In the twenty years since podcasting has been around, there hasn’t been much change to the space. But the co-creator of the medium — Adam Curry — is looking to change that with Podcast 2.0. Podcast 2.0 is meant to be the future of podcasting. With such a critical role, it’s unsurprising that understanding what podcast 2.0 entails can be a challenge. For busy creators, there’s a quick guide on everything you need to know.
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An Overview of Podcasting History
Podcasting began as audio blogging in the 1980s. By 1999, the audio blog received a significant revamp when the audio file — usually an MP3 — was able to be distributed using an XML file, known as an RSS feed. The next change in the podcasting landscape occurred in late 2004 when audio blogging adopted the name podcasting.
In 2004, like other tech advances occurring in the last two decades, podcasting gained popularity because of tech giant Apple, particularly the iPod. In 2004 Adam Curry, an MTV disk jockey, and Dave Winer, a software developer, developed iPodder— a program that allowed iPod owners to download audio blogs to their devices.
At this stage, the term “podcasting” was coined by veteran journalist Ben Hammersley. Hammersley developed the portmanteau by taking “pod” from iPod and blending that with the “cast” of the broadcast.
The next change to podcasting would occur in 2009, with the dawn of RSS 2.0.
Related: What Is a Podcast Feed URL: Everything You Need to Know
What is Podcast 2.0 and Who is Behind It?
Podcast 2.0 is an umbrella term for the initiatives to decentralize and advance podcasting in a way that hasn’t been achieved since 2009.
Surprisingly, Podcasting 2.0 has its origins in free speech. It’s prompted by the removal of Alex Jones’ podcast from Apple’s directory, leading his podcast to be removed from several iOS and Android apps which use Apple’s directory to create indexes.
The “father” of podcasting, Adam Curry, is behind this change. Curry worked alongside Dave Jones, a programmer, to create Podcast 2.0. The project relies on two frameworks: the Index and the Namespace.
What Does Podcast 2.0 Mean to Podcasting?
Essentially, Podcasting 2.0 makes podcasting less dependent on the big players in tech.
The Podcast Index
The easiest aspect to understand about Podcast 2.0. is its move away from having big players control the space. It’s doing this through the Podcast Index.
Anyone can submit to and have their podcast distributed through the Podcast Index. The founders hope apps will move away from Apple’s more opinionated database and use its repository to distribute podcasts. Using Podcast Index, apps can still choose which podcasts to remove their platforms without the podcast being removed from the Index — which, at this stage, is the most comprehensive list of available podcasts.
If your podcast host doesn’t distribute to The Podcast Index, you can submit your podcast to the Index. Despite it not being mainstream yet, a growing number of apps use The Index to index podcasts. Beyond the Index, the Podcast 2.0 movement is also significant because of the Podcasting Namespace, PodPing, and Value-for-Value.
The Podcast Namespace is also where the developments in the podcast landscape become more technical.
The Namespace creates new tags for the RSS 2.0.
The Podcast Namespace is an extension of the RSS 2.0, which hasn’t changed since 2009. Since RSS is essentially an XML document, the tags within the podcast give information about the show or episode being indexed.
Much like its other influences on the podcast landscape, Apple created a standard set of tags for things like genre and artwork. But given how limited Apple’s tags were, other companies created their tags to provide greater detail about a podcast episode.
For the most part, hosts ignored many of these tags, which is quite significant because for a tag to be effective, it needs to be recognized by hosts.
That’s changing as more podcast hosts are adopting and using the tags associated with the Namespace, the most relevant being:
This tag indicates whether your podcast’s feed can be imported to others. You can set this to yes or no, depending on whether you want platforms to index your podcast.
This links your podcast’s transcript or closed caption file which allows those with hearing loss, who are unfamiliar with your accent or with difficulties grasping the audio, to follow along and understand the episode.
This lists your podcasts donations or funding links, think Patreon and PayPal. But you can also use the tag to link an Amazon influencer store or use an Amazon affiliate.
The purpose of the soundbite tag is to point to an episode’s preview and highlights. It can also be used for discoverability and audiogram generation among other things.
Using this tag, you can link to an external file that contains your episode’s chapter data. Compatible players will also show images located within this tag without the need to embed the image within the audio file.
This displays who was involved in the creation, execution, or entertainment of an episode by listing the hosts, co-hosts, guests, and crew.
Make your podcast easy to follow by separating it into seasons. You also benefit from being able to take a break from recording as you wait to launch a new season.
Typically used in tandem with the “season” tag, the “episode” tag displays where within the season a podcast episode is placed.
The trailer tag allows you to point to a specific file that contains the trailer of a season or the podcast in general.
As Podcast 2.0 continues to expand, so too will the tags that accompany the podcast. There are dozens of other tags still in discussion which in the months and years to come will elaborate on these nine tags.
PodPing is an element of Podcast 2.0. that uses blockchain technology — particularly the Hive blockchain — to reduce the amount of bandwidth and the amount of time it takes to update the RSS feed. With PodPing, podcast RSS data updates in less than one minute. But to access the benefits of PodPing, the host you’re using must have adopted the software which, at the moment, is still only a fraction of hosting service providers.
Related: How to Create an RSS Feed for Your Podcast
Value-for-Value also leverages the blockchain to monetize podcasts, this time, in the form of enabling podcasts to receive direct payments from listeners in the form of Bitcoin.
Without getting too technical, Value-for-Value uses the Lightning Network. The Network is a layer above Bitcoin that facilitates rapid, micropayments of the cryptocurrency. Listeners can send a podcast payment in the form of Satoshi, which is 1/100,000,000 of Bitcoin. At current rates, that means $1 would be approximately 4,500 Satoshi. Then listeners can either subscribe to the podcast to make episodic payments or send a “boost” during the episode, a feature similar to receiving donations on a live stream.
But adoption of Value-for-Value has been slow, with only eleven apps and hosts currently using the technology.
What to Look Forward to in Podcast 2.0
In the years since Podcast 2.0 has launched, adoption of many of the technology associated with it has been rapid.
Currently, another aspect of Podcast 2.0 is being fleshed out, which will empower analytics without infringing on the privacy of listeners. Enter Universal Listen ID (ULID) is an initiative that would provide each podcast with a unique 128-digit number. That would make podcast analytics more transparent as it won’t resort to cookies or IP tracking to provide podcasts with essential data about an episode’s performance.
How to Leverage Podcast 2.0 in Your Podcast
For Podcast 2.0 to reach the mainstream and have the kind of transformational impact its creators envision it having on the space, podcasters need to make a concerted effort to join it.
Naturally, aspects like using blockchain technology may be out of reach for most podcasters, but Podcast 2.0 still works without in-depth knowledge of blockchain technology. Most podcasts will also benefit from the new tech in a meaningful way.
For a busy creator, spending time researching how to leverage Podcast 2.0 can be unnecessarily time-consuming, given the project is still in its infancy. But you can leverage all of Podcast 2.0’s benefits seamlessly by using a podcast host that uses:
Podcast 2.0 Index
Moving away from Apple’s podcast index will be most effective for podcasts that prefer greater reach. While most podcasts aren’t in danger of having their podcasts removed from Apple’s index, having more podcasts on Podcast 2.0 index means that larger platforms — Spotify, Google, and Apple — will have to use it, which means removing a podcast from one distributor’s index won’t have as severe an impact as it currently would now that most major players rely on Apple.
The importance of tags in syndication and reach is limited but provides syndicates with important information about your podcast so its appearance on RSS feeds includes all the most crucial information and maintains the format you envisioned when creating your podcast or episode.
Chapters, person, soundbite, transcript, and trailer are going to be the most effective tags in improving the listener’s experience.
Being able to have updates synchronize across RSS feeds the minute you make them is game-changing. This can allow you to update tags and make edits that prioritize listener enjoyment. In an age of instant gratification and instant outrage, having a feature that provides almost real-time updates will prove effective in keeping up-to-date with the digital climate podcasters have to endure.
But What About Value-for-Value?
In its current form, Value-for-Value won’t provide much value — pun intended — for the average podcaster. The primary reason is that it doesn’t integrate with most apps the average listener uses to engage in contact. Yes, that could always change. But in a world where you have to be on several social platforms to maintain relevancy, adding another — that doesn’t promise returns — will only spread your resources thin.
You can leverage the Index, Namespace, and PodPing of Podcast 2.0 by hosting your podcast on Buzzsprout, Captivate, JustCast, or Captivate.
If you have more time on your hands or don’t want to change hosting providers, you could consider lobbying your current hosting service to adopt the use of The Index, Namespace, and PodPing.