It’s getting to the point where the question isn’t “will a podcasting firm get acquired today” but instead is “who was acquired today,” and yesterday was proof of that. Roman Mars announced the sale of 99% Invisible to SiriusXM for an undisclosed sum. And Jay Acunzo sold his podcast about podcasting, 3 Clips, to Castos, also for an undisclosed sum.
And yes, I’ve dutifully added those moves to the Who Owns Who In Podcasting? Airtable that Anne Baird created to keep track of…well, who owns who in podcasting, as it’s becoming quite the tangled skein!
Should You Sell Your Podcast?
Perhaps you’ve never considered it, but if someone were to come knocking on your door with an offer to buy your podcast, should you sell it?
My answer is an enthusiastic but qualified YES!
There's no such thing as selling out. Only the possibility of selling too cheaply.
For every legally saleable item in your life, there exists a price-point at which your reservations against selling are overcome. You may not have considered what that price-point is. But like a 1964 Supreme Court decision, you’ll know it when you see it.
Selling a podcast the way that Roman and Jay sold their podcasts may be a little different than the way you think about selling other things you own. If you sell your house, you can no longer live in that house, unless you start paying rent to the new owners, and that’s just weird. (Don’t at me, commercial real estate agents.)
But in these two cases, both sellers will continue to be very much in charge of their podcasts. Their voice will still be on the show. It’s still their creative vision. Other than some subtle changes to messaging and some behind-the-scenes tech shifts, there likely won’t be noticeable differences in either of their shows post-acquisition. At least for a while.
Not all deals work that way, and there are plenty of buyers who acquire a show just for the audience they can advertise against or other assets, happily letting the original host(s) sink their fat stacks of cash into a beachfront property in the Caribbean. But let’s stick with the type of deal Roman and Jay inked, which needs some clever (?) wordplay.
Selling Your Podcast Cake And Having It Too
Every transaction—regardless of size—has pros and cons. You can scroll back up and click the links to the host’s explaining the deals in more detail if you want. But for now, let’s zoom out a bit and look at the three big benefits a podcaster like yourself might obtain if you were to follow a similar path.
As much as I’d love to live in a post-scarcity world, I’ve resigned myself to living out my days in a world that requires the exchange of currency for goods and services. And that means I need cash. You need cash. Anyone selling their podcast needs cash.
How much cash is dependent on a multitude of factors we can’t account for in this hypothetical because everyone has their own cash flow needs. Roman’s deal was healthy enough to allow him to donate $1 million dollars to PRX over the next four years. So he’s probably not worried about paying his mortgage for at least that time.
Thanks to that cash, you’re now afforded the time to focus. What you focus on is up to you. But because of the cash, you can afford to let other people do the tasks necessary to keep your show running that you’d really rather not focus on. You, the host and/or creative driving force behind the show, can double-down on the aspects of making the show that you love.
The other things have to get done, so you lean on your partner, new owner, or whatever they’re called to handle the things you don’t want to do. Selling ads? Growth Marketing? Whatever it is, a good acquisition means you personally don’t have to do those tasks—tasks you probably weren’t very good at anyhow—anymore.
If you’ve ever toiled away at a super-intensive job, you know how hard it is to look past today, let alone to next year. But thanks to the cash and the focus granted from the acquisition, your attention can now shift to the future. At a minimum, you become keenly aware of the end of the term of the acquisition. It’s common for the seller to agree to continue performing duties for a set number of months or years, after which the agreement can be renewed or renegotiated if both parties agree.
Having that date on a calendar instead of some amorphous “five years from now” glimmer of hope, you’re forced to think about the future. Your future, to be specific. Your future, quite possibly, without that show you sold. That probably sounds terrifying. But it might also be quite freeing, especially if the podcast you’re selling is ongoing with no end in sight. Knowing that your departure is already baked in can help you better understand your accomplishments thus far and allow you to start having serious thoughts about your next project.
Cons: Pesky cons...
There has to be some give to go with all those gets. I don’t want to dwell on them too much at this point, as you’ll have plenty of time to do that when you get your first offer.
The biggest one to consider is that, when you sell your show, however you sell your show, you’re no longer the sole decision-maker. You may negotiate full creative control and an expense account, but those come with oversight. When you sell your show and stay in the hosting seat, you get a boss or partner in return, and they’d like to be clued in on things. And have more than a little input, if only to protect their investment.
Again, Should You Sell Your Podcast?
Well, I know I would. Gaining the ability to focus full-time on deep thoughts around the present and future of podcasting? Heck yeah. I’d be foolish not to entertain an offer that let me do that.
Normally, I’d suggest you share this article with a friend to get their opinion. Though I wonder if instead you should share this article with a company or firm you think might be interested in acquiring their show? Just to get the ball rolling.
But since no one is offering to buy my podcast right now, you can at least buy me a coffee at BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.