Sex, Cash and Podcasting

Mark Cuban posted about cash and podcasting, which included this:

Podcasting is hot.  Podcasting is cheap and easy. Podcasting can be fun. Creating your own podcast and trying to make a business out of it is a mistake. Unless you are repurposing content from another medium, it will be rare to find anyone making money from originating podcasts.

Talk Radio Shows repurposed from radio to a podcast. No brainer. It’s cheap and easy. Repurposing industry specific information from tradeshows, speeches, product presentations for employee or customer education or as sales support. No brainer. These are just extensions of existing content into a new low cost medium.

For those who are tying to jump on the podcasting bandwagon and create a “hit” podcast that you plan on selling advertising in, its cheap and easy to do, but even with Google Adsense for RSS its going to be really tough to do it as a fulltime job and make minimum wage back.

I tend to reflexively push-back on things of this ilk, but damn it I think he’s right. I think this obsessive focus on “quitting the day job” levels of income from podcasting is ridiculous. For god’s sake, most novelists and musicians I know don’t get to quit their day jobs, so what makes you think you are so special? I say this as someone who is probably in the top 5 percentile of revenue generated by an individual podcaster and yet who is still orders of magnitude from living on that. Being on fire to make mortgage-covering amounts of cash out of the box is a mistake and it will lead you down the wrong path.

About this time last year, over at Gaping Void, Hugh Macleod was coming up with the Hughtrain manifesto. He extracted one piece out of that work that he titled “The Sex and Cash Theory”. It included insights such as:

I’m thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines…. who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.

Well, over time the ‘harshly’ bit might go away, but not the ‘divided’.

“This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.”

As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don’t know why this happens. It’s the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way- who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy day job and moving straight on over to best-selling author… Well, they never make it.

The basic gist is that when you make your art pay the whole freight for your financial well-being, it’s a compromise. It puts pressure on your creative side that it doesn’t need. Rather than whoring your art, whore your CPA self or barrista self or whatever. Don’t worry so damn much about making a mint, worry about making the next show good. If you get the right combination of talent plus luck, maybe it will happen. Don’t plan on it, though, or you’ll end up like all the sad sacks whose life plans involve hitting the lottery to achieve what they want. Keep the sex and cash separate, and your art will be the better for it.

Update: Podcasting News links to the same article with the headline “Broadcast Billionaire Badmouths Podcasting”. I just plain don’t see that.