Business Models for Audio Drama | Episode 107

A look at the business side of audio drama, including contributions from audio drama companies who have found successful business models for professional audio drama productions.

With thanks to our contributors for sharing their expertise:

Mariele Runacre-Temple of Wireless Theatre

David K. Barnes & Liz Campbell of Wooden Overcoats

Links to sites mentioned:

Go Fund Me

Kickstarter

Libsyn Vs Blubrry – Where Should I Host my Podcast? ThePodcastHost.com

The Martian Guide to Marketing Your Podcast – ThePodcastHost.com

Patreon

Midroll – finding advertising help

Music by Kevin Hartnell

Sound effects from Freesound.org

Pub-reverb by erdie

Media Hosting, iTunes Rankings, New & Noteworthy

VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn Rob Walch joins us for a chat on this episode. Rob has been in podcasting from the very beginning and has a wealth of experience in the medium.

We talked about media hosting, and why you might want to think about hosting with Libsyn. iTunes, and the myths and misinformation surrounding the rankings and New & Noteworthy categories. Why you might want to have an app made for your show. What should be on your podcast’s website. And some poorly researched articles doing the rounds at the moment.

You can also find Rob on The Feed (The Official Libsyn Podcast), Podcast 411, and Today in iOS. One particular episode he mentioned on this episode was his chat with Aaron Mahnke of Lore.

And if you’re signing up to Libsyn in the future, remember you can always use the coupon code ADPP to get a free month there.

Other things mentioned on this episode, the Out on the Wire Podcast, 11th Hour Audio, and the Audio Drama Promo Trailer Park.

As always, get in touch with us at any time on podcast@audiodramaproduction.com

Becoming Professionals. Thoughts for 2016

It’s the last show of 2015 and we’ve actually recorded it in a real studio for once. On this episode we’re joined by Colin Gray of thepodcasthost.com. We’re asking the question; will it become easier and more common for Audio Drama creators to build businesses around their work?

How Do You Make a 3D Binaural Audio Drama?

It’s hard not to get excited by the thought of listening to Audio Drama in 3D. Though binaural audio isn’t a new thing, it’s still relatively rare to encounter unless you are actively searching for it online. Many people’s first (and often only) experience with this form of sound design comes from sitting in the chair of the binaural barber shop – stick your headphones on and have a listen if you’ve never heard this one before.

Scottish-based Canadian producer Michel Lafrance (The Owl Field) has learned and mastered the techniques of building soundscapes in this manner, and he’s using them to create first person 3D Audio Dramas which drop you right into the middle of them as the main character.

Michel is also developing a business model around his productions, and has ambitious plans to grow the company in the future. Aside from delving into how you actually make binaural audio, we also chat about his reasons behind charging for the shows (all expect Overnight, which is free).

The Owl Field have also been nominated for a FutureBook Award, and we discuss what that could mean for both Michel, and the medium as a whole.

Elsewhere in Audio Drama, there’s a superb album of creepy scores released by composer Kevin Hartnell to help support future Campfire Radio Theater productions, it’s aptly titled The Sounds of Nightmares. An outstanding collaboration took place between many familiar names in the medium as 11th Hour Audio Productions released Vultures Over Low Doves. And there’s new Audio Drama in the form of Cthulhu’s Rim, and The Fall.

This episode was introduced by It’s About Time – The Time Travel Audio Drama

Funding projects, writing comedy. TV icons

Clare Eden returns to Audio Drama with TV’s Trev & Simon

Nostalgia might be a bit of a fad at the moment, but we’re genuinely delighted to have comedy double act Trev and Simon back in our lives. The pair were essential Saturday morning viewing in the UK in the late 80s and early 90s, and it’s exciting to hear that they’ve returned with their wacky brand of comedy – only this time, they’re making an Audio Drama! strangeness

And what better way to make an Audio Drama than to hook up with Clare Eden from the Minister of Chance? Clare joins us in this episode to talk about how this project came about, why they chose the audio medium, and how it was funded. The first episode of Strangeness in Space was released recently after a successful Kickstarter campaign, and it’s one of the funniest and most surreal shows you’ll hear this year.

On top of diving into the nuts and bolts of getting a show up and running, Clare also gives her thoughts on writing family friendly comedy, and we chat about the curse of the podcast categories and how Audio Drama is still seeking that hard and fast method of curation and discoverability.

Enjoy the episode, and don’t forget to get in touch at podcast@audiodramaproduction.com, join the Facebook group, or say hello on Twitter.

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Profiting with your Audio Drama

You probably don’t create Audio Drama specifically to make money, but wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for doing something you love?

Traditionally, creators would need to find someone to commission and/or broadcast their work to bring in some cash. In the internet age however, there are several options available to you. On this episode we chat to podcast monetization guru The Real Brian, host of the Profitcast and Arrow Squad podcasts. We cover the various options available to podcasters who are thinking about making money with their shows, and attempt to relate these specifically to your own Audio Dramas.

These include, sponsorships and advertising, eBooks and other products, premium content, affiliate links, and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Patreon (and on the subject of Patreon – check out this episode of Profitcast for some fantastic tips for setting up and running your own Patreon campaign).

Also mentioned, a recent topical blog post titled Should I charge for my Audio Dramas’?

Elsewhere, we’re still looking for listeners to fill out our ‘Next 50 Episodes’ survey. Big thanks if you’ve already done that!

And as always, we’d love to hear from you. Get us at podcast@audiodramaproduction.comon Twitter, or in our Facebook group.

Get in touch…

Should I charge for my Audio Dramas?

I was inspired to write this post after reading some discussion on the subject in the Audio Drama Production Podcast Facebook group.

So you’ve just spent around (let’s say approximately) 100 hours of blood, sweat, and tears creating an Audio Drama. You came up with a story idea; you developed it into a plot, and divided that plot into scenes. You created the characters needed to tell the story, you found the voice actors you wanted to bring these characters to life, and cast them.

Whilst waiting on the lines to come back in from the actors you have a look at what music and sound effects you might need. You go out on a Saturday afternoon to record some footsteps up a hill where no one else should be, but there’s a dog running around and it won’t stop barking, and there’s someone with a very loud car stereo idling 100 yards down the road. You get the picture; we’ve all been there.

Once you finally have all your music and sound effects, your actor lines begin to come back in. Some retakes are needed for a few pops and peaks, and in instances where the intended delivery has been misunderstood. These things happen, but that’s another week or two waiting on all your materials to finish the job.

After that it’s time for the long lonely hours hunched at the computer, listening to the same scene over and over again as you tweak the timing of the dialogue, move that one footstep that doesn’t fit quite right, and adjusting the volume of the music. Yes it’s long and lonely work, but you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your masterpiece is taking shape, line by line, scene by scene.

It Lives!

So after at least the 30th “final draft” mixdown, you’ve listened to your show on every set of speakers and headphones available to you, and you’ve even given it a run in through the car stereo for good measure. Your audio drama is finished, and it’s ready for the world to hear it.

So… considering all the work you’ve just poured into this show, would you be being unreasonable if you were to charge, say, £1 or $1 for it?

At face value, absolutely not. BUT, (and this is a big BUT) should you charge anything at all for it?

Firstly, you need to ask yourself what your end game is in Audio Drama, what are you looking to achieve? And will charging a per episode fee help or hinder those ambitions?

If the folks at We’re Alive had charged $1 per episode when they came out the gate in 2009, do you think they’d now have total download figures in excess of 20,000,000? Do you think they’d have a fanbase that enabled them to raise over $30,000 in two weeks in their recent Kickstarter campaign? Unlikely.

If we turn back to your own show, let’s say (and this is an optimistic estimation) you get one paying customer for every 100 free downloads you have. Instead of the opportunity to impact hundreds, maybe thousands of people with your content, you have made $5 after a few months.

Will this pay your rent, or put food on the table? No.

Can you use it to pay your talent? No.

$5 after a few months probably doesn’t even cover your hosting costs. So what have you actually achieved here? You’ve simply spent a huge deal of time, energy, and passion, creating something that only a handful of people will ever hear.

Even if people were prepared to pay for Audio Dramas, we still don’t have the numbers required to earn a living from it. How many of your listeners are Audio Drama creators themselves? Quite a lot I’d wager. So if we we’re charging for shows, we’d actually just be passing the same £1 or $1 back and forward, and nobody would actually be any better off.

I am absolutely 100% pro-monetization, and for the opportunity for creators to be financially rewarded for their work. But I think that will be achieved through the impact you can have on people because of the content you have created. Win over new listeners, entertain them, hook them, build relationships with them. Those roots will run much deeper and stronger than anything you’ll achieve by charging a fee for the privilege of listening to your show.

Build slowly, patiently, and in time your audience will be fanatical about your story world. Once this happens, who knows? You might have the opportunity to run some short adverts before each episode, or to write and sell an eBook with some written tales from your world. You can create and sell t-shirts, posters, series extras as premium content, or set up affiliate links to books and films in the same genre as your story.

In summary, don’t be fooled into the false economy of charging for your episodes. You have great stories to tell, and they deserve to be heard. If you want to make $5, you can make that by selling pizzas, or mowing someone’s lawn.

And as Audio Dramatists we have the opportunity to achieve so much more.