The larger issue is being missed (or ignored) here; will this change the “pipes” by-which podcast episodes become available in iTunes?
Are the larger revenue-getters going to have access to earlier availability/higher bandwidth? Will it be more-difficult to find and download the latest episodes of lesser-known shows?
Unless Apple comes right out and says it; these are all things that are going to have to be answered in time.
So far, the two models for making money in podcasting are; Pay Models (either monthly subscriptions, per episode/per “season” fees, bonus episodes, or live shows) or the Advertising Model (sell adds on the show).
Whether or not you personally like iTunes, it clearly accounts for a large percentage of every show's numbers. However, it's popularity and one-stop-shopping aside, iTunes is not the end-all be-all of success; you can still distribute your podcast however you'd like and use iTunes when the show builds greater popularity, or simply use it as a secondary means for accessing your show. All iTunes appears to be doing is adding I means to pay for a podcast. There will always be free shows out there; technically Television and Radio are still “free”.
And if they (apple/iTunes/whomever) do restrict access and bandwith, all someone has to do is create an application that finds podcasts; which is essentially all iTunes is anyway.
This is really a larger question of the internet as a whole. For several years now ISP's have been talking about creating different “pipes” for different websites; higher bandwidth for those that can afford it, and lower bandwidth for everyone else; effectively creating two separate “Internets”. This is a net neutrality issue and isn't going to be resolved in an AST thread.
I'm most interested in what is going to happen to podcasting when the internet is widely and easily available in people's cars...? When radio finally dies, (and it will die, hopefully sooner than later) I'm hoping they take that part of the spectrum and use it strictly for accessing the internet; they essentially already did that with television...
Yes, they all offer the same deal "One free audio-book and a 14 day free trial". The "Free-Trial" is really a moot point as all it is giving you is 14 days to choose your free Audio Book.
I did take them up on it though and I still have an Audible account; it's pretty awesome especially if you don't have time to sit down and read. (I realize the irony as I just sat here and read this entire thread).
Thanks Jesse for supplying concrete info. It is interesting.
I agree with Wannabuyaduck that listeners feel like they have some kinship with the hosts of their favorite shows. But everytime I think I have a real connection I remind myself to really be a good "Friend" to those shows, I ought to send them money. It's like being a patron to a muse.
So Kevin Pollack's show is now pay per view, and I have already decided not to buy the first two episodes. Don't like him or the guests enough to want to pay.
Reading through these posts, I am reminded of the pioneer days of cable television where many of the same concerns were voiced by broadcast programmers and viewers. We now have thousands of channels, hundreds of networks, and countless innovative programs hitting the "airwaves" almost daily. The commercial nature of the system is a "survival of the fittest" that ensures that you have an audience for your style of "-casting" while still providing access - often through non-traditional "channels" like local access - and encouraging creativity. My point is this is a familiar cycle played out many times in the past in all media from print to broadcast and while podcasts are new they are hardly different nor immune from the same challenges and opportunities faced by other media pioneers. It's all part of the cycle and rather than potentially the end of the world as we know it, it's really an exciting time to be at the table and part of shaping the future. With a bit of perspective even YOU can enjoy the ride!
Either way, I don't expect Apple to do any net-neutrality-bending. Frankly, I'm not even convinced of David's theory that for-pay podcasts would be promoted over free ones. Apple remains primarily a hardware company, and they've dragged their feet on pay podcasting because they like the huge well of free content for the phones and iPods they sell.
Look: it's really a question of how you value people's time. I think a mid-tier local radio host is a reasonable analog for the kind of podcast hosts we're talking about (people like Paul F. Tompkins or Chris Hardwick). I know personally a radio host who is on-air 15 hours a week, and makes about $120K. He works on the show about 20-25 hours a week in total and works on other projects (voice over, writing, etc) the rest of the time.
If you'd like another analog, how about a sitcom writer? A WGA writer earns a minimum of about $3K a week. That's a base rate, and there are lots of further payments.
My point is that skilled creative people are paid well, and for good reason. I get a lot more enjoyment out of listening to Sklarboro Country than I would if I were listening to two random twin brothers' sports podcast.
What you think is a "correct" amount of pay for creative work may be different than me. My point is that often listeners will leave the talent out of the equation when they do the mental math of figuring out a podcast's "cost." Creating a podcast is about much more than just buying microphones.
I hosted The Sound of Young America for six or seven years before I made dollar one. Now I make a good living and have two full-time and one part-time employee. I also am able to give money to five other podcasters who wouldn't otherwise be making money. That's one of the things that I'm most proud of, frankly, because I like that I can help get people paid to do professional-quality work.
I think fears about iTunes possibly "ruining" podcasts by offering podcasters the ability to charge for them is greatly overblown here. Ultimately the market will decide and I think anyone silly enough to just throw up a blanket pay-wall on all of their content will quickly see their popularity fade, while people trying freemium models and doing what Matt and NNF do might stand to do very well. The power of making a purchase literally one click cannot be overstated.
My somewhat educated guess is that Apple is going to offer subscription options rather than just $0.99 one-off downloads. They are holding an event next week around the new "The Daily" iPad app from Rupert Murdoch which is expected to be $0.99 a week to subscribe to ( http://www.loopinsight.com/2011/01/2...nch-the-daily/ ). I'd expect to find out more about possible podcast subscriptions next week too, probably launching with a few of the big guys who have already been given a heads up.
There's a lot of topics here and I won't address them all, that is what The Wolf Den is for and I'll start answering some of these questions there. But I can say that every show is different. The costs are different, the profit expectations are different and the ability to generate revenue is different. Personally, I think that is part of what makes the medium so interesting and so much fun to be a part of right now.
I will say this, it's not easy to make money right now as a producer, in fact it's very easy to LOSE money. I'm not complaining at all, but please know that as of right now, what's free for the listener is costing someone else not only their time and talent, but cash. But I expect that to change via various models and while podcasting will never be the subject of a get-rich-quick infomercial, I believe that the long-term value and ability to make a decent living is there, or I wouldn't be investing every penny and hour into it right now.
Thanks for all of the comments and opinions, this is very interesting.
Not that bigger change isn't coming, but KPCS has officially moved to their new pay format, and all that has actually happened in iTunes is that in the podcast section, where the full episodes used to be, there are now clips from each show, and in the music section you'll find the full episodes for $1.99 each. So, in other words, they're selling the podcast episodes as albums (which is what AST has been doing with DLM bonus eps since August) and telling people in the free samples how to get the full episodes.
To answer Jesse's thing: yes, with albums iTunes is hosting the files. And when you submit, you are at the mercy of iTunes in terms of when it actually appears in the store -- that is one area that Kevin seems to have made headway, since he seems to be able to release "albumsodes"* weekly without delay (he's already next week's episode up for pre-sale). Although I will say the turnaround has gotten much quicker and better, maybe as a result of the work Kevin's doing with them to make this all possible.
*© 2010 Doug Mandel, BPA
Mandel was on a recent Bear Down podcast if you want more.
He left Gersh and is currently freelancing out of Wisconsin I believe.
Anyway, back to Jesse's point: I definitely want to see people be able to make a living doing podcasting, but to put it in very simplistic terms, I think charging listeners goes against the democratizing spirit of the Internet. Admittedly, I say this as someone who's usually broke, but I do spend a little money on podcasts here and there--just a couple days ago, I had exactly $2.00 in the bank, and spent $1.99 on the Benson Interruption podcast. As much as I enjoyed it, it's unlikely I would have bought it had Doug been charging for DLM. In the end, though, it was something I could feel good about buying, since I saw it as partially as just buying something fun, and also kind of a gratuity for all the stuff that Doug's given us for free. There's a lot to be said for building up that kind of good will within a fan base. Whether that amounts to much money is another story (I've probably spent a maximum of $20 on Doug Benson in my life, so you can put that in the column of things that hurt my argument).
Another thing is that if you charge people for something, you change the nature of the relationship. Your listeners become your customers, and you become beholden to them in a way you weren't before, which is fine for the die-hards, but casual audience members will probably have higher expectations. I don't know how it's worked for NNF (the success of which is another thing that hurts my argument) but I would think that a show that charges is going to attract new listeners at a significantly slower rate than other shows. (I have no data to back up such a claim.) I also think that people who will shrug off a $20 subscription fee today might be less inclined to spend it on your show tomorrow when every other podcast is vying for your money. The little guys will ultimately have to keep doing it for free, and Adam Carolla and Ask A Ninja will become billionaires. Is that really the world you want?
Thank you, and may God bless America.
* I should also add that I've donated several hundred dollars to WFMU over the last few years, in large part because Tom Scharpling so clearly ISN'T in it for the money.
Last edited by funnyclown; January 27, 2011 at 2:28 PM.
This whole conversation just makes me want to suggest that:
Doug Loves Movies should really have some sort of subscription based model for its current paid shows. Even if the shows aren’t at a regular interval, it will make it easier to pay once and get content without having to worry. No need to pay iTunes their cut either or force them to be $2 each.
NNF is a really great model for how to do ppv.