The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Cover Story -

Any­one can make a pod­cast, al­though lev­els of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, au­dio qual­ity and gen­eral lis­ten­abil­ity may vary.

Apps such as Garageband or Pod­bean en­able users to record, edit and up­load pod­casts on an iphone for no cost, whereas RNZ has good stu­dios and sound en­gi­neers in-house.

But mak­ing a pod­cast is the rel­a­tively easy part. The harder ques­tion is how to dis­tin­guish your pod­cast about cook­ing tips, cats or an episode by episode anal­y­sis of Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer from the more than 350,000 other ac­tive pod­casts hosted by Ap­ple alone.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions such as RNZ, NPR or Stuff have me­dia reach and es­tab­lished au­di­ences, but smaller play­ers can and have re­lied on word of mouth to push pod­casts be­yond a tiny cir­cle of lis­ten­ers.

As the Black Hands pro­duc­ers learned, to be­come one of Ap­ple’s fea­tured pod­casts is an enor­mous boost.

There is no charge for episodes, so can you make money from pod­cast­ing? Yes, if you sell ads or spon­sor­ship. Se­rial was spon­sored by Mailchimp.

RNZ’S Tim Watkin says the com­pany would have to think very care­fully about ads or spon­sors, which it could al­low on other plat­forms but can­not do on RNZ it­self.

But with­out ads or spon­sors, even a suc­cess­ful series like Black Hands does not re­turn any rev­enue to its pro­duc­ers, al­though a spon­sor­ship ar­range­ment with Tan­dem Stu­dios in Christchurch re­duced the costs of pro­fes­sional record­ing.

A jour­nal­ist’s time is also a ma­jor cost: Martin van Bey­nen es­ti­mates he spent three months of his day job on Black Hands.

When me­dia com­pa­nies start ap­ply­ing to NZ On Air from this month for pod­cast fund­ing, this is one of the costs they will hope to cover. How much can they ex­pect?

An NZ On Air spokes­woman says that the level of fund­ing de­pends on such fac­tors as “the bud­get for the con­tent, the au­di­ence size, the sig­nif­i­cance of the plat­form and how much in­vest­ment there is”.

Ahead of the first pod­cast fund­ing round, the ques­tion is hy­po­thet­i­cal: “We will just have to wait and see what ap­pli­ca­tions we re­ceive.”

Tim Watkin and Lisa Owen help to make sense of pol­i­tics be­fore and af­ter the elec­tion.

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