‘Pay-to-Play’ Podcast Interviews vs. Listener Trust


PodMov Daily: Thursday, August 4

Episode 694: Your Thursday Podthoughts

‘Pay-to-Play' Podcast Interviews vs. Listener Trust

“Welcome to the golden era of pay-for-play podcasting.” Some guests are paying as much as $50,000 to appear on a show, reports Ashley Carman of Bloomberg. Per nearly a dozen sources, she found the practice “particularly popular” in the wellness, cryptocurrency, and business genres.

Carman isn’t exactly surprised, considering what we pay social media influencers for. (Same.) But certain fans are ready to buy anything they hear endorsed on their favorite show. “As someone who’s making money for that type of advertorial content, it should be disclosed,” said a media lawyer. US regulators agree.

The top-earning show currently charges $3,500 for an appearance, which acts as a kind of filter. The host says that a guest’s “investment” motivates stronger prep and performance. A repeat guest ended up making $150,000 from the podcast’s listeners by selling them access to his business courses.

“No one is listening to that episode thinking it’s a commercial,” the guest told Carman. “There’s immediate trust and a perception that you’re held in a high light.” Yikes. (The hosts of a major lifestyle show that charge $20,000 to $40,000 began inserting disclosures once contacted by Bloomberg.)

It’s unclear how many podcasters are enjoying this oversight gap. What is clear is that unwitting listeners should never be the product. Influential hosts have built up trust that’s easily milked, and guests that tout paid appearances as evidence of their entrepreneurial genius, etc. are in the same bag.

How Does Tomorrow Sound? Bright Ideas for Podcasting’s Future

How will new tech shape our audio stories? Are interactive podcasts the future? How will content moderation evolve? The creative team at Podfly is venturing ahead of the curve. How Does Tomorrow Sound? will tackle blue-sky topics on the future of podcasting, from AI to social psychology.

Hosted by writer and teacher Neleigh Olson, this six-episode series draws on fresh ideas from leaders across the industry. Conversations project 10 years out on technology, audience demands, and cultural shifts, then work back to the question: What can we do today to prepare for what’s ahead?

How Does Tomorrow Sound? is for forward thinkers ready to adapt. When it comes to areas like AI, natural language processing, and spatial audio, understanding is our strongest asset. Launch is just ahead of PM22 next month – follow Podfly to hear what’s new.

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.

Here's what else is going on:

  • Classic charm: Apple’s Project Unabom podcast shines in its “back-to-basics approach” to true crime, writes Nick Hilton. “An old story, well told, is always going to be preferable to a new story, told with more holes than Sonny Corleone.” The whodunit factor is less necessary than you might expect.
  • Members only: Eric Nuzum doesn’t hate platform-exclusive podcast deals. It’s that the current schemes “fail everyone, including creators, networks, listeners, and everyone else who touches them.” The veteran creator and strategist explains how ‘success’ loses its meaning behind a locked door.
  • Final form: “How to Create Transformative Storytelling” from The Podcast Academy and The State of Women is August 8. Judy Tsuei (F*ck Saving Face) will lead a Knowledge & Network on how the right storytelling can transform you, your business, and your audience. Free registration.
  • Track changes: YouTube may soon offer music podcasters an alternative to Anchor’s ‘Music + Talk’ format. The platform is expanding creator access to copyrighted music, allowing them to monetize previously ineligible material. The shift is in limited testing, with updates coming in a few months. 

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