Are you aware that there are 1.5 million podcasts in the world?
That does not count one-offs, and it isn’t podcast episodes. No, there are 1.5 million ongoing titles, such as — to cite two random but similar examples — The Joe Rogan Experience and Bully Pulpit with Bob Garfield. TJRE has nudged just ahead of BPwBG, audience-wise, but has the unfair advantage of spewing Covid vaccine nonsense to call attention to itself. Hold that thought.
Perhaps you wonder how the utterly glutted media-content marketplace can support so many competing shows. Well, it can’t. To be financially successful in the pod industry, your show needs to be in the top 0.1%. Again, not the top 1%. It’s the top 1/10th of one percent. One way to look at this is the old adage that the cream rises to the top.
Another way to look at it is that in the world of podcasts, there are 1,485,000 striving pretenders, one-percenters such as myself trying to claw and scratch past 135,000 others to ascend into the actual-livelihood realm. It’s like Squid Game, if the contestants of Squid Game competed in their jammies.
As such, if the poderati harbor any desire to turn avocation into vocation, they are obliged to do three Extremely Distasteful Things:
1. Attract new listeners by obsessively promoting their casts to the overwhelming majority of the human species who have never heard of the program. This is easily accomplished by spending $1 million/month on advertising to interrupt those people while they are doing what they actually wish to be doing, versus being yammered at about the great Bully Pulpit with Bob Garfield episode about jarred farts. (NOTE: If paid advertising isn’t your jam, you have the option of seeking so-called “earned media,” by landing a 737 on a river or a sex tape or an inadvertent sex Zoom.)
2. Encourage existing listeners to share their enthusiasm widely with their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, medical providers, superficial acquaintances and total strangers, including street persons and CVS employees, if you can by some miracle locate one. This is actually a surefire strategy, but requires a certain patience — such as life everlasting. Entrepreneurs like to speak of a “hockey stick” growth curve. Organic word-of-Twitter tends to create a hockey puck growth curve. Ah, but then there’s the secret weapon.
3. Merch! After all, subscription fees and advertising revenues are by no means the only ways to be fabulously successful. There is also an opportunity in branded goods. If you sell a bunch of crap premium merchandise, you can make the podcast itself merely a loss leader for the core business. Donald J. Trump gold-plated fake coins are a splendid example, as is the Donald J. Trump counterfeit $100 bill. Another fine media entrepreneur is Instagrammer Stephanie Matto, the lady I alluded to earlier. As heard on the marvelous podcast Bully Pulpit with Bob Garfield, Steph captured her own farts in jars and sold them … for $1,000 per jar. Not bad, right? Now let’s say I were to sell my foil-wrapped earwax balls for only $800 per ball and I moved a mere 100 per month, I’d still gross $960,000 a year. But, truthfully, that’s a sucker’s game. First of all, if I’m going to get a title shot against Jake Paul, I’ll have to shell out for a gym, training staff, tattoo artist, film crew, criminal lawyers, etc. That 960 large won’t last forever. So permit me to introduce you to the concept of marginal cost.
As the formula makes clear — in producing physical goods, even with fairly good economies of scale — the manufacturing cost of just one more widget requires more raw material, more factory labor, more transportation expenses and so on. It will be small versus creating a bespoke widget, but will nonetheless be a non-trivial outlay. That 100th wrapped Bob Garfield earwax ball in any given month will cost almost as much to produce as the 50th or the 1st.
So whatever BooksmartStudios.org ultimately offers under the Bully Pulpit with Bob Garfield brand must have a negligible marginal cost. That’s why, for instance, coffee mugs are off the table. Likewise beer koozies. Tote bags. Medicinal teas or promotional rulers.
No, none of that junk. Our merch must pass the marginal cost test, which favors digital merchandise, where the additional cost of creating one additional copy is basically zero.
Software, for instance. It doesn’t cost Intuit a penny more to make and distribute a copy of $169 Turbo Tax Premier than the millions of copies it sold to millions of other schmucks who bought the exact same thing. The MBA term for incremental revenue from such low-marginal-cost products is …
Well, as you may have by now surmised, Pulpiteers, I am hoppin’ aboard the gravy train. Maybe with software, such as, perhaps, a competing tax-preparation brand. SupersonicTax with Bob Garfield. That’s one possibility. I’d have to look into it. I’m not great with numbers. But instead maybe Ado-Bob FOMOshop. NeckBook. Whatever.
I’m seeing lately that online games can go viral. I’ve been toying with a word game — Bobble. See, each day there is 9-letter word. You begin Bobble play by guessing what word that might be. You might try dachshund, fabaceous, kabloonas, nabobship, rabbinate, ufologist, xenoblast — you know, the low-hanging fruit. Anyway, for every failed guess, you swallow a white, green, yellow or pink Oxycontin* tablet. The game is so simple, but addictive!
Another possibility is an NFT, a non-fungible token, which is a limited-edition piece of digital content protected in a block-chain platform. For instance, let’s say it were a photo of Sylvester the cat helping me remove a foreign object from my eye at Six Flags. Or a painting of my own artistic composition in the popular “neighbor’s mailbox at dusk” genre.
The point is, I can sell copies for 10s of thousands of dollars each. And it’s easy peasy to understand: An NFT crabes the precilmark in strings of UBLUF code, so that it can be quant-accessed through galp protocols and “wildflung” through Pixel Ether Medium, gaining hector-velocity and efflumenescent metavalue over time. Duh.
So that could be cool. But, you know what? I’ve got much bigger plans. (No, not for my in-progress self-help book for guys Arrive Drunk: One Man's Journey to Intimacy. That’s just so I can get a Ted Talk.) I’m talking BIGGER.
It’s a song!
With the help of some very notable singer-songwriters whom I will not yet identify, I am hard at work on an anthem for a World of Truth. It will contain lyrics and a melody. Verses. Chorus. Pretty Hook. All of that song shit, and it will be gorgeous, inspiring, rousing, infectious and obtainable in a single click. Don’t think it can be done? It can be done. Hell, I’ve done it before. Check out a little number called “Tag, You’re It,” performed, finally, by one of the most famous musicians in the world.
Yep, and this one will be better. It’s actually in progress and you will be hearing more very, very soon. Mark my words: this song will change the world.
But … just in case, we’ll probably do the coffee mug, too. Meantime, tell all of your friends about Bully Pulpit with Bob Garfield. A little momentum wouldn’t hurt.