How to Sell Your Podcast with Heather Osgood
Episode 2911th October 2022 • Podcast Me Anything • The Podcast Consultant
00:00:00 00:26:49

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Have you ever considered selling your podcast?

In the world of bitcoin, NFT, and the metaverse, we see a new digital asset economy where value is being derived and sold in new ways. In the podcast world, we have witnessed million-dollar deals inked for new podcasts, but as Heather explains today, the ability to sell your podcast, like you would a brand, is just getting started. 

Topics:

·     What was the genesis for The Podcast Broker (1:21)

·     How does one prepare to sell a podcast (2:38)

·      What kind of back-end business structure is needed (5:00)

·     Who are the ones selling a podcast in the industry (7:36)

·     What are the downsides of taking over a podcast (9:42)

·     Is it the big payday people might wish (13:10)

·     How does the broker get paid (20:23)

·     Next steps if you think your podcast is ready (21:58)

·     What is the landscape look like for advertisers (23:40)

Website: The Podcast Broker

Heather Osgood

Co-Founder of The Podcast Broker

Also Founder of True Native Media

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Transcripts

(:

Hello and welcome to Podcast me.

(:

Anything.

(:

Ask me anything for all things podcasting. I'm your host, Ben Clay, and I'm joined here in the studio with Mathew passy the Podcast Control. Matthew and I wanted to move the conversation beyond the Podcasting 101 topics and move into the intermediate to advanced podcasting strategy to reach your goals to interact with the show, submit your questions to be answered live, book a podcast audible with Matthew, or find the notes from today's show. Head on over to podcastnamething.com.

(:

All right, everyone. Welcome back to podcast. Me. Anything? And you'll notice that you're not hearing Ben's voice off the top here. Not that we're getting rid of Ben or anything like that, but we are going to go back to bringing in some outside experts, outside guests, outside voices from the podcasting space, and highlight some of the other cool and interesting things that are happening. And one of those things that we want to talk about is a fairly new product that just launched from a very good friend of the show. We are talking all about the Podcast Broker. And to do that, we are joined by Heather Oscar. She's the co founder of the Podcast Broker and also founder of True Native Media. That's a podcast advertising agency that I cannot recommend enough. Heather, thank you so much for joining us here today.

(:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to chat with you.

(:

Me too. So what was the inspiration for this product before we get too deep into what it is and how it works?

(:

At True Native Media. We're a podcast representation firm. We work with podcasts. We find advertisers for them. Hard to believe that toward the end of the year here, we're going to be coming up on seven years in business. And over the last seven years, as you would guess, I have spoken with and worked with hundreds of different podcasts. And one of the things that I have seen is that people can get tired of podcasting, right? It's like they're producing a great show, but maybe they've been doing it for five years or maybe they're producing a great show, but they're really not feeling very supportive because they're doing it all by themselves. And I've had conversations where hosts are like, I think I'm just done. I think I'm going to quit. And I'm like, no, don't quit. You've put so much effort into creating this product, you should sell your podcast. And really, I've had that conversation for several years now, and finally I was able to come up with the bandwidth to create the Podcast Broker, which is a platform where podcasters can buy and sell podcasts.

(:

So what does that look like then? I mean, I guess the question is before what happens when they're on the platform? What does the podcaster have to do or what do they have to have in place in order to even think about selling? Because I imagine it's not as easy as just saying I want to sell my podcast and somebody buys it. There's got to be a lot of due diligence. There's got to be a lot more to it than just, here's my podcast.

(:

Yeah, it's been really interesting. So we launched the company at the end of August, so it's been about four weeks now that we've kind of officially been in business. And I was really interested to see what kind of response we were going to get. I wasn't sure if people were going to say, what, you can't sell a podcast or if we weren't going to have anybody interested in buying podcasts. But what I've found is that we've had a really good influx of podcasters who are interested in selling, but I've equally had a lot of inquiries from buyers where they are really wanting to buy shows. So in the process of kind of working through the podcast that have submitted evaluation forms, I've had to look at the show and really say, is this actually sellable? And I think kind of in true podcaster form, I've had shows that are like, I started in July and I have 13 downloads. Can you sell my show? And I have to say, no, actually we cannot. That is not worth anything. Sorry. But then we've had some really massive shows that have come to us too. So, you know, in thinking about actually selling your show, it's important to really look at the value that you have created.

(:

One of the things that's interesting about podcasting is that the barriers to entry are really relatively low. If you've got a good mic and an internet connection, heck, if you've got a bad mic and an internet connection, you can make a podcast, right? And it's important for you to think, well, if I were going to go ahead and sell this show, why would someone want to buy my show as opposed to just starting it themselves? And I would say that when we look at that, it's important really to think about audience size and then of course, the genre of the podcast that you're putting together. You know, we had one that only has 1500 downloads a month, but it's in the business category specifically targeting more of like an HR kind of perspective that's going to be a more sellable show than 1500 downloads, where they're talking about what I did last Friday with my best friend.

(:

Fair enough. Now, if you are that business show with a focus on HR getting 1500 downloads, are there other, I guess, legal considerations? Like, do you have to have a trademark on the name? Do you have to have a business set up? Like, if I started out as an individual, do I have to be an LLC? Do I have to be an Escalator? Like, are there more nuanced requirements that most podcasters probably don't think of when they're getting started?

(:

We are working with Gordon Firemark and if you're not good. So Gordon has been great because he is an entertainment attorney. He understands the ins and outs of just entertainment law in general, but podcast specifically. And so, you know, I think it was really interesting the first time that I had a conversation with him because he's like, well what about trademarks and are they actually registering the show? Are they getting authorization forms from all of their guests? There's a lot of legal back end to podcasting that I am sure 99% of podcasters never think about. That being said, if you don't have your podcast trademarked, that doesn't mean that you can't sell it. It just means that if you do have a trademark, it's going to be a bit more valuable and you don't have to have an entity created. You can sell a podcast as an individual person. The most important part is that we are going to have to do due diligence when you go to sell your show to make sure that you are actually the owner of that podcast and you're not trying to sell somebody else's show or you're not trying to fabricate something that doesn't exist.

(:

So really that's just going to be a piece of the work that needs to be done before the purchase is created. I would say that if you're a podcaster and you're thinking that some day maybe you would like to sell your show, I can never over emphasize the importance of starting a business for your podcast. If you're taking in money, you're a business. And even if that's just setting up a sole proprietorship, it doesn't have to be that you set up an LLC or some fancy entity. You can be a sole proprietor, but just starting it as a business and operating as a business, even having a business checking account so that you can track expenses, all of those sorts of things are going to make it much easier to actually sell your show when it comes to that due diligence process.

(:

So on the flip side of things, I'm curious, who are the kinds of folks who are coming to you actively looking for a podcast? Like, what is that kind of general makeup and demographic of folks who are shopping for podcasts?

(:

Well, what I've been really fascinated by, I've been trying to have conversations with the buyers because I want to know what are people wanting to buy? And what I have seen almost across the board is that buyers are wanting to form networks of shows. So one of the things that we know about podcasting is that owning a podcast is much more profitable than working with one. And what I mean by that is at True Native Media, for instance, we represent independent podcasters. So what that means is that if somebody comes to us and says, hey, I want you to sell ads on my podcast, we say great, that sounds terrific. They take 70% of the ad revenue and we take 30% of the ad revenue because we don't own the show. Now, if I owned that show, like many bigger companies own their content, then they get 100% of the revenue. Granted, of course, they have expenses to offset that revenue that's coming in, but they have that ownership. So, you know, you certainly, as a podcaster, can join a network and still retain the ownership of your podcast. But there are a lot of networks out there, or folks even trying to create networks, who are saying, I want to buy shows.

(:

I'd rather own ten shows than work with ten shows because I know at the end of the day, I'm going to get the revenue. The other thing that I think has been really interesting about it is that the people who are wanting to buy the shows aren't necessarily wanting to buy a show and take it over for themselves. They're wanting to buy a show and keep the host in place and then pay the host, essentially to be the host of that show. I wasn't necessarily expecting that and it's eye opening to see what the demand looks like.

(:

That is interesting. Yeah. Because my next question was really going to be what are some of the pitfalls to taking over a show? And my sense is if you are dropping that host and actually becoming a new brand, a new personality, whatnot? There's a good chance that a lot of that goodwill, a lot of that engagement that that show has garnered doesn't necessarily follow. Or maybe you keep the subscribers, but they might have been following that host on the host on social media, as opposed to all these other platforms where you want to be and things like that. So I'm just curious, what are some things to watch out for as a potential acquirer of a show?

(:

Yeah, I think it's really important always in any form of business or creation, is to think about what your end goal is. If you're acquiring a podcast, why are you acquiring it? And there are lots of different reasons why you might want to buy a podcast. And so, as we talked about, it could be that you're wanting to form a network and you want to own that show and instead of trying to start from scratch, you would rather buy established podcasts because you'll be that much further along. But I also think that there certainly is space to buy a podcast and transfer hosts. My experience has been, you know, I haven't worked with a ton of shows that have switched hosts, but I have worked with a few shows that have transferred hosts and it has a lot to do with the content. If we're listening to the Matthew Passy show and suddenly Matthew is not there anymore, what are we listening to? Exactly? Right, but you think about even just in television and things like Good Morning America or like the spinoff shows that happen. Over the years, there have been a variety of hosts that have come through those programs and they still really can maintain that viewership.

(:

So it really does have a lot to do with how you are transitioning the host. If one day the host is Sarah and the next day it's Allison, that might be a bit jarring. So my recommendation is that if you're looking to purchase a podcast to take it over and host it yourself, or buy it and replace the host. I think that it's important to have a transition period where the new host comes on as the co host, the audience gets to know them a bit and then they are announced as the new host. I also think that anytime you're making transitions, if you make them very quickly, it can be unsettling. So I do think that it's important to have a rollout period and ultimately it does come down to content. If you're creating the types of content that people want to listen to, they're going to continue to listen to the podcast even if the host is different, as long as they're not there because of that person, right? If we're listening to the Joe Rogan podcast because we really like Joe Rogan and suddenly Joe is not there, that is going to change the whole show.

(:

So it's not to say that every show is going to be perfect with a new host. There's going to be some transition period. But my sense of it, and really, I guess our expectation is that it's better to start with a foundation than it is to start from scratch. And that's why you might want to purchase a show instead of starting from ground zero.

(:

I mean, it makes a lot of sense. Now, of course, the question that people here in this are thinking, and I know it's hard to give a specific answer because there are so many variables, but what can people expect? Or what is like an average that people are getting for selling their show to somebody else? And then similarly, what is the podcast brokers slice of it? So they kind of know what is lost in the transfer there.

(:

When it comes to looking at the value of a podcast, that certainly is the hardest part. So what we're taking into consideration is what kind of revenue has the show produced? What kind of revenue revenue could the show produce, and what kind of, I would say goodwill and branding have you established? Do you have a really nice website that somebody isn't going to need to create? Do you have established social channels for the show that someone can take over that they're not going to have to build? So those are all pieces of it. I think what's been really interesting, and it's always I feel that I'm in a very wonderful position and a unique position now that I've got these shows coming my way, just to look at, oh, how many downloads are they getting and how much revenue are they creating? Because it is so all over the board. Some shows I'm like, you're not making any revenue and you have that audience size. Like you definitely could make money number one. Or on the flip side, I'm like, you have 2000 downloads a month and you're making $100,000 a year. Like you go, you know.

(:

So it just has been really interesting to see the range of revenue that podcasts do create. What I have found though is that if it's a smaller show and they're producing a lot of revenue, the reason they're producing a lot of revenue is because that host is a person that knows how to hustle and a person that knows how to sell. And in most cases, the reason that they're making that much revenue is because they're working really hard. They're doing branded interviews where they've got a sponsor coming in that's sponsoring that interview and they're probably paying them like $10,000, which really in a lot of cases is probably overcharging. But that host has done a really good job creating revenue. One of the things that I've communicated to the host is if we take you out of the equation and if we take that 40 hours a week that you're working to bring in this revenue, what is the show left with? And for me, it's looking at how much essentially passive programmatic revenue can we get from this show? So if we were to do nothing, if we were to say, okay, we've got this podcast, we're not really even going to touch it, maybe we're not even going to make any new episodes for it, what kind of passive revenue could we create from this podcast just by setting it up with programmatic ads?

(:

And currently the leader in programmatic ads in terms of revenue to be produced is Megaphone through Spotify. So the Spotify Audience Network or Span really does sell at a very high CPM, especially for programmatic. So currently they are at about a 30% fill rate at about a $15 CPM. So if we were to take this podcast and buy it, how much passive revenue could it create? And for me, that's a really big basis of the evaluation of the podcast. Unless you do have established advertising contracts that you're going to be bringing over. If I walk in as a buyer to $60,000 and sign contracts for the upcoming year, that obviously has a lot of value and we're going to look at that. So every situation is slightly different. But for me, looking at that passive revenue piece is really important.

(:

And as the seller of the podcast, what does that pay out look like? Is it something where you walk away with a big cardboard check like you just got a million dollars for a charity? Or is it more like installments maybe upfront and then something over time? Are people expecting to really have a big windfall from this or is this more like a long term payout for them or is it a little bit of both?

(:

I think it could definitely be a little bit of both. We haven't gotten to the place where we're farther enough along in negotiations for me to say, is somebody comfortable walking in and writing you a $200,000 check or is it something that's going to be financed or is it something that's going to be paid out over time? Is it going to maybe even be a revenue share where they take it and they pay you a certain amount based on what they are producing? I think that there are lots of different opportunities and if you're a podcaster and you're thinking about selling your show, I would just be open to the possibilities that could wait for you or could be available for you out there. It isn't the same yet as buying a business. I would say if we were looking to buy a business, we would look at a lot of different elements of that company and come up with a value based on a lot of different very concrete elements. And because buying and selling podcasts is really a relatively new idea, I think we definitely are going to need to have several transactions go through before we can get a better sense of what the market can bear.

(:

And, you know, as I've been going through and doing these evaluations of different shows, I also think that while there are some where I'm like gosh, that would be pretty amazing, if they could sell it for that price, they would get a really big check. We also have to find the buyer, right? And when you look at these large companies that have been acquired, like a Gimlet or a oneDRY where they had all of this content and they were sold for millions of dollars, that's a very different sale than the type of sale we're trying to create. I would say the sale that we're trying to create is, hey, I created an asset. I want something different. Either I want someone to pay me to continue to do what I'm doing where I'm not having to scrape by every month or I'm just done with this altogether and I want to give it up. And yeah, maybe I made $60,000 this year after my hustle, but I would be happy if somebody gave me 70,000 for it and then I'm not going to have to hustle anymore and I can kind of move on with my life and do something different.

(:

So I would say to answer your question, my gut tells me it's not going to be like a huge windfall for most people where they're going to get that huge check, but really that they could walk away knowing that they profited from it as opposed to just quitting the show and walking away with nothing.

(:

And as you alluded to at the very beginning. This is something that especially folks who are starting to deal with burnout and potentially pod fading, instead of just sunsetting this and going away, why not be rewarded for your effort and time and investments and the sweat equity that you put into it? And apologies, I might have missed it, but with the podcast broker, is it like a one time fee or is it a percentage of the total sale? Is that how your guys'participation in this is compensated?

(:

Yes. So we're doing a percentage of the sale and it's broken down in different percentages based on the amount that the show sells for. The highest bracket is 15% and those are for shows that sell under $10,000 and then it goes down from there, depending on, you know, how much the show sold for.

(:

And how long can people expect for this process to take from whether it's first reaching out to you or from someone first reaching out to them? Like, what is it from we've connected a buyer and seller to close, typically. How long are we looking at there, you think?

(:

We haven't closed any deals yet, so it's hard for me to give an exact estimation of how long it will take the buy to go through. My gut tells me it's probably going to be a three to six month process. It depends a lot on the type of show that you have and obviously the buyers that we have. I got a horror podcast in that's got a really large audience, but I will tell you, I don't have a lot of buyers for a horror podcast. I think it does depend a lot on the type of content that you have that you're interested in selling. But I think a three to six month estimation or expectation seems reasonable.

(:

So for anybody, hearing this is like, oh, I am somewhat intrigued or I'm thinking about and we kind of said like some things that are but what should be their next step if they want to either look at some of the shows that you're already working with or they have a show that they think could be of value to somebody else in the market.

(:

So we're working on building the platform out right now. Currently, if you're a podcaster and you want to have your show evaluated and you're thinking you would want to put it up for sale, you can just go to the podcast broker.com and there is an evaluation request. You fill out the form and then I'll get back to you with an evaluation after I've had some time to kind of take a look at the show and see what we really think that it's worth. If you're a buyer, what you can do is go on the site and again, there's a link to buy a podcast and that will essentially just allow you to reach out to me. Right now we're doing, I would say, a fair amount of hand holding in the process because it is newer. So we're not going to be listing shows on the site just yet. We will get to a place where the site is essentially full of podcasts that could be purchased. And my hope is that we can get to a place where people go through and say, oh, I'm interested in buying this show. I want to buy it, click here and make it fast and easy.

(:

But currently it really is a matter of us making sure that we've got the right fit and helping you as a buyer find the podcasts that are going to be good for you. And on the flip side, as a podcast or finding those buyers that are going to be a good fit.

(:

While we have you on the phone, while we're chatting quickly, let me just ask you about the state of podcast ads in general. How are things going on the true native side and what are some things that podcasters should look forward to in 2023 as far as being able to monetize their audience?

(:

I always love talking about podcast advertising and I would say that 2022 has been an interesting year for sure. Obviously, we started out really kind of gangbusters as the economy has slowed, we've really been kind of analyzing what kind of demand we have. And I would say, of course, the demand is still very high for advertising and podcasts, but it does feel to me like it's softened a bit in recent months. And our hope is, of course, that the economy will improve and that, you know, will be gangbusters for 2023. But I would say in terms of overall changes or shifts that I'm seeing in the market. I am always a really big proponent for dynamic ad insertion. And the reason for that is that when you look at dynamic ad insertion. You're able to really monetize your full catalog of episodes and your full audience within a time period. As opposed to being locked into just reaching the audience from one episode. So I would say that switching to dynamic ad insertion is certainly something that we're seeing happen more and more. I know at Podcast Movement in Dallas that I had many, many conversations about dynamic ad insertion, and I really do think that we're headed more toward the programmatic side of things.

(:

So as posted ads continue to be strong, the addition of programmatic ads or those announcer read ads that can be automatically inserted into podcasts, I really do think the popularity of those is growing simply because the workload on the podcaster isn't there, but also because the market at large is really looking to have a greater number of impressions. And when you're working on an individual show level, there is just so much that goes into creating a campaign. So in order to scale as an industry, I do really think that programmatic is an important piece and I think we're just going to continue to see that increase and increase.

(:

We've had this with a couple of clients recently where they've realized that using dynamic insertion technology allows them to not only better run ads on their current shows, but allows them to monetize their archive, which for many podcasters probably equals half, if not more than their downloads each and every month. So certainly there's a lot of money being left on the table for those folks who aren't even considering going down that route. Well, of course, we want to thank Heather Oscar, the cofounder of the podcast Broker and founder of True Native Media. If you want to learn more about either one of these, you can go to the Podcast Broker.com or True Nativemedia.com. Heather and her crew will take excellent, excellent care of you no matter which side of the equation you are going to be on. Heather, thank you so much for joining us here today.

(:

Thank you for having me.