I've been long enamored with the idea of coworking spaces in general, but mostly as related to podcasting. Eons ago, I built the very first pubic podcasting studio in Gangplank, one of the early co-working spaces in Phoenix. I ran a co-working-slash-incubator-slash-accelerator back in 2014 with the ultimately-failed intent of including a place for podcasts. And when I was living in Bangkok, I tried (and failed) to convince a few different co-working spaces to build out podcasting competencies.
Podcasting and co-working is on my mind once again. Yes, in the middle of a pandemic where getting together in close proximity is a terrible idea. Noted.
It’s on my mind for two reasons: First, there’s going to be a huge supply of commercial real estate very soon, which means prices will come way, way down. Second, we’re finding ways to manage life with the virus. I’m in no way saying things will go back to the way things were anytime soon (if ever), but we will emerge from isolation sooner or later, probably with a reimagined set of social norms.
Perhaps with that comes a reimagining of shared spaces that work well for podcasters? Now might be a great time to start that planning, as it’ll take a while.
I've been thinking about a few different ways to build a shared podcasting space. The easiest and most obvious the standard co-working space. But for podcasters! We’d want some good sound conditioning (most co-working spaces are noisy as heck) and some dedicated sound booths, but our needs aren’t all that different from others who use traditional co-working spaces.
Members would need to see the new space as a better option than their kitchen table, spare room, or closet. Or maybe it’s a better place to run the business-side of your podcasting efforts. That’s attractive to me, as I tried a few different co-working spaces pre-pandemic, and none of them really fit for me.
Maybe your re-imagined podcasting space is designed to run a collective podcasting business? Like-minded podcasters could pool their resources and skills together, providing complimentary services to one another or to third parties. This is fairly common in podcasting today, but it’s happening virtually. Quite a lot of “networks” in podcasting are really collectives. Some ventures even have the name collective right there in their name. (Hi, Bello!)
Being part of an in-person collective could be good for getting a group edit (very different than editing audio) on a clip or episode. Or the other members of the collective could help push and promote content from other members. On non-trivial challenge would be finding enough contributing members to make it work. Big metro areas like Phoenix could do it, but it’s not without its challenges.
The classic startup incubator might be a good model to follow for podcasts. Someone with an idea for a podcast joins the incubator to see if their idea has legs or not. And if their podcast is sustainable or not. A podcast incubator would need to provide time and expertise to those being incubated, which means the incubator needs seasoned podcasters from multiple disciplines to make it run.
A podcast incubator would also need resources (read: money). Traditional business/tech incubators are often run in conjunction with universities or big corporations, relying on endowments and other non-profit funding to keep operating.
Accelerators and incubators are often conflated, but each operates at a different stage of the lifecycle. Broadly speaking, incubators make sure something can start and become viable, where accelerators make viable things grow big.
Running a podcast accelerator (not The Podcast Accelerator. Hi, Mark!) could be interesting. As with any other accelerator, there'd be a cohort of podcasts that go through a set curriculum or program. The “owner” of the accelerator would take an ownership stake in those podcasts in exchange for valuable services, so everyone’s skin is in the game.
With the right people on the right advisory board, the right companies adding their services to the mix, and a solid selection process to make sure the right podcasts are in the program, good things could come out of the other end.
When Reality Rears It’s Ugly Head
As enamored as I am by the idea of running some sort of podcasting co-working space, I also know reality is oftentimes a lot less glamorous. Lofty ideals aside, it comes down to the ability to create a place that offers things that podcasters either can't get or would pay too much to get on their own.
Co-working spaces that only exist to get stir crazy people out of the houses don’t stay around long. To be successful, a co-podcasting space will have to be both cheaper and more convenient. Not either/or. It must be both less expensive and more convenient than going at it alone.
If you, like me, have a gear-collection problem, then sharing a space with others might be cheaper for them because you’ve already sunk costs into buying high-end gear. I have around $5K of equipment in my in-home studio. Not everyone can or is willing to make that investment.
Speaking of convenience, it’s pretty convenient for me to podcast from my in-home studio. But there are plenty of people who don’t have a dedicated space at home. For them, it might be more convenient to go somewhere else that’s already set up.
But… even if you can make it both cheaper and more convenient to podcast from your co-podcasting space than someone’s home; can you stay in business? Somehow, this new space you’ve re-imagined will need to find the revenue to cover operating expenses.
So that minor (kidding) hurdle aside, I do like the idea of getting the podcasting band back together. Maybe next year.
But How’s The Coffee?
Yes, I’ve quit co-working spaces because of bad coffee. Rather than suffer that fate again, you can go to BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra and buy me a virtual coffee to keep this program and my efforts going. If you join the handful of others who’ve signed up for a membership plan, you’ll start getting some special perks just for members.
And if all else fails, please reach out to one more podcaster in your life who needs to know about Podcast Pontifications. Send them a personal recommendation via email telling them how much you enjoy the show and that you think they should be listening to this show. I appreciate your efforts to helps my show grow.
I'll be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.