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Nearly 2,000 attendees made it out to Los Angeles for Podcast Movement’s Evolutions last week to discuss and learn more about the craft they love. We spoke to Podcast Movement co-founder Dan Franks about the event, the vibe from the crowd, and the future of the industry.
PBJ: What was the vibe from people when you first started talking to people as they arrived? Dan Franks: Everyone was so excited to be together again! There was such an overwhelming sense of community and togetherness. We did return to in-person events last summer for Podcast Movement 2021, but Evolutions this week just felt different.
PBJ: Top 3 events from the event according to Dan Franks were… Dan Franks: There were so many amazing sessions and events, it’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite kid! I’ll take the easy out and say: - The keynotes were really good. From James Cridland revealing the Podnews Report Card, to Will Ferrell starting the event off with comedy and thoughtfulness, to the team from Spoke Media with an educational panel, to Latif Nasser discussing his personal evolution that has lead him to be the new co-host of Radiolab. The mornings were definitely kicked off great this year! - The parties were so much fun and some of the best we’ve had. Paris Hilton at the iHeart Party got the headlines and pictures, but all week long there were evening parties, afternoon mixers, morning snacks, and more. If you were looking for an eat, drink, or good company, all of those things were found in abundance this year. - The return of the Podcast Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is something we dreamed up in 2015 along with podcasting pioneer Gary Leland, and while we’ve taken a few years off, it was so exciting to be able to bring it back and honor 8 new inductees.
PBJ: What is the general feeling about where podcasting is headed? Dan Franks: I think continued excitement and overall enthusiasm. The event was split 50/50 between podcasters and industry professionals, but both groups seemed to be very encouraged by the opportunities that continue to present themselves for all participants in the industry.
PBJ: Number one challenge moving forward? Dan Franks: I feel like a broken record saying this every time this is asked, but the challenge we most hear about facing podcasters of all sizes is growth, and staying motivated if that growth happens slower than expected or hoped for. Many of the sessions discussed different approaches and techniques to growing shows, networks, and companies within the industry, and I hope that those who attended are leaving with new ideas that can help them accomplish their goals.
PBJ: In your opinion is podcasting still mainly a hobby for people or has it become a full-time paying job? Dan Franks: As mentioned earlier, Evolutions skews about 50/50 podcaster to industry professional, whereas our flagship Podcast Movement event in the summer is closer to 70/30 podcaster to industry pro. So at Evolutions, there were many people there who were there as a part of a full-time job, although many of those not on the creator side.
By and large, it does seem like most podcasters still at least start their podcasts as a hobby, but many do have the desire to turn them into something that generates some revenue, and some percentage of those podcasters do desire to turn it into a full-time commitment.
I continue to be excited for podcasters just getting started, and the new opportunities presented to them compared to even just a few years ago. Gone are the days of the only way to make money being getting advertisers through a podcast agency and doing host-read ads. Podcasters can now utilize platforms to help them crowdfund their shows, create premium paid versions of their shows, fulfil merchandise for their listeners, take their shows on virtual or in-person tours, and even find advertisers themselves!
PBJ: Were you happy with attendance in person? Dan Franks: Thrilled! Last time we hosted Evolutions was in February 2020 and we had about 1,200 in person attendees. To be honest, I would have been very happy to just pick up where we left off two years ago with 1,200 people joining us again. Instead, over 1,700 people joined us from around the world in-person, with over 200 virtual attendees on top of that.
It was so exciting to get things going again, and we’re already looking forward to the 2022 flagship Podcast Movement this August 23-26 in Dallas, and the return of Evolutions in 2023 next March in Las Vegas.
Join The Podcast Business Journal and Radio Ink for our second annual virtual podcast conference on July 19th and 20th. Our focus for the two-day event is How To Make Real Money Podcasting. We will be announcing several of our speakers this week.