For those of you that run your own podcast, recording, editing, and publishing episodes are all done from the comfort of your own own home, safe in the knowledge that mistakes don't matter because they can be removed afterwards, so are live podcast episodes a good idea?
Well, some podcasts, like Welcome to Night Vale, actually started doing live performances of episodes (with regular world tours). Why? Because there's loads of potential to reach new audiences, strengthen the podcast's brand, and make a tidy sum of money on the side!
Who Are Welcome to Night Vale?
Welcome to Night Vale, created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, started back in 2012. By July 2013 it had reached the top place on the Top 10 Audio Podcasts list on iTunes, just beating This American Life to the top spot.
The podcast itself is an audio drama series, following the happenings in a small town called Night Vale, somewhere in America, through the host of the towns community radio station, Cecil Palmer. One of its creators, Joseph Fink, once said that he:
“Came up with this idea of a town in that desert where all conspiracy theories were real, and we would just go from there with that understood.”
Surreal, spooky, and with some good humour thrown in, it’s definitely a good one to listen to if you haven’t already!
How Do These Live Shows Work? 🤔
So you’re probably wondering, ‘How on earth does recording a podcast in front of a live audience even work?’. Honestly, it’s not too much different!
You take your script, and stand on stage in front of your loyal listeners, and deliver the episode as normal. Maybe adding in a few extra bits to make it a more entertaining and an enjoyable experience overall. Let’s take a quick look at how Night Vale does it (don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers here!).
The scripts that the lovely folks from Welcome to Night Vale perform in these live podcast episodes are specially written to be performed live. They are written so that if you’ve never listened to the podcast before, it’s still accessible to you. If you have listened before, there are enough references to keep you amused.
They also tend to include interactive parts for the audience to get involved with. One from a few live shows back that Night Vale used was making audience members pick someone on the other side of the venue and then stare at them for a significant period of time. Creepy, but it fits with the show's style.
What Do Listeners Think?
When all is said and done, live performances only work with the listeners enjoy them. Luckily, Welcome to Night Vale came to the Albert Hall in Manchester, UK (near the Podcast.co HQ). We took the opportunity to see what the superfans REALLY love about the podcast!
If you want to know more about how the live show went down, then check out our take and full review of the show.
Making Money from Live Shows 💵
Besides the ticket prices (which are $35 or more!), money-wise there's a lot to be made off the back of doing live podcast episodes. As they're usually one-off events, so it's a good opportunity to sell exclusive merchandise, something Night Vale does in spades with a limited selection of t-shirts, badges, mugs, socks, posters, and loads more!
"We sell a limited selection of exclusive merchandise at our shows."
- Welcome to Night Vale website
Live Podcast Episodes: Are They a Good Idea?
If Welcome to Night Vale has proven anything, it's that live podcast episodes are a brilliant way to connect with listeners, strengthen your podcast brand, and make a bit of extra money on the side, maybe making enough to be a full-time gig!
It's pretty darn obvious that live shows add a bit of spice to any podcaster's arsenal of tools. If you're a podcaster or are thinking about starting your own show, then why not join the podcast movement today with Podcast.co! 👇