Podcast Events – How to put on a live podcast event
Do you run a successful podcast with a loyal following? Are you thinking about taking your show to the live stage but not sure how to make it happen? You’re in luck. We’ve created a guide to help you seamlessly transition your podcast into a live event.
A live podcast show
Podcasts are booming in the UK, with nearly 6 million adults now tuning in each week. According to Ofcom the number of weekly podcast listeners has almost doubled in five years– from 3.2 million (7% of adults aged 15+) in 2013 to 5.9 million (11%) in 2018.
The podcast phenomenon is here to stay. As shows reach larger and larger audiences, more podcasters have decided to take the leap into live events.
One of the best examples of a podcast adapted for the live stage is the hit show ‘My Dad Wrote A Porno’. With 80 million downloads worldwide, a best-selling book, numerous media awards and a host of celebrity fans, My Dad Wrote A… created a very successful live show. They even went on tour selling out venues across the world including the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.
You don’t have to have an audience in the millions to take your podcast to the live stage though. If your show has an engaged fanbase, a live event could be a great way to make it even more popular.
Erik Bye and Otto Nilsen in the radio studio, National Archives of Norway via Flickr
Why do a live event for your podcast
Podcasts are one of the easiest media formats to create. This is because there are so many home recording and platforming tools available. Creating a podcast really doesn’t cost much money either. All you need are a few microphones, a computer and an online streaming platform like Apple’s podcast app, Spotify or Soundcloud. Oh and a quick wit and constant stream of creative ideas.
Transitioning from a simple process in a familiar space to the complexity of organising and executing a live show is daunting. But there are so many reasons why it’s worth it.
Bring the conversation to your audience
What better way to create and nurture a loyal fanbase than a live show? Turn your engaged listeners into promoters by making an interactive, informative and exciting event – just for them.
A live show gives your listeners the chance to actually see you perform and even influence a show that they love.
As a performer, a live event will give you the unique opportunity to create a bond with your already captivated listeners. You’ll also enjoy the instant feedback – the laughs, the gasps, that sense of connection. They’re coming to your show to feel part of a conversation that you’ve been having with them every time you release a podcast episode.
If the people that attend your live podcast show have a great time, they’ll naturally tell their friends. If your live podcast show attracts celebrities or online influencers you could end up with some very powerful champions.
Connect with a younger audience
According to recent research 19% of people aged 18-34 listen to podcasts in the UK.The steepest growth is now among young adults aged 15-24 – with around one in five (18.7%) now listening to podcasts every week. Younger demographic groups also still drive the majority of social media use – in particular Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
If younger audiences represent a large proportion of your audience, you can work to harness the advocative power they wield.
Create an event that engages with younger audiences and you’re likely to get more social media coverage. This helps ensure that your podcast gets increased exposure and traction.
Doris Auguste Heindorff listening to a gramophone, State Library of Queensland via Flickr
Fund Your Podcast
A live podcast show offers many opportunities to make money. Sponsorship is the most obvious. If you are looking for ways to increase the funding of your podcast, a live show could really help. A live podcast event is just like any other event. You can sell tickets, provide advertising opportunities for your sponsors and sell merchandise. Partnering with booking agencies and corporate sponsors will help you to create a memorable and profitable show for both you and your audience.
Remember, if your audience is engaged, a live event is an ideal way to monetise their enthusiasm for your podcast.
Planning a live podcast event
A live podcast show normally follows one of two forms. Both offer different ways to entertain your audiences and make new fans.
A podcast recording show
This is when you record a podcast in-front of an audience. A live recording of your podcast is essentially just like recording your show in the studio or at home but in this form – people watch as you record. This option is probably the easiest to achieve as you don’t have to radically change your method. You can still present ideas in an organic and spontaneous way.
The biggest benefits (aside from the financial aspects detailed above) are:
- Capturing live audience reactions as you record.
- Creating an organic conversation between you and your audience in the live environment. This is traditionally achieved by Q&A panel sessions at the end of the recording.
- It’s still a show but a podcast recording event requires less preparation and budget than an adapted performance.
This form is ideal for a podcast with a small but dedicated fanbase. Just watching an intimate conversation that is normally only experienced audibly will be enough for the diehard fan. A recording show is less like a slick production and more like lifting the lid on your podcast.
Popular examples include:
- Athletico Mince
- Scummy Mummies
- WTF With Marc Maron
Hillillles at Radio Station WPTF, State Archives of North Carolina via Flickr
An adapted podcast for live performance
This is very different to a live podcast recording. An adapted podcast for live performance is more of a pre-produced show. This form is great for exploring a collaborative experience between you and your audience. Elements of your podcast are expanded and made more interactive.
Audience members can be invited onstage to participate in demonstrations, jokes or presentations. Live performance podcasts sit somewhere between a live TV show in a studio and a comedy show. Live performance shows will require bigger budgets and detailed planning.
The benefits of an adapted podcast for live performance format are:
- Creating an interactive and exciting show for your fanbase. They’ll engage more and shout about it on social media – free publicity for your podcast.
- Performing a pre-thought out and rehearsed show. If your show is loosely scripted and has a running order of features it’s easier to perform the same show over and over again. This is how bigger podcasts tour.
- Adapted podcast shows are generally favoured by podcasts with large audiences. More people at your show gives you greater leverage with corporate sponsors that want more exposure.
Popular examples include:
- The Last Podcast On The Left
- My Dad Wrote A Porno
- The Guilty Feminist
- This American Life
Choosing The Right Venue
Whatever live podcast event format you choose, you’ll need the perfect venue. This should be a major consideration when planning a live podcast show. Choosing a performance space that has adequate capacity for your audience and the right facilities should factor into your plans early on. You can then prepare as best as you can.
- Is the venue easy to get to?
- Does it provide a comfortable environment for your audience?
- Is there space for a merch stand?
- Does it cost a lot of money to hire?
- Does it have a green room?
Logan Hall is a custom-built performance space that seats 933 people. It’s located in Central London and boasts a curtained stage, a 60-channel stage lighting desk, dedicated green room and changing facilities for performers, comfortable seating and exceptional acoustics. Flexible, affordable and unique, Logan Hall is the perfect venue for live podcast events. Find out more about Logan Hall.
Planning The Structure
Once you have decided the format of your live podcast show, you’ll need to plan out the structure. This will include which of your podcast features to include, how you want to present those features, who will deliver each feature (relevant if you are a team of presenters), how long you want your show to be and how you want your audience to participate (if you want them to).
Carefully consider what it is people love about your podcast. Read online reviews from your audio shows, do some social listening to get a sense of what they love about it. This will give you some great insight into what to include in your show. Make sure you cover popular features.
Whether you’re just sitting down for a conversation with a fellow co-host or presenting a performed show, give your audience what they want – and more!
Create An Experience
When planning a podcast event there are several practical factors to consider. This is especially important when setting your budgets.
Delivering a successful live event will require a team of skilled people. This team will help to shape the event experience for your audience. Depending on the scale of your show, create a list of people and resources you’ll need.
You might need:
- a recording engineer
- a sound engineer
- a lighting engineer
- stage hands
- admin staff
- merchandise sellers
Other factors to consider include the equipment that each person needs to do their job and the venue in which you are hosting your live event. All of the above will have a cost attached. Funding the event could be a challenge so consider how sponsorship could help you achieve your event.
Planning the details of your event will allow you to curate the entire audience experience. Think creatively. Throwing lots of money at an event won’t automatically make it a success. Budgets are important but they shouldn’t limit what you are trying to achieve.
What’s different about a live podcast event and podcasting from a studio / home
There are many differences between recording a live podcast on stage and in a studio. The most important factors to think about are the ‘live’ aspects – actually performing in front of an audience!
Recording sessions in the studio or at home usually encourage relaxed, organic and natural conversations. They are normally quiet and controlled environments making it easy to record sound. As there is no audience, audio can be edited afterwards if a mistake is made. Your finished episode can be crafted into a polished product by clever post edits.
A live environment is almost the exact opposite. A live performance is all about what happens in the moment. The live aspects take away some of the control you have when recording in the studio or at home. That’s why it is important to plan. Of course there are always negatives that you can’t control. Technical faults, hecklers and nerves are just a few challenges you might experience during your event.
Podcast live event useful tips
The key to overcoming these problems and potential hiccups is to prepare and plan every detail that can be controlled. Here are some top planning tips to help you get started:
- In a live scenario performers can’t do retakes. Loosely script your routine. This might just be bullet points, key words and phrases you want to include.Depending on the scale of your event, hide your crib sheet somewhere you can see it but not visible to the audience. If you are a pro you could even try to memorise your script.
- Practice makes perfect. A stage rehearsal or read-through before your event will help you to feel confident when it’s show time.
- Plan each feature thoroughly. Write up how long each segment of the show should take. Always allow more time for the magic of spontaneous audience interaction or to explore a tangent that might emerge.
- Record your rehearsal. This is called a test-recording. Test recordings allow you to gauge whether your recording equipment is picking up everything it needs to.
- Plan the stage configuration. Do you want to sit down or stand up? Do you need a table? Do you need props?
- Have material in reserve. If you experience technical or crowd difficulties it’s best to have content in reserve. This might be something very simple, especially if your video screens go down in the middle of a visual presentation. Switch from A to B material if things start to go wrong. Plan for every eventuality.
Learn from the podcast pros
Taking your podcast to the stage can be challenging but, at the same time, hugely rewarding. What have some of the successful shows learnt? Here are real-life examples from some of the best podcasters who have successfully transitioned from studio to stage:
“We wanted to create an event where small businesses and entrepreneurs could show off the things that they’re working on … exchange ideas, where we could offer practical, real-world advice about starting a business.” Guy Raz, How I Built This, NPR.
“We want to make the audience feel like the fourth friend around the table” Alice Levine, My Dad Wrote A Porno
“Having an audience in front of you brings it to life. You see their reactions instantly. People smiling, laughing, clapping. It’s a lot more rewarding than just doing a podcast in your bedroom.” Joel Dullroy, Live Podcaster – Radio Spätkauf
“We use videos and props, and generally a more physical approach to telling stories. All the senses will be engaged.” Julie Shapiro, executive producer of Radiotopia.
Live podcast event marketing strategy & Funding
Marketing & promotion
Now you have some idea of how you want your show to look, feel and sound it’s time to write a marketing strategy. You’ll want to think about which channels you can leverage to get the word out that your podcast is taking to the live stage. A great place to start is an article we’ve written about how to promote an event using content.
An obvious first step is to shout about it on your own podcast. If your show has a lot of listeners you will probably be able to sell a lot of tickets directly to your fanbase. The Allusionist podcast does this particularly well.
This will help to keep your marketing costs low. Incentivising ticket sales to your fanbase using access to exclusive content or merchandise is a great way to ensure your show will sell out.
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Your target audience is likely to tell all of their friends about their favourite podcast going live.
How to work out ticket pricing?
You’ll need to charge for your live podcast event. As we’ve already detailed in this article, running an event can be expensive. There are many expenses to think about. Knowing what you need to make on the event to break even and into profit will help you to set ticket prices.
One of the biggest costs will be venue hire and production costs. If you can break even on 40% of tickets sold then this is a good figure to aim for.
Your ticket pricing will ultimately depend on what level you are at professionally. You will be able to estimate the demand for a live show by how many monthly listeners and downloads you receive. Find a few similar podcasts that have gone live and price in the same bracket as them.
Working with a booking agent can help you to sell more tickets but remember that they will take a cut of your profits.
Sponsorships (additional revenue)
We’ve written about how to get sponsors for your event as it’s important to consider what makes an attractive prospect for a sponsor. You will get sponsorship interest if you can expose your sponsor to new, relevant audiences.
If you have a successful podcast you probably already use sponsors to fund your show. This is the same principle but event sponsorships offer more opportunities to market to your event attendees.
This is a great additional revenue stream to help fund the event and also ensure that you keep getting to make your podcast.
A Live Podcast Event Checklist
Now that you’ve come to the end of the guide, we’ve put a handy checklist together to serve as a reminder of what you need to run a successful podcast event
- Decide which live format you want to follow
- Plan your show structure
- Make a note of what people and resources you will need
- Research and choose a venue
- Cost up all your expenditures
- Write a marketing strategy
- Approach event sponsors
- Promote your event online
Choose 20 Bedford Way for your Live Podcast Event
Are you looking for a live podcast event venue? Logan Hall is a large, custom built performance venue in London available for private hire throughout the year. The hall is a 933-seater, single-tiered theatre with incredible facilities. Available to hire along with the adjoining Crush Hall bar all year round (and yes, that includes evenings and weekends), you’ll realise that the words ‘best kept secret’ aren’t always a cliché! To find out more about booking the Logan Hall contact us now
Main image: Zelta Rodenwald, director of women’s programs at KOAC radio, OSU Special Collections & Archives via Flickr