Today I attended the LA Podcasters meetup at the LA Farmer's Market, where it had originally begun. While it was a pretty laid-back, casual gathering, its use now, as it has always really been, was to gauge where we are as podcasters and where our industry is.
When I headed back to the benches near E.B.'s Beer and Wine, I really had no idea how profoundly this meeting would affect me. But in truth, we have all been through a lot.
The story of podcasting, very similar and parallel to the story of the LA Podcasters, is this: Lots of people get into it at first, then realize that this podcasting thing is actually a lot of work, and drop out. Or realize that the riches are not going to fall from the sky from doing it, and drop out.
So those of us still left standing after four years (and in attendance) included: Tim Coyne from The Hollywood Podcast (and now leader of the LA Podcasters); Dan Klass of the oldest podcast in the group, The Bitterest Pill; two of the Tres Jefes; Bill Palmer from iProng and me (Whispered Pearls and MicheBelz Hollywood).
All along, it seems, the thread we've been following has been: what is this podcasting thing? Where is it leading? Who are we along the continuum?
And the answer, shocking to me, though it shouldn't be, is simple. Podcasting is where new media is, though old media refuses to accept it. This new world that we are entering, or in, is an inclusive one. One that reflects the sitting around the campfire mentality of old more than the "how fast can I become a celebrity?" mentality that has replaced people's hopes lately.
Those who have veered off of the path along our podcasting travels are those who head in the direction of that fast buck, or even the bucks in general. As you look back over four years of podcasting, you can clearly say that those who self-destructed were of two kinds: those who weren't willing to do the work, and those who sought fame and fortune from it.
I consider myself neither famous nor making money from my podcasts (although I do make some, it's not a livable wage). And yet, I'm still here, doing it.
The thing about the get-rich-quick schemes is that it's an old business model. I think it's one of the ways that causes old media to flounder when they look at the new media on the Internet. "So how do you make money at this?" they say, and have said since 1992, while their own industry dies around them. And to them, $$$$ is the bank they make after decades in their industry of choice (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio).
There isn't that kind of money to be made right now in podcasting. But is that a reason to stop doing it? Does that mean it's not successful?
We shall see who the ultimate victors are in this nascent industry. All I do know for sure is that those people at that table tonight podcast because they LOVE it. They podcast because they have to. They podcast because they have something to say, and, if you ask me, say it quite well. Slow and steady wins this race, and I'm proud to know all these guys and be a part of this group.