves two or more people, each person requires a microphone, and a USB audio interface is needed to mix them together. If the podcast includes video (livestreaming), then a separate webcam might be needed, and additional lighting.
- List of podcasting companies
- List of podcast clients
- MP3 blog
- User-generated content
- "How to Change Playback Speed of a Podcast Playing Too Fast or Too Slow - iPhone Life". 6 April 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
- Berry, Richard (2015). "Serial and Ten Years of Podcasting: Has the Medium Grown up?". Radio, Sounds & Internet: 299–209. Archived from the original on July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020 – via Academia.edu.
- Berry, Richard (May 1, 2006). "Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star? Profiling Podcasting as Radio" (PDF). Convergence. 12 (2): 143–162. doi:10.1177/1354856506066522. S2CID 111593307. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
- "Podcast Production". Harvard Graduate School of Education. 2012. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
- "Definition of Podcast in English". Lexico. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
- Watson, Stephanie (March 26, 2005). "How Podcasting Works § Podcasting History". HowStuffWorks. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Hammersley, Ben (February 12, 2004). "Why Online Radio Is Booming". The Guardian. Archived from the original on June 21, 2020. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
- Sawyer, Miranda (November 20, 2015). "The Man Who Accidentally Invented the Word 'Podcast'" (MP3). BBC Radio 4. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Gregoire, Danny (September 12, 2004). "How to Handle Getting Past Episodes?". Yahoo Groups. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
- Owens, Simon (February 6, 2015). "Slate's Podcast Audience Has Tripled in a Year, and Its Bet on Audio Over Video Continues to Pay Off". Nieman Lab. Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- Levy, Steven (October 23, 2006). The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness. Simon & Schuster. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-7432-8522-3. Archived from the original on July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
- "Apple Brings Podcasts Into iTunes". BBC News. June 28, 2005. Archived from the original on December 14, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Ricks, Byron (2007). "Create your own podcast: What you need to know to be a podcaster". Microsoft Windows. Archived from the original on December 25, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
- "'Follow our podcast': Apple Podcasts to stop using 'subscribe'". podnews.net. 2021-03-09. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
- Louis, Tristan (October 13, 2000). "Suggestion for RSS 0.92 Specification". groups.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
- Pot, Justin (August 24, 2013). "The Evolution of the Podcast -- How a Medium Was Born [Geek History]". MakeUseOf. Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- "Podcast". redOrbit. March 16, 2013. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- Geoghegan, Michael W.; Klass, Dan (November 4, 2007). Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Audio and Video Podcasting (2nd ed.). New York: Apress. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-59059-905-1. Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Benson, Richard (November 14, 2019). "An Aural History of the Podcast: The History of the Podcast (By Those Who Helped Make Them a Thing)". Esquire Middle East. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
- Ciccarelli, Stephanie (Aug 27, 2013). "The Origins of Podcasting". Voices.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2013. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
- Blass, Evan (September 24, 2006). "With "Pod" on Lockdown, Apple Goes After "Podcast"". Engadget. Archived from the original on February 4, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Massing, Michael (April 2, 2019). "Are the Humanities History?". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
- Gerry Smith (February 22, 2019). "Everybody Makes Podcasts. Can Anyone Make Them Profitable?". Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P. Archived from the original on October 22, 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
- Staff (5 April 2019). "The Podcast Consumer 2019". edisonresearch.com. Edison Research. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
- Sawyer, Miranda (2020-05-03). "It's boom time for podcasts – but will going mainstream kill the magic?". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
- Smith, Steve (November 22, 2016). "Podcasts: Can They Hear Us Now". EContent. Vol. 39 no. 8. Information Today, Inc. p. 9. Archived from the original on July 16, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- "Podcast Trademark Rejection Documents". USPTO. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Holliman, Russell (September 26, 2006). "Podcast Ready Receives Cease & Desist from Apple Computer". Podcast Ready. Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
- Heater, Brian (March 24, 2009). "Apple's Legal Team Going After 'Pod' People". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Longo, Jeffrey (September 25, 2006). "Podcast Trademark Controversy". MacRumors. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- "Copy of the Letter from Apple Trademark Department". Flickr. Global Geek Podcast. November 16, 2006. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Nazer, Daniel (May 30, 2013). "Help Save Podcasting!". EFF. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- "System for Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence". Google Patents. October 2, 1996. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Samuels, Julie (February 5, 2013). "Podcasting Community Faces Patent Troll Threat; EFF Wants to Help". EFF. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
Personal Audio is claiming that it owns a patent that covers podcasting technology.
- "EFF v. Personal Audio LLC". EFF. April 21, 2014. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Nazer, Daniel (August 18, 2014). "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Adam Carolla's Settlement with the Podcasting Troll". EFF. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Fung, Brian (April 10, 2015). "How the Government Just Protected Some of Your Favorite Podcasts". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Salter, Diane; Purgathofer, Peter (January 2010). "Students use of Laptops in Large Lecture Classes: Distraction, Partial Attention or Productive Use?". Aurora – via Research Gate.
- Casteleyn, Jordi; Mottart, Andre (August 2010). "Slidecast Yourself: Exploring the Possibilities of a New Online Presentation Tool". IEEE Xplore. IEEE: 255–261. doi:10.1109/IPCC.2010.5530021. ISBN 978-1-4244-8145-3. S2CID 11253131 – via Research Gate.
- "enhanced podcast". TheFreeDictionary.com. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- "Enhanced-podcast Meaning: Best 1 Definitions of Enhanced-podcast". www.yourdictionary.com. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- "Definition of enhanced podcast". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- Breen, Christopher (December 12, 2012). "How to Create Podcast Chapters". Macworld. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- Breen, Christopher (March 28, 2013). "How We Produce Our Podcasts". Macworld. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- Breen, Christopher (March 28, 2013). "Producing the Macworld Podcast". Macworld. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- Frakes, Dan (December 12, 2006). "Podcasting Presentations". Macworld. Archived from the original on May 8, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- Etherington, Darrell (August 8, 2013). "Apple Developing Audio Hyperlinks, A Way For Audio Streams To Link To Other Media Or Control Devices". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on February 18, 2019. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- "Apple's 'audio hyperlink' tech can control devices with inaudible sonic pulses". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
- "United States Patent Application: 0130204413". appft.uspto.gov. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
- Petricone, Elena. "Cast away: Incorporating slidecasts into your online presence can distinguish your business from competitors". Top Consultant. Emerson Consulting Group. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
- Weller, Marxtin (April 29, 2012). "The Virtues of Blogging as Scholarly Activity". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- Reyna, Jorge; Stanford, Carole (2009). "Use of Slidecasts in Higher Education Settings: a Pilotproject" (PDF). Ascilite. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 14, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
- Ratcliffe, Mitch; Mack, Steve (2008-02-11). Podcasting Bible. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 296–300. ISBN 978-0-470-37759-8.
- Morris, Tee; Terra, Evo; Williams, Ryan C. (2008-01-07). "24". Expert Podcasting Practices For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 185–201. ISBN 978-0-470-25919-1.
- Skinner, Oliver (July 30, 2020). "Fiction Podcasts: The Medium Giving Rise to a New Generation of Audio Storytellers". Voices.com. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
- Kornelis, Chris (December 25, 2020). "From Demi Moore to Matthew McConaughey, Screen Stars Are Turning to Podcasts". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
- "Netflix Creates Its First Scripted Podcast, As An Extension To TV Show". Inside Radio. November 1, 2019. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
- White, Jordan (May 30, 2018). "Wolverine: The Long Night opens up the possibilities for a Marvel Podcast Universe". The Verge. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
- Jennings, Collier (July 18, 2020). "DC, Spotify Cut Deal for Multiple Scripted Podcast Series". CBR.com.
- Florin, Hector (January 31, 2009). "Podcasting Your Novel: Publishing's Next Wave?". Time. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Cadelago, Chris (April 5, 2008). "Take My Book. It's Free". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Newman, Andrew Adam (March 1, 2007). "Authors Find Their Voice, and Audience, in Podcasts". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 23, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Gaughran, David (September 5, 2011). ""Free" Really Can Make You Money – A Dialogue with Moses Siregar III". Let's Get Digital. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Ellis, Jessica (2008). "What is a Video Podcast?". Wise Geek. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Arboine, Niellah (August 21, 2019). "How to Get 20% off Tickets to the London Podcast Festival". Bustle. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
- "SF Sketchfest Announces Additions to Festival Lineup". Broadway World. December 6, 2019. Archived from the original on November 17, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
- Chan, Tim (March 30, 2020). "How to Start a Podcast: 7 Things These Experts Say You'll Need". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
- Hall, Parker. "Here's the Gear You Need to Start Your Own Podcast". Wired. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
- Chan, Tim; Ranj, Brandt; Lonsdale, John; Anderson, Sage (April 28, 2021). "The Rolling Stone Audio Awards 2021". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
- Geoghegan, Michael W.; Klass, Dan (August 16, 2005). Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting. Apress. ISBN 9781430200543.
- Meinzer, Kristen (August 6, 2019). So You Want to Start a Podcast: Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Story, and Building a Community That Will Listen. William Morrow. ISBN 9780062936684.
- Morris, Tee; Tomasi, Chuck (September 15, 2017). Podcasting For Dummies. Wiley. ISBN 9781119412267.