Mevio/Podshow “Never Believed in User-Generated Content”

Posted on April 26, 2008
Filed Under podcasting | 10 Comments


Unaudition: Step Up and Take It
The Dream of Quitting Your Day Job is Now a Reality

Yesterday I got an email from Derek Coward, pointing me to this pair of articles: one about Podshow changing their name to Mevio, and another about how Mevio was focusing on professionally produced content, as opposed to that shitty stuff that they’ve focused on for the last three years, I suppose.
I’ve actually let up on Podshow a lot in the last few years. Their biggest positive is that they have done positive things for my friends. They allowed Drew Domkus and Michael Butler and others to quit day jobs that they weren’t digging and they’ve allowed a lot of people that I like to make some money podcasting. I’ve had my doubts about them and given them shit along the way but I decided that unless and until they really screwed a friend of mine I would give them a break.
Still, I’ve always been queasy about the company and particularly about Ron Bloom. Back when I used to listen to the Daily Source Code and they did that long episode that was Curry and Bloom discussing their views and goals for their newly forming and at the time still unnamed company. After listening to that long painful show, I decided that if I ever found myself shaking Bloom’s hand, I’d count my rings and fingers afterwards.

When I read the story, there is one quote that really stands out to me.

“We have never believed in user-generated content as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering,” said Ron Bloom, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, MEVIO.

That statement puts the basics of the Podshow/Mevio philosophy into a funny state. Now the question is whether Bloom was lying three years ago or is he lying now? It’s really strange to claim that Podshow never believed in user-generated content as a business because, like, we were there. This seems like a form of brass balled, straight in the face prevarication that would be a stretch even for the Bush administration.

I remember the weird feeling I got in my stomach when I went to the first Podcast Expo in 2005 and saw the t-shirts Podshow was giving away. Of all the things they could have pumped, the important aspect to them was about podcasters “quitting their day jobs.” It was a blatant appeal to the wannabes who hoped to become Dawn and Drew. “Come join up with us, and soon you’ll be doing this for a living too!” As it turns out, that was never something Podshow “believed in as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering.” Is there any possible reconciliation of that statement and of the pitch Podshow has used to recruit individual podcasters all through its history? I’ve looked for one and haven’t been able to find it.

I couldn’t remember the exact wording of those shirts, so I put out an appeal on Twitter for someone to send me a photo of themselves wearing the shirt. Slightly vindicating Twitter for me, I woke up this morning to the attached photos of Mr Jamie Nelson in said shirt. If I’m understand his email correctly, he was in fact already wearing it to sleep in when he saw my tweet. Now seriously, look at those shirts. I’m not treating the shirts as the definitive mission statement of the company, but they are a clear indicator of the way Podshow represented themselves to the amateur podcaster. Dudes, you were never part of the business plan, and you were never something the company believed in. How does that make you feel about the last three years of loyalty to the company. It puts me in mind of a quote Patrick Nielsen Hayden frequently uses: “Just because you are on their side doesn’t mean they are on your side.”

So, to clarify my stance: I wish no one in particular ill will. I’m not rooting for anyone’s business to fail, and I don’t want to see any of my friends out of work or experiencing any hardships. I don’t blame any of the Pod* companies for changing their names. When I was naming AmigoFish, the one rule I had is that there would be no “pod” anywhere in the name so I was maybe ahead of that curve. Other than this post, I’m resuming my general apathy towards Mevio. I listen to very few of their shows, and those that I do listen to will continue whether or not the company does. I do think if you are a Podshow podcaster you should pay attention to this. The company doesn’t believe in you, so maybe you should reciprocate by failing to believe in them and acting accordingly.

As someone who was doing a show when you could count the other podcasters on your fingers and listen to every other one produced every day, I can make one definitive statement about the medium. It was all a lot more fun when no one was making any money and only worried about putting out fun shows that mattered to them.

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10 Responses to “Mevio/Podshow “Never Believed in User-Generated Content””

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  1. Bryce Moore on April 26th, 2008 11:15 pm

    Once again, I think you hit the nail squarely on the head. Either it was a lie then or it’s a lie now, and either way their reputation as a company suffers.

    No matter the fate of the company, you’re right about one thing: It was a lot more fun when shows were being done for fun instead of profit.

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  3. David Jacobs on April 26th, 2008 11:49 pm

    It makes me sad because although I don’t go back as far you you, Dave, I was there very early in the day as well. I remember clearly the part of the whole point was that “professionally produced” content was actually crap and that “amature” content was where it was at. We were going to turn the world upside down. Well, not so much anymore I guess. I believed in the dream and Adam Curry was the pided piper for awhile. Well fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. I’m still marching to my own drummer and I’ll put up any of my amature stuff against their “professionally produced” stuff any day.
    Long live the indie amature podcaster

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  5. Heng-Cheong Leong on April 27th, 2008 3:42 am

    I really hope that the quote refers to the whole idiotic Podshow+ social networking me-too thing, and not “Dawn and Drew”. I really hope so.

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  7. The Aarchitect on April 27th, 2008 10:45 am

    In a lot of ways, this really isn’t much of a surprise. You could see this coming a mile away. If you remember the separatist stunt Podshow pulled at the PME where they shuttled “VIP” podcasters to their hotel suite while publicly ignoring the conference. That really left me with a sour taste in my mouth and I wasn’t even a podcaster. I have been a steady and almost loyal listener of podcasts since the early days of Curry’s DSC, but that literally caused be to turn him off. I’m more from the Dave Weiner school (and I think Dave probably is as well) that the whole money train thing eventually overwhelmed what was to be a media revolution. I could go on and on about Podshows missteps, from their draconian contracts to their embracing of mainstream media. Podshow thought they were saving podcasting, but they were only using it. Good riddance I say.

    On a positive note, maybe now that Podshow has redefined itself, user generated content can continue to develop on its own terms.

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  9. Mark Forman on April 28th, 2008 6:09 pm

    I had started half a year before so i could have shared that epehemeral joy you have to have been there in the early days,but…reality disrupts that illusion once again.

    People was there ever any doubt? Podshow was born and crafted of blatant opportunism and nothing more. Look at the background of both Ron and Adam on re: the Net and it’s very clear how they operate.

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  11. Jim Williams on May 1st, 2008 7:30 am

    The really sad thing though is that they have taken advantage of podcasters for a very long time. They have taken a very large cut of podcaster revenues. With them lowering podcasters payments by nearly 50% late last week I expect their greed to be their undoing.

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  13. Harold on May 6th, 2008 12:49 pm

    It was fun when podcasters were inserting snippets of other podcasters’ audio into their own shows, back-n-forth, conversation-style. Those were the days. (At the same time, I hate when I start saying “those were the days”; it sounds so elitist. So I retract that “those were the days.” Still, they were…oh, I give up.)

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  15. Hank Lynch on May 8th, 2008 8:26 am

    Podcasting a la the “I’m gonna quit my job and become famous” crew has been crap from almost the start. I was one of the early early software developers for this stuff and got raped over content rights, and value added crap when I was building out some sites to help people listen from their desktops. It put a really bad taste in my mouth, and I quit contributing. This doesn’t surprise me at all, and since the first time the word “Senseo” was uttered on the DSC, I saw this coming. Before the Senseo podcasts, it was all about fun with that crew, now, not so much. I didn’t use Podshow, and I won’t use Mevio. Remember the site that you could phone in a podcast to and it would drop it onto a feed on iPodder.org? That was cool.

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  17. Michael Heister on May 11th, 2008 8:15 pm

    Recently an item popped up in the news about MeVio’s (the new name of the recently rebranded Podshow) Ron Bloom saying that “We have never believed in user-generated content as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering”.

    I was not a truly early adapter in the world of podcasting, but I had my first (and only, so far) podcast up and running by late ’05, “The Mike and Michelle Show”. Podshow lured away my podcasting partner Michelle B. – unlike Dawn & Drew, Keith & Chemda, the Love Long and Prosper pair or many other podcasting couples, Michelle and I are most definitely not in a relationship – with promises of this and that. Without going to into detail, IMHO, they’ve basically failed to deliver for her.

    I was not offered a contract with Michelle because I was perceived to be “anti-Podshow”. I was never anti-Podshow. In fact I thought the special treatment Podshow offered its talent at the ’06 Portable and New Media Expo was pretty cool and said so publicly (apparently, I later learned, some of the talent – no names – let it go to their heads). Back when I listened to the Daily Source Code, Adam Curry typically came off as knowledgeable and very much in the game.

    Just as a side note, in our podcast Michelle and I debated ad nauseum about “soundvertising”, product integration in podcasts, so on. I personally found Adam Curry’s Senseo experiment interesting maybe the first two times I heard it. After that, ehhh.

    My specific concerns with Podshow were primarily about contracts that smelled like Old-Media contracts modeled on what the major music labels did. I was vocal about it in our podcast “The Mike and Michelle Show” while Michelle publicly said, “I believe Adam, I love Adam….”

    I talked at length about the contract Keith and Chemda had gotten hold of, qualifying my points by saying “IF this is a legitimate contract….” I found the contract stuff ironic as Adam Curry was very specific in the DSC about “owning your own shit”, i.e., your content and related rights to exploit, so on, while the Podshow contract prevented a podcaster from jumping ship at the close of the contract and taking with them the name of their podcast for a full year, if I remember correctly.

    In fairness to Adam Curry, his advice about retaining ownership and control of your content, like much of his advice on a range of other technical matters, is quite sound. He also advised that nobody sign a contract – and I am paraphrasing here, so I’ll be happy to be subject to correction – without reading it and understanding it, and running it past a lawyer.

    The Free PDN contract referenced below does not limit the non-exclusive right to “publish”, which means, since the limiting language is not in the contract, that if, say, someone decides to read their novel as a podiobook and push it through the Free PDN, technically MeVio could transcribe it, publish it on paper, and sell it on a “non-exclusive” basis. I am not saying they would, I am only saying according to the contract they could. Or let’s say you trust the current MeVio leadership implicitly. This doesn’t prevent the new owners, in the event of a sale, from fully exploiting the content for which they have legally been granted a non-exclusive license.

    To this day, the Free PDN contract on the MeVio site* allows MeVio to continue to stream whatever content the content creator uploaded indefinitely, even long after the talent has closed shop at MeVio and moved on.

    As for getting your stuff onto MeVio, that can apparently happen whether you sign with them, upload to them, ignore them, or even actively oppose them. I did a quick search and found the decidedly non-MeVio Keith and the Girl there, and even added it to “my channel”. I did not have to search for “Goodnight Burbank”, which was non-MeVio (note: Hayden Black just got back to me. He did upload about three episodes of Goodnight Burbank to MeVio, in hopes of expanding his subscriber base). I looked for Podshow and MeVio links or references on the official Goodnight Burbank website, and found none. Goodnight Burbank – not one of MeVio’s “star” vidcasts – was featured right on MeVio’s homepage when I opened it just a few minutes ago.

    Adam Curry joked about breaking up Keith and the Girl – “Adam and the Girl?” – but in the podcasting world, Mike and Michelle went into pod-fade largely because Michelle put all her eggs in Podshow’s basket.

    To this day Michelle’s still slaving away on “Whispered Pearls”, “Michebel’s Hollywood”, and most recently an erotic podiobook, “The Golden Path of Love” for MeVio/Podshow, and in fairness she has built a sizable audience by independent podcasting standards. Still, MeVio hasn’t exactly enabled her to kiss off her day job.

    While I don’t have anything official from Michelle on on Bloom’s comment, I can’t imagine she’d find it flattering.

    * From the MeVio Free PDN contract, item 2.4, which, according to item 5, “survives” termination of the contract:

    “You hereby grant to MeVio the non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide right and license to digitize, convert, install, upload, select, order, arrange, compile, combine, synchronize, use, reproduce, store, process, retrieve, transmit, translate, distribute, publish, publicly display, publicly perform and hyperlink your Programming; and make archival or back-up copies of your Programming in any venues, media and channels of distribution now existing or yet to be invented. (hereinafter collectively referred to herein as “Use”).”

    As for MeVio’s possible future plans, you can’t blame them for being prepared. The following is Item 10 from the same Free PDN contract:

    “Assignment. You agree not to cause or permit any assignment, sublicense or transfer of this Agreement or its rights or obligations under this Agreement to any third party without the prior written consent of MeVio. MeVio may assign this Agreement to another party in connection with the change of control of the MeVio Website.”

    In exchange for them streaming your content (a service you can obtain from specialists like Libsyn for as little as $5/mo), you as the independent content creator are bound in perpetuity, albeit in a limited, non-exclusive way. They aren’t.

    It seems to me that MeVio’s own contract belies Bloom’s statement. If their business isn’t about exploiting user-generated content, why would the above-referenced paragraphs be part MeVio’s Free PDN contract???

    BTW the same post with embedded links is available at:

    http://www.thepodosphere.com

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  19. thudbass on March 20th, 2009 8:45 pm

    This quote says it all:

    “It was all a lot more fun when no one was making any money and only worried about putting out fun shows that mattered to them.”

    You can say that about any creative medium. You can bet when someone figures they can make money, they’ll figure a way to get their hooks into it.

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