Audio is going nowhere – so what untapped genres, audiences and formats will help you cut through the noise? Here are my tip offs on the trends to jump on now, before anyone else.
Creating a podcast but want to avoid over-saturated, competitive categories? And maximise all that production time to create a show which actually gets listened to?
I've identified some white spaces in podcasting – where I believe you can get more bang for your buck – and give people the content, formats and genres they're crying out for. Injecting your podcast with some ingenuity and originality.
These are the 8 podcast trends I'm watching in 2021.
1. Shorter formats
10 minute shorts, curating selected themes or clipping show highlights into mini-episodes – are the perfect way to boost your download numbers and recruit wider audiences. Great for marketing, YouTube, and accessing new audiences who might not want to invest a full 90 – prioritise testing shorter formats as a supplementary format to your standard episodes, such as Dr. Rangan Chatterjee's Feel Better, Live More, or simply make 15-minute standard episodes, such as Julian Cole's Starting in Strategy. Pack in the value for your listeners!
2. Social audio
Audio is getting social – so consider the use of social forums to host live shows and create spaces for your audience to connect and debate. Clubhouse, Discord, Twitter, Cappuccino, HearMeOut, Audlist, and Riffr are providing new environments for brands and guests to offer intimate and spontaneous ways of interacting with others, free from the constraints of exhausting Zoom screens. People are increasingly seeing digital audio as a two-way medium, rather than just for one-way consumption, so jump on this trend, fast.
3. Teen drama
Teenagers are seeking scripted drama podcasts, and these digital natives are likely to spread your show like wildfire – via social networking and friends. Check out In Strange Woods – a teen fiction/drama/musical breaking genre stereotypes and creating an audio world just for teenagers.
[Pictured: In Strange Woods cover art]
Broadway is being formulated for the on-demand generation, and they're doing it via musical podcasts. People who love theatre, not just people on Broadway, can practice their art – giving listeners a wonderful way enjoy their storytelling, at the fraction of the price of a full Broadway show. Check out Loveville High, a prom in nine musical epsiodes, and 36 Questions, a three-part musical follows the story of a husband and wife attempting to bring their marriage back from the brink of divorce using 36 revealing questions designed to make strangers fall in love.
5. Mainstream entertainment
Headspace x Netflix, Joe Budden TV, Frenemies by H3 – podcasts are shifting into YouTube, TV and entertainment-audio hybrids. As a start, make sure to video your interviews (don't worry about the quality) and test making short video clips for social media promo. Start viewing your podcast as a piece of entertainment real estate, not just an MP3/WAV file.
[Pictured: Trisha Paytas and Ethan Klein on set at H3's Frenemies podcast]
Extreme hobbyists are looking for new ways to improve their skills, meet like-minded people, and explore new ideas, so upskilling podcasts are the perfect opportunity to power people's new passions! Cookalong podcasts, nail tech shows (recorded live from the salon), craftalongs, weight lifting, Depop selling strategies, Amazon drop shipping, you name it, there's a show opportunity.
7. Boomer content
The radio generation are ripe to convert onto podcast content, but they need clear, targeted content that relates to their life stage, and helps them break out of their endless cycle of responsibilities (or retired monotony!) They may not own a pair of earbuds yet, but they're certainly ready to stream it through their Roberts radio.
8. Soundscaped shows
Audio is becoming a respected medium – so any unusual use of sound, or particular sound effects, will instantly make your show stand out. ASMR anything - ASMR crime, in particular, is a genre and technique I think would do brilliantly. It's already big on YouTube, but it hasn't caught on on podcasts, yet. Or binaural beats, would provide a great basis for a show people typically listen to through their headphones. It also taps into the increasing awareness around mental health, with deep listening and sonic therapies – such as gong baths and meditation apps – seeing an uptick in interest during the pandemic as people explored ways to combat stress and anxiety.
Any podcast trends I missed that you're tracking? Let me know! Drop me a note at email@example.com