Podcast subscriptions have never been easier to create and that is likely driving a jump in the number of creators who are looking at the alternative to advertising as a way to monetize their show.
Muck Rack’s annual State of Podcasting report says more podcasters now rely on subscriptions than advertising. While a third (34%) of shows are ad-supported, the survey says nearly four in ten (38% ) podcasters say they are using paid subscriptions to support their shows. That is 12% increase from a year ago. And another 29% say they offer paid premium content, a 17% jump from last year’s survey. The most popular premium content is exclusive or bonus episodes (38%) followed by early release of new episodes (32%), and behind the scenes content (20%).
While it gets a lot less attention as a money-maker, Muck Rack says its survey also shows about a quarter of shows also accept guests who pay to appear on an episode, a 22% year-to-year increase.
The focus on subscriptions could be a reason why nearly half of those surveyed reported they earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year as a podcaster. And a quarter made more than $100,000.
Another reason could be they are hustling. While 47% work on just one show, Muck Rack says a majority (53%) of those surveyed work on two or more podcasts. But it also notes that compared to last year, fewer podcasters are working on three or more shows -- 18% this year vs. 30% last year.
The salary range may also depend on how dedicated to podcast work someone is. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed say they work on podcasts part-time, a five-point jump from last year. That could be a factor of who took the survey. Muck Ruck says a majority of those surveyed say they have 10,000 or fewer listeners.
Despite their relatively small reach, two-thirds (67%) say they are recording videos of their podcasts. And while weekly is still the most common cadence for releasing new episodes, Muck Rack says more podcasters are publishing new episodes more frequently than last year: 31% publish two or more times per week versus last year when 24% published at that cadence.
The report also offers a peek into the mindset of podcasters. Nearly two out of three surveyed (64%) believe that podcasts will increase in popularity over the next two years. That is compared to 19% that think its popularity will wane.
Podcasters are also a modest bunch, citing factors like the mobile lifestyle (64%), convenience of listening (59%), and niche topics (45%) as reasons why podcasts are so popular.
Even though the hosts were not cited a reason, when it comes to a successful podcast the host’s personality is seen as the most pivotal factor. Six in ten (62%) say it is key to a successful podcast, beating out factors like having good marketing (35%) or good guests (50%).
If there is something they would change about the medium, podcasters may suggest getting rid of a lot of shows. A majority (55%) say they believe there are too many podcasts, with just 19% believing there are just enough. The latest tally of podcasts is 2.9 million according to Listen Notes. Even so, a quarter (26%) of those surveyed say they think there are too few podcasts.
“Podcasts continue to serve as a core component to any earned media strategy, particularly for reaching niche audiences," said Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant. "Our survey showcases that while podcasters feel podcasts will be even more popular in the future, there is a consensus that there are too many of them. Over the next few years, we’ll be watching closely to see how the medium matures, and how podcast publishers consider monetization as the space becomes more and more crowded.”
The 2022 survey is based on data collected from 591 podcasters from Sept. 15 to Oct. 5. The survey was done worldwide, including 77% of the respondents coming from the U.S. and 3% from Canada.
Download the full report HERE.