August 01, 2021
As big spenders such as Amazon and Spotify fill our ears with more commercial, celebrity-driven fare, can grassroots, diverse shows survive?Miranda Sawyer picks 20 indie podcast gemsThe British Podcast Awards were different this year. Held in a south London park, they had a boutique festival feel, with wristbands and tokens for drinks, an open-sided tent for the actual awards, and people lounging on blankets in front of the stage. There were also sponsor areas – those small, picket-fenced areas where invitees could drink and mix with brand bigwigs. Awards are expensive to stage, and to give any sort of a professional sheen, money is needed. In 2017, the BPA sponsors included Radioplayer and Whistledown, an independent audio creator. In 2021, the BPA was “powered by Amazon Music”. Spotify, Stitcher, Audible, Acast, Global, BBC Sounds, Podfollow and Sony music also dipped into their sponsorship pockets. Clearly, podcasting has gone up in the world.
Listen up: why indie podcasts are in peril
Over the past 18 months, podcasting has hit the corporate big time. Apple, long the most recognisable name in podcasting, its iTunes chart being the public measure of any show’s success, is attempting, clumsily, to move from being a neutral platform that hosts shows into one that makes money from podcasting (by, for example, charging creators for highlighted spots).
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