iTunes Podcasting Screws Up Yet Another Simple Thing

In my most recent podcast, I cautioned against putting too much credence in iTunes rankings. Turns out that was a good call because those numbers are meaningless and easily manipulated. Let’s take this a step further and quit caring so much about these fricking meaningless ordinal rankings. None of them can measure the only aspect in the whole deal that really matters, which is how much your audience of whatever size is digging you.

Let me state now that I am completely uninterested in my ranking in any list of any kind, no matter what the methodology used to gather it. I had a period where I did care because it felt like injustice when I started dropping down the Podcast Alley rankings to shows that had a fraction of my listenership and a fraction of my affinity (or at least it felt like that, I have no real way of knowing). I don’t care about getting votes for awards, I don’t care about rankings, I don’t give a shit about being the top of any heap. What I care about is that when you spend 30 or 45 minutes listening to me that you feel your time wasn’t wasted.

What I’m ultimately asking for is not a better ranking system or a less gameable system, I’m asking everyone to think beyond the Nielsen-style big media ranking systems and stop caring about these nonsensical lists. It doesn’t matter what most people listen to, it matters what you listen to.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

11 thoughts on “iTunes Podcasting Screws Up Yet Another Simple Thing”

  1. in some sense, itunes has made listening to podcasts easier for me, because it is easy to find stuff and easy to subscribe. like typical Apple, the UI is friendly.

    i hate all the ratings garbage and never pay attention. their front page looks like a conglomeration of most of the worst of radio, which is why i came running to podcasts to begin with.

    i’m sorry that the major media types are trying to turn podcasting into just another extension for their “creatively challenged” content. i hope once all this settles down…that most of that crap goes away and that you independent guys can really take hold and grow.

    this is another reason why this whole Sirius thing didn’t sit well with me. why try to blend this podcasting thing into a confused amalgam with traditional radio? yuck! shoot, being anti-commercial radio is half the beauty of podcasting. so this recent aspect (along with the itunes podcast front page!) kind of makes me ill.

    one thing i don’t get. i’m on a pc. often, but not always, i have a real lag between when the itunes podcatcher or my “lemon” ipodder podcatcher finds a new podcast. for example, when i go to this site, i may find a new podcast that wan’t detected yet by my podcather, so i download the mp3. it isn’t for another day or so that the podcatcher finds the new content. that bothers me a little. does anyone know why this happens? what is this lag time?


  2. Some people need other people to tell them, what to do, what is cool and what not.

    How are those people supposed to know what is good for them, if they don’t have rankings? They would actually have to think for themself … 🙂

  3. I had been manually downloading podcasts but I finally had to get a pod catcher. I tried another one a long time ago and didn’t like it. iTunes is a good pod catcher once you get used to it. They should make it more clear that the list is your subscriptions. I deleted them and had to start over! i thought the list represented my mp3 files. There is no way to manage the files within iTunes. That is a design flaw. The name iTunes is a bad name because a podcast is clearly not a tune. Once again (how many times has this happened?), Apple did not look ahead. That company seems to be really bad at guessing what will happen in the future. Remember when Jobs said “Apple will never release a flash player”?

    I heard the interview with Adam Curry by Rob Greenlee at itconversations today. He keeps emphasizing that he hates the music industry yet he says he has worked all his life to sound like a DJ and leapt at the chance to be a DJ at MTV. He claims that was when MTV was good. MTV has *always* sucked! Adam Curry’s voice and delivery is indistinguishable from any annoying Clear Channel DJ. Just because he throws in the word fuck every once in a while does not make him kewl!

  4. just wait till the golabl ‘chav’ population comes on board, it those who need the rankins like the top ten and the constent nannying of the music industry. if people were individuals in this world it world be verry bad for the current busniess model.

  5. Listening to the Clam Bake is time well spent for me. I hear a real person on the other end, one whom I can communicate with. I really love the intimate scale of podcasting. A podcast is available to everyone without being a mass market piece of crap. The point, IMHO, is not to climb the list, but to build a community. And I think this is a fine community.

  6. Speaking of thinking for myself-In my world of podcasting-Dave Slusher would be the Podfather only he’d tell us not to use such a lame platitude or any-He’d probably say,”Dave will work just fine thank you!”. MTV was and is total corporate plastic bullshit. I’m grateful to Adam Curry for introducing me to and getting me interested in podcasting. However, I feel he’s sadly misguided about successfully milking podcasting for every cent he can and maintaining core credibility and leadership. He reminds me of Bill Clinton wanting to be liked by everyone, when sane people know that’s impossible.He’s totally big radio except for his big haired DJ attempts to try to grasp the technology of the moment.

    In the first few weeks of the Apple Chronicles (release of ITunes 4.9 and after)numerous individuals like myself, or what are known as indie podcasters now, were left out of ITunes directory while all Podshow sponsored shows made it in and AC picked up Podfinder show from Apple as well. I don’t fault the guy for making a buck-but what happened to all the people from directory making it in-which he assured us? When I tried to get help or comment from him on this topic it was met with silence. I know, don’t want to piss off massuh Jobs.

    Hey Dave, keep the candor and reality checks coming-that’s what’s rocking my world.

  7. Dave… There are only 3 podcasts on my “Must Listen To” list and no, Adam Curry’s DSC is not one of them.. They are..

    – EGC
    – Coverville
    – Legends of Classic Rock

    I don’t think any of you guys are in iTunes’ top 10, of course, I don’t use iTunes, I use iPodderX (you did get the money (or whatever they give you) from that, right? I bought it like 2 days before they stopped sponsoring your show with your coupon code)

    Anyway, as long as you keep doing shows, I’ll keep listening!


  8. But not tracking listenership metrics leaves you with no demographic data which can be utilized to effectively monetize your podcast.

    Sheesh – been reading too much pod-a-pundit BS.

    I’ve got a stack ‘o CDs(some artist-autographed), a great shirt which will be making its Arkansas debut this weekend, and a lotta hours of memorable listening, all from EGCasts.

    Keep up the good work.


  9. Dave,
    Just listened to you and Michael Butler talk on this topic as shut the rest of the world out, treadmill running at the gym. Bliss.

    The sudden rise of podcasting and the dreams of it’s immediate commercialisation make for fascinating observation. What I am noticing is that, although the timescale is compressed, it is just like the rise of web content.

    * First there were the butt ugly, rudimentary, but individually crafted and loved webpages that were created by the ‘indie’ webmasters.
    * Then came the portals, Yahoo, Excite, Netscape (remember cool site of the week?) etc. These sites provided access to the masses to the top most generic areas of the web. They made it accessible to novices, and the numbers grew.
    * The next phase has been what i might describe as the “suburban sprawl” of available content, as publishing tools become more user friendly and accelerated even further with blogging.

    Now in this environment it doesn’t matter if you are CNN or if you want to publish you can and if people want to read your stuff they can. And if a lot of people want to read your stuff then this may open up other opportunities.

    The point is that EXACTLY the same thing is happening with podcasting. it doesn’t really matter what is appearing on itunes, but it is good to have it there because if exposes the IDEA (of listening the stuff that you like WHEN you want to listen to it) to a mass market of new people.

    When these listeners realise that they just can’t stand listening to a recorded morning radio show, that they can’t just station surf away from when they get bored, the useless radio shows will fade out. Then people will begin to look deeper, they will be referred to new sources to listen and the best stuff will get a listenership who loves them.

    I loved one of your statements about you number of listeners. Something along the lines of if I only have 50 people listening to me it will still be worth while”. Well I don’t know who the other 48 will be but I’ll be there for the farewell show.

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