The iPod Platform

This is a list of some of the points from yesterday’s audioblog entry. I’m not including a lot of the discussion, just the bulleted points. You can hear the full thing here.

Aspects of the “iPod Platform”:

  1. The units of submission are “bundles of passion” (my term rather than the vague and dry “content”). These are discrete things with a beginning and an end – a thing, where a stream is indefinite – a place. They are also by definition something you care about, either directly (choosing an individual entry to listen to from a web page) or indirectly (contained in a feed you subscribe to.)
  2. Data transimission is asynchronous, like using TiVo or buying a DVD of a TV show. You are not required to view or listen during a fixed transmission time.
  3. Automated (or at least automatable) and passive, so you aren’t waiting on it (no “Wait for rebuffering”) and that you don’t have to think about getting it. I do this in RadioLover where I set up my recordings, you already do this in TiVo or your VCR.
  4. With interests definable at levels of arbitrary granularity. I want this specific episode of a program, I subscribe to everything from this feed, I want any audioblog that discusses a given topic or any program with involvement of a given person. In other words, there needs to be a robust and flexible way of defining these interest.

On the issues of monetizing audioblogs/programs delivered passively via RSS:
I think the best place to start is where radio and TV began – the single sponsored program, with an advertiser/underwriter that attaches themselves to a program and funds it completely. When I listen to MP3s of old episodes of You Bet Your Life most of them were sponsored by Elgin America. You could have a sponsor or microsponsor that was willing to pay a given dollar value per unique download per sponsored show. In my example, I suggested that because my blog is heavily Apple specific, maybe a company like Ambrosia Software would be willing to sponsor me at something like a dime a download. With specified threshholds, maybe they pay $100 to start and every time the download numbers cross another 1000 episode downloads they are billed another $100. This could be even more complex, such as paying more for downloads from a given geographic area or network or something. The limits are only the creativity and the quality of data collection and analysis of your audience.

There is nothing revolutionary here, much the opposite. This is how I paid for Reality Break, back when Dueling Modems or Del Rey Books were underwriting production costs. This is tried and true, and the best part from the end of the producer or blogger is that you take one larger check from one party, rather than trying to collect micropayments from all your audience. The sponsor gets to attach themselves to whatever cachet you might have, and you get to rent out a piece of your attention, monetizing to some degree the attention economy. It’s the oldest possible model in broadcasting which is how we know it works.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.