As the calendar flips to 2022, the newborn year feels full of possibility and potential.
With it comes inevitable change—and that applies to the podcasting industry, too. Let’s talk about some of those potential changes, as well as how they might affect the religion and spirituality space, specifically.
Predictions for 2022:
- A religious podcast breaks into the mainstream and dominates the charts… and it isn’t from the largest subcategory.
With several podcasts in the Religion & Spirituality category topping the overall charts, there will be more religious podcasts than ever this year.
2022 is also the year a podcast from a subcategory OTHER than Christianity will break out into the mainstream and top the charts. There’s no telling which subcategory it will come from.
Which show will tell a compelling story that connects with a larger audience outside their genre?
- Podcasters Get Paid… Finally.
In 2015, Taylor Swift famously stood up for musicians’ rights when she refused to let her music become part of Apple Music.
Who is standing up for other content creators being leveraged by platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and the like?
Until now, the dream of monetization of podcast content centered on other forms of revenue, like selling self-created products, ads for other products, and pipedream deals like the one Joe Rogan inked with Spotify.
But if Spotify wants to be a real player in podcasting, they should start paying independent podcasters per listen, just as they pay musicians.
Of course, there are problems inherent with the model. Musicians are paid pennies—or less—per play, so it takes astronomical traffic to accrue meaningful income. On a recent episode of The Feed, Rob Walch of Libsyn noted that as of September 2021, the median number of downloads per episode after 30 days is 148. Making fractions of pennies will take time to accumulate into a significant payout.
Still, paying creators for their content is the right thing to do.
In 2022, one of the platforms will finally do it, thereby earning the loyalty of podcasters everywhere.
- Religious institutions start more podcasts.
In 2021, the Religion & Spirituality space was dominated by two podcasts: The Bible in a Year with Father Mike Schmitz and The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill published by Christianity Today and hosted and produced by Mike Cosper.
Both shows were created by institutions funding production to make the work possible. And now that these shows have proven how valuable a great podcast can be, expect this trend to continue this year.
The number of imitators will surely increase, as well. Just as Serial and Entrepreneurs on Fire spawned a myriad of mini-me clones, knock-off shows will likely abound. Few will be as successful or interesting, though. Podcasts that were doing investigative shows in the category before it was cool will find a new audience as listeners search for this kind of content. This bodes well for shows like Truce by Chris Staron (his new season will be helpful to troubled Mars Hill listeners).
- Pastors finally take advantage of everything podcasting has to offer.
Christianity is the largest subcategory in Religion & Spirituality because the RSS feed has replaced the “tape ministry” of the 1980s-1990s. (For the uninitiated, churches used to make cassettes, and later CDs, of weekly sermons for those who could not be at church. Now, they just publish them as a podcast.)
But COVID changed so much, including the decision by many to put content on Facebook and YouTube livestreams. This frees up more room for Christian pastors to reimagine how they use podcasting to connect with their congregation at times other than Sunday morning.
When they realize how this connection increases their reach, the deluge of shows will be overwhelming. So, look for more podcasts… like Ask N.T. Wright Anything, which applies Christian teachings.
- NFTs become common for podcasters.
Podcasters are often early adopters by nature, and NFTs are hot right now! Other content creators are starting to catch on, and podcasters will not be far behind.
While religious people tend to be conservative, watch for an enterprising creator from the Spirituality category to issue an NFT for each episode. When they make a bundle, it will change how podcasters think about their content forever.
What are your predictions for the Religion & Spirituality category in 2022? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, podcast, and city. We may feature your answers next month!