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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Will Kevin Smith's Streaming Internet Radio Work?

In an earlier post, a commenter asked if I thought Kevin smith's Streaming Internet Radio (S.I.R.) venture will work, and the answer was too long for a reply. There are a lot of things to think about, even beyond the apparent success or failure of S.I.R. on any level (artistic, financial, etc.).

It's true that Smith's SModcast network has enough content to run unrepeated for several days at a time, but the roster is very limited in scope -- how much Kevin Smith is too much? That remains to be seen, though I predict that he'll abandon the long-version, daily, live act early-on, and may even go into a repeating 12-hour cycle within a few months of premiering. Smith's podcast offerings lack diversity and this may prove S.I.R.'s undoing.

Despite his proclamations to the contrary, Smith is a filmmaker and has been his entire, adult life. He is accustomed to starting projects and finishing them, then moving to the next. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to an open-ended schedule and ongoing project.

That said, Kevin Smith is a true netizen -- he lives online -- so he is already predisposed to "hanging-out" on the Internet for long stretches. He also did a series of films based loosely around the same precepts and characters -- the Jersey Trilogy, aka the View-Askew Trilogy. It's been interesting hearing him develop as a broadcast talent and maven, and seeing how he handles it will also be interesting... until it isn't.

Aside from the entertainment aspects, it hardly matters if S.I.R. succeeds or not. What's going to be interesting is seeing how the rest of the line-up shakes-out. So far, everything from SModcastle is View-Askew, and all of it is talk. SMod is going to need fresh, and different, content, and there are many podcasts and personalities who would love the boost a timeslot on S.I.R. should provide.

Will Smith be able to solicit free content and for how long? How good will it be and how good should we expect it to be? When the wall is finally hit, will Smith end up paying talent, will talent bring its own sponsors, or will shows actually pay for time? Will S.I.R. be able to pull enough advertisers to support an actual Internet entertainment channel, or will it quickly switch to a subscription model -- and will either approach sustain it? For that matter, what will be the separating factor between radio and streaming Internet media -- will this be defined, will it define itself?

A lot of this is going to come down to how competing podcasts and networks react to S.I.R. No networks out there have the amount of content SModcast has (Glory Hole Radio is the only one I can think of that even comes close) but SModcast is too Smith-centric for longtime play. The Streaming Internet Radio channel could be the peanut butter to the Web's podcast chocolate, but only if it can be mutually beneficial to all involved. Maybe the live content will prove popular, because individuals can already roll their own podcast playlists, and new content on a regular and sustained basis is really what Smith is bringing.

Kevin Smith has the money to do this, if he takes it slowly and plots this out without buying into his own bullshit. It's incredibly difficult to consciously cast a personality without assuming that persona, and Smith is easily the talent linchpin in the SModcast stable. Whether he crashes and burns, steps aside as businessman or entertainer, or forges ahead at his own pace, he has a tough balancing act ahead.

© C Harris Lynn, 2011


Andrew Rodgers said...

What? No mention of The Andrew Rodgers Show? TARS has been pioneering Radio. On the Internet. since last year. TARS does not accept advertising or sponsorship money and is wholly subscription based. ($1 per month). Furthermore, TARS is ascendant.


Manodogs said...

I left out Earwolf actually. I knew there was one I couldn't think of the other day and Earwolf was it.

Manodogs said...

Also, S.I.R. stands for "SModcast Internet Radio," not "Streaming Internet Radio." At least, not yet...

Unknown said...

Ive listened to kevin smith podcast since its inception and there are a lot of claims that have been made by him and fans about his podcast venture...like Ive heard him say he created the first podcast network...and even in this article the author says he cant think of anyone that has the amount of content that kevin smith has.

are people ignoring or not counting the real pioneers of podcast that has been doing what kevin has been doing before he was doing it? the name that comes to mind first is Leo laporte. he has way more content, been doing this a LOT longer, has had a podcast network before kevin smith even recorded his first podcast, and has twit tv (24 hour internet video streaming) for a few years now. then what about revision 3? are the tech people that has been doing this longer and realy pioneered the whole podcast, internet radio thing just simply not counted?

Manodogs said...

I was actually unaware of Laporte's podcasting contributions! I like the guy and all, but I'm not as into computing and such as I used to be, not to mention the fact that Tech TV became G4 and went through at least two or three name changes getting there, so he fell off of my radar.

Thanks for the comment!