LAUNCHPOD MEDIA BLOG
Reading lengthy contracts typically doesn’t fall into the top 10 most enjoyable hobbies for anyone looking to start a podcast. However, the fine print can make or break your podcast’s chance at success. A single sentence hidden within a 15-page contract can determine whether you actually own your podcast or not. Many podcasting companies are … Continue reading Questions You Should Ask Your Podcast Agency
Reading lengthy contracts typically doesn’t fall into the top 10 most enjoyable hobbies for anyone looking to start a podcast. However, the fine print can make or break your podcast’s chance at success. A single sentence hidden within a 15-page contract can determine whether you actually own your podcast or not. Many podcasting companies are able to hide podcast statistics, siphon advertising revenue, and claim ownership of their client’s podcasts because the podcaster didn’t know what to look for when signing the contract. So, before signing away the rights and revenue of your podcast away, here are some questions you need to have answered. If you can’t get a straight answer to any of these questions, you should run away as fast as you can.
A major concern for people who work directly with a podcast production agency, particularly one that also takes care of hosting your content, is the owner of that content. In creating your podcast you submit a form to all Podcast libraries. This form indicates is a place to insert who owns the content. If not indicated entered explicitly, you can find yourself in a grey area really fast. Not to mention the contract you sign with your agency. Just imagine for a second that your podcast starts doing well if your agency can just supplant your podcast and take it over, you really have no recourse to take ownership of that content and the revenue it produces.
Unfortunately in the past couple of years, we have seen agencies hold the RSS feed and licenses of shows that they are hosting, hostage. Many agencies don’t do this on purpose, they can often take your RSS as theirs when they submit to apple because they submit all their shows under the same Apple ID, or tag themselves as owner. Make sure this doesn’t happen.
Podcasts are based on what is called an RSS feed. It is basically the code version of radio waves. Your hosting site, which acts as your personal radio tower, if run by an agency has complete access to this feed. To get your podcast on certain platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify they have to connect the feed to that library/platform. This often includes making a unique login (both Apple and Spotify currently both require a unique account with a login) that requires a password and username. Often, not always, but often, agencies use a single account to connect all the shows they manage. Meaning they cannot give you this information. This means if you leave the agency they can hold your podcast hostage or just delete it outright. Remember there are no 403 forwarding pages yet in podcasts.
This is the biggest complaint we hear from other businesses. That for some odd reason they do not provide the podcast downloads and audience information. I have heard a variety of excuses behind this kind of rule, but to be honest, at the end of the day it’s podcast agencies afraid of their own failures. At LaunchPod Media, not only do we provide access to the data you want at any time, but we provide a monthly detailed 6+ page report that is bleeding edge in terms of podcast listenership information. We are currently the top podcast agency in terms of podcast data insights.
One damning lie we have heard from a major podcast agency was that podcast downloads are not a good marker to show how successful a show is. Many agencies simply focus on getting guests and increase your sales/clout. But since when did getting guests/making sales and increasing your audience become mutually exclusive? We’re still waiting on an answer from them.
LaunchPod Media’s unique product offering is the fact that we have spent the time to understand and grow with the Spotify and Apple Podcast search engine. Getting your podcast to appear on top of the search results for the keywords you are trying to rank for; or making sure that podcast gets in front of the right people.
Examples of this include appealing for podcast features, getting on featured lists, searchable transcripts, shownotes, blog posts, links, embedded players, and other content that helps your podcast increase your Google SEO and how you are discovered on Apple podcasts. If your agency is promoting your show, you should know exactly how that is being done.
If you really wanted to dig your nails in on podcast promotion here are some sample questions.
Though somewhat unpleasant, you should find out what happens to your content and your podcast. When transferring an RSS feed to a new hosting platform can take a number of days and missing a podcast episode can often tank your podcast growth.
More importantly, who owns your content. If you are making a podcast and your agency technically owns your content, what happens when you do well? What happens when your podcast is eligible for ads? Does the agency act as a middleman? Do they get a cut? Do they own the show and you own the content.
Conversely, does your agency have the right to edit, produce, and redistribute? Do they have right and NDAs in place for when you give them Dwayne Johnson’s phone number that they won’t post it on Instagram? If not they can fall into hot water is if they hold your content past contract or abuse your relationships. Both parties should be protected, so don’t miss out on that fine print.
Also, do they do the podcast in-house? If your show is three hours are they going to charge you an average, a lump sum? what about audio turn around time? Do they make a media bank? Understanding your agency’s process and the turnaround can make your life a lot better. Not to mention, a well-informed customer makes the agency’s life waaaaay easier.
Recently there has been a move to AI for shownotes, and in many cases, this can be awesome. Having content that is synced to your show and formatted in an easy to understand fashion can really help your audience find the information they are looking for. That being said, Apple Podcasts has been using shownotes to index podcasts for a hot second now, which means sometimes a personal note can make the difference. This is only made more important when you compound the power of search in your podcast, if things aren’t tooled toward your audience why are you even writing them?
A common misconception is that you can use certain famous songs for a short period of time, like 20 seconds, and not get in trouble. This isn’t true. Be careful with where your music and sound effects come from. Podcasts have gotten in serious trouble when they abuse trademark. Make sure your agency is in compliance.
I recently met with a guy who was thinking of jumping over from his agency to ours, for one very simple reason. He had no idea how well his show was doing. No idea what the downloads were, how his audience felt about it, and if his content was gaining traction. Unfortunately, he misinformed that downloads and listeners were a ‘vanity metric’ and denied access to his information. When he complained, he was imply passed off from person to person with excuse after excuse.
This is a sad story, I love working alongside other agencies as their data partner or production team. We regularly refer potential clients that don’t exactly aline with our goals. We want the whole ecosystem of podcasts to grow.
That being said, the idea that podcast downloads, unique listeners, or any other data are simply a vanity metric is a lie. Podcasting, like any other marketing strategy, should have clearly defined key indicators of success. If you are doing a website, clickthrough, time spent on site, add to cart and conversion are your indicators. For an ad campaign, you have impressions and clickthroughs. For podcasts, you have subscribers and unique downloads.
If you want to measure the effectiveness of your podcast simply by the guests you get on it alone, why not grow a show that allows you to get better guests? If the metrics provided were simply a vanity metric, why hide the information?
At LaunchPod we provide the most detailed podcast analytics package for podcasts period. Every month we deliver a detailed 6+ page report diving into your podcast numbers and how to increase the size and conversion of your show. We want to help you make something you can be proud of, not something that we have to make excuses for.
Doing a podcast with an agency can be a fantastic decision. Doing it with the wrong agency can be the worst decision. Don’t punt your podcast.