Would you pay? Tell me.

I’m passionate about independent music and I’m passionate about the podcast. I am spending more and more time on it. Not just recording it but communicating with artists, publicity and general admin stuff.

Because of its popularity, artists are getting written about, featured in other podcasts and have been selling their music. That is what I wanted from the beginning, I’m dead chuffed and it encourages me to carry on.

I’d love to spend more time on it but I have bills to pay.

With more time the podcast will get even better – a top quality podcast that people who love music will want to listen to and artists will want to be featured in. To spread my enthusiasm for independent music and to make a real difference.

So, I’m considering charging a subscription for the podcast. I’m not talking a lot of money, just £2 a month.

I have considered asking for donations. That has worked for my Vinyl project. But I think micro subscription is the way forward, that way I can hopefully have a steady income instead of money coming in in dribs and drabs, if at all!

So I have created this poll and would appreciate it if you could spare a minute clicking a box or two. I would value your opinion

0 replies on “Would you pay? Tell me.”

I’m probably the wrong person to ask. But for my 2 cents, I have been working with computers for over 45 years and object to paying for any type of computer content.
Now the other side of the coin is I make my living from computers and as a musician you have to make yours by music. I have no real answers, I feel that the corporate greed of the music companies (and I do not include musicians in this, apart from a couple) has basically destroyed the music industry. Over the years I have bought some of the same music on 78rpm, 45rpm, 33.3rpm vinyl, and of course CD’s and digital downloads. And the price never goes down. Now you cannot even buy records in a record store anymore, and you cannot count Target or any other big box company as a music store. You are better of on-line. But the main reason I don’t really want to pay for a podcast would be because I would not be able to give it my full attention since I will be working with it in the background.

So Barrie, your default is to not pay for any online content so you would never pay for this cast especially as it only provides a background to your work.

I think that’s a completely valid answer and I thank you for your comment.

For reference I clicked yes, because I support independent music, but am saddened by some of the other answers.
Nearly a quarter of people, who by default own a PC and an iPod say they can’t afford £2 a month, which I find a bit strange….and the answer that all podcasts should be free is also odd, as many aren’t now.
To expand on my yes, along with some of the other debates, I would pay, but would also then like it if there was a way that the individual tracks could also be downloaded – which would then be true micro-payments, but would encourage me to listen more than once, and then potentially buy more from the artists featured.
Much like the Times paywall, only time will tell how this will work out.

£2 a month won’t even buy a decent pint of beer where I live but if people don’t value something then they won’t want to pay for it.

I do link to the artists websites so you can click and find their tracks and I’m just about to start tagging all the podcasts with their names so you will be able to find all the podcasts where that artists is played.

One of my problems is hosting the actual podcasts. Podbean only give me one gig of space on their server for free. That’s about 10 or so podcasts, so every-time I put a new one up I have to remove an old one and then put it up on my website here
I had to pay extra money for the space to host it plus it takes time to upload them.

This way I can pay to self host wordpress, keep all the podcasts and spend more time making a decent product.

So I’m not sure about the 2 pounds a month. Maybe a yearly (20/yr), because 2 a month seems strange for some reason.

But I understand what you’re trying to do.

Look at Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, which is live every Sunday afternoon (L.A. time) and is archived. It runs anywhere from 90 minutes to 120 minutes. He doesn’t charge, but now has sponsors for his show (a form of advertising).

His content has a different target than what you have, obviously, but the idea of getting a sponsor/advertising is valid.

This is an interesting new area in online content that is being explored and I don’t think anybody knows what the correct way of monetising, yet.

Thanks Tony,

I think the idea may be that people would subscribe for say, 6 or 12 months at a time. £12 for six months or £24 for a year.

I listen to a few podcasts that carry adverts and to be honest, I don’t like them..

Hmn. I’m not sure that’s such a great deal – There’s umpteen other podcasts that would do that anyway for free.

If I, as an artist, give you a track to use, we have to be sure it’s getting some good exposure, as if people are paying to get to our music we want a cut. It’s not a selfish thing, but we’ve spent months writing and our own money recording these tracks. We don’t want a profit, just to break even so we can keep doing that.

If people are paying for your podcast, it’ll have a lower listenership than free podcasts (typically…) therefore less exposure, and a less attractive prospect for us as a band to give you our work for you to make money out of.

You’ll still get lots of submissions, but I would suggest they’re likely to go down in terms of quality, and the number of people listening will definitely go down.

That is a very valid point.
There are many bloggers and reviews connected with the podcast that the listeners does not know about. When artists send me their tracks they are invited to join a special artists only google group. This enables them to be informed, if they wish, of these bloggers and also gives them the opportunity to make start their own discussions.

If I play and artists song I mention it on this blog and hyperlink it to their site. I also send them an email letting them know that they have been played and check with them that the link I posted was correct.

One of the artists, Jennie Walker, suggested that I start tagging each post with the artists name and I am in the process of do that right now.

I am also an artist and I get played on other podcasts and I rarely get an email about it.

This is what I mean by providing a quality podcast

Interesting point about royalties for artists, if the podcaster is getting paid then it kind of changes all the rules, in some peoples eyes.

People are making money from torrent downloads via adverts so should artists who are being illegally downloaded demand a share?

The radio presenters that have played my songs on their show got paid, I didn’t.

It opens up many areas for discussion Matt. That’s why I posted it.

I did mention the other benefits to artists that I play…

Just finished tagging all the posts btw.


I’ve never tried to charge for my podcast, but I know some people (specifically Richard Vobes) who have done with with various degrees of success. I’m not sure of Richard’s current approach, but I know he’s charged in the past (I paid up!) and then he made it free again, when the subscriptions dried up. I have a feeling if you tried this you’d also have a dwindling subscription.

I suspect I may also be one of the reasons why you’d have those dwindling numbers – simply because I (and other music podcasters) offer a free alternative. The only way to resolve that is if we all charged and that is not going to happen.

Also some artists will insist you pay them to play tracks. Equally something that the larger hobbyist music podcasting community do not want to do.

If you’re just doing this to save cost then I recommend two things:-

1. Move your podcasts to Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re free. All your podcasts are always available and you never have to worry about bandwidth.

2. Consider advertising. I create advertising-included and advertising-free podcasts and although it’s guaranteed some artists will not want to be included in a advertising-included show, most realize I’m doing this to help with my costs (broadband, hosting for my blog, mixer, mic etc) not make a living. Mevio, Blubrry et al will all help you with advertising.

Ultimately you have to decide if this is a business for you or a hobby. If it’s a hobby then you would expect to pay something towards it – like golf clubs, gym membership, gigs, cinema etc.

Bottom line is podcasters have to do this for themselves. Even when I was unemployed I continued podcasting because it kept me going. I’m addicted! If it’s hurting you and your family give it up, sit back and be happy that you helped change someone’s world in a small way.

Not sure if it’s what you wanted to read, but that’s my 10 coins of currency.


Thanks for your words of wisdom Pete, they are much appreciated.

I want to make money for the thing that I love to do, it’s a simple as that.
I put just as much effort into producing a podcast as artists do writing and recording a track. I know as I do both.

Yes, this is a hobby but I have a professional approach.

Are you sure I can’t persuade you and the other great podcasters to charge?

Thanks again Pete

Hello! I’m Napoleon from Watch With Mothers. Swineshead and I are on holiday at the moment, which is why we haven’t done any reviews for Nick, but rest assured we’ll be back once we’ve served our senten … sorry, once we return from Marbella in six to eight weeks’ time, depending on good behaviour.

I wholeheartedly support Nick’s decision to charge … hang on … TWO POUNDS??? Jesus. Bit much, eh, Nick?

Hold on … Nick wants a word …

*mutter mutter*

Right, well dangerous martial arts expert Nick ‘Neck Snapper’ Tann’s just persuaded me that I was completely wrong. Two pounds is nothing to access all the top quality content I have no doubt is on his podcast (sorry, I don’t listen to podcasts), and anyone who says otherwise better be careful, that’s my advice.

Is that alright, Nick? Please don’t hurt my family.

RE :torrent sites with adverts – no, I don’t agree with that, thats why I offer a free option on my site, which has been really good for me. Really its all about people wanting support you by paying so you can keep knocking out the music rather than trying to fight torrents etc.

Perhaps the torrents was a wrong turn, sorry Matt.

I want to produce a good product that people will enjoy and pay for. Just like the music I produce, otherwise I’m just an amateur/hobbyist.

This is an interesting question, Nick. And, I think, a bit different from asking people to pay for your albums, which are your work only, and people pay for music in this way.

However, I view podcasts a bit more like radio, which I don’t pay for, and wouldn’t consider paying for (BBC Licence fee excepted, because that is mostly for the telly, in perception at least). I think this in general (aside from wanting to support people that I have come to consider online friends), whether the content be comedy, gardening, music or whatever. But your podcast is about giving independent musicians an audience, and I think this is particularly the case here. I have found some new music and artists that I like here, and have sought out their output and so on.

The traditional methods for finding out new music are the radio, through friends and by seeing support acts for a band that you really want to see live. Traditionally, the discovery of new music is free, and so people are just not used to paying for it, up until the point where they commit to buying the gig ticket, or album. And then they do so because they wish to support the artist, not all of the people that helped them to hear about the music.

I would pay for yours, because I want to support online friends, but as a general rule, I think that your podcast falls into a category that people, including myself, have never traditionally seen as a service in the sense that, say, having a band play for you at an event, such as a wedding or gig, is seen as a service. And if people do not see it as a fee-paying service, no matter how much they like it or value it or whatever, they will not pay. A glib analogy is that people might ask a policeman for directions, but would not pay him directly for giving them, even though it is a service.

Of course there are costs associated for you, but I kind of agree with Pete Cogle in that most people’s hobbies involve some kind of money being spent on it. Perhaps, in order to minimise your costs, you could collaborate with another like minded person to share the admin burden? I think that the best way that you are likely to cover this will be advertising though, in all honesty.

Whichever you choose, I would advise that you have a page that tells people how you get revenue and what this covers – listeners (and I assume artists) will be more open to ads or charges if you are completely clear that they are not buying you a second home in the Cotswolds, or whatever. A lot of bloggers do this, when they also get paid to write other things, and it just clears up any accusations of bias or being paid off, or being The Man, and all the other crazy ideas and prejudices that people may have.

Hope this helps?

Not long winded at all Fiona and you covered a lot of bases. Thanks for taking an interest and giving your opinion.

Am I coming across as the bad guy for wanting to get paid for something that I do?

No, Nick, I don’t think so. But I think you may be being optimistic as to how many people will actually pay…

Couldn’t you, I dunno, do on-air stripping? Alright, so folks wouldn’t see anything, but if you were very descriptive, the ladies could imagine your hairy old cock and balls swinging around loose near the microphone.

Girls like nude men, and at least 3% of them would pay to see a man strip (not sure how many would pay to hear him strip, mind).

Hi Nick,

Interesting topic, and I am quite nuetral about it myself – except in regards to how much the subscription is. I think it could be contentious with musicians if you had say 500 subscribers (which I am sure you would want to increase monthly) paying £2 each whereby you would effectively be taking a salary of £1,000 pe month – if the musician’s were not paid anything for their tracks being played – UNLESS there were some very solid and measureable results for the band that are a direct result of being on the podcast.

Taking it further again, in 1 or 2 years time if you had 3,000 subscribers, then your salary would increase to £6,000 per month, or £72,000 per annum.

An excellent business model if you think you could get the buy in, and if you think you can well worth a crack. For me I’m not sure about £2 per month, but supposing you went with it and you really do want to support new music, then I would guess that you would be able to pay artists to play their music. However if bands were getting signed to good lables, being offered good festival gigs, getting radio play internationally etc, and the source of this was proven to be you, it changes things a little.

Good thread though

So you don’t mind me earning some money from the podcast as long I get the artists record deals and festival gigs.

I know that’s a bit of a crude assessment of what you said, however. Some bands do get attention because if being played on the podcast and if they get a deal of a good gig as a result I may not know about it.

Your band got reviewed by a by a blogger in South America as a result of being played on the podcast. If you had any tracks for sale on line that could have resulted in a sale.

If artists asked me to link to their iTunes album site or bandcamp site, I would. Often it’s just to a myspace page….


I understand that – and you are right, that was a good measureable result. It is not personal and I am not saying that I would personally have much of a problem with you doing this – or even our music being played for free whether you are paid or not, but the problem I have mentioned above is surely inevitable at some stage.

Your analysis of what I said is off the mark and it sounds like you are offended. That was not my intention, but starting a thread like this and asking for personal opinions is bound to get an array of answers – some of which in support of the idea and some not. I am neutral on it – my honest opinion is just do it if you fancy it.

In explanantion, it is not how much you earn. If it will work – fill your boots and go for it. My point is simply that if all went very well, and you are interested supporting new music that wouldn’t be heard elsewhere, and you were in a strong position to do so, why not pay the musucians?

While some podcasts charge a fee, they usually started out this way. It’s much harder to start charging for something that was originally free.

The business model should be based on who you want to pay for the service – the musicians or the corporations (advertising). I would put ads in the podcasts rather than relying on banner ads/clicks.

I doubt you will get much interest in people wanting to pay for exposure of their music. But at the end of the day what people say and what they do are two different things. Often we need to put something out there and see what happens to test the market rather than relying on surveys. People will say they would pay but when it comes time to cough up some dough they won’t.

Some musicians offer podcasts to promote themselves while adding other musicians into the mix. It gets them heard while helping others. If that is the main purpose then charging wouldn’t make sense.

Just wanted to weigh in, since I see a lot of Podcasts are toying with this idea at the moment (and rightfully so).

I think it makes sense to charge for Podcasts – as a broadcaster myself I know that it’s all about putting dinner on that there table. I think it’s all about striking a balance with giving the free people something to get their teeth into and rewarding those who part with their cash.

A great example of a successful model that I always use when discussing this is Tim Henson’s Distorted View ( – he does an adult quirky-news show Monday-Friday, about 30 minutes in length that you can download for free. You can subscribe to the show for something like $30 a year and he has a whole website for “Sideshow Freaks” as they are affectionately known, which featues additional content and extra Podcasts. The format is so popular that his has turned his Podcast into a full-time job…surely the Podcaster’s Wet Dream Scenario!

If you’re going to start charging for Podcasts make sure that the content you put out is top-notch. In the past, we’ve always accepted it when a Podcaster doesn’t do a show one week or it’s a rush-job because they’re doing it non-gratis! When people start parting with pennies they wan’t RESULTS, DAMMIT! *bangs table businessman style*.

I think that the quality of your show, Mr. Tann, is always high so I that will be a problem for you. Like it was said earlier on, the issue will be with some bands wanting a piece of your action, and the question over whether they are entitled to it.

I do a lot of free guitar lessons via blog posts, facebook fan page, twitter, etc. I’ve tried to sell video guitar lessons over the internet with a series of micropayments, a membership/subscription site, adsense on my youtube videos, banner ads and donate/paywhatyouwant. My youtube vids have over 1 million views and people seem to like them. I’ve been doing this for years and I guess I’m quite discouraged about my ability to monetize my guitar teaching via digital content. Like you there are a ton of free lessons out there.

I don’t make that much from these sites, not enough to pay all my bills so I end up taking IT contracts at various points. So lately I’ve been narrowing my guitar teaching focus on an insanely small niche since I’ve basically given up on trying to sell lessons. I’m also looking at live one on one lessons in private and webcam.

So on occasion this bitterness may come out on blog comments but I try to focus on the fact that I am helping others learn and sharing my passion which I would do no matter what happens financially.

It’s an interesting question Nick…

I have a gut feeling that I wouldn’t pay, as I could find similar podcasts for free elsewhere.

And, a comment – your argument that you can be paid for the podcast but don’t need to remunerate the artists as they get publicity is very close to the argument people use to defend torrenting and otherwise – that artists get more listeners which ultimately benefts them. (I know it’s not exactly the same, and intention is a big factor too, but the end is identical – someone gets something for nothing and the artist, well they just get nothing…)

I take your point about other podcasts being free.

I don’t see how the artist gets nothing. I don’t know if you have read any of my earlier comments but on my podcast they do, not money but a lot of things that they wouldn’t get from a lot of other podcasts. I know because I am also an artist who gets played on podcasts.

If, say, I was played on a commercial radio station with 20,000 listeners would you suggest that I should get paid a percentage of the advert money?

I have just put a link from the March of Dimes (podcast 43) direct to their itunes page. Should I get a percentage?

In a fairytale world, lets imagine that I get a million paying subscribers. Would artists be demanding a cut of what I get? Ok they supplied some of the content but I sorted the wheat from the chaf, I promoted the podcast, I put in the work. I would hope that they would want to get played to a million listeners who have already paid for a podcast and would also be up for paying for some of the tracks.

I’m certainly not denying the work you put into your podcasts, nor that that work costs you time and that it would be lovely to be paid for that. Unfortunately, we can’t always get what we want, at least without making some sacrifices.

Someone upthread mentioned the need to decide whether this was a career (or a part of one) or a hobby… I agree this is a decision you need to make. And if you come down on the side of career (or “commercial endeavour”, or whatever) I think you then need to consider it as such in all aspects.

I do understand what artists get from your podcast, but apart from the filtering that you yourself do, the “wheat from the chaff”, you’re not actually giving the artists anything that a torrent site does. They get the same coverage, the same oppotunity to reach new listeners, and particularly on some sites, an write-up and shout-out that’s probably equal to your spiel when you present your show.

You mention radio stations earlier, and that they don’t pay you when they play your songs – well, they do, if indirectly. (And yes, it’s an imperfect system, and small artists may never see any money from airplay, etc., but that’s another debate!) The point is, there is a legal requirement for Internet-based radio stations to log and report what they play, and to pay for the songs they use – I wonder if the same legislation covers podcasts?

I think the subscription idea has obviously raise alot of different problems, however I think the donation/pay what you want idea is fantastic.
There’s alot less complications with the idea – more of a charity than a ‘business’, a charity that provide’s a fantastic service for musicains (if you know what I mean) and i’m sure people would donate, I certainly would.

Though concerning talking about the idea of a advert podcast.
I think thats a potential idea, but how would it be tackled? I’m sure neither you nor listeners would want a bunch of window selling adverts, but how much would you charge artists for advertising their music/album? or evening advertising other podcasts or musician’s advertising bass/guitar/piano lessons. Keeping the content comings from artists or musician’s would be alot better from my point of view, but how do other people view that?
Answers from everyone please 🙂

I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with adverts or sponsor tags in a Podcast. A 10-second bit of imaging between songs wouldn’t would sound better than the presenter trying to awkwardly form a link that “organically” mentions the show is brought to you by “John’s Windows & Blinds”.

I’m not sure if I’m the exception in a lot of these cases, as I would happily pay for some Podcasts, even if they featured adverts. As long as what I was listening to was engaging and enjoyable, I don’t honestly mind! My money would go into the performer/performers and their ability to send me some great content on a regular basis.

EDIT: A 10-second bit of imaging between songs sound better than the presenter trying to awkwardly form a link that “organically” mentions the show is brought to you by “John’s Windows & Blinds”.

Back in the 80’s record companies made music videos as promotional devises. These were free for broadcasters to use. So the television broadcasters used them , hey made tv shows that featured loads of them. Beavis and Butthead was built on them.
Then the record companies got greedy. They saw that the tv stations were making money out of their free promotional tools and thought that they would make a charge to the broadcasters. The broadcaster said “Fine, we just won’t use them then” and stopped.
The bands were livid. They wanted their songs and videos to be featured on this new kids show Beevis and Buthead as it was attracting audiences of millions….Eventualy the record companies came to their senses.

Personally, I’d rather have my tunes, that I wrote and recorded played on a podcast of thousands that people pay for than a free podcast listened to by dozens.

So what if the podcaster makes some money out of it if a band gets listened to by a big audience, it’s all good eh?

I personally think that podcasts should be free, for the simple reason that there are so many out there, unless you have something that is totally excellent and unique that will entice people to pay, then most people will choose the free options.

If a podcaster chooses to offer his podcasts for free or for a fee, it is their choice and really has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s nice to be asked what we think, but you will only hear the opinions of the people who can be bothered to respond. I know from experience that most people will read, ignore and move on, even if the topic involves them in some way.
If you want to charge to help cover the costs, do it, it’s your choice.
If you want to have advertising on the website or in the podcast, again it’s up to you.
There are other choices, but those you will to have to find for yourself 🙂

Should artists be paid to be included in podcasts?
It would be nice, if we lived in a perfect world, unfortunatley we don’t. Maybe podcasters should be expected to pay for the music they include, but pay what?
The same as sites like Jango or Spotify for each download of a podcast?
Both these sites possibly have a larger audience than most podcasts will ever achieve and still pay very little to the artists, so should royalties for inclusion on a podcast be the same as a streamed play?
What happens when ‘paid for’ podcasts end up for free on torrent sites?

Yes, it takes time and costs money to produce and host podcasts, but how the podcaster chooses to fund it is up to them.
As listeners, we pay or walk away and artists can choose to be involved or not depending on what they feel the podcast offers them as a promotional tool.


How would you stop folks fast forwarding through the adverts, though? Surely advertisers would be weary of handing over money to people unless they could be sure their ads were heard?

The thing about adverts is that there may be a big uptake at first. Johns Blind Emporium could chuck a few quid in. Then 3 months down the line they change their mind. They realise that Jose in San Francisco has no interest in traveling to Bracknell to purchase an awning despite the delivery being free and Doreen wearing her best wig.

No money and I’m sitting on a golden toilet bought on a 29% apr credit card.

John’s Blinds was a hypothetical example that didn’t really get my point across. There’s plenty of online services that could sponsor the show which would mean users worldwide could benefit and, for the sponsor, business could and WILL come from anywhere. With Mevio, you do hear people getting sponsorship for their Podcasts with I’ve never had a Podcast long enough to reap the benefits of such a thing, but would be interested to try it.

And so what if they pull out after three months? Sponsors and advertisers do that sort of thing. Would you rather them pay £50 a month to be on your Podcast for three months (making you £150) or not have them there at all? You’re talking about turning the Podcast into a business, well this is where your business head gets put to the test – dealing with sponsors!

With regards to what Napoleon said about people “fast-forwarding” through the adverts…anybody whose used an iPod and tried to fast forward a small bit of time will know that it’s a ballache…you keep going too far or falling too short. If the advert was 10 seconds, I would imagine people would just leave let it run. As long as the advert wasn’t offensively bad (like most stuff that pops up on commercial radio, tragically) and was well produced I think it’s a harmless addition to the show.

You should get on to them about that, Nick. I’m registered with the FRS, m’self. Every time they play a sound effect I recorded of me farting into a Golden Virginia tin, I get 20p.

It really IS a personal decision that only you can make for yourself. Our opinions on the matter really don’t amount to a hill of beans in the end game. People will pay, or they won’t, for their own personal reasons. Yes, you may attract a very loyal following of paying subscribers, in time, but you will also lose a lot of listener/subscribers in the interim. Is this something you’d be willing to accept? Also, what about the artists you play on your show? Are you going to expect them to give you their music for free to play on your show then turn around a pay you a fee to listen to you play them and/or to ask their fans to pay you a fee to listen to you play them? As an artist, would you pay or ask your fans to pay? I am a believer in “fair energy exchange” – some sort of payment or exchange for services provided – so yes, you are entitled to something of worth for your efforts. But you do ask that artists provide their soul-bearing hard work to you free of monetary exchange. Yes, you do provide exposure & links & such, but they provide you with the substance and material around which your show is based. No music = no music podcast, right? You could give the artists free subscription in exchange for free music, but that could present its own cans of worms and hassle and I’m really not sure how you’d go about keeping track of all that anyway.
Myself, I fall in the camp of podcast = radio & I don’t pay a subscription for radio (although I do donate to NPR when I have the means to do so). Of course, when I do listen to radio (I usually prefer my ipod … I have such good taste in music it’s hard for radio to compete), I listen to public radio (NPR) over broadcast. While they do sell some advertising, it’s not a lot (no consumer ads at all) – they get the bulk of their money through donations & fundraisers (telethons). This allows them to keep their services free for all. Perhaps a twist on that? Include a spiel in the podcasts directing people to a fundraising widgit on the sidebar?
My apologies for rambling. Bottom line, do what you feel is best for YOU and trust that it’s the right decision for you. As has already been said, people will pay or they won’t.

Please bear in mind that I am also an artist.

Can I also say that I’m very glad you have asked these questions and that in my answers to them that I don’t come across as angry or defensive. It was mentioned to me earlier in an email and I assure you and everybody else that is far from the case. I’m happy to have this debate as I think it is an important one and I don’t want anyone to feel that I’m having a go at them or their opinions.

The artists send me their songs for publicity, not out of the goodness of their heart, not because they support independent music, not because they want to enhance my podcast but to get their music played to a wider audience, perhaps sell a few cds, maybe even attract some kind of record deal. Most of them don’t even listen to the podcast, that’s fine as it’s not made for them to listen to. I make it for people who are interested in hearing new music.

The artists that I play do get more than just a play on the podcast. I won’t give you the full details but I promise you they do.

Lets us say, hypothetically, that as a result of being played on my podcast (that IS free) artists start to get loads of sales. In this fair exchange of energy, would I expect to get any money/energy back? No, no I wouldn’t.

You mention donations which is fine but lets say, for instance, that I received £10000 in donations, would I then have to pay the artists?

If I did pay the artists how much would I pay them?
Would it be for one play or for a months useage?
What if the band split up?
What if I got less subscribers and started losing money because I was paying the artists?

As an artist I don’t care who plays my music as long as they mention my website. If they get paid a million pounds or do it for free I don’t care, just play my music to the biggest audience you can.

The alternative?

We keep doing it all for free, podcasters and artists. The music industry cherry picks, uses then casts out. Simon Cowell gets richer (I wonder how many of those acts get paid at the beginning?) Meanwhile independent musicians scratch around some hoping that they’ll get that deal or disappear into insignificance because no one would pay to hear unsigned music would they and even if they did the artists would price podcasters out of the market.

I have no plans to change my podcast for the present but I won’t stop trying to promote the great music that’s out there.

Right, I’m off to play a gig!!

The comments so far are really interesting and really do run the gamut from “everything should be free” to “you better give me my share” to “it’s a business, get used to it” etc…

Keep in mind that we’re in the middle of a sea change in how content is delivered via media (in all its forms). Just because something is easy doesn’t necessarily mean it _should_ be free. It may be free, or effectively free, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a marketplace. You can try charging 2 pounds and see what happens. If you get overwhelming response, raise the price and call the 2 pounds an introductory rate. If it doesn’t pan out, make it free.

Having been one of the musicians played in your podcast, I don’t expect to get any share of what you make. Unless, of course, you start to get filthy rich, then I’ll try to get every penny I can 😉

To get philosophical about it, you’re making your own content, albeit with the help of some existing content. But, your presentation, your quips, your reviews, etc. are all yours and takes time… not to mention the editing, the server costs, the equipment you use to produce it. You deserve to be rewarded for making good content. And since things are so up-in-the-air right now in the music industry, any approach is as good as another if it works for you and for the folks you’re playing.

In the US right now 2 pounds is about $3.13… that would be almost $40/year… more than twice the cost of any of the popular print magazine subscriptions. So, it might be a little high. I might think of it more like you’re producing an album a year (even though your podcasts are about the length of a traditional album as it is). Maybe a pound per episode and 10 pounds for an annual subscription?

Just thinking out loud…

First things first, it’s a great response you are getting here.
It’s good to see such a debate that is not on the big guys (Huffington Post, BBC etc). Wanted to put in another 2 cents worth from the point of view of an avid music fan since mumble mumble….. But I did see Buddy Holly live so that gives a bit of an idea. So just for fun I have been running this blog since December 2006. Not in it for the money, or the literary glory. As if. Google begged me to “monetize” it so I allowed them to put out one ad per day, that netted me about $9.45 over two years, but they only pay when it reaches $100 so still nothing. Currently there are no ads on it.
I feature music I like, some of the bigger stars, many of the deceased stars and in the last year I have also been featuring newer (sometimes even unknown) artists. I enjoy doing it since I have managed to widen my musical taste dramatically and quite a few artists have commented on the posts, or have become friends on Facebook and Last.FM. I don’t profess to be a huge popular blog, I get on average somewhere between 200 and 400 hits a day. Used to be around 100 to 200. It is not 100% music, probably over 90% though. I guess what I am trying to say I’m in it for the fun not the mnoney.
But that said I do have a regular job. Anyone who can come up with an answer to this question will probably make themselves a bunch of money at the same time. A case in point would be the new movie “Middle Men” which is about the first guy who came up with the way to get money for pornography.
Review at –
If nothing else remember pornography has always been a driving force for the internet. Not trying to get anybody stirred up. But again the other side is now even the pornography purveyors are crying the blues because of torrents etc. So I’m sure they are working hard on the next big thing. 3D movies on the web or something! So maybe you need to set up a think tank to see if a group of people could come up with the next big musical moneymaking idea.

This is a really interesting and important debate. I am a music fan and I listen regularly to your podcast Nick, as well as others. What I like about yours is the great music which is also different, the comedy, the comments and all the information you give out about the musicians. There are other podcasts (and internet radio stations) out there who don’t give out website links or information so you can’t follow up and download or buy the music that you like. Crazy. I have bought and downloaded music from a few of the artists that you have played Nick, surely the intention of the cast? This is good for the artists, and good for me, as I want new music on my ipod.

I wouldn’t mind paying for the podcast, to help you keep it going, and to improve it over time. And I also want to reward the artists themselves (if I like their stuff) by buying their music. I don’t like all this talk about people getting cuts of this or a share of that. Why not just get paid directly for the work that is done? Artists get paid by selling their music and Nick gets paid for his work on the podcast.

The problem with everything being free is that it is doesn’t encourage people to truly value the work that is done. And, more importantly, it supresses independent music and keeps it underground, so to speak. Meanwhile the rich keep getting richer, and the record companies and commercial (shit) music is all we hear on the tv and radio. The podcasters and musicians have to drive vans for a living and keep doing what they are good at as a ‘hobby’. I don’t see what is so wrong with people wanting to make a reasonable living from something they are good at. I make a living from what I am good at, and what I enjoy (I work in the environmental sector) so why can’t podcasters and artsits do that too? Are they scared to bite the bullet? I just don’t know. Perhaps my view of the world is just too simple….

I really like your podcast but I think I wouldn’t subscribe if i have to pay. I can’t afford much. There are is so many goog stuff on the internet, if I would have to all subscribe, I would not be able to pay for all of them. I also really wouldn’t like to decide, if I could just affprd to pay for one. I recommend to use flattr ( ). I use it already and I really like the idea of dividing the money i’am able to afford between all the things I like. This way, people could decide to falltr you’re homepage completly AND the podcasts they really like. And, as for my part, i would really like to flattr all of your podcasts:-D

When I first read this post, about 17 different reasons why you shouldn’t charge for a podcast jumped into my head. Having read the above comments, and your responses to them, I am left with just one.

I see podcasting as a variety medium with a number of purposes. With music podcasting, there really is only one key purpose… and that is the promotion of the work of independent artists, and getting that work heard by people who would normally not have the opportunity to. By charging people to be able to listen to your podcast, you’re defeating that purpose two-fold. Firstly, your podcast becomes exclusive by limiting subscription to those who choose (or can afford) to pay for it. Secondly, and as a direct result of the first point, artists are not getting the widespread coverage that they so desperately need because of that exclusivity.

I don’t have a problem with people trying to monetise from their work, either as an artist or a podcaster… in fact, it makes a lot of sense to do so. But I think that doing that in an exclusive manner, rather than allowing people to make the choice for themselves without the risk of losing access to your work, is counter-productive.

There are so many other ways you could monetize your work – sponsorship, donations, banner ads, etc – but I don’t think that subscription, specifically for music podcasting, is the way to go.

Just my £2.00.

17 to 1 so not bad!

Lets see what I can come up with. I’m in the public library in Norwich so not in my comfy music room so I may not be as coherant as usual…

Firstly, as an artist, I would rather be played on a podcast where people have paid to listen to independent music. If they paid once one might suggest they would pay again for the artists track. This would be a subscribership (?) of music fans, so keen on discovering music that they are willing to pay.
It’s noble and worthy making podcasts for free (remember mine is and has been for two years) but there is a danger that ones listeners are just artists who want to hear nice things about themselves. That’s fine, I like that too but I would prefer to be heard by a public hungry for new music to buy and follow.
I want to make a living out of music and not just have it as a hobby.

As a podcaster, having some money coming in, I would have a budget that I could use for advertising thus attracting more subscribers.

I pasionately belive in this and I KNOW it will grow. Other podcasters will, in time, start to charge/advertise some of them do and with great success. Lets see eh?

A few, slightly disconnected point:

Although I’m, an independent musician, I rarely listen to music podcasts – It’s just not my thing. I do of course like having my music played on podcasts and try to support them by spreading the word retweeting, linking blooging and all the rest. I wouldn’t object to my music being played on a paid for podcast but above a certain number of listeners I would expect royalties.

I do listen to a lot of comedy podcasts (I’d particularly recommend Richard Herring’s AIOTM) and some of them are making money – but not through subscription. Richard Herring is a performing comedian and AIOTM makes money from ticket sales for the live recordings and also a soon to be released DVD of extra stand-up and interviews and things.

Although it’s not music, it fits in with a line from Seth Godin about the music industry (I’m paraphrasing:)- we need to understand that what we sell isn’t music, it’s souvenirs and special editions.

My tuppence-worth would be that to monetise you should find an extra product that you can sell – a live recording, a video version of the podcast, a best of cd/downloadable album.

I don’t know how you’d do that without having to have lots of artists to pay as well – maybe listeners voting on their three favourite bands and the three bands and yourself collaborating on the ‘Is This Thing On Acoustic special’ that people have to pay for.

The broad point I’m making is if you have a loyal audience, then a percentage of them will be willing to pay – but for the extra product, not the thing that they’ve always got for free.

🙂 I’m not sure what the exact figure would be, but yes at 10,000 paying subscribers I would expect a fee – no I have no idea exactly what that fee should be. But commercial/bbc radio play earns money through royalties, and if you’ve got a huge paying audience it seems reasonable to expect similar compensation.

About £200 per play? Sounds fair if you are getting 50p a podcast off that amount of people.

What I suppose it is – if you charge £2 a month you are a cable channel/bbc rival and have to play by those rules.

I’m a guy in his spare bedroom Matt, trying to make a few quid.

MTV used to play music videos, did artists charge them to play their music?

No, they were happy to reach a huge fee paying audience.

I haven’t got a problem with any podcaster making money from podcasting, but there are significant obstacles.

When there are so many music podcasters out there offering free high-quality podcasts packed full of fantastic independent music then it becomes that much harder for a podcaster to justify charging and to make a subscription model work. I know you give ‘value-added’ to the musicians you play on your show, but is it really that much more than the vast majority of the members of the Association of Music Podcasting give? We provide links, mentions of urls, and details of music for sale. OK, we haven’t got a Google group for those who have been played, but how many artists are active contributors to yours?

There’s also a fundamental difference between raising funds from advertisers/sponsorship and raising it from the listeners. I can’t see musicians asking for a cut of a sponsorship deal, but I can see a lot more of them asking for a cut of the money you charge for subscribing to your show.

There’s also a difference in perception between subscription and sponsorship. Subscription is seen much more as ‘making money’ since the funds go direct to you to spend as you wish. With advertising people know that you’re making money out of it, but they know it’s for a service and they know it’s not coming out of their pocket. Someone mentioned about advertisers being unhappy at the thought of their advert being skipped over, but isn’t that the same as other ‘on-demand’ content? If I record Saturday’s The X Factor, when I sit down to watch it I fast-forward through the adverts. It I were watching it live I might go and get another drink, or even talk to my partner(!). Advertisers know this happens and they factor it into their decisions about whether or not they use a particular medium.

And there’s a difference between starting something like this to make enough money to cover costs (seen as acceptable, even admirable) compared with going into it to make a profit (gosh, how evil).

One option is to have a standard show of your normal high quality. It could be the same length as now, or it could be shorter. Then you could charge a subscription for an enhanced version with extra content and other downloadable goodies. This model works for some.

I take my hat off to you for opening up this subject as a discussion. I’m not sure what response you were expecting, but you certainly got some strong opinions.

Would I pay for your show in its current form? Probably not, if I’m perfectly honest. I physically don’t have time to listen to all the shows I’d like to listen to in a week, so if you started charging I’d simply replace it with something else. Harsh, but true. And how many other listeners would think the same way?

Thanks for commenting Graham.

It is a tricky thing when money is added to the equation.

Some artists might feel that they should be paid if I got paid but they may be quite happy for me to give them free publicity. Would they give me a share of any money they make as a result of being played on the podcast? No and I wouldn’t expect them to.

Most of the comments I have recieved from artists “off air” have been positive, they just want to get their music listened to by as many people as possible and don’t care if I make some money on the way.

I tend to agree that most artists are just happy at the free publicity and exposure, and don’t really care whether the show is supported by sponsorship or whether it’s subscription-based.

Me’thinks it’ll be the listeners you’ll have a job persuading, particularly if you start charging for something that had previously been free. Just look at the number of people who ditched Ning when they announced they were moving from free to paid. Also, if money is tight then £2 a month (for example) paid to listen to your show might be £2 less that they’ve got to spend on buying music from the artists.

“Also, if money is tight then £2 a month (for example) paid to listen to your show might be £2 less that they’ve got to spend on buying music from the artists”

Graham, I’ve been a single parent living of benefits and I could have afforded £2 a month.

You do paint a bleak picture.

Nick –

Just getting around to reading this post – I have an on again off again podcast ( and man, I feel your pain (to quote one of our recent presidents). I didn’t make a dime off of the ‘cast for a long time and then someone I interviewed suggested I put a DONATE button on the site hooked up to my PayPal account. Then I made a little more than nothing, but it did give listeners (and even artists) to have an option to pay. When something really excites me (like indie music) I will pay, but to be expected to pay is another story. What if I don’t like everything that is played on the podcast?

This is a tough call – Good Luck!


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