Had a REALLY interesting weekend with some out of town folks, who as it turn out are huge fans of the PODCAST. (like who isnt, in less than 3 months we have garnered 1800 subscribers-not just drive by listeners mind you - and we are growing at a pretty steady rate of 60 to 100 new subscriptions each day). As it turns out the number ONE question on everyones mind is "how long will the show remain free to listen too".
I found this to be very interesting, as it seems there is some intrinsically understood (even if its not verbalized) value to the show. I think I heard a bit of fear in their voices, -or was that simple resignation (?). After all, what is one to think about a show that (as far as I can tell) is growing by leaps and bounds.
Wouldn't you just normally assume that if a program starts out for free, and then hits a certain amount of popularity, the producers of such a show would naturally then want to charge for it, regardless of how little it costs to produce such a thing as a podcast for instance? The worst thing, it seems, in a lot of fans' minds (now that they have found this show, and really dig it) is exactly because it is enjoying a fair amount of success, that its only a matter of time, a foregone conclusion if you will, before the show will be taken behind a "paywall" (for lack of a better term) and to listen to the same show will now cost them a subscription fee.
Boy, that would be soooo 1990's thinking wouldn't it?
It's no secret that I am a huge fan of NEW MEDIA. New media being those things that we have come to know and love, such as blogs, (micro, and the normal kind) the extensive use of video visa-vie YouTube, social media, and naturally, podcasting - to mention only a few. Anyone who cares too can now create content of their own and submit it for public approval or derision. Its not like the bad old days when I was embroiled in the creation of not one but TWO different magazines. Publications that would eventually go on to be huge successes in their own right. But nevertheless required all the necessary trappings of the OLD media. There were editors, contributing editors, printers, layout folks, and *gulp* distributors. So many hoops to jump through, so many arbitrary rules to obey. Creative? yes, but only to a point. There are acceptable practices in publishing. Shudder to think that you show something new or irregular to the forces that be, that hold sway over your potential future. Anger the omnipotent, (though horribly single minded) publishing deity(s), and your as good as done... Dare not take a chance with something fresh, or out of the ordinary. Better to play it safe, and follow the formula thats always worked.
New media is not constrained by any of this. Look, at the end of the day, we use a couple of 50 dollar radio shack mic's and an old Dell Latitude 1110 laptop to produce the show on.....I edit with "audicity" ( a freeware program that works just fine thank you ) and then we upload to Podbean, who until recently (because of our every growing need for storage) took away our free hosting and forced us to spend 10 bucks a month in service fees with them.
Content is king! The days of appeasing desk jockey executives who couldn't find their own ass with both hands and a flashlight are thankfully, over. create something that people want to watch, listen too, read, or otherwise consume- and the world it seems, will beat a path to your virtual door.
Just as there is a new way to do business, hey, guess what? there is a new way to DO BUSINESS. I'd be lying if I said now, publicly, that I hadnt thought of monetizing the show. But here is the thing.....I dont EVER EVER EVER EVER want to charge for it. Moreover, in todays environment, given how little it actually costs to do the show, you shouldn't have too! A far far better idea is to simply offer something of value for people to purchase if they so choose,(and by doing so allow them to demonstrate a de facto acceptance of the programing) and to price that item with sufficient profit to help offset any costs we may have in the future to produce the podcast. For now, the cost of hosting is fixed to aprx 120 bucks a year. Heavens forbid we might want to upgrade the sound equipment at some point, but thats not immediately necessary either. So it seems, that with minimal effort, and the purchase of a few of our soon to be very cool t-shirts, or stickers, or other junk, you can help to assure the shows never changing one time good for all price of.........FREE!
We are stoked, and flattered that so many people enjoy the show, and in fact enjoy it to the degree that they subscribe to it. As long as I have any say in the matter, it will be free from now till the second coming. ENJOY and long live the NEW media!!