Virus Killed the Audio Star

For the past month, I have awoken from my slumber and rather than going to the gym or gettingready for my daily commute, I’ve wandered downstairs and either rode the Peloton or fired up my laptop and started working. While working, I may have on the news, or YouTube, or The Office in the background as noise to break-up the feeling of isolation. Naturally, the amount of time I’ve spent on Netflix and YouTube and other video platforms has skyrocketed since quarantine began. However, one aspect of my daily life that has taken an enormous hit is my intense habit of listening to podcasts.

On a “normal” day, I would leave for the gym or the office and open up Spotify or Overcast on my iPhone and begin listening to the latest podcast in my queue or fire up a perfectly personalized playlist on Spotify. This made sense when video wasn’t an easy option and the hours each day I spent on the bus from NJ to NYC and in the gym (more bus than gym) were easily spent with my AirPods. Most people I’d imagine will listen to music and podcasts throughout the day at the office because it’s inconceivable to have your second monitor playing Netflix.

But what if the “new normal” becomes one similar to the one we are in today. God willing, it won’t be involuntary like the one we find ourselves in currently. The “new normal” can be a fraction of what it is today and greatly reduce the amount of time people consume audio due simply to the ability to instead consume video.

Podcasts are struggling today as advertising dries up and the two main sources of audio multi-tasking, commutes and gym time, have gone to near zero. If more and more people begin working from home, what will that do to businesses like Spotify and the music and podcast industry? Podcasts like Joe Rogan that have a rampant following and provide a video companion for each episode may continue to thrive. However, if you believe in a world where Peloton and Zoom soar as less people go to gyms and the office, it’s hard to think that podcasts and music streaming won’t suffer greatly.

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