I am a dedicated listener of two podcasting networks: 5by5* and Ace Broadcasting**. Over the last week two hosts on 5by5, John Siracusa of Hypercritical and Marco Arment of Build and Analyze, have talked about various ways people are making money on their content. One was Penny Arcade using Kickstarter to raise money so they can remove advertisements from their site for one year. Another one that caught my attention was The Brooks Review which is switching to a "You pay me. I write" model instead of advertisers. In general I am HUGE fan of paying money and receiving something in return.
The conversation lead to podcasting and charging on a per-podcast basis and whether or not that would be feasible. Both of these networks have a dedicated audience who would love to help make them more awesome in exchange for a few perks. So yes, I think it would be feasible.
Current Business Model
Both of these networks make their money from sponsors who receive several live reads during the shows as well as listener donations. I really don’t mind the live reads as they are often targeted at the audience and can be helpful. I’ve thought about donating to these networks but I can never bring myself to give them a chunk of money without receiving something (directly) in return. However, I would be into paying for every episode of my favorite shows as they are published. Let me explain.
How it Could Work
Interested listeners would visit the membership site and sign up. Once they sign up, they can subscribe to any of the podcasts they want. As podcasts are published, a line item (for however much the per-episode cost is, maybe $1) is added to an invoice for members subscribed to the podcast. When the first of the month comes, the member’s credit card is charged for all of the podcasts published while they were subscribed.
Let me use me and 5by5 as an example. I listen to four podcasts on their network and all of them come out once a week. This would come out to me paying 5by5 $208/year ($4/week * 52 weeks). I’m not sure how many listeners they have but this could lead to a fairly large chunk of money.
One question that may come up is whether or not the shows should still contain live reads. I think they should. Members and non-members get the same show and members receive perks elsewhere. In general I having a “remove advertisements by becoming a member" feature is bad for business because it is admitting that getting rid of advertisements is a goal.
Perks for Members
Members would receive a customized feed of the shows they are subscribed to and possibly free, inexpensive, or exclusive SWAG (did I mention we make swag ;). Randy has paid for 150 episodes? Send him a free t-shirt!
5by5 has some other properties including a chatroom where listeners can talk to each other during the show as well as the “showbot" where listeners can submit and vote on show titles. Maybe members in these systems have some indicator that they are a member or maybe are able to do certain things non-members can’t do, like vote on titles or maybe their votes count more ;)
The Money Shot (Josh?)
I believe so much in this model that I am willing to work on building membership systems with 5by5 or Ace Broadcasting on a revenue-share model. I’ll build it for “free" in exchange for a certain percentage of all revenue. I’m a experienced web developer*** who has launched a project or two (Lose It or Lose It). I’m capable and willing.
Interested? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 267-334-6833.
** Ace Broadcasting shows I listen to: The Adam Carolla Show, Ace on the House, CarCast, and Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend (The Adam Carolla Show is five times a week, the rest are once a week)
*** More specifically, I use a technology called Ruby on Rails. I know 5by5 is all about Rails, so it could be a great fit!