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PodcastCon UK

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Podcasting: the road ahead’ is a pretty good strapline for PodcastCon UK 2006, the one-day conference on UK podcasting that took place in London on Saturday.

One major impression I have is how different this conference was compared to the first UK podcasting conference last year in its clear focus on the business mechanics’ of podcasting, so to speak.

That was reflected in the panel discussions during the day – creative podcasting, the business of podcasting, podcasting and the citizen journalist, and podcasting new music – and the panelists who participated.

Panelists and their presentations are one thing, audience participation is another, and there was plenty of the latter. And some great live music, more on which in a minute.

Of note:

  • Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, the travel publisher, describing in some detail his company’s strategic approach to social media and how he sees podcasting as another tool to build community between the company, travellers and travel writers.
  • Brad Gibson of MacFormat This Week podcast: “No podcast should ever be longer than 30 minutes.” Brad backed up his opinions with stats on people’s short attention spans and abilities to retain information. (Of course, I disagreed – if people find your content compelling, they’ll want to listen to a podcast that’s longer than that as long-time listeners to FIR will know.)
  • Heather Gorringe of Wiggly Wigglers, which is perhaps the most credible example in the UK of what podcasting can do for a small business in building community and directly supporting sales. Heather provided some highly credible views on how she measures the effectiveness of her podcasts as an advertising and sales-leads channel compared to traditional advertising in trade magazines (podcasting wins hands down, she says).
  • Chris Vallance of BBC Radio 5 Live and Neil McIntosh of The Guardian talked about the blur between journalism, blogging and podcasting as part of the panel discussion on citizen journalism, prompting one audience participant to offer his definition of the difference between a blogger or podcaster and a journalist: bloggers/podcasters do it for free.
  • John Buckman, founder and CEO of record label Magnatune – and recently elected to the board of Creative Commons - gave a compelling presentation about his internet-era record label’ and how it’s different (hint: his firm’s tag line is “We are not evil”). The image at top is from John’s presentation.

I took a look at some of the exhibitors there, notably Nokia promoting their new podcasting application for the N91 (and which works on all N series phones, although it’s not recommended for downloading podcasts on non-wifi phones unless you have deep pockets for the bill). You can talk to Nokia and users about Nokia podcasting via their blog.

Also the FlashMic DRM85 on show from HHB Communications. Essentially it’s a Sennheiser condenser microphone married to 1-gig of flash memory to make a wholly self-contained professional recording system. Very nice indeed and I can imagine it’s practicality in news organizations. Podcasters may find it terrific, too, if they do lots of face-to-face interviews.

Which now brings me to the music on Saturday.

First up was Slashed Seat Affair and the powerful and compelling voice of lead singer Ellie Mules. I promised them that I’d play one of their songs in today’s edition of FIR, and it will be in there. The band gave away a CD of five podcast-safe tracks, and I’ll be playing “Forget You” today.

Next, Jimmy Golding. Delightful music, best described by Jimmy himself: “I want to pull at peoples heart strings and engage them to think about life and death as we travel on the journey through fear and darkness to love and hope.”

Finally, the raucous, energetic and wholly engaging The Shakes. Lead singer Ed is a passionate singer, belting out the songs that garnered ecstatic applause from everyone. The band’s music type and style remind me of the Small Faces (now that was a very long time ago!) with Ed as a modern Steve Marriott.

These live performances at a gig like this from three talented groups of people, independent artists all, illustrate their understanding of how podcasting (and podcasters) can be a viable channel to market for their music, broadening exposure to their creativity.

Adam Curry was there at the end which is a huge endorsement for British music podcasting. My colleague CC Chapman took arguably the best photo of the day featuring Adam and Euan Spence which would make for an excellent caption contest.

See lots of photos at Flickr.

Congrats to organizers Paul Nicholls, Adrian Pegg, Alex Bellinger and Neil Dixon. A terrific event!

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Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

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