SO YOU WANT TO START A PODCAST?
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.”