If you haven’t yet heard of S-Town — brought to us by members of the team behind Serial — then it’s truly only a matter of time. Because the S-Town podcast just reached 40 million downloads — in its first month (for those not super familiar with how many downloads is normal for a podcast, all you need to know is that’s A LOT). And it’s officially dethroned the former podcast queen, Serial, in popularity.
We’re not super surprised though, and not because S-Town had already achieved 16 million downloads in its first week (also breaking podcasting records). We’re not surprised because S-Town is just good.
Like, really, really good.
S-Town consists of seven, hour-long episodes. It tells the story of real-life Alabama man John McLemore, who contacted NPR because he believed a murder had taken place in his small town and was being covered-up by a corrupt police force. What ensues next is pretty difficult to describe. It includes mysteries, clocks, suspicious cousins from out-of-town, buried treasure, and a (very) strange death. It’s seriously like reading a gothic novel, except it’s all 100% real life.
And it’s 100% addictive.
The podcasts’ success is even more impressive when you factor in the fact that it ignored a lot of basic marketing strategies. Julie Snyder, S-Town’s executive producer, told Vulture that,
“We made several decisions that we were knew were counter-commercial. Putting the show into a new distribution feed rather than the Serial feed, which is sitting there with millions of subscribers. Releasing all the episodes at once, which could zap word of mouth and weekly anticipation. Giving the show a super weird name. Not to mention that the production itself is arty and not that suspenseful in the traditional sense.”
Basically, S-Town is a true testament to the fact that the cream rises to the top. When something is really, truly awesome, you don’t necessarily need all the marketing gimmicks and strategies. People want great story-telling, and they will listen.
So if you haven’t listened to it yet, we highly suggest you make your way over to Stitcher or iTunes (or even just the S-Town website), and get on it!