Podcasts are pretty weird, but Steve Jobs was always a big fan as I reported for Forbes more than two years ago.
He insisted that podcasts were the audio of the future and while he could never have predicted (or could he?) how they would prosper during a time of plague, his insistence they be part of the original Apple Store was propitious.
Now everybody’s at it, not less yours truly with our video podcast BlockSpeak, and lots of ex-journalists, ex-influencers, those-with-big-egos and even current broadcasters are moving into this weird space.
Just a note here for BBC radio here. Your radio content is amazing and always will be, but your podcasts are appalling and your normal broadcasts sound like excitable children whenever you put them near a podcast.
Unfortunately, however, investors are not moving into this weird space. In spite of the ‘controversial’ Joe Rogan’s $100 million exclusive deal with Spotify announced in May, VCs have not bought into it at all.
This $100 million deal for Rogan’s mouthy, but entertaining, show may not be all the sugar and cream it purports to be because the money will apparently be based on ‘the podcast’s performance metrics and other factors’… and that could mean anything.
Moreover, Grey Munford (no relation, but I have to meet this guy having an almost better name than me), a spokesman for Spotify, refuses to comment on the $100 million figure.
So, are podcasts hype and bluster as well as weird? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that they are very expensive and time-consuming to produce and growing those performance metrics takes a very long time.
Speaking from experience, it’s a tough road. I set up BlockSpeak with my two co-founders in March.
One was a fantastic salesman, the other a good guy from the dark web who could bring views and then there was me with my conference-interviewing experience with the big guys (and depressingly few big women).
It was the perfect content for lockdown. No more conferences, Zoom conferences were doing people’s heads in, so why not have a video podcast when viewers could watch two people talk as if they were in a bar?
So, that’s what we did. We set up a decent website, we interviewed somebody once a week, we tried to find points in the broadcast that we could cut into bite-sized segments and then we would render each episode before always publishing late on Friday UK morning and then start the social amplification.
We ensured we were available on all the platforms such as the big Stores, Spotify and everywhere else and we did all this without any external investment, just our time, sweat and tears. We did it for free.
As a venture partner for 7BC in Silicon Valley, I knew already there wasn’t much appetite for seed money or any type of Series anything, so we thought we would publish for three months, build an audience and then seek sponsorship or the occasional, but reputable, paid-for guest appearance.
Once that started to happen, we could use those monies to invest in a couple of trading bots and be a new kind of startup that did things in a remote, Covidy type of way. Once the trading profits reached a point, then we would hire the marketing people we needed to further build that audience.
It seemed like a good plan, we were getting fantastic guests… McAfee was on three times and so were a lot of much more sensible people. My extensive network was all supportive, our reputation seemed to be up-market and we were prospering in a time of plague.
Some sponsorship money started to roll in, we were told by bigwigs that we were doing a service to true and authentic news, my interviewing style seemed to be popular, so what if all the sanctimonious PRs and representatives objected to the ‘curse word’, they could all go elsewhere. All was well in the weird podcast world.
We did our research, realised that the business model for crypto/blockchain/FinTech podcasts was a paid model and it was OK, not wrong, to charge for paid appearances.
Moreover, the ridiculous prices charged by PR companies to crypto companies that went from low five figures per month to up to £40,000K per month meant that there was enough for it all to go round.
But then we hit a wall. Lots of companies and their representatives wanted to be on the show, but they weren’t prepared to do so in spite of their huge retainers. We even launched a Donate page on the website where supporters would share some of their Bitcoin and we would credit them on the site.
After all, as I said previously, we were doing a service to true and authentic news. We wanted to be independent and we wanted to be kind and all that mindfulness shit that has another word.
So, it’s time to maybe go back a little and think again. We have published 30 video podcasts and five more are in the can and they’re all effing good, but we need to move on.
We need marketing people, traditional marketing people, who are not paid for by trading bot profits, but by a wage and even fiat. We need more numbers and viewers and that is very hard to do with investment of some kind.
So, we’re going to see what interest there is now from smart investors and whether the ongoing and worsening Covid situation has sharpened minds.
We’ve put a deck together and we’re soon going to find out whether we should keep this going after the winter and the next six months.
We are not up for sale, we are going to continue on our merry way until the Spring at the earliest, but it will be interesting to see what happens next.
As I said, podcasts are weird. People and potential investors might ignore us completely.
Or they might shower golden Bitcoins on us, the price of Bitcoin will ascend to $100,000 by the end of 2021 and our podcast will be unstoppable, impregnable and important.
Watch this space… oh, and watch BlockSpeak, it’s bloomin awesome.