It’s Easier to Criticize RSS Than to Understand It


PodMov Daily: Thursday, July 14

Episode 681: Your Thursday Podthoughts

It's Easier to Criticize RSS Than to Understand It

The RSS standard has kept podcasts “mostly stagnant” since its inception, according to former Spotify head and Anchor co-founder Michael Mignano. His piece “The Standards Innovation Paradox” champions companies that ‘break the curse’ with proprietary solutions, as Spotify has done with podcasts on Anchor.

Mignano’s reasoning has been widely discussed, to say the least. In a chat on this morning’s Podland, Podnews editor James Cridland prompted his guest to elaborate on the idea: “I wonder if the essay that you wrote is essentially trying to build in product lock-in, rather than a conversation about standards.”

It’s both, Mignano says. The ‘best teams’ find a way to achieve product lock-in while maintaining interoperability with existing standards. In this case, RSS would have made competition too hard due to slow market adoption. Cridland then asked for his take on the Podcast Index, where RSS is being innovated at breakneck speed.

“I haven’t spent too much time checking out the Podcast Index,” Mignano replied. I’ve read a little bit about it and I was tweeting back and forth with them today. I’m supportive of what they’re doing, and I hope it gains traction. It sounds like it is.” At this level of RSS awareness, there’s a certain bravery in faulting its limitations.

We won’t get too far into the weeds here. But say RSS is preventing podcasting from reaching its potential. If Spotify had five years to ‘innovate’ unhindered, what would the industry look like? Here’s co-founder Alberto Betella: “Using innovation as an excuse to justify corporate strategy is never a good choice.”

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Ask questions. Stay curious. It’s much more important to stay interested than to be interesting.

Here's what else is going on:

  • For keeps: A focused strategy can turn a viral TikTok moment into sustained podcast audience growth. Maribel Quezada Smith, co-founder of BIPOC Podcast Creators, offers a set of rules. Consistent, clear messaging to your target audience creates enthusiastic trust that outlasts the algorithm.
  • Numbers game: Halfway through 2022, what’s up and what’s down in podcasting? Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein singles out a few stats worth tracking. The precipitous drop in new launches and explosion in new listeners are just a start. “The pace of our industry can make your head spin.”
  • Victory lap: Applications for the third annual Black Podcasting Awards will be open until August 15. Shows across 29 categories will be honored in a live, virtual ceremony on September 25. Submissions must be ‘reels’ under five minutes long. Application fees are discounted until July 31.
  • Monster mash: A hit survival-horror video game “perfectly incorporates true crime podcasts,” writes Princess Weekes of The Mary Sue. Introduced at the beginning, the podcast that plays during the credits “will be impacted by how many pieces of evidence and clues [your characters] collected.”

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