It’s not just Apple and Spotify: Explore Podcasting 2.0 and find innovative listening apps and features that can benefit both podcasters AND listenersDec 08, 2023
As an independent podcaster I love to listen to podcasts about podcasting, and attend conferences on the topic with other podcasters and those furthering the realm of podcasting possibilities.
Through doing both of these things I had heard a fair bit about Podcasting 2.0, in particular references to Boostagrams and Value4Value, a way for podcasters to earn a few pennies (and I mean ‘a few’).
I downloaded one of the Podcasting 2.0 enabled listening apps, Fountain, easily transferred my favourite shows over from Apple, and began using this as my default listening app.
When I met co-founder of Fountain Oscar Merry at the PodNews Live London event in 2023, I bent his ear about the ‘hows’ and ‘whats’ of this initiative, and in particular the ‘whys’ as they relate to podcasters and their listeners – not just in terms of money, but also for discoverability and connection between creators and their audience.
Hearing explanations and examples from a real person often makes things much clearer than when researching from home – although this blog post hopefully goes some way to doing that in this instance! – so I invited Oscar to talk to some of my fellow podcast enthusiasts and hosts to learn about what Podcasting 2.0 actually, is and how it can help them find new listeners, connect directly with those listeners, and perhaps even earn a few Sats – more about that later.
So, what is Podcasting 2.0?
Fountain bills itself as ‘the podcast app that pays’, and members of the Creativity Found Collective, together with those from the Everybody Collective of podcasters, listened to Oscar explain what Podcasting 2.0 is and how, with minimal amounts of money, podcasters can enhance their visibility and engagement with listeners.
Podcasting 2.0 was created by Adam Curry and Dave Jones with a dual goal:
- Open Index – to preserve and protect the open nature of podcasting, 2.0 makes sure that one giant tech company doesn’t take over and lock people in.
- Podcast Name Space – a way for this community to extend podcasting. Adding new features to what it means to be a podcast.
Oscar cited YouTube as a way to explain the above, which has a lot of valuable features for the community, for example, commenting. That feature hasn’t really existed in podcasting because over the last decade or so, the definition of what it means to have a podcast or an RSS feed hasn’t really developed – until now. The Name Space element of 2.0 allows comments and engaging features to be included and used within podcast listening apps.
The features take the form of tags applied to an RSS feed – the feed that allows podcast-listening apps to access your show. Not all listening apps support these new tags, and not all 2.0-supporting apps support all tags, but you can find a list of the ones that do and the tags they support here, as Oscar mentioned later in his talk. If you want to explore these new features, do consider giving one of these apps or directories a try instead of the default Apple or Spotify!
Oscar next gave a deep dive into features available in 2.0, and explained what their values are to hosts.
The Podcast Person tag allows any podcaster to define who appeared in the episode in a structured way to allow apps to surface the information and make it searchable. So now, there’s an easier way for your listeners to learn more about the people in each episode and click to find out more.
Chapters gives hosts a chance to define sections in each podcast, including additional content that the listener might find relevant. For example, in some apps you can already have ‘MP3 chapters’ but 2.0 offers an extension of this – you can skip chapters, click relevant links, and each chapter can have its own image.
The Value tag is a way to let your listeners support you directly from the app. Oscar discussed how a lot of hosts currently use the popular site Patreon to ask their audiences to support them financially. He described the main issue with Patreon, which is that it’s fundamentally separate from the listening experience, and causes friction as you move away from the listening app through to the Patreon website, pick a tier and set up an account. As this is outside of the immediate listening experience, it breaks the flow of the podcast for your listener.
The Value tag defines a way for listeners to support your podcast. They can pay you, and send you a message, directly from within the podcast app.
Oscar went on to talk about other features, including Transcript, which makes each podcast more accessible. As one audience member put it, ‘people with hearing and cognitive impairments will also find transcripts useful! Fab!’
Live Item merges live streams and podcast episodes into one format and makes the live stream available in the podcast app so listeners don’t have to go to a different app for the lives.
And finally, Value Time Split, a brand new feature that allows you to change the destination of the payment depending on which part of the audio you’re in.
The most important thing to note about features or tags in 2.0, is that they don’t just work in one podcast app but in all apps that support 2.0 – and there are more joining the movement every month.
This means that as a host, you don’t have to go into every app and update the information every time, 2.0 allows you to do it once and then it updates automatically across all hosting sites.
In the chat after Oscar’s presentation, there was discussion about payments and safety online. Luckily, with 2.0, the payment system works across all 2.0 apps, using the Bitcoin Lightning Network to facilitate payments.
Where the Value tag is supported in a listening app, users of that app can send micropayments called Sats – short for Satoshi, the smallest unit of Bitcoin (BTC) to shows as one-off Boostagrams – with or without a direct message to the show – or by streaming payment as they’re listening to the podcast: for example, 1 cent per minute. At Fountain, they see almost 40% of the payment volume from listeners to podcasters is done through streaming micropayments rather than one-offs.
Oscar told us that naturally, messages with money have more meaning, but the point of Fountain is to ensure that no one is being blocked from engaging because of a pay wall.
With every comment being based on a micropayment, it means that Fountain can ensure there are no bots or spam messages coming through – just the true audience engaging with the hosts.
Powered by community
Oscar explained that when it comes to community there are limited opportunities for listeners to connect directly with podcast hosts, and vice versa. This is where 2.0 can make its impact, by providing more, simple-to-use outlets for hosts and listeners to spark conversation and gift others with micropayments.
Oscar gave a bit of a sales pitch for Fountain, and explained that the social features allow podcast hosts to get closer to their fans. For example, you can share clips in the app rather than having to use other platforms, and continue conversations in real time there too, much like other social media platforms.
However, Fountain isn’t alone. This link which Oscar shared with the group, highlights all the apps that are currently supporting 2.0 and which tags they support, and, as mentioned earlier, the list is ever growing.
Oscar encouraged the group to do their own research on Podcasting 2.0, since there’s a lot of information out there, not just from Fountain but from hosting sites such as rss.com, Blubrry and Buzzsprout – which happens to be my hosting platform and, through their own podcast Buzzcast, the reason I began learning about and exploring what 2.0 is and can offer.
It was great to hear how much Fountain values privacy. When asked about data of the user base on Fountain, Oscar explained that there wasn’t a clear-cut answer because they try not to collect information. He does know that a large portion of users are interacting and, much like any other app or platform, it’s only a small percentage supporting financially. But, and here’s where 2.0 really shines, you don’t have to be making an income to benefit. Commenting on episodes will still help you become discoverable, either as a listener or a host. Reaching out to a podcaster, sending a boost, all of it will bring attention.
In the chat, I even gave my own example – I sent a Boostagram to Buzzcast and had my podcast mentioned on the show because of that!
It was an absolute pleasure to host Oscar for this webinar. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I personally get greater understanding from listening to a person explain new things to me than reading, and I wanted to share with fellow indie podcasters and their listeners that the features of Podcasting 2.0 are beneficial in many ways, and you do not need to be a tech wiz to take advantage of them.
Watch the webinar for yourself
Naturally, more explanation was given in the talk, as well as answers to specific questions and concerns, than I have detailed here. The event was organized for the membership groups the Creativity Found Collective and the Everybody Collective, and could be booked at a cost for non-members. If you would like to view the recording you can do so here at the same cost as the original event.
Alternatively, the recording is available to all members of either of these groups, so do consider signing up as a member of either Collective to glean extra benefits and gain free access to more events like these.
And why not follow me, as Creativity Found, on the Fountain app, right here!