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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Mark Asquith: In & Around Podcasting

Mark Asquith is the British Podcast Guy. He is also the co-founder of which was purchased by Global in December of 2021. Mark has been Helping podcasters to grow their audience. What I really like about Mark is his thinking when it comes to monetization and growing your audience; he is not beholden to things podcasters hold sacred.

In this episode he shares insights from over a decade of experience in podcasting. He discussed the founding of Captivate to provide superior customer service and problem-solving for podcasters. Asquith emphasized understanding diverse revenue streams beyond just sponsorships. He challenged the sole focus on monetization and viewed podcasting also as a platform for enjoyment, explored the evolution of podcasting and adaptation to changes, and analyzed the benefits of displaying podcast metrics like downloads transparently while acknowledging individual decision-making based on goals. Mark also discussed work-life balance, releasing episodes when competition is lower, and the support of his team across time zones.

You might remember we had Danny Brown from on our show last year. Now Danny and Mark have combined to start a new podcast called "In & Around. Podcasting" which will higlhight how podcasting is for everyone. While there are other shows for the enthusiasts, the techies, the business side... In & Around Podcasting will be for podcasters by podcasters. You can learn more about the show here - and do follow or subscribe.


We recorded this on video because video is all the rage don't ya know. I love how Mark's additional interests are nearby... namely Star Wars and Golf.



Tara Sands (Voiceover)  00:02

The sound off podcast. The show about podcast and broadcast... starts now.

Matt Cundill  00:13

Mark Asquith is someone I've wanted to speak to for a while. I don't have the time to listen to every podcast about podcasting every week. But his is one that I do. There are things he suggests when it comes to making decisions that I really like. Often he's gonna say things like, think of it this way, or what have you considered it from this approach? And he does it in simple ways that make me say, Well, that just makes sense. Why don't I think of these things? If you're looking to start a podcast, I suggest you take a look at a podcast host like They're always innovating all the time. And as well. They've got great support. Danny Brown, who's been on this podcast before, lives in the Huntsville Ontario area and is always eager to help out if you can understand him through that wonderful Scottish accent. Mark has a new podcast out by the way after sunsetting the old one you can connect with him and that show in the show notes of this episode. And now Mark Asquith joins me from the very picturesque Holmfirth, England. Mark, what did you do before Captivate?

Mark Asquith  01:19

Oh, I've been in podcasting for like 12 years, nearly 1112 years now. It feels like there is no before. Well, I've done a lot of things actually. So I've been jobless for 21 years now. So after I quit my sort of admin job, I became a freelance digital trainer. So I worked with things like the Ministry of Defense worked with people like blue chip companies and banks in the UK and all aspects of the military, actually Air Force Navy. And then started learning could create a digital agency scaled that and then got into podcasting alongside that about 10 years ago, 11 years ago, which is crazy. And then pretty much did podcasting full time since then, actually created podcast websites productivity, Rebel base media, the podcast design studio, we used to have a recording studio obviously Captivate as well now captivates the main thing since acquisition. So yeah, it's been quite the journey.

Matt Cundill  02:12

So why did you want to get involved with Captivate and podcast hosting specifically?

Mark Asquith  02:16

I've been around so long, when I first started, there was like two podcasters, maybe three. And they're just, they're all friends. I can say this. I know Robert, Todd, and halben. And Kevin, everyone really well, that just, they weren't doing what I needed them to do. When we got into podcasting. No one was doing customer service, no one was taking the approach of a start up in podcasting, no one was taking the approach of an agency and podcasting, no one was given the white glove service, it was just these are the only platform so you sort of got to just use them. When we came in were podcast websites, we were very design lead very brand lead very experienced lead. And that got us a name really, really quickly. Like we we grew really quickly with podcast websites. And we did hosting them. So we've been doing that we've been doing podcast host in analytics for 11 years. 10 years, sorry for podcast websites. And that served a very specific part of podcasting. And then people would come to us and say, Look, we don't need the other stuff that you do with podcast websites. But we want the experience we want you guys. We've seen you speak and we speak all over the world. We have done, you know, we spoke the first Podcast Movement, second Podcast Movement, third Podcast Movement, first pod fest, and so on. And people wanted what we did, but they only needed the hosting bit, which is why Captivate was born. So you know, again, we've been doing that a while. It's a funny thing, really. There's been a lot of companies getting into podcasts in the last five years, maybe the last four years. Because the saw the boom in revenue coming through the industry, like we were in that way before that. It's funny, we didn't really get into podcasting because we wanted to get into podcasts in the industry. We're going into podcasting because we're podcasters, which is quite interesting.

Matt Cundill  03:48

Yeah, you want to solve a few problems. And one of the big questions I see that people ask is, oh, well, which podcast host should I use? And the answer is, well, what problems do you need solved, and then people stop, they don't really know which one to do. And they're really left with a bunch of ubiquitous choices.

Mark Asquith  04:08

Podcasting is boring, let's be honest. It's easy. But the podcasting part is easy. What happened was it was made to look difficult. And people were getting charged for things that they shouldn't get charged for, like storage, like storage is nothing It doesn't cost anything these days. We know that. So what happened was it's it's the hosting part is very simple. And we went straight at that. We said, Look, we can do the hosting bit, that's fine. That's no problem. Like, whatever you need. The hosting shouldn't be the thing that sells your hosting platform. And that's sort of like, you know, any plumber can do the plumbing part because they're qualified to a standard and the standards the baseline, the standards, not the exception or the USP, the standards the baseline, so any plumber can do the plumbing. The reason people choose plumbers is because different specialties, different areas of focus, different experiences. Some people are great when it comes to turning up on time. Some people aren't great, some people are great with time Some people aren't so great with comps, we never buy things, these their software's easier. We don't buy things because we need the software, we buy things because we want everything that is around the software. And that's why like we captivate, that's why at the minute, we don't have a free plan, we've got no interest in being a free podcast hosting platform, we don't want a $5 plan, we don't want to $3 plan, because the hosting aspect is easy, and we don't want to work with everyone. So instead, what we do is, we'll say, look, we'll be really transparent with what it costs us, you know, you only pay for bandwidth, which is the thing that it costs us, you know, bandwidth is what hosting companies pay for, for the most part, and the mission was very clear, you know, we will build things that will either save you time, while that will save you money, or that will make you money, right? That's the only they're the only things that we do. So yeah, with Captivate, you're not necessarily choosing a hosting platform. And we I often say to people go somewhere else go to go to Spotify for podcasters, go to Buzzsprout. But if you want free, and, you know, relatively average, you know, there are other options. But the corner of the podcasting space that we occupy is if you if you just if you identify as being a serious podcaster doesn't matter whether you're a veteran, whether you're new, if you just set this up, you know, I'm serious about this, I'm actually going to make something of it, I'm going to put everything I can into it. And Captivate is probably the best choice mainly because the feature set that we've built is for the serious podcaster it's not quick, it's not simple. As its core, it is quick to use. It's simple to use, but it's not. That's not the thing that sells Captivate, it's the usefulness, the thoughtfulness of it, and the way that it will genuinely help you to grow. And you've I mean, you've only got to look around on you know, the trust pilots and the Facebook groups. It was there, because that's what I do. I've got countless podcasts. So I will be podcasting anywhere regardless of Captivate. And so Captivate has been built for the busy person, you know, I'm busy running Captivate, I can't spend time publishing my podcast, I've got better things to do. So yeah, it's a very interesting position that we occupy in this in the market. And I

Matt Cundill  07:00

like what you said about time and money, because it seems that every time there's an announcement, at Captivate, you're doing one of two things, you're going to save me some time, or you're going to find a way to get me a little money or make it so I can acquire a little more money. And one of the things I've noticed with with the updates is that you understand that it doesn't need to be like one big pile of money. There's many small ways to make money. And people say, Well, how do I make money in podcasts? And I say, well, there's probably nearly 100 different ways to do it. So how do you make decisions on on which features you want to put in? And what can you tell podcasters about those small piles of money they can be accumulating?

Mark Asquith  07:37

There's actually one way to make money in podcasts and that sell something. The decision is what you sell. And it's do you sell your audience? Do you sell access? Do you sell something else? That's it, you sell your audience, you get sponsors, if you sell access, you get members, people that will pay you for access to things with us early access, whether it's Windows access, whether it's bonus content, or you sell something else. So that might be goodwill, people tipping you that might be digital products and services. There's a lot going around on LinkedIn at the minute from people that caught him revolutionary ways. So there was one the other day you know, revolution way to make money from your podcast is sell a digital product that has been going around since 2005. Five, nothing revolutionary about that. If you cast your mind back to to anything in media, podcasting is media. And the way that media works is you either sell the movie, because the theaters exist and people buy a ticket to it. Or you sell it to a TV syndication. Or you sell merchandise off the back of it, you go and buy something you ought to go and buy a Luke Skywalker or an emperor. And there's nothing revolutionary about podcasts and the way to monetize it. But what you mentioned there is really, really key. It's the diversification it's the eggs in baskets you you can get sponsors because you can but actually, instead of just getting sponsors, why not diversify and you know, create a membership. So something using Captivate for example, sell some bonus access, sell some early access and windowed content, ask people for tips listener support, people want to support the favorite podcasters sell some merchandise, whatever that might be. And diversification is key. And that's why when you look at the Captivate earnings dashboard, we're just we're just working on another monetization option at the minute but the pies split in the earnings dashboard. You know, here's X amount that you've earned from sponsorships Y amount that you've earned from tips and from memberships and so on and so forth. And that builds up this pie, which pays for the hosting or it pays for the mortgage or it pays for the lifestyle, whatever you know, however big you want to get with it. So it's sort of fascinating to me that people are still surprised that they should be diversifying because you're in business you diversify. Of course you do. You've got different types of customers, different levels of customers, different products if you're a store. There's nothing surprising about it. It's just that because podcasting is always overlaid with that air of hobby, which is not a problem like the vast majority of podcasters are hobbyists and rightly so. The problem that that tends to bring is that their mind instead of a hobby, like, I love golf, I'm not going to go out and think, right, that's it. I'm playing golf today, how much am I gonna make? I'm gonna go out and play golf course I love golf. I'm not even thinking about what I'm going to make. So people get into podcasting because they want to talk about Batman or Star Wars or whatever. And yet, what happens is that people then start to say, I don't know why this has happened. People then say, well, you're going to monetize. And it's wild, because it's so many people think of that first. I'm not gonna watch Star Wars, which is my hobby, because I want to monetize watching Star Wars, I'm not going to play golf, because I want to monetize golf, I'm not going to go and take some photos from our cameras, I want to monetize my photography, if that happens in the future, cool. But let's be honest, it's a hobby. And there's this weird approach to monetization. I think the key thing is understanding, like you said, those little pots, those bits of diversification, those elements that will allow you to first of all cover your costs, you know, if you could use a serious podcasting platform and everything you need, but you've got it for free, because you're getting enough tips on memberships per month to cover it. That's better than using a free podcasting platform. That gives you far less for your money, and doesn't really allow you to monetize in any meaningful ways or help you to monetize in meaningful ways. So yeah, so podcasting is this weird child of monetization at the minute and it, it amazes me, everybody

Matt Cundill  11:19

does talk about that first, but maybe people should be talking about it being a marketing exercise rather than that. And and even if you start your podcast, the first 10 episodes, you're just let's say, We're just having fun, we're doing something, but people are listening to it, it becomes a little bit of a marketing piece more than anything. And I think people say, Well, I'm getting no ROI on my podcast, so I don't think I'm going to be doing it anymore. I said, Well, what if you just took it from your marketing budget? You know, you're gonna blow out on a bus board or a billboard anyway,

Mark Asquith  11:50

it depends on who's podcasting. I think this is the other challenge. With podcasting. I don't get any ROI from reading Star Wars books. Do I get ROI from reading Seth Godin books, maybe if I implement what's in there, maybe. And so this is the point is the podcasts have been bundled by tranches of people as being the thing that only they identify with. So what I mean by that is, right, if you're an entrepreneur, podcasts are this thing that will make you six figures, it's absolute rubbish. And the fact of the matter is, entrepreneur. Let's take that tranche. They see podcasting as a content engine. That's cool. But nerd podcasters, you know, going on about d&d and going on about Star Wars, and whatever, they see it as a way to talk about the thing that they love, golf podcasters see that as a bolt on to their YouTube channel or broadcast media wondery global evergreen, there, see this is a p, that they can sell. And that's why the production budgets are. So podcasting is not one thing. And that's the thing. That's the decision that people need to make. And I sort of, I've seen this develop, it was this tiny little seed of a conversation 1015 years ago, that has grown and grown and grown. And the reason the reason I get to that is that if you start your podcast, you got to understand why you're doing it. Like if you're doing it for enjoyment. Don't worry about monetizing it. Who cares whether you're getting any money back, and if you can't carry on with it, don't carry on with it. That's cool. Sometimes I don't get to play golf for like three months. It's cool, fine, I don't quit. I just don't do it. It's cool. It's a marketing thing. How can you expect to get ROI unless you treat it like your treat any other marketing thing if it's a product. Now, when I say a product, if your podcast is the product, and you want to get sponsors, it needs to be really damn good. You can't just copy Entrepreneur on Fire anymore. It's not 2014, you can't do that. Instead, you've got to be as good as global with the news agents. And you've got to be as good as Wonder, we've got to death. You've got to think about it as the product, you've got to be that good, because the levels jumped. If you want to get big sponsors, a great example that is like Jordan Harbinger, one of the originals, one of the best in the business. That's his job is to be a podcaster. And the work he does behind the scenes, because that's his product to get sponsorships for that product is off the charts the work that he does. So it's interesting. That's the first question everyone needs to ask, why are we doing this? And if the answer is something where you will won't be able to put in what that answer requires, if it's marketing, but you can't put marketing work into it. If it's a product, and you can't put work into a podcast like you would into any other product. Like if I'm building a house, if my product is I'm building the house, I can't have three months off, or I can't do it half baked, because that house has been that's got to be the question and then the follow up has got to be Does this answer to why am I podcasting map with what I can put into it because if not, what comes out the other end is not going to match. So one of the things I love

Matt Cundill  14:51

is Is Your Podcast, the podcast accelerator, and there are things you say on there that make me rethink What I believe I know to be true. And I don't hear some of these things from other people. So the first thing that made me sort of go Oh, wow, was you took a break. So first off when you took a year and change off, why did you take that break from from your podcast?

Mark Asquith  15:16

How she bought Spotify imagined doing 1200? podcast episodes, most of them solar. That's a chunk. It's interesting, because so we had our little girl about three weeks before we took the break, before I took the break. And I was busy with just got acquired by global catalytic got bought by global I was integrated in there with the team with a little girl didn't want to record at six o'clock on a night because she needs feeding. And guess what I came back and the audience was bigger. That's the wild thing. And

Matt Cundill  15:48

that was an oh, wow moment for me. I was like, Oh, wow, that happened.

Mark Asquith  15:52

So this is the thing, this is the thing that people don't get right. It's cool. If I'm a weekly show, and this wouldn't this wouldn't work as well. I don't think for like a production company doing a podcast. So globally, it wouldn't work for them doing like the news agents, maybe maybe for them, but not for, say a wondery Unless it was a seasonal approach. And it was designed like this, right? The reason for that is that I just kept marketing. My Content Strategy was really clear. Someone asked me a question, I record an answer. People don't stop asking questions, just because I haven't recorded answers anymore. I keep asking the same questions. So I just send them to the old episodes. And the podcasts accelerate for me was a way for me to do something in the podcasting industry, because I'm very vocal about it. And a way to help people to stop pent spending money on bad courses that end in a seven, you don't have to buy that course, you have to buy this bloody thing from this entrepreneur guru, like, they're usually rubbish. And my goal was just, let's just record everything that I know for free, because I don't need to make the money from this product. So I'd rather everyone gets what they want from it the way it works. For me, the way I benefit from it is that every now and again, someone will go, that person resonates with me, I'll go and check out Captivate and that might be wanting 10 Wanting 51 In three, who knows? When that's the point of it. But that question, why did I start this podcast? Because I've done it for a long, long time. And I've got a marketing branding and product background. And guess what a podcast is a product that needs branding and marketing, and no of this. So it was just a way for me to help the industry. And then we've got someone else Danny and I've got someone else. I'm actually going to stop the podcast accelerator next week as we record this. And then we've got another project replacing it which is, is going to be really good. Because it evolves, things evolve. You know, I'm tired of talking on my own. I've done that for 1200 Odd episodes. Now I'm talking with someone else and other people. It's evolution, everything's evolution, you know, everything changes, just like the industry has changed around us. Just like podcasting has gone from this small, little cottage industry with two or three suppliers. And everyone being the hobbyist into this multimedia industry that's striving for IP, and striving for audience share and market share and share of ear. We can evolve we're allowed to evolve as podcasters. There's nothing wrong with that. And

Matt Cundill  18:06

so one of the big things that I hear a lot is the importance of the RSS feed. And how dare you do a whole episode where you suggest that maybe it can go away, and we'll all be okay. And this happens in radio, North American radio specifically, where we're beholden to these things and do them over and over and over again, 10 in a row and no commercials and lease commercials and the most music and it sounds the same as it ever did. And podcasting after a while just marries itself to an RSS feed. So tell me about your thoughts about the RSS feed and why we shouldn't necessarily be married to it.

Mark Asquith  18:43

The RSS feed is an open standard that allows anyone at all to access the content within that feed and anyone to create a feed which can be syndicated to things like an application such as Apple podcasts that will read that RSS feed might started out as a blog sort of scenario, using XML files, to digest information and ping it through to something like Thunderbird or whatever back in the day. Podcasting was bolted on to that with all enclosure tags and whatever else and that's why it works. It's great and it's open. It's an open ecosystem. The problem is open ecosystems are very difficult to make money from look at WordPress, you can make money from WordPress, but WordPress makes money for people that close the ecosystem and sell their services around it an agency a hosting company, whatever. Okay. So the way that RSS feed RSS feeds have evolved and I wrote this in an article in 2018 and got battered by some of the original experts that will like this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. This is rubbish it will never happen. Guess what happened like six months later. Someone like Spotify comes in there don't need RSS it's that simple. All right. They host content there read content display content to users. Why do you need an RSS feed for that? You don't you don't just like YouTube? Guess what? YouTube doesn't need an RSS feed to host videos Same thing, right and upload something to Spotify. When it goes in Spotify, that's the mechanism for getting it out to other places. It can be an RSS feed, it can be an API, whatever it could be a JSON file, it could have 1000 ways to do it. It just so happens that podcasting users and used RSS, RSS is notoriously difficult to extend because it's essentially a two way marketplace RSS feed. So we want these brand new features like the ones that are featured in podcasting, two point Earth, things like comments, things like funding tags, you know, whatever. But the marketplace theory kicks in because as much as an RSS feed as much as a user like URI, as a podcaster would say, well, we want these features and as much as when we're very involved in podcasting 2.0. But as much as we want those features to exist, the theory of the marketplace requires overcast to want to honor it, Apple to want to honor it, Spotify to want to honor it. Now, Apple have started to do that a little bit with things like the transcripts, it's taken a while will they do anything else who knows, overcast to a degree good pod to a degree Pocket Cast To a degree, but guess what? They're all to a degree. So standardization becomes difficult. Now, if you then think about right, I'm Daniel et, I run Spotify. My shareholders are kicking me. I've got to make some money through podcasting. I want to add comments. Do we want to extend RSS? I'll just build a comments feature in Spotify. Yeah, go on. That'll be easy, because it's just our team. We've got to do it. What about if you want to monetize through ads, but we only want to monetize on Spotify because guess what, we want people to listen to Spotify more, because time in app is one big key metric that we measure, well, we'll just do it, we don't need to do it by our RSS. And that's the point is that it should remain RSS should remain. But now it's just one facet of how a podcast could technically be delivered. And guess what you can log into Apple podcasts connect today, right now and submit a podcast without an RSS feed? You can then you can upload it directly to Apple. Is that right? Is that wrong? Does that support open podcasting? No. But that's just the world. Life is not fair. It's difficult for all these cool open things in all these ideologies to stand the test of time. Because money gets involved. Money gets involved. So I'm an advertiser. All right, I want to go and spend a million pound over this quarter and say, Look, I want to run X amount of impressions on X amount of shows. I want to target this genre, this category of podcast. But I also want more data than just downloads and impressions. And I don't want to give you a coupon code, I don't want have to measure click through rate, because we know that that's super low. But impressions are not going to get my boss to sign off the next million quid at the end of next quarter. So where am I gonna go? Where does the million quid go? Does it go somewhere that can measure more than just to download via RSS? Or does it go to like the open ether ecosystem? That just will say, Well, you got X amount of impressions, and we know people downloaded it, but we don't have to listen to it. So this is the inherent challenge. There's this sort of dichotomy of we want podcasting to stay open, but yet we want more money to flow through it. And then that doesn't always rub up against each other correctly, you sort of get, it's not that fit. It's not the 100% fit is sort of an overlap, you know, so it's a very challenging turbulent time for RSS, but it will persist. It will grow podcasting, 2.0 will continue, podcasting will continue to diverge, and continue to converge at relevant places. You know, it's going to be like this old DNA strand. So yeah, again, fascinating times. Yeah, I

Matt Cundill  23:37

mean, YouTube makes this big jump, it's like, Okay, we're gonna be able to take this stuff in, but at the same time, it's kind of an abandonment of RSS, because you're gonna put videos now on YouTube. And by the way, this Google podcast app is going away. Well,

Mark Asquith  23:51

why do they do that? Think about that. Think about this. Okay. So you get the RSS feed. Ingestion from YouTube, is just a way to get podcasts in initially. They don't necessarily respect edits to that podcast, if I change the title, it won't push through. As I recall, if I change the file, it won't push through, forget my audio wrong. But why? Why would they ingest RSS if they're not going to do it properly? Because there's supply there, YouTube as a pile of demand from advertisers. We need eyeballs, we need ears, we need content that other people can stick around and watch. So let's make a way to ingest RSS content, get it onto YouTube just wants just ingest that video once, then we don't sort of care about it. And guess what we've got supply to meet that demand, we can feed more to the advertisers. And the way that YouTube works is you can theoretically have dynamically inserted adverts in there. Because guess what they want to do the dynamic insertion. That's their pocket of money. Spotify is doing their pocket of money, and everyone's doing their pocket of money. You know, like that's not a surprise. I can shop at Walmart Can you all go and shop at Aldi I can shop at Tesco via I can shop at wherever I want all the same gear. But Tesco is making its pot of money Walmart's making this pot of money Sainsbury's, Waitrose, whatever. So it's none of this is new. You know, it's just people get a little annoyed that it's in podcasting, because podcasting is my cute little thing that talks about Star Wars. Why are you getting involved with your big buildings and your money is just going through his teenage years. So it

Matt Cundill  25:28

wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Apple decided that we had to upload directly to them and Spotify decided to do the same? And would that be the worst thing in the world?

Mark Asquith  25:35

I mean, it's a funny scenario, isn't it? If you're apple, and you do it, and you've supported podcasting since 105, you're going to annoy all your hosts and incumbents, you know, everyone's going to walk away from you. But also, then you've got to maintain it, you've got to push it forward. And there are 4 million podcasts, whatever, how many active? They've all got to change like that, that won't happen? Certainly not overnight, would it be the worst thing in the world, it would be difficult for advertisers to be able to buy inventory, it would be difficult for advertisers to really understand the supply, genuine supply of content, measurement would be fractured, because prefix companies would become essentially the new analytic, the only analytics that anyone would care about because they want to aggregate all the data in place at the hosting companies. But you would theoretically have to log into every single outlet to get your analytics data. And so it becomes the logistical challenges around, obviously, the ethical questions as well around the fact that, you know, if I log into log into Apple, and look at my analytics, maybe Spotify is a better example. I'm logged into Spotify to listen. So it's got my name, it's got my location, it's got my data, it's got what, you know, how do I opt out potentially have any of that data? If it would, if it if that data was ever to pass to advertisers? How do I opt out of that? It's fraught with a GDPR risk questions? Would it be the end of the world? It probably would for a lot of hosting companies. Yeah, I think a lot of people would worry about it. The consumer wouldn't own a different publisher. It'd be a pain in the neck, you'd have to upload to Spotify or Apple or to Apple. And then someone will create a tool that syndicates them all suddenly about with a hosting company. So it's, you know, it's

Tara Sands (Voiceover)  27:18

transcription of the sound off podcast is powered by the podcast, Super Friends, five podcast producers who get together to discuss podcasting, sharpen your podcast and creation skills by following the show on the sound off podcast, YouTube or Facebook page.

Mary Anne Ivison (Voiceover)  27:36

This podcast supports podcasting 2.0, so feel free to send us a boost. If you're listening on a new podcast app, find your new app now at podcasting, two point org slash apps. That's podcasting. Two point org slash apps,

Matt Cundill  27:51

gatekeeping. And podcasting, there's been a lot of attempts to come in, who are the gatekeepers these days? And does it exist? Everyone's

Mark Asquith  27:58

a bit of a gatekeeper. And you sort of get the, I call this the Anakin Skywalker problem. You don't want to become Spotify, because they're a gatekeeper. You know, you got to log in, you got to use anchor, you got to use Spotify for podcasters. And we're gonna do our thing in podcasting. And we're going to walled garden it and become this gatekeeper. But what happens then is that you get all the people that are advocating for open podcasts and say, well, it's not a podcast, if it's on YouTube. Now, wait a second that you gatekeeping right, you sort of become the thing that you said you weren't going to become. And you sort of say, well, you can't we don't want you say, a Spotify or whoever coming in, and sort of telling the open ecosystem what's what or taking market share or doing things that we don't like, but then we say things to put people off like you shouldn't use anchor back in the day. Why not like that sort of Yeah, I don't really want people to use anchor because it's just it will just wasn't stunning. But it got a lot of people getting into podcasting because they could do it on their phone. They didn't really need to be tech nerds that eventually stuck to it that moved to someone like a captive it because they became more serious. That's like saying, Don't give my little girl a golf club at age three. In fact, leave the golf club until she turns pro, you know, how can that possibly work? So it's this year, you sort of become the thing that you're vowed never to become when you start putting these absolutes in place. And I think that the most recent version of that has been the YouTube thing. Is it a podcast? If it's not a nude if it's on YouTube, so who cares? Who cares? If my mum comes up to me, Schleiermacher listen, I listen to your podcast on YouTube. The last thing I'm going to do is go mum got to stop you there. It's not technically a podcast is it? I'm gonna go Oh, my word. Thank you so much. What did you think? Did you enjoy that? Tell your friends. Who cares? I get it and each because he's born from fear of RSS going away and it won't go away. It won't go away. So it's yeah, the gatekeeping things challenging. It's like I say I call it the Anakin Skywalker problem. If you're not careful, you become the thing that you vowed to destroy. And, yeah, I see that a lot. Tell

Matt Cundill  30:04

me about podcasting. 2.0 what excites you about it? And what should even the hobbyist podcaster be excited about podcasting? 2.0 and I will preface this just by saying that it's tough to explain to people what it is. Because people were like, well, I'd like a podcast host with podcasting. 2.0 And you'd have to say, what's a lot of different small fun things?

Mark Asquith  30:24

Oh, man, that's one of the funniest things like there was some hosting companies, when podcasting 2.0 first became an initiative that put like, the most basic implementation of the most basic features, and then just put, you know, podcast 2.0 hosts, and it will became a marketing thing, there are hosting companies that do that with everything, they'll do, like 30% of a feature, it'll be just about average. And then they'll put it on a feature list. And, you know, we know their and their average. And podcasting 2.0 is a great example of that, again, and exemplification of that kind of approach, because podcasting 2.0 is a very nascent progressive initiative developed by Adam curry and by Dave that will allow RSS to extend, alright, so the way to think about this is if you've got, let's say that I've got a go out, okay, and I buy a car, and the cows, the RSS feed, and it's an old ish car. It's a nice car, a classic car, but it is a nice car. And it's a classic car. But I want to add apple carplay to it. Well, I can't do that. Because guess what, it's an old car, it doesn't have it. So I'll go on Amazon, and buy like an Amazon Echo automotive, you know, the little automotive add on that you can go and buy that and I plug it in, boom, a feature has been added. And I go and buy like a car play adapter, I can plug my phone and guess what a feature has been added. And then I go ahead and I think to myself, you know, I won't mind changing the wheels on this a feature has been added. I want to add some cameras, some parking sensors, a feature a feature. And that box, that car, the RSS feed, has had features added to it little bolt on one feature. And that is podcasting. 2.0. It's an initiative by a range of people, all of the major hosting companies, by some individual thought leaders and thinkers. So people like Daniel J. Lewis, James Canadaland, some city, Adam and Dave, and so on, so forth, John Spurlock, and we all collaborate. And we said, here's some ideas. Let's get them through. And then back to rssb. Like this marketplace scenario, what we do is we'll say right, we're going to implement in the next phase, these three features, so let's set the lock tag, the transcript tag and the funding tag, right. That's the next release from podcasting. 2.0. So there will be there'll be ratified there will be agreed upon in terms of the specification, and then a hosting company like Captivate will go ahead, and they'll say, right, in order for that, to work, less set of funding tags are a great example, in order for a funding feature to appear in, say, overcast or good pod. So in order for that to be a button to press that takes you off to the fund in place for that podcast, come right back, there has to be a place where the user can put that link in and type it in or if it's something like Captivate will automatically fill it in from your your membership, your tip, and there has to be a way to get that in. And then when the RSS feed is created, it has to appear. And so that two way street occurs. So we will implement the funding tag, for example, we will develop an interface for you as a podcaster or Captivate user will type in okay as my funding link or, you know, automatically affiliate in, you'll save your podcast will generate the RSS feed, it's got the funding tag in which is a podcasting 2.0 feature, an app that will then support it on the other side will read that tag and show a button saying support this podcast by giving him money. And podcasting. 2.0 is just that it's an initiative, a slow burn, well thought out initiative of new features that can be brought to the open ecosystem that hosting companies podcasters and listening apps can choose to support and the more times each of those three stakeholders support a feature, the more adoption it Yes. So it's a very interesting concept and it works and it's working. It could be quicker. But it's a marketplace marketplace to take forever to grow, you know, to anything that's two sided takes forever to grow. So yeah, it's great man we love we love been involved in it and captivate is up there as one of the most supportive hosts. I think we've got some of the highest number of supported features out of any host as well. There were blueberry and a couple of others. So yeah, a lot of good people doing good work. Yeah, I

Matt Cundill  34:34

get quite excited with all the things that you do to the point where people are like, well, I need a new podcasting host. I will just go look at Captivate because they've got new things coming you'll always be at the forefront of things that are new that you might like, and if worst case scenario, you can practice you're Scottish and Danny Brown can help you out in the in the support area. I

Mark Asquith  34:54

don't know what to say most of the time. So I couldn't comment on that because all I know is awake. So those these job archiving community kept with many more as we have to write everything. I don't know, he says

Matt Cundill  35:03

a lot of the transcription services and then he found one and then that service went away. And now we're still looking for a transcription service that he can work with.

Mark Asquith  35:10

Ironically, we were testing this, this is sort of the Captivate mantra as well as another unseen mantra that a man telling you about. AI is a great point, and the transcript service. Okay, so everyone's getting into our AI for podcasting out there. And it's sort of like it's a bit boring. It is very boring. In it dull, but serious podcasters. Like, they're going to really want the titles generated from them if they're serious. Yeah, okay, maybe it gets his like eight out of 10 of the way there. And I'll just thought I'll make it better myself. Okay. So anyway, bottom line is this. All the hosts are doing AI, Captivate will have to do some AI. But one of our approaches is, with everything. If we're not the first to do something which we often integrate a guest book in dynamic shownotes, the way that we developed things like the shortcodes, and the blocks, and every all the analytics stuff that we did, if we're not the first to do something, when we do it, we will take what's been done, and actually think about it, instead of just ticking a box on a future list in a leapfrog most of what other people do. So we're doing that with AI at the minute and transcripts are a big part of that. So we've got some really unique features coming out. I don't really want to do it, because AI is just not sure it's right. For the serious podcast a book, we will do it because we can make it really good. The reason I got to that is because we're testing transcriptions on Danny. Because the logic is, if it gets him right, it can probably get most of us, right, because he's wildly Scottish. But yeah, the AI things interesting, isn't it? A lot going on with that other minute,

Matt Cundill  36:36

I think you summed it up, the right way to use it is you can use it a bit, but then top it up with yourself. Because if you let it do all the work for you, you're gonna get something incredibly average. And if the goal is average, you're gonna you'll achieve that every single time. I think people also know when something is being generated in an AI formulas and nothing against you know, Rob Greenlee. But I know for instance, when he posts the highlights of his show, it is AI generated, it's long and detailed, I'm getting something from it, he's getting something from it. I think that's great, fantastic. But if I need to get to the specifics of why somebody really truly needs to listen to this particular episode, I'm going to have to write to my passion here about why you and this is largely a broadcast audience who are moving over into the on demand audio space, why you need to listen to mark from England, talking about podcasting, I'm going to really need to sell and explain that to an audience. So I'm AI is not gonna be able to do that for me.

Mark Asquith  37:33

Yeah, I agree. And it does, I will say gets you better show notes. Because, like, you're gonna write a paragraph, because it's hard, isn't it, the AI will get you more detail as a follow up to the original paragraph or two that you and I would do. So I don't disagree with the use of it. What I what I don't like about it is, and this is generally my bugbear with hosting companies generally, is that they'll just do it without thinking they'll stick it in to put it on a feature set so that when someone's comparing hosts, it just says I you know, we start with the host, you know, let's do a basic, pretty boring implementation of to podcasting 2.0 features, then just put it on the feature list so that when someone's comparing, they just get it and it's you. This is why we set Captivate up to be so specifically targeted at one corner of the market, we don't want every podcaster. So we don't have to rush these things out. And we don't have to say, Oh, my word, this host has put a tick box there, we've got to put a tick box there as well. Otherwise, we're going to lose the mass people, it becomes a sort of race to the bottom. And I think AI is a great example of that right now is that you can implement things just because people think they should be implemented. But unless he's thoughtful, you almost end up with this feature set that is just average. Everything's just average about it. Everything's just Oh, and just a nightlight, you know what you got? Let you get your bathroom done and the tail ends, all right, but just the gaps are just a bit wonky. And you don't notice it to start with. Keep going to get a showering tiles kill him in the you know, it's another one and another one. And eventually I need to solve the bathroom out here. So it's you end up with this range of average, because you race into the bottom to just get as many people I think it's a bit of an analogy for getting listeners as well. You know, I see people chasing downloads versus chasing listeners. We're all in the game of marketing and sales. We're all selling our product. And if our product is a podcast, what are we actually trying to acquire? Well, we're trying to acquire downloads but we're trying to acquire downloads by proxy of genuine listeners, if I just want to get downloads, I just some dodgy downloads like I used to be able to do by Twitter bombing or whatever back in the day. But I don't want people because if you say go and do this thing, I want people to do it because then if a sponsor is paying me to say that if I get a million downloads but only 30,000 people I'm getting paid for a million impressions but the ROI for the advertiser is going to be so small because they're not genuine people or they're transient and you know they're not coming back for The next episode that when it comes to renewing with a sponsor, the sponsor will that will where I know we got the impressions, but really what did we get? Now that's the that's been the changing landscape, the hosts have moved in terms of the way that they're marketing. And podcasters are not thinking in terms of just downloads anymore like they were five years ago. So yeah, a bit of a bit of a digression. But I do think it's all related in podcasting. you

Matt Cundill  40:22

disclose which podcast prefixes you have in your show, you actually kindly link to the privacy. One of the ones that I've recently added is mp3. You mentioned John Spurlock earlier. And when people ask me about it, or if I ask them if they're interested, they get very coy. A lot of people don't want the number of downloads of their show made public or displayed for all to see. So what's the upside of doing it?

Mark Asquith  40:48

I don't think there is one. I know that sounds really completely contrary to everything that I support, because I use mp3. And I think it's great. An mp3 is a prefix, which will measure a download, it will pass through mp3 As a user request your file and trigger that as a download. Like it doesn't a hosting platform. But it means that you can display that data publicly. And this is I love it. And I love John McGraw. I've got an email from him that I need to reply to, uh, you know, we we talk a lot, will this tool become mass market? And I'm not sure, because it is private data for a lot of people that if for example, let's say that I am a content marketer that primarily uses my podcast as a marketing tool for some courses, some in person events, and merchandise. You know, whatever a sponsor comes to me and said, Look, we don't normally sponsor podcasts, we want to sponsor yours. Can you tell me about your brand, what they're sponsoring is the podcast, alright? If I was to go and look at op three, because it's open, and I was the advertising, I go and look at it about how Wait a second, we only have 500 downloads per episode. Very binary data, it's this number. That's it, there's no doubt in it. It's just that number. What's not being taken into account is the quality of those people behind that. The engagement that I get from them, the way that they're my channel shift between my email list, my website, my YouTube, my Tik Tok my Instagram. What it wouldn't take into account is repeat purchases of my own branded gear in person events that they attend, because they're part of my ecosystem. So right back to the beginning, you know, what type of podcast Do you want to be? If you're trying to sell sponsorship, I get why people wouldn't want to do it because I know a podcaster that probably gets 300 downloads per episode and make six figures. And I mean, above six figures per year, from sponsorship, one episode a week, three figure downloads, and I'm talking like mid three figures. Not like 999, it's like, you know, 450 the reason that they make so much money is because quite literally, they have every single person in their addressable market listening to their podcast, their market is so tight, it's so niche. And the things that can be sold to that market are so high ticket, that to get 450 of them, you've probably got you think about let's say the market sizes, there's only 2000 of you in the world. How many people listen to podcast on a regular basis, let's assume half or 60%, how many people have discovered that shell, let's say half again, the addressable market is probably like 500, and he's got 450 of them. And that's why it's worth that much money. Because one sale equals 10 grand for the person sponsoring. That's why I think things like RP three are great for geeks like us, like I love it, I'll support it, I'll do it all the time, stick it on any show, whatever. But if I'm a course creator, or someone selling merch or whatever, or someone that's in such a tight market, the last thing I want is the marketing company going and looking at that and saying, I don't understand podcasting. I'm treating this lack of display by or a radio by or a TV bi

Matt Cundill  43:56

that's not big enough. doesn't measure your passion. It doesn't

Mark Asquith  43:59

matter passion, it doesn't measure measure intent, it doesn't measure sentiment it I think it is really important the sentiment of what is someone truly thinking about this host and the way to do that is as we know it is engagement. So yeah, I love all p3 And I love John are just I think it's like everything podcast in 2.0 or value for value or you know, web 3.0 stuff, the ability to monetize, monetize through crypto and the blockchain. It's also early stage. You know, it's RSS in 2005.

Matt Cundill  44:29

Your Podcast releases every Thursday 7am Eastern in North America. But you've also said before that Monday is a bad day to release an episode why? Oh,

Mark Asquith  44:38

he's got busy, hasn't it but to be fair, I've stopped I'm going to stop that podcast so there's probably probably won't be any more episodes of the podcast accelerate apart from one one saying we're wrapping it up but the content will stay there. It's really good content really deep dive content. But Danny and I do have a new show launching which is more of the same but with a different angle. co hosted more a panel show three or four people per episode. Got lots of really cool segments. And I will drop that out publicly when we're ready for that, which will probably be next week as we record this. I don't know when it's going out. But probably, if you're listening to this after the fourth of March, it will be out into the ether. So look out for it.

Matt Cundill  45:15

Why will it not be released on a Monday, it

Mark Asquith  45:18

won't be released on the Monday lacks, it just got busy. I do a golf podcast. And everyone releases the golf podcast on a Monday, you know, after the weekend after the tournament, but it's just a lot of people do it on a Monday. And it's one of those things where because of the way that like Spotify is now notifying you apples now notifying you, you just want as little as few things competing with you as possible. I'm not sure there is a better time or not to launch your podcast. I'm sure there's data out there. And I've seen data that will sort of allude to the fact but I don't know, I would like to see a survey that asks podcast listeners how they listened. Because for me, when I get into my car, right? I look at Spotify. Sorry for listening on Spotify, but is built into my car, I'm sorry, it's just the easiest way. I get into the car with the intent of listening to the podcast that I'm in the mood for. I don't go in there and look at the you know, what's new list down the list I'm sure other people do. But I would just be really curious. Please, someone run a survey on listeners like Tom Webster, just doing a survey, please. That'd be really good.

Matt Cundill  46:15

So you're based out of England, and you've got a lot of clients in North America? How do you structure your work day with so much activity in North America? Because I find when I moved to Europe to do work, you know, it's very lonely up until about one or two o'clock, and then the work starts to pile in. And then in the evening, it's it's incredibly busy. So how do you pace your day? To get the most out of what you do?

Mark Asquith  46:42

I literally work like eight till five. You know, I'm that sort of guy. Now. I focus very much on the balance aspect with our little girl. But for like nine years, I was all over the place. I was doing calls at midnight. I was you know, so I was sort of a weird person to structure the day. I don't necessarily have to do it so much now with the timezone. Because we've got Danny out in the US, we got Lester and Judy, serve in the US time zones. Well, they're fantastic people, the team are better than me. And it's one of those where, when I was doing that when I was having to do everything myself and Karen and I, my co founder, we were doing everything ourselves, we would do things I would do a lot of calls at night. All my meetings were generally like 12pm onwards, but obviously pacific time or someone like called over over in Hawaii, I would have to do them at like 10pm, which is all right now and again. But the sort of unseen aspect of that, which is a real cop out answer is that I was traveling so much like I was doing six months of the year, pretty much in the US. Every single podcasting event in the US I've probably been to and I was doing a lot of it, I was traveling that much in the US that I'd get stopped and searched every time I left the country because they thought I was doing something I shouldn't be doing because I was there that often. And it was off a podcast event. So I was I would do a lot of my work there. And then the follow ups. You know, so we did an integration or whatever the follow up would be like at the next event, I'll just book a meeting with Apple and it will be there. So yeah, it was it was quite an interesting time. I do that far less now. Because we've got a little girl and then we've got an amazing team that covers the transatlantic side as well. But yeah, I'm fortunate because I get to do the everything up to five half five, which is usually things like this really nice calls really nice interviews and chats and stuff. So it's Yeah, so it's a lucky position to be.

Matt Cundill  48:22

Mark. Thanks so much for doing this. I've been dying to get you on the show for a number of years, but it's finally happened. Thank you.

Mark Asquith  48:28

Oh, it's my pleasure. Yeah, thank you so much. What a fantastic host and you thank you for everything you do for people. Pleasure.

Tara Sands (Voiceover)  48:34

The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill, produced by Evan Surminski, edited by Chloe Emond-Lane social media by Aidan Glassey. ASnother great creation from the Sound Off Media Company.  There's always more at sound off


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