This morning I’ve got the fourth installment in an ongoing series of journal posts to help bring you behind the scenes of The VinylCast and have a peak at just how we make the sausage.
Somewhat crushed from the brutal feedback from listeners that the sound quality of the show needed to be better, and in the same week hearing from lawyers and music industry execs that the business plan will never fly, I’ve got to admit, I was at least briefly discouraged. I did have another band scheduled in though, Canada’s rising Alt-Country stars The Chris Buck Band, so I recorded another episode (with the same mics) to continue working on the show’s format. It would be the last episode under the name “Uncovered.”
That evening, chatting with my wife over a beverage or two, I was relating how the podcast business model just wouldn’t fly. It would cost more to license the songs that I could ever expect to make in advertising revenue. One of the interesting pieces about licensing the songs is that the industry still has biases against online music built in. It’s the same battle that Spotify faces today. Now even with 75 million paying customers, they are still not able to turn a profit due primarily to the high cost of paying royalties for every song played.
The key insight coming out of it was that to license each song for the podcast, would cost me about 8 cents a piece for every listen in Canada and about 9 cents a piece for every listen in the US. The revenue from advertising on the podcast would be around 10 cents/ listen. If you license those two same songs to put on a physical medium like CD, Record or tape even, it still costs you 9 and 10 cents per physical copy of the song but of course you’re getting now $10, $20 even $30 per copy, rather than the measly 10 cents from the podcast advertiser.
But… and this is when the lightbulb came on. What if we took a different angle. What if instead of creating a traditional podcast and trying to market it to the masses, we created a unique, high end show with the highest possible sound quality, and deliver it all to the listener on Vinyl.
“It’s no longer a podcast we’re creating. It’s something new. It’s a VinylCast!” I announced as my wife probably started tuning out now that I was 15 minutes into my monologue-ish rant… Thinking out loud let’s call it.
I shared the idea with a few people, and they all had the same reaction…First puzzlement. “You’re doing a podcast on Vinyl?” Then I explained the nature of the show, the high-end recording and capturing the unique, live acoustic performances and mastering it all for Vinyl, and the reaction changed instantly too “Of course! That’s awesome!”
Not wanting to waste time on another idea only to have it be lost in legal limo, from there I dove deep into the legal world of the music business and spent literally several months studying and understanding the ins and outs of licencing music, and all the surrounding legalities. In that process I talked to executives at Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner to get their advice and input on IF and HOW I could possibly make this concept work.
Three months later after thinking all was lost on a cool concept and great show that would never get to air, we had the business model solution created, assisted with help from the very folks I’ll need to sign off on the licensing.
The problem of business model was solved, now I just needed to solve the problem of making the show sound amazing.
Que serendipity once again as I’ll tell you about in tomorrow’s installment.