How much can I make from podcasting?

Or perhaps the question should be how little can I make?

American podcast company RadioPublic Podcasters has introduced a calculator on its website to convince podcasters to use its services.

The calculator is aimed at small podcasters, which the company defines as having less than 50,000 downloads per month.

According to the calculator, if a podcaster placed one program per month exclusively on its platform, the podcast producer would make US$12,000 per year, about $1,000 per month. Presumably two podcasts per month would make double, if they all got more than 50,000 downloads per month. A daily podcast, let’s say 20 podcasts per month, could potentially make 20 times that base amount.

But of course most podcast producers distribute their shows on many platforms, so then the percentage goes down, according to the calculator. For 50,000 downloads with only 50% from RadioPublic, the annual revenue is halved. If only 10% of downloads come from RadioPublic’s platform the revenue is $1,200 per year.

The calculator also allows potential podcasters to calculate the money they would make if they did all the selling themselves.

Based on a realistic current CPM rate for podcasts of between $10-$25 per thousand downloads, with ads placed at the beginning, mid and end, and minimal commission, a small podcast producer could make about US$37,000 annually from a monthly podcast. Given that it is a lot of work for small producers to pitch and clinch advertising deals, it seems like low revenue for the effort involved. It would certainly not provide a full time salary.

Considering all the hype about podcasting, the figures are a sobering insight into the economics of the emerging audio production industry.

Standalone small podcasters, producing only a few episodes of a couple of specialist podcasts per month would not be making enough money to sustain a business.

In contrast, the larger scale business model that is beginning to emerge could be viable. If well established radio companies, with existing in-house production facilities, sales infrastructure, and a large stable of talent, add podcasting to their other offerings, the business model could be sustainable if they offer many podcasts per week, promote them heavily to drive downloads, and amortise the production and talent costs across their existing cost structure.