There are many different podcasting networks out there; the first one was the GodCast network. Many others have popped up recently. Some networks were created to be purely social (such as The 138 and The Teen Podcasters Network), where the different podcasters joined together to help out each other on their shows, to cross-promote each other, and to vote for each other on the different directories. Others, such as the GodCast Network, TSFPN, and the Podcast Outlaws, were created to give listeners a place to go to find new shows to listen to. Then there are networks such as Podshow and Tech Podcast Network that were created to generate revenue for the podcasters in the network and, of course, for the creators of the network. We will talk more about that issue in Chapter 18, "Generating Revenue."
The following list is just a sampling of some of the podcast networks available:
The 138 (www.the138.com) One of the first social podcast networks. This group was started by Bibb, from Bibb and Yaz, in early 2005 to help individual podcasters cross-promote on the other members' shows. Podcasters in the group help out other members with show material and technical support when needed.
AMP (Association of Music Podcasters; www.musicpodcasting.org) This is the first network of music podcasters. AMP was originally formed as a way for music podcasters to share information about what indie musicians and songs they were playing on their podcasts to keep everyone from just playing the same few songs. With over 60 podcasts, AMP has a lot of combined experience with issues facing music podcasters. If you are a music podcaster starting out, it is highly recommended you make friends with at least a couple of members of AMP.
The GodCast Network (www.godcast.org) The original podcast network started by podcast pioneer Craig Patchett. This network was started to bring together quality religious-based and family-friendly podcasts (see Figure 15.3).
Figure 15.3. The GodCast Network is the original podcast network.
The Podcast Outlaws (www.podcastoutlaws.com) A small group of podcasters who pick good-quality indie podcasts to highlight on their RSS feed.
Podshow (www.podshow.com) Make no mistake about it: Podshow was created to make money for the people who started it. Podshow was the first network to bring in a large venture capital (VC) round of funding (over $8 million in June of 2005). All that said, they have worked very hard to bring in advertisers for the shows they have under contract. (We will talk more about Podshow in Chapter 18.) Podshow brought in a $100,000 contract from Dixie paper for the MommyCast in late 2005. This network is by invite only.
TSFPN (The Sci-Fi Podcasters Network; www.tsfpn.com) Once you get past the really bad color scheme on the website, you will find a wealth of sci-fi podcasts listed here, including Mur's Geek Fu Action Grip, along with over 50 other great podcasts. TSFPN even makes it easy for potential listeners to find shows they might like by breaking them up into different content ratings. If you have a sci-fi podcast, this is definitely a place you want to have your show listed.
Tech Podcasts Network (www.techpodcasts.com) This is a network of over 50 G-rated tech podcasts. Criteria to join are numerous and sometimes mysterious. The network is definitely commercially focused and inked early advertising deals with GoDaddy.com and Goto Meeting. If you do not want advertising on your podcast, you are best to look for a more social network. But if you are looking for revenue for your podcast, this network has lots of experience in that areajust remember, no bad words allowed.
The Teen Podcasters Network (www.teenpodcasters.com) Founded in July of 2005, this network was started to help bring teen podcasters together, where they can communicate with each other and help one another. This is more of a social network, and there is even a voting page for the different shows. If you are teenager and a podcaster, you should check out this network.
Networks can be a great way to get added exposure for your podcast, but you need to make sure you know what you want out of a network before you join that network. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are you just looking for exposure or do you also want to get some revenue from your show?
Are you looking to find like-minded podcasters who will help you develop your show?
Are you just looking for a group of people to give you more votes at Podcast Alley?
Talk to the members of any network you are looking to join. Ask them off the record to tell you what they like and dislike about the network. Find out who has recently left the network and go and ask them why they left. Many different networks are out there, and more will pop up every month. You as a podcaster need to make sure you are careful before joining any network and weigh the costs of joining. Some networks put restrictions on the content of your shows; others force you to play promos for the network or advertisements from sponsors of the network, and they even force you to play those ads at the beginning of your podcast. Even worse, some lock you into long-term one-sided agreements. It is crazy (in our humble opinion) at this early stage in podcasting for someone to lock themselves into a multiyear contractunless, of course, there is a huge signing bonus. If you are looking at joining a network and you are required to sign a contract, please have a lawyer review it for you.