What if Podcasters Got Paid Like Musicians? 

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(By Dave Jackson) I was listening to the New Media Show (www.newmediashow.com) with Todd Cochrane of Blubrry and Rob Greenlee of Libsyn and Todd threw out this question, “Is it time for podcasters to get paid like musicians.”

This got me thinking. I used some simple numbers and looked at the example of someone who gets 500 downloads per episode and produces a weekly 20-minute show (4 episodes a month). I asked Uncle Google (who sent me to https://www.omarimc.com/music-streaming-royalty-calculator/ ). Here is what I found (follow me down the rabbit hole). 

With 500 Downloads an Episode (Four Episodes Per Month)
Spotify: .004369 per stream $2.19 per month or $8.76 per month.
Apple Music: .00735 $3.675 per episode or $14.7 per month.
Deezer: .0064 $3.20 per episode or $12.80 per month.
Amazon Music: 0.00402 $2.01 per episode or $8.04 a month.
This Is Looking Interesting Those monthly totals start to grab your attention as you $8.76+14.7+12.80+8.04, and you get $44.3. However, we are missing a key ingredient.
Comparing Apple to Apples When I look at a playlist in Spotify, the average song is four minutes. If your show is twenty minutes long, then you can listen to five songs in the time you listen to one podcast. Which means we need to multiply our totals by five. 

Now that $44.3 is $221.5 per month. 

Wait Just a Second Then you remember you get 500 downloads per episode. In the scenario above, you are getting 500 downloads on each platform, and that means you get 2000 downloads, and you don’t. 

Instead, let’s split our downloads evenly over the platforms and get a potentially more accurate picture. If you had 125 downloads on each platform (500/4 platforms), it calculates to: 

Spotify: $0.54 Apple Music: $0.92 Deezer: $0.8 Amazon: $0.50 Total: $2.76 or $11.04 per month 

Multiply by five, and you get Total: $13.8 per episode or $55.2 per month. ($0.0276 per download or $28 CPM). 

This is (obviously) not as impressive. Is it better than a poke in the eye? Sure, but I guess that depends on your financial situation. Is it fair that musicians produce content and get paid, and podcasters create content and don’t (or at least have the option to be paid (poorly) for their content (if you ever wonder why a concert T-shirt was $40 now you know). 

Are you going to storm the castle for $13 an episode? As someone who did a podcast about the music business for a decade, I can say musicians have got the short end of the stick in almost all business dealings. Are podcasters following in their steps? It sure seems that way. They are very similar. Musicians who have built an audience on their own get signed to record deals. Spotify has voted with their wallet and paid Joe Rogan for access to his audience. The problem is you’re not Joe Rogan. You’ve been podcasting for ten weeks, and Joe started building his audience in 1988 in Boston as a comedian. You are counting your podcast in months, and maybe years. Joe counts his career in decades. 

If you’re interested in monetizing your audience, I always tell my clients that typically your podcast is NOT your business, it is your business card. Your content leads people to your website, where they can purchase your products and services. 

So should a podcaster be paid by Spotify for their content? If they deliver value, I feel that it would be fair. Is that going to happen? Pandora has publicly said they plan on paying podcasters and appears that it is a “someday” situation. At this point, it is slow sailing getting everyone on to their platform. Hopefully, that will set a precedent that others will follow. 

In the meantime, if we are going to have any leverage in the future, we will need to have a large and loyal audience. That I have some control over, and that is where I choose to apply my focus. 

Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcast consultant who has been podcasting since 2005. He is the founder of the School of Podcasting and the author of the book Profit from your podcast. Find him at schoolofpodcasting.com 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Dave,
    Thanks for the article. I would tend to agree that Musicans would rather be paid at a better rate. I fully support the idea of Podcasters getting streaming or download money from some of these platforms.

    Get me the JRE $$$!

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