Friday, May 13, 2011

Adam Carolla turns down million-dollar radio contract to stick with podcast

“Folks, I'm out. I told you and your guaranteed seven-figure deal to hit the bricks. So here I am.” ~ Adam Carolla on May 11, 2011
I've said it before, but Adam Carolla is great.

I was listening to his podcast today and he started talking about one of the ways he keeps his daily podcast free for listeners:
“We made this deal with Amazon where if you’re gonna buy something on Amazon you click through and you give us a couple pennies...Whatever you buy on Amazon, a flat screen TV or whatever, it costs you the same. There’s no moral decision. It’s just an extra 5, 6 seconds with your mouse and we can get a couple percentage points.”
Fans of the show have known about the Amazon click-through for a while, but today he made bigger news: he's turned down a multi-million dollar contract to do a terrestrial radio show and says he's dedicated to the podcast. Why? Listener support.

He says that listeners are using the Amazon click-through (and buying things they were gonna buy anyway from Amazon through his site) and are enlisting their friends to subscribe to the podcast (to help him reach the Guinness book podcast record no less). And one thing led to another:
“It said to me on sort of a grassroots level. It said to me, well, not only are we making some money from a practical standpoint...but I like the idea that people are listening and participating and wanting to participate and wanting to be involved and wanting to help and share and understanding this sort of dilemma of we’re here but it can’t all just be out of the goodness of our own hearts. Eventually we have to turn this into a business. And sort of right before my eyes it was turning into a business.”
Podcasts are cool because they're still sort of new and they're diverse and most of them are free. It’s even cooler that they're coming up with creative ways listeners can support them by basically doing nothing they weren't already going to do (I'm looking at you PBS and you public libraries). Adam gets a gigantic following from the podcast that helps him sell out shows and sell books. So the podcast helps him promote whatever he does, and that's huge.

Today, gaining followers is simultaneously easier and harder than ever before. It’s a bad time for lots of record companies and book publishers, but a better time than ever for bands and writers to reach an audience on their own.

Update: The ACE man has broken the Guinness Book of Records for the most downloaded podcast in the world beating out Ricky Gervais. Podcast here.

To read more about the Ace man, there was an excellent article in Fast Company last year: How Adam Carolla Became a Podcast Superstar.

The whole 5/10/11 show with guest Tim Daly where he talks about turning down the offer is available for a limited time over at his web site.

Or you can subscribe to his podcast free through iTunes.

Blogger sort of busted

Hello there. Well, Blogger (the blogging platform on which this and tons of other blogs run) has been sort of busted for the last day or so. So recent posts have disappeared completely. If you arrived here from a link to a post from Wednesday, my apologies. Google is working their hardest to get things situated and says everything should be back to normal by tomorrow.

So please do come back tomorrow for a piece of news about how one of the stars of the podcast world has turned down major dough from terrestrial radio to stay online.

UPDATE: All better now. The post mentioned above is back. Find it here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How technology is changing publishing and entertainment

I posted this a while ago but I'm bringing it back and updating it.

Re: The article about Seth Godin in the Wall Street Journal going his own way, I was thinking about how digital technology affects writers who haven't published yet. Seth Godin has published books through traditional paper publishers before and every one of his books has been a bestseller. So he's left his publisher and is partnering with Amazon, the largest digital bookseller.

But the most important thing that the article mentions is that he "has a significant following online" (though he might prefer to call it a tribe). His point for the last while has been this: selling a book (or spreading any idea) without followers is tough. If you're an author, you create an audience by posting stuff on a blog your audience likes and returns for. Artists in other media are also using blogs and doing other things to connect their audience to the work.

Bands are putting up more and more of their own stuff (albums, bootlegs, tweets, merchandise) on their own. When they tour, everyone who follows them on twitter or Sidekick knows where they'll be. And it is becoming a whole other way to enjoy music. Look what Phish did.

The comedian Adam Corolla has been on TV for while. He was also on the radio with CBS before he was fired. He has a podcast which is very funny and free. The podcast is so popular that when he does anything, he alerts fans, and they turn out. When he goes on the road, his shows sell out. When he writes a book, it becomes a bestseller.

Not everyone is good enough to get that many people to follow his or her podcast or blog - Adam Corolla is smart and funny - but a blog is a step into the audience for any author. Seth Godin will be very successful with Amazon, but it still doesn't seem entirely accurate to say he's publisher-free like the headline of the article does.

Update: Since the WSJ articles was published back in February, more information has come out about the partnership. Seth and Amazon have opened up The Domino Project, which is just brilliant (see below). The key is publishing digitally and spreading ideas.

From one of his blog posts.
The Domino Project is designed to (at least by way of example) remap many of these foundations.

1. There is no middleman. Because there is infinite shelf space, the publisher has more control over what the reader sees and how. In addition, the Amazon platform allows a tiny organization to have huge reach without taking significant inventory risk. "Powered by Amazon” is part of our name—it describes the unique nature of the venture... I get to figure out the next neat idea, and Amazon can handle printing, logistics and the platform for connection.

2. The reader is tightly connected with the publisher and the author. If you like the sort of things I write or recommend, you can sign up here (for free, using your email) and we can alert you to new works, send you free samples and otherwise make it easy for you to be smart about the new ideas that are generated. (RSS works too).

3. Pricing can vary based on volume, on timing, on format. With this project, I’ve made the decision to ignore the rules that publishers follow to get on the New York Times bestseller list. There’s no point in compromising the consumer experience or the product merely to get a nice ego boost and a small shot of promotion. More on this in a future post, but I'll let you use your imagination.

4. Digital goods and manifestos in book form make it easier to spread complex ideas. It’s long frustrated me that a blog post can reach 100 times as many people as a book, but can’t deliver the nuance a book can. The Domino Project is organized around a fundamentally different model of virality, one that allows authors to directly reach people who can use the ideas we’re writing about.
Read the full post here.