More often than not, podcast tech always seems to be looking for a way to get podcasters paid. And that's a good thing! Many podcasters are cash-conscious. Some are trying to make a living. Some just trying to pay their hosting bills and other hard costs. So it's not surprising that many podcasters are keen to try out new monetization options.
But what if your attention, as a podcaster, could be monetized?
On Monday's episode, Pat mentioned a future roadmap item for Podinbox to blend a payment option with a voice mail. That's an interesting model that I think is worthy of exploring deeper.
Listeners of the show have likely noticed the "Boostagram Corner" section near the end of each episode. I'm not the only podcaster doing this either. The name "boostagram" comes from the old singing telegrams well before our time. Or the candygram for the lovers of Blazing Saddles. I'm hip.
That's a version of this concept: when you send a contribution to a value-for-value enabled podcast, you have the option to send a message. Neat! And quite similar to the way the postal service works today. Or for those who can remember, when long-distance calls cost money.
The difference now is who gets the money. When transmitting messages digitally, the costs are effectively zero. So we don't need stamps to pay for the service, long-distance operators to staff a phone switch, or telegraph operators to relay messages. And the transmission lines that carry all of those signals were are covered already as subsidized sunk costs.
So today, with the costs to send a message close to free, payments can now flow through to the recipient rather than the carriers. And that's a good thing!
Micropayments In Message In A Bottle?
The idea of monetizing a podcasters attention, if you will, tends to be a pretty polarizing topic. You're could be on the pro-getting-paid side where you probably see this concept as an additional potential revenue stream and therefore a positive thing. Or you might see this as just one more consequence of late-stage capitalism at all costs, further dividing the world into the haves and the have nots. A negative thing.
I think both are valid positions. As are the myriad other subtle nuances and opinions found within or between those two camps. Personally, I lean towards the pro-getting-paid side, a group I've just decided to call the FUPM party for what I hope are obvious reasons.
But joking aside, I can see the inherent vileness some skeptics are worrying about with this kind of setup. It's an ethical conundrum, to be sure. But one we're already wading into. Check out your Notifications tab on Twitter and you'll see, Twitter already isolates replies from verified users, segregating those comments from the noise from the riff-raff. In fact, most social sites have some sort of a badge or icon identifying the special-ness of a select group of users and marking them as "better" than the rest, giving their posts and even direct messages extra heft.
Given the arbitrary nature of how those identifying marks are doled out—and I am saying this as a person who has both a verified Twitter and Google account—I don't really see much difference between earning a badge and paying for a message to rise to the top of a Podcaster's message queue.
And that's not even the most ubiquitous example of this bifurcation already in the podcasting world.
Pros and Cons Of Paying For Access
Listener support is huge for many podcasters. And services like Patreon, BuyMeACoffee, and myriad other similar services are used by podcasters every single day. Many if not most of them allow for special tiers, some of which give members-only rights to those who pay enough. Some of those privileges allow for a members-only message board or will assign priority status to messages sent from members who are paying to be at that tier.
So podcasting is already doing this now. We're already granting special rights to a select group of listeners—those who support our podcasting efforts with their hard-earned funds. Seen in that light, allowing someone to boost a voicemail message to the top of a queue with a contribution of funds doesn't seem all that nefarious.
But I am not naive. I know that there are huge opportunities for abuse and asshattery. It will happen and I concede that this concept may actually perpetuate the problem. My hope is that the developers that implement services like this are taking that into consideration and working to shut down as much as they can. Our job will be to only support those services that don't contribute to the overall cesspool-ness of the internet.
Yet even with the risks and uncertainty, I think the idea of listeners paying for a podcaster's attention is a space worth keeping our eye on.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.