Whisper v. Scream

I recently started testing and uploading my podcast to a Chinese podcast platform called: XimalayaFM.

Everything I know about listening to podcasts and podcasting is all done on iTunes Podcast. 

When I wanted to play my album on XimalayaFM, it took me more a few clicks. As you launch the app, you will be greeted by a 5-second full-screen ad before you can hit “Skip.” Once you are inside, you are bombarded with banner ads from campaigns like VO Competition to trending playlists. 

I feel like I’m walking down on Nanjing Road Shopping District with my non-Chinese friends. One second we start walking, vendors storm over like wasps yelling in pretty impressive English, “Chanel? Louis Vuitton? Rolex?”  The more we shake our heads and respond, “Bu Yao” (meaning ‘Don’t want’ in Chinese), the more those vendors feel the responsibility to engage and explain, sometimes for a couple of blocks.

It’s exactly how I feel about using XimalayaFM. Since I upload my content there for free while I pay for the audio hosting fee on the US site simplecast.com, XimalayaFM automatically feels entitled to replace my cover art to their low-res cheaply cropped banner ads, or disgust me with its screen poop rain ad, or voiceover ad before people can hear a syllable of my show. 

Like Taobao (Chinese Amazon), it rewards you with virtual coins by how many days in a row you check in, by how long you listen on a daily basis. What can you do with those not-real coins? You can purchase content on the platform.  You can even pay them per impression (just like Facebook Page promo) to promote your content. And it will tease or appease your ego if you want to know just how many more subscribers you gain on a daily basis, how many new listens you get and down to how many people actually finish listening before clicking on. 

By the time I get to my own voice, I was so nauseated, overwhelmed, and mind-fucked. 

In contrast, on Apple Podcast, the sponsorship message, if any, comes strictly from the podcast itself. The user interface is so pristine that I feel calm and centered. I actually want to browse and explore the great shows out there even though it feels as sparse as LA. I can finally lower my elbows and start jogging. 

Or compare Google and its Chinese cousin Baidu on any given Sunday… or just any day.  Baidu, like our dear Mrs. Bennet, tries to shove you whichever you-couldn’t-care-less celebrity is in deep shit again. “Oh, you don’t know who that celebrity is? Here is the link. And you’re so very welcome, darling.”  

I’m no expert in UX UI design, but as a writer, I know a thing or two about restrain. It’s easy to come up with a funny screaming scene (Think August Osage County), but so much harder to come up with a powerful silent moment (Think The Bridges of Madison County). 

Like my UCLA screenwriting professor always says, “Get that exclamation point out of my sight and let the actors do their job.”

Now, at this time of the year, I want to thank you for being with me during my most tumultuous summer of my life, so far.  

Happy Thanksgiving.  Doesn’t feel right though without the rowdy exclamation points!!!


Yours truly,