More than 100 million Americans listen to a favorite podcast monthly. We’ve seen these numbers skyrocket over the past few years. I have theories as to why: Travel, time on the roads, growth of streaming platforms, and the simple expansion of shows, topics, and niche discussions the latest media trends dive into.
First, the actual accessibility to podcasts has grown through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other major streaming services. On average, we now listen to nearly 7 hours of podcasts a week. Have you said “Alexa, play my favorite podcast” yet today? Or, ask Siri. Podcasts are making your commute in the car, rides on the subway, or doing tasks like laundry or working out more enjoyable. To me, there’s a sense of comfort and company in hearing familiar voices each week. That’s why it can be hard to love a new show, but it doesn’t take long for your favorite hosts to become part of your routine and a piece of what brings you joy.
On the other side of things, starting a podcast has never been easier. All it takes is an idea, internet access, and if you’re really investing, an external microphone.
It’d be strange to not note that 2020 has thrown multiple global crises our way, requiring us to stay at home and force creatives to maintain energy and enthusiasm in isolation. Podcasts were a natural solution to the problem. Guests are welcomed remotely, and episodes can be recorded, edited, and uploaded all at a desk. No need to get ready or be presentable. All it took was a cup of coffee and a little vocal warm up before I was ready to go.
My quarantine passion project was launching FRNDLY, a media company and platform dedicated to empowering the voices and initiatives of young creatives and entrepreneurs to dissolve mental barriers of capability in relation to age. With the launch of the platform and site, I knew I wanted some piece of original content, but what could be done from the living room?
I had fallen in love with a few podcasts and as many content ideas start, wanted to try to emulate what I liked about them, but with my own personable spin. It became super natural. I was doing YouTube, blogging, and found an intersection between the two.
I started Groundbreaking a few months ago in pursuit of FRNDLY’s mission. On every episode, I dive into a new story with a creative guest who faced adversity to follow their passion and establish a business. I’ve talked to fashion designers, content curators, entrepreneurs, and agency founders. It’s blown my mind the amount of creativity young people are contributing to all industries. I could discuss for hours and across multiple articles about each lesson I’ve learned so far, but the largest takeaway is that listening to other people is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and to them. I realized that in their defiance and pursuit of business dreams, much of their confidence is built on self-fulfillment and validation. Despite the beautifully curated sites, well-delivered messaging, or quality product, behind every brand (big or small) there’s an individual story that is aching to be told. Groundbreaking is that platform.
In an era where we focus on self-fulfillment, it comes at the cost of isolation. This is why podcasts are so influential. Every startup tries to convince a facade of perfection that isn’t easy to admit. But the truth is, nobody does everything right. The transparency in podcasting allows a casual conversation, one that you could have over coffee or while talking to a friend, that’s refreshing and validates a lot of feelings we often don’t know how to express. For a generation like mine, we only know how to conceptualize our ideas through indirect creativity. Podcasting is similar, but is a direct way to say “I didn’t know what I was doing, but this is what I’m doing now.”
Podcasting has been around for a while too, it’s not necessarily new to the scene. But its recent trend has many brands and creatives scrambling to formulate their version.
Most specifically, Gen-Z engagement with podcasts has been on the rise. Brands who have spread themselves across outlets to connect with the demographic now have another medium on their plates. To most successfully meet this demand though, the demand has to be there. Nobody will listen to a podcast whose purpose isn’t evident or relatable. Think about the very niche audience. It’s tough to make your show cater to Gen-Z in general, which is why I considered the ambitious, driven, and entrepreneurial inclined young creatives. I understand and recognize that there will be listeners who switch to something else within 30 seconds, but there will be a select few who stay with me for the whole hour.
Podcasts aren’t about speaking someone’s language, it’s speaking yours with hopes listeners will understand.