With Spotify having bought the Ringer and its slew of podcasts, and subsequently the Joe Rogan Experience, which will go exclusive on the service later in the year, the business of podcasts has never been bigger. Podcasts, in their nascency, were very much DIY affairs, and many have had to return to their garages with those skills to continue their output during coronavirus.
But for the rest of the podcast world that hasn't been swept up by Spotify or its competitors, where does the money come from? Ads are the obvious answer (hello MeUndies and Squarespace), but increasingly it seems, podcasters are starting Patreons, the service which facilitates subscriptions, where creatives can offer exclusive perks in return to the paying customer. Before they reach this stage, podcasters may have built up a listenership, or an audience via another medium.
Second Captains, as usual, lead the pack in Ireland, with their $5.35 World Service having amassed 12,766 paying subscribers since launching in 2017 - indeed, that number reportedly increased during the Covid-19 lockdown, despite the lack of live sport, due to the daily efforts of David O'Doherty's Isolation podcast. Its Patreon offers first-come tickets for its live shows but it is very much the daily shows for which its listenership clamours.
Jarleth Regan, after losing a sponsor for his long-running Irishman Abroad series, started pushing his Patreon more. There are three tiers, from $1-$10, offering longer interviews and bonus episodes. Subscribers also get access to Regan's live Irishman Abroad Online Comedy Club, the recent inaugural episode featuring Abandoman, Danny O'Reilly from the Coronas, and Deirdre O'Kane. Such innovations seem like a heavy load for one person to carry so kudos to all involved.
Depending on the genre of podcast, the rewards are more bespoke. From Nialler9's exclusive Spotify playlists and DJ mixes to Sleep With Me's longer episodes and birthday shoutouts from Scooter, as well as full archive access to longer running podcasts, listeners/subscribers just want that little bit more from their favourite podcasters.
You Must Remember This offers Patreon tiers from $5 to $25. The reward for that payout is, writes host Karina Longworth:
Meanwhile, the show's latest series has almost wrapped. It focuses on the "untold story of Polly Platt, the secret weapon behind some of the most highly acclaimed films of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s".