Well-executed live events can be incredibly valuable for podcasters. All at once, a live event can be:
- A content-gathering opportunity
- An opportunity to engage and connect with super-fans
- Amazing retail-level marketing for your podcast
- An additional revenue stream
I think about live podcast events a lot.
In addition to my own hobby podcast series where we organize 26 live events each year, I’ve also been involved in the Hot Docs Podcast Festival in Toronto since its inception. And earlier this month, I traveled to Amsterdam with the Command Line Heroes team to mount the show’s very first live podcast event at the View Source Conference.
I’ve had live shows on the brain for a few years now. As an attendee, I’ve been to many great live events. I’ve also been to several poorly-executed ones, too.
What’s the difference?
The best live podcast events are actually designed to be compelling live events. Not a panel discussion that happens to be recorded. Or an interview that happens to take place in front of an audience.
This means recognizing that podcasts and live events are different. It means understanding the affordances of each. It means putting on a show, and playing to the strengths of live.
Alone vs. Together
Podcasts are (usually) solitary listening experiences. Live events are shared, collective experiences.
The best live podcast events I attend take advantage of this. They work to include elements of togetherness, participation, and a sense of camaraderie that can only happen when people get together.
Anywhere, Anytime vs. Right Here, Right Now
I can listen to a podcast anywhere, anytime. Live events take place in specific places, at specific times.
Podcasts are on demand. Live events are in-the-moment.
You can rewind a podcast. You can’t rewind a live experience.
What experience can you create that can only happen live? What experience can you create that people will feel sad to have missed?
Polished gems vs. Rough-and-ready Immediacy
You can edit a podcast after the fact. Live events roll out in real-time, flubs and all.
The host-audience feedback loop for a podcast can take days (or weeks) to play out. The feedback loop at a live event is immediate.
Questions to ask yourself
If you’re planning a live event for your podcast, consider the following:
- How will my live event take advantage of the fact that’s it’s live?
- What role will the audience play? How will they participate?
- What kinds of experiences can only happen live?
- Why should someone bother coming to my event, instead of listening to the recording at home?
At a live event, the audience gives you their time, attention, and most importantly, their presence.
What will you give them in return?
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