If there’s one question I’m asked more frequently than any other — in my capacity as a podcast producer — it’s this: how can I get my podcast out into the world?
This is a question that recurs far more often than concerns about content or enquiries about production techniques. It is, in a way, the single question that defines modern podcasting. After you’ve made your show, after you’ve got that product that you believe ticks all the quality boxes, how do you get people to listen to it?
I was thinking about that this week in the context of the broader question: how do you get anyone to do anything? And the answer is that pervasive, internetcentric word: influence. Every time we watch a movie or read a book or tune into a new TV series or spend £50 buying a new video game, we have been influenced to do so. By marketing, by word of mouth, by pure random chance. It’s no surprise, therefore, that in a media system so inherently capitalistic, that we would see the rise of influencer culture. These are, essentially, sales reps, not tangibly different to the door-to-door salesmen flogging Avon or Tupperware or copies of The Watchtower. Just the grift is subtler, preferring that tantalising word ‘recommend’ to the more brutal ‘sell’.
Every demographic and platform has its own set of influencers, who move in a rotating, overlapping venn diagram. Movie stars recommend expensive nightclubs, musicians flog overpriced tequila, reality TV stars tell people which paperbacks to pick up at the airport. How and when transactions occur is somewhat mysterious from the outside: only the most explicit brand endorsements come with the helpful (to journalists, meaningless, I suspect, to consumers) #ad labelling. But there is also a whole world of non-commercial back-scratching. People who share agents or managers, or are working on projects for the same movie studio or record label. People who bumped into one another at parties or sat next to one another at dinner; people whose kids go to the same fancy Beverley Hills school, or whose chihuahuas get their anal glands squeezed at the same groomer. If you could follow the money, then ‘influence’ would be a lot easier to track — if potentially even harder to achieve.
All this thinking about influencers — unhealthy in the mind of a 29-year-old man — made me ask…