Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Grumpy Man - whipper snappers with too much energy

There are these podcasters that churn out more episodes than even God can listen to. It is beyond me how people like Travis Dow manage to even breath with 10 or so podcasts waiting for him to add content to (podcastnik on Patreon). When the incomparable Kristaps Andrejsons got started, him and I were both very excited to discover each other and got off chatting. I asked him about his plans and found out he has more podcasts and more content in the pipeline. I urged him to refrain from getting spread out too thin and develop his unique angle and style. I am happy he still has it, but his production is amazing. And of course he is with his first podcast The Eastern Border on Patreon too. I think I could go on. There is more and more, always more, but is it better? Can it be better if it is so massively much?

In any case the internet produces a pull to put out more content all the time - it makes for the indispensable visibility that makes weblife possible after all; so it is not just Patreon. However, where generally the incentive to produce more more more, regardless of quality, comes without a break and without real return, Patreon seems to be better - it does deliver a real return. It can generate significant income (for some podcasters it really does) which frees them up with time, supports them with covering costs and hence unquestionably supports the podcast in a good way. In return for the contributors pledges, the podcaster commits to a certain goal which gives also the generous donors something concrete in return. It could very well be a pledge to improve the quality of the podcast. With such a pledge, though, the donors get the podcast they were going to get anyway - so why donate?

Most podcasters therefore offer exclusive content for donors. The frequently mentioned When Diplomacy Fails for instance does that. At the same time, the regular production schedule is maintained. The maker Zack Twamley tells me he is greatly encouraged and energized by his Patrons and manages to find the additional time and energy to produce both the regular content as well as the additional content he has pledged to. In this manner he begins to resemble those other mass producers that I cannot keep up with. All so young and optimistic and energetic - my old grumpy mind dazzles. But here is a catch: I have not enough time to take in what WDF regularly produces, so why become a donor and get even more WDF that I cannot consume? Besides, despite his qualities, I see room for improvement in Zack Twamley's podcast as well, yet, if he is committed to add a history of Poland and a history of Bismarck to the regular schedule, I do not see it happening. So there is more and even if it is not going to be worse, I am certain it is not going to be better.

Once upon a time there was a real gem of a podcast, Veertien Achttien which told the history of World War I in a very unique and pithy way (and in Dutch). After having built up a following it made its own Patreon move avant-la-lettre. New episodes became available on paid subscription only. This way however it became reliant upon a dedicated, but narrow following and it lost its web presence. When the time came round to produce the English version, the podcast had become unknown and invisible and the project never came to fruition.

So I am sure a podcaster on Patreon must continue to produce free episodes for his visibility and in order to keep a growing audience. Yet in order to take in the donors and give them real value for their contributions, what other can a podcaster do than offer additional paid content. What other than first of all produce more?