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Why I stopped podcasting

I started my podcast in January 3, 2005 (it’s in Greek, you probably won’t understand a thing). I followed the format of Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code: I would talk, and add music between segments —sometimes, I would even get “audio feedback” from my listeners. I was totally in love with this new medium!

It wasn’t easy. I had to work my way around Audacity on Linux, which kept crashing when I tried to edit a long episode. Then I moved to Audacity on Mac, then Garageband. I had to install a beta version of Wordpress that supported RSS enclosures to publish my podcast. “Podcatchers” were buggy too. Audio players, were a joke compared to what we’ve come to expect today from iPods —but I remember buying a Creative MP3 player, just to listen to podcasts. And I was totally ignorant about anything related to audio recording, audio filters, compressors, etc.

But little by little, I got better. Software got better. RSS enclosures were supported by more services. Podcast hosting services came started showing up. iTunes introduced podcast support, which brought a bigger audience —that was still probably in the few hundreds listeners, but that was OK with me, after all how many listeners could a tech podcast in Greek get in 2005 or 2006?

As for me, I kept uploading new episodes quite frequently for a couple of years —and then some, but only occasionally.

But eventually, I stopped. Why would I stop doing something I loved so much? There was one problem I could’t solve: Copyrights.

You see, music was an important part of my podcasts. As I said, the format I liked doing was mostly talking radio, with some music between segments. But these segments, were important: It was my way of getting my listeners in the mood I was in, or expressing things without having to say them explicitly.

I could’t use the music I wanted, because of copyright restrictions. I mean, this was just a hobby for me, I did’t make any money, I just wanted to express myself and talk to my limited, but much appreciated, audience: Licensing music was too complicated for me, it would probably cost more than I could afford, and it would introduce new restrictions in the ways I distributed my podcasts (audio files).

Adam Curry did a lot in this direction by introducing the Podsafe Music Network (which I just discovered it must have turned into what is currently MusicAlley) and the idea of “podsafe” music —music that artists would let podcasters use for free. I got to know and love some of these artists, like David Ippolito, Adrina Thorpe, Uncle Seth, The Muffs and many others, through podcasting. Some of these tracks, actually became part of “my life’s soundtrack”.

But music is a language we use to express feelings and ideas. Songs and tracks are associated with public or private events, feelings, ideas, people. That’s what we do when we pick a song to listen privately, or dance at a party or any other private or public event.

Not being able to use the music I wanted to, trying for endless hours to find tracks that would express what I wanted to say, but were not restricted by copyrights: This was the one barrier I could not overcome. Eventually, I stopped trying.

Copyrights limited my ability to express myself the way I wanted to. It was as if I liked blogging, but before writing an new post I had to research for the few words I was allowed to use without permission.

This article was originally posted on Medium (see "Why I stopped podcasting") as a response to "Ten Years of Podcasting: Fighting Human Nature".