During these modern times, people often mention the latest “podcast” that has enthralled their ears. But the term podcast was coined years ago, when “iPod” and “broadcast” formed a portmanteau.
Generally, a podcast involves individuals speaking about a specific topic — sometimes over music — that is published in a digital format for others to listen to by streaming it online via their mobile devices and computers — or after downloading the podcast.
A podcast typically represents a series that is made up of episodes, similar to a TV show series that contains episodes. For example, Dirty John is a podcast that recently went viral after the true-crime tale was published to the Los Angeles Times website. It is a popular podcast that is comprised of six episodes.
People listen to podcasts for a variety of reasons, chiefly to allow the voices on the other end to keep them company during broad expanses of otherwise quiet times or during periods that would become lonelier or more boring without the podcast flowing into their eardrums.
Podcasts may play during a person’s long commutes, weight-lifting sessions, homework studying hours — or even during the minutes spent waiting in grocery store lines. Instead of always tuning into the same old music via favored playlists, some avid podcast listeners escape by entering worlds they are most interested in within podcasts.
Podcasters use different methods to get their thoughts or stories out to listeners around the world, but the basic process for creating and sharing a podcast is the same. The podcaster must record the podcast, possibly edit the resulting audio file and then publish it to a podcast host that lets listeners access the podcast. Podcasts require the audio file and an “RSS feed,” which stands for “Really Simple Syndication” — essentially a computer-readable XML format file.
After podcasters create and publish their audio files online, listeners can hear them on multiple platforms, including desktop computers, mobile phones apps, via smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home, or in smart cars.
From podcasts residing on iTunes to ones found on Spotify, Stitcher or via huge podcast search engines such as Listen Notes, there are tens of millions of podcast episodes that await listeners ready to tune in to hear talk about their favorite topics for free. If you would like to learn more about podcasting, check out these 120 interviews with real-life podcasters for help.
According to The Podcast Consumer 2018, 76% of podcast listeners use a smartphone, tablet or other portable device to soak up podcasts, while 24% of listeners use a computer. On the same device, there are various software solutions to use to listen to podcasts, like via web browsers or through podcast player apps.
If you listen to podcasts via a web browser, that’s an option that can be used via a mobile device or a computer. For example, whether you’re on your desktop computer, smartphone or tablet, all devices allow users to navigate to a podcast search engine like ListenNotes.com and immediately begin listening to podcasts. The website provides a search engine box at the top that allows listeners to search for podcasts of interest by typing specific words into the search box — or lets them browse through the “best podcasts” or “hot podcasts” or “curated podcasts.”
The same devices can access web podcast players like Player.fm, or listen directly to a podcast that has been embedded or hosted on a website — such as the Dirty John podcast was embedded into the accompanying Los Angeles Times article.
Those who want to use their mobile devices to listen to podcasts and want a better player experience than using a web browser may have to install a native app first. iPhone/iPad users will find the default “Podcasts” icon on their smartphones, which lets them dive right in and listen to podcasts.
iOS users can use third-party apps such as Pocket Casts, found on Apple’s iTunes App Store, as their preferred podcasting app for iPhone and iPad.
Overcast is also podcast player app that’s available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users.
Whether using a podcast host or web player, the choices for listening are almost endless — even though Android does not yet have a pre-installed dedicated podcast app.
There are many options for listening to podcasts via desktop apps, one of which is Spotify.
Spotify allows listeners to access podcasts via their desktop computers, within the web player, as well as on their iPhone, iPad or Android mobile devices. Spotify provides instructions on how to access podcasts not only using smartphones, but within vehicles, utilizing Bluetooth technology, as well as through game consoles, TVs and other devices.
Another popular option for accessing podcast episodes on your desktop is via iTunes — which features plenty of podcast choices, from the art-focused to those falling under health, science, comedy categories and more.
If you enjoy listening to music on an Amazon Echo, you can also enjoy using it for listening to podcasts. Amazon lets users search for podcasts through the Alexa mobile app (found on iTunes and Google Play) or by using the Amazon Music feature to listen to podcasts on their Alexa devices.
Simply saying, “Alexa play a podcast,” should get the wheel spinning. You can also say, “Alexa, play a podcast from TuneIn.”
Those with Google Home devices can also listen to their favorite podcasts by instructing Google to play the specific podcast by naming it. According to Google, users can say, “Hey Google, play <podcast name> podcast.” However, Google Home users cannot currently instruct their devices to play their Spotify podcast playlists, nor ones via Google Play Music or TuneIn.
If You Have Never Listened To a Podcast Before: Get Started Now!
Many times, the best way to learn something new is to perform the activity — so if you’ve never explored the world of podcasting, dive right in now by visiting some of the above and below links to get a taste of the world of podcasting. Whether you listen directly via a website, a podcast app on your phone or through a podcast search engine like Listen Notes, chances are you’ll find it pretty easy to begin listening to the podcasts available.
New listeners may find it easiest to listen to their first podcast via embedded players on web pages. For example, S-Town is a podcast that appears embedded in its own website, broken down into seven “chapters” or episodes, about a murder investigation in Alabama.
Oftentimes, new listeners don’t know which podcasts exist, but they can find a podcast that suits their tastes by searching for their interests. Using the podcast search engine Listen Notes, podcast seekers can type in subjects such as sports, politics, true crime, etc., in order to uncover a podcast that they can enjoy via the website, using the embedded player.
Certain podcast listeners are fans of specific shows — with podcast fans on average subscribing to only six podcasts in total, as reported by The Podcast Consumer 2017.
If that sounds more like your speed, keep up with the podcasts you like by subscribing via a podcast player app. Many podcast apps let users search for podcasts by name and subscribe with a click of a button. But in general, podcast apps do not include all podcasts in their databases, so if you can’t find the podcast you’re seeking, manually add the RSS feed to the app.
How can you find the RSS feed? Search for it on Listen Notes or navigate to the podcast’s website.
Most podcast player apps allow users to stream the podcast and listen along, without having to download any large audio files onto their devices or computers. However, some listeners prefer to download podcasts and listen offline at a later time, like during their commute.
Even folks who love listening to podcasts and consider themselves avid listeners don’t have to clutter their feeds by subscribing to too many podcasts and becoming overwhelmed by seeing a long list of episodes that they have not played.
It is possible to build your own podcast playlist without subscribing to shows by using Listen Later on Listen Notes, which allows users to create their own desired episodes list via any podcast player. It works when users create a Listen Later playlist on the Listen Notes website, not via podcast player app. Next, you can add the RSS feed of your Listen Later playlist to any podcast player app, just like you would add an RSS feed of any podcast. View the process.
Think of Listen Later on Listen Notes as the “Watch Later” feature on YouTube. Although people may subscribe to hundreds of YouTube channels, they probably don’t watch all of the videos that each channel uploads. Instead, they can click the circular clock-like icon to instruct YouTube that they will watch the video at another time — when they visit their “Watch later” link to watch the footage that piqued their interest.
Such a similar podcast tool helps listeners explore episodes on hundreds or even thousands of podcasts and listen efficiently to the ones they enjoy.
Podcasts can be discovered in numerous ways. Hundreds of podcasts, as well as podcast players, can be found on Google Play, iTunes, and even by searching the latest podcast buzz on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Select podcasts become so viral and get so much buzz via word-of-mouth — like S-Town and Dirty John — that you can’t help hearing about them everywhere you turn. Podcast news bubbles up to Google News and allows fans to get in on the action.
Other podcasts are like undiscovered gems, waiting to be heard. That’s where social media whisperings, Google queries, and podcast search engines like Listen Notes can be extremely helpful. According to Lifehacker, a simple Google search for a podcast via Android phones already results in a play icon that allows the user to play the podcast immediately.
Most podcast platforms offer their listeners a place to start browsing, which may include the “Top 50” popular podcasts, new and viral episodes, or podcasts broken down by categories and subject matter.
In spite of the many ways that podcasts can currently be consumed, the amount of podcast listeners should increase by 100% over the coming years, reports Digital Trends. More and more podcasts will be produced, which means that it is time to unbundle podcast episodes to allow users to listen without subscribing.
Episode-focused podcast consumption will be similar to the transformation that music made — with the advent of iTunes no longer forcing folks to buy an entire CD if they just liked one song.
Tools such as Listen Later on Listen Notes could become the main method of consuming podcast episodes.
With plenty more podcast episodes being created, folks will need an easier way to find them. Search engines such as Listen Notes are already alleviating that issue, and we will also witness other platforms joining the podcast discovery arena, such as via social sharing and recommendations based on algorithms, like those employed by YouTube and Spotify.
Expect the future of podcasts to show us consuming more podcasts in a variety of places and across plenty of platforms. According to the Android Police, the technology already exists that allows users to begin listening to podcasts on their computers then pause the podcast, pick up their headphones and leave home or work, continuing to listen to the podcast via their mobile devices — right where they left off.
A day in the life of podcast listening could soon find us listening to an episode in the car, then at home via a smart speaker and afterward at the gym via our mobile phones. One thing seems clear as witnessed by the many ways podcasts are consumed: Podcasts aren’t going away anytime soon.