This was the fourth year I was an attendee, but the first time I wasn't speaking at the event. It was also the first time the show was in Vegas. The running question "So... what do you think of the Expo this year?" Guess at least some of you value my opinion. ;)
Let me start by saying that I am not the target audience for an NME attendee. Now you may think that sounds strange, but it's true. Tim and Emil have made it quite clear that their conference is geared towards the business side of podcasting. They've said that for years now, but it seemed really true at this event. And that's OK. It's not like they pulled any sort of bait-and-switch here. It was all above board.
So for the record: I had a great time at the Expo. Saw lots of old friends, met plenty of new ones, generally got to hang with my peeps and freak out Jonathan Coulton (see image). So for that, the sole reason I went there, I'd call the show a success.
But things were different. First of all, there were some noticeable high-profile folks missing from the show. Off the top of my head, here's who didn't show:
At least half of the Friends in Tech guys
Dawn & Drew
Casey & Rudy from Galacticast
There's lots of speculation as to why those (and others) were missing. The economy, location and the focus on "business" were all cited. I bet it's a combo of those and others, and likely not one thing. But what I do know is that the vibe was different, most of all in the community-feel. Don't get me wrong, I was able to connect with my community with relative ease. But still, it wasn't as strong as in years past.
The thing I missed the most? The parties. Neither Libsyn or Blubrry had parties this year. I heard a rumor that the cost was nearing $10K for a party, so I can't blame either if that was the case. But the after-hours and non-sanctioned events were always great places to bond, see people and be seen. We didn't have that this time. Sure there were a few things scheduled, but by all reports they just weren't the same.
So will I go back? Probably. As I said before, I had a great time. And hopefully more folks (vendors and attendees) will show up next year to make it even better. In the meantime, I look forward to connecting more with folks at Dragon*Con in less than 2 weeks, and Podcamp AZ in November. For those that can't make either, I highly suggest finding a Podcamp in your area. Don't have one? Make one. That seems to be the place where the community can flourish.
Here's some "live" fun from the Expo floor:
Interview of me from the floor by Struggling Entrepreneur
Chatting about Podiobooks.com on BlogTalkRadio
Images from Elsie & Sheila Dee