The Rise of Podcasts
As other methods of entertainment have staggered, such as Broadway, movie theaters, and concert, virtual modes of entertainment have taken center stage during the increased demand for isolation in light of the pandemic. In particular, podcasts are progressively becoming a normal part of everyday entertainment.
According to NY Times, podcast downloads were up 47% in October 2020 in comparison to last year, and further growth is to be expected in the near future. According to CNN, Spotify has also seen a rise in the creation of podcasts as demand for them is at its highest, stating that 150,000 new podcasts were released in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
Spotify, a major streaming platform, has invested millions of dollars into the podcast industry due to its evident growth. As the pandemic has restricted many modes of social interaction and travel, newly-integrated daily walks, cooking sessions, and home hangouts have encouraged more people to fill the silence with audio.
According to a NY Times article by Reggie Ugwu, some Americans have used podcasts as an avenue of socialization, as podcasts give them a brief look into others’ lives and offer a unique form of companionship.
Carmen Nieves, a 16-year old high schooler and daily consumer of podcasts, comments, "Podcasts have given me a common interest with other people as I can start conversations with others about different podcasts and new content." According to CNN, podcast listening has also spread to home devices like televisions and consoles, showing that families and groups of people living together have made a routine of podcast listening. “Listening to podcasts with family and friends is similar to watching a TV show together,” Carmen commented, “Sometimes you’ll binge episodes or make a whole routine out of it.”
People have also utilized podcasts to educate themselves and learn new hobbies in a time of impasse. For example, cooking podcasts offer tips and advice to those new to the cooking world.
Some podcasts give reports of daily news or commentary on recent events. “I think education podcasts are great and a really great resource for people who like podcasts and want to learn about new things,” Carmen says, “Personally, I like true crime podcasts like Crime Junkie because they are super engaging and kind of allow me to be my own investigator.”
Many predict that people’s newly created habits of listening to podcasts in their daily time will continue once the former normal flow of life resumes. “I feel like this is just the beginning,” Carmen says, “People are realizing that podcasts are an amazing way to fulfill your time and the demand for them won’t stop when the pandemic does.”