Even if you don’t dedicatedly follow any, you’ve probably heard of podcasts as an emerging form of entertainment.
Whether it’s on one’s drive to work or while cleaning out their closet, podcasts are gradually becoming an aural companion for many who wish to break away from the bombardment of visual content. Log into your favourite music app and you’ll see a list of podcasts on topics ranging from current affairs to poetry, from true crime to romance, and even talk shows featuring celebrities and industry experts. It’s safe to say that podcasts are booming.
But do they have a future? Does podcasting have space for women creators making their mark on the internet?
Kool Kanya spoke to Monisha Singh Katial, the founder of Voices for Local, to understand the podcast scene in India.
Voices for Local is a podcast that showcases India’s many homegrown brands, inviting the founders to speak about their aspirations and vision for their brand. The podcast was started to highlight and support local talent. Monisha has decades of experience in the ever-changing media industry, with the likes of Balaji Telefilms, UTV, ZoOm, and BookMyShow in her body of work. Currently in the podcast space, Monisha is working with Audible to produce podcasts and hosting her own as well.
Podcasts – born out of adversity, here for the long haul
The concept of a podcast isn’t new, and definitely not novel in the Indian context – radio programming has been a huge part of our history. Before black and white television made its way into our living rooms, Indians would get all their information and entertainment from the radio. It was the common man’s source for music, news updates, and interviews with celebrities and artists.
Fast forward to this decade. While podcasts have been around, they didn’t gain much traction until the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill in 2020. With people now forced to stay indoors, we consumed art and content like never before.
Says Monisha, “During COVID, because everything was closed and physical shooting had stopped, podcasting came my way. It was an interesting medium because till date, I was only telling stories through the video medium.” She continues,
“Now, I had to tell the same story without video. And that for me was challenging, interesting, and intriguing.”
Recent reports suggest that India has the third largest listener base in the world. A PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook study suggests that this number is likely to rise to 17.6 million by 2023. So, it is safe to say that Indians are here and willing to listen to stories again.
Fulfilling the need to be represented
It comes as no surprise that podcasts are the next big medium for creators. Several popular celebrities and artists are pivoting to audio content to engage with their audience, as it can be less distracting than a video platform and be a valuable tool for them to showcase their personality to their audience.
But what makes India a great market for podcasts? Monisha has the answer: diversity.
“The very fact that India is such a huge market for any player and that it is so diverse gives you so many ideas for content. While on one side you have a gangster show, on the other side you will have a high-end comedy playing. You have all kinds of shows for all kinds of people.”
In a country where languages and cultures change every few miles, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to content.
Hence, localisation of content and catering to a specific need can prove to be fruitful for content creators, especially if they want to go the podcast way.
“There could be a show that caters only to women, or a show that caters to men and fitness. It’s the perfect place for any content creator because the numbers are large, so you can grow if you’ve got the right content,” says Monisha.
Her podcast, Voices for Local, is a way to amplify India’s diversity, which can encourage people to support small, homegrown businesses. Incidentally, the idea came to Monisha during lockdown.
“The pandemic led to a lot of unemployed craftsmen, artisans, and karigars. Many had to shut down or go online. They didn’t know how to deal with virtual customers or what it meant to go online.” By inviting entrepreneurs and founders of these brands and talking to them about their journey, Monisha wished for her audience to shop and support local businesses. “This podcast could become a discovery platform for customers and bridge the gap between them and the brands. These are the stories to be told.”
Whether it’s a podcast dedicated to a specific demographic or to a cause, the speed with which podcasts can be produced has the potential to amass a large audience.
A platform for women to shine
Almost every domain we know is dominated by men. Over centuries, men’s experiences and stories have taken centre stage, leaving little room for women in the limelight. But thanks to the democratising power of the internet, this is slowly changing.
Whether it’s content creation and influencing or the gradual increase in women-centric films and TV shows on OTT platforms, the internet is a space where women can truly shine. Similarly, podcasts are a wonderful platform for women creators to leverage.
“Women like listening to other women. When television was around, women would work in the kitchen or do household work with the TV on in the background. Podcasting has taken over that and it allows you to go about your day’s routine while you listen to your favourite shows,” remarks Monisha.
So, what must you keep in mind when starting your own podcast? Monisha has some tips. “You should be passionate about the subject you want to talk about. Have a long-term picture in mind for your podcast, and the numbers will show. Don’t expect magic in the first couple of episodes.” It isn’t difficult to understand the technological aspect of it, and because it doesn’t require extensive equipment, it can be easy on the wallet.
With online music streaming services such as Spotify, Gaana, and Saavn aggressively pushing for commissioned content, podcasting is an interesting way to monetise your content.
If you’ve been thinking about starting that podcast with your BFF, there’s no better time to do it than now!
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