After a couple of years of limited in-person meet-ups and conferences, the podcast tides are turning. Along with the usual large conferences in the United States, there was a new conference in late May that shook the UK by storm. It was The Podcast Show London and it made quite an impact. I’ve chatted with a few folks who went to see what they learned at the conference, both skills and about the podcasting industry in the UK in general. And their rainbow of feedback will both surprise you and make you think. Let’s get started.
What Was the Podcast Show London Like?
It Was a Huge Event in Person and Online
The Podcast Show London was huge: 2 days, 5,000 attendees, and many, many lattes huge. I’m not kidding. Apparently, nearly everyone I talked to mentioned the endless free coffee at the event. This was one small example of the energy goodness that permeated this event. Is that even bigger than Podcast Movement and Podfest? Wow.
It Was Well Run and Easy to Maneuver
- Nice event app that made it clear what was going on and where
- A good amount of relevant exhibitors
- Great venue!
- Very easy to get to, big enough to fit everybody but not too big so that you feel utterly lost!
- Plenty of event helpers on the floor.
The Online Presence Was Impressive
The pre-event buzz online was so tantalizing that I almost went but it just wasn’t in the cards. But I was watching things unfold on Twitter and Instagram, as you’ll soon see. And I was able to connect to many in-person attendees who were happy to share their impressions, both delight, and frustration. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this summary of the event.
“My husband and I separated off for most sessions and still hardly scratched the service doing around 10 sessions a day between us.”
Claire Sandys of The Silent Why
No event is perfect, right? We’re now going to highlight a few positives (yea) and negatives (nay) about the event in hopes of giving you as complete a picture of the event as we can while being respectful of the doubtless large amount of people that it took to make this event happen. With this in mind, I’ve chosen to use the names of attendees I talked to when they mentioned something positive and kept them anonymous when it was something critical.
Did Glitz Overtake the Event?
Yea: Many Big Players Turned Up for the Podcast Show London
it seems obvious to say that there’s a lot of money in podcasting right now. If you read podcasting newsletters like Podnews or Sound Profitable but podcasting is booming. Clarification, podcasting at the top is booming. This Instagram video from the official The Podcast Show London account shows the company layout of the Business Center. Many of the big players in podcasting were there like Spotify, ACast, Amazon Music, and BBC Sounds. There were also podcast adjacent companies like YouTube, Dolby, Patreon, etc there as well. To get a sense of the hugeness of the space, check out this Instagram video montage from Paddington Works Production.
Nay: Creators Wanted More Skills-Based Sessions
There were attendees that complained that there was more glamour than substance. Specific examples include speakers who were focusing on the celebrity being highlighted much more than a skill that can elevate any podcast. The people I talked to were annoyed that branding, monetization, and “inventory” (not “content”) overtook the schedule whereas there were only two very sound design sessions and no podcast editing sessions at all. Some people also mentioned that the session titles were click baitish.
We Needed to See Each Other Again
“It was definitely time well invested; the knowledge that was shared, networks that were made and sheer enthusiasm of being surrounded by like minded passionate people was one hell of an experience. Roll on 2023!”Uyi Agbontaen of The Point of U
Podcasters and podcasting professionals, indy, or network are all involved in a rather isolated process that can feel detached from a larger community. And for talkers like us, we need people. It was clear from the feedback I got that it was a relief to see other podcasting folks in person again.
Yea: Podcasting Unites Us
The celebrity conversations may have put off some attendees but, as is often the case in podcasting, the technology was a common ground.
Technology Is Our Common Ground
“It was affirming to see my home studio represented everywhere. Mics, mic arms, audio interfaces, and laptops were all being used together as examples everywhere. I thought I had an amateur setup but this made me feel more professional.”
Dr. Jonathan of The Element of Inclusion
People Accessibility Was High at the Podcast Show London
And the vast majority of the people I talked to pointed out that it was very easy to chat with most if not all of the folks at these power business booths. In fact, it sounds like there were many small break-away areas where 2 to 3 people at a time could grab a slightly more private chat. This sounds cozy, which is the opposite of what you think from watching those Instagram videos of that gigantic, tall ceiling, the bright lighted convention center.
Offsite Networking Opportunities Were Plentiful
Andy Taylor. The founder of Bwlb, had this to say about the off-site mingling opportunities in his LinkedIn summary of the event:
“Highlights from ‘the fringe’…
Sam Sethi’s Podland drinks on Tuesday night. Very welcoming and fascinating conversations with talented and generous people.
Nick Hilton’s ‘Bad Podcaster’s Club’ drinks on Wednesday night. A brilliant mix of people from all levels of the industry and really thought-provoking opinions, viewpoints and experiences being shared in a positive and fun atmosphere.”
Matt Cheney of Kult Media mentioned the mix of indy and industry folks at the Bad Podcasters meetup but he also noted that he was able to easily arrange a fair number of impromptu one-on-one meetings via LinkedIn DMs. The mix of all levels of creators and podcasting professionals was an advantage of the event that nearly everyone I spoke to mentioned.
Nay: A Lack of Smaller Podcasting Representation
As mentioned before, the sessions at The Podcast Show London were not the highest-rated part of the event for the people I talked to. Who and what was missing?
- podcasters who worked their way up from nothing
- businesses that use podcasting as a key marketing strategy
- podcasters who were niche successful but not celebrities
Nick Hilton of Podot touches on some of these shortcomings in this very thoughtful piece on The Podcast Show London.
In Summary, Hurrah for the Podcast Show London
In reality, it would be impossible to have a large podcasting conference like this without a certain amount of glitz and glamour. So the sparkle that might have rubbed some people the wrong way may just be something that we need to live. And the rest of the critiques, well, they can be ironed out, right? One thing is clear, despite the grumblings here and there, nearly everyone I spoke to said they were going back to The Podcast Show London in 2023. If you want to join them, you can get your tickets now for next year’s event. And don’t forget to check out the other podcasting events happening this year.