Why are so many podcasts doing LIVE shows?

You’ve probably seen it floating past your eyes in your social media feeds: the such-and-such podcast was going to be recording LIVE in this city or that city. Outlets like RadioLab, Crooked Media, Ricochet, and even NPR have all done this: recording a podcast in front of a live audience.
As a podcast host (or, potential podcast host) you might be thinking, “Is this a good idea for me?” The answer isn’t quite so simple. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to meet and connect with listeners and potential listeners, as well as gain access to additional revenue. However, putting on a live show requires a different skill set than simply recording in your studio or home studio (as the case may be.)
Also, it’s important to point out that not every podcast has a formula that can translate well to a “live show”. Now, to be clear, one need not have a background in theater or have a podcast about musicals in order to put on a great live show. Not at all. Political podcasts tend to do rather well, contrary to what most may think when conjuring up the idea of a “live show”, due to the attraction to strong personalities in podcast political punditry.
And that gets down to the point. Many things are personality-driven and live shows, even more so. In many respects, we have turned our favorite podcast hosts (regardless of the content) into a sort of celebrity. When we come together to see our favorite podcast live, we are able to mingle with other listeners or, fans.
All of that said, if you can pull off the logistics, manage the budget, and time that it takes to put on a live show, it may well be worth it. The biggest benefit again would have to be the physical connection to your audience. Podcasting is about building a relationship with your listeners and meeting them in a live setting is a great way to become acquainted with those who support you and get their input on what they would like to hear more of, or less of, for that matter. Secondly, it’s a good way to get an additional income stream (from ticket sales) to balance out ad revenue. Plus, if you have merchandise (books, t-shirts, mugs…etc.) sales from those items can also add to your bottom line. This additional income can help you to put on more shows in the future as well as simply continuing your podcast in general.
So, should you do a “live podcast show”? We would recommend taking stock of the content of your show and if you feel that the content wouldn’t translate well in front of a live audience, perhaps think of shaking up the old formula for that one special event. Again, if you can pull off the logistics and stay in budget, it may well be worth your time to go out and meet up with your listeners and have some fun.


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