Hello everybody. This is definitely a hard thing to write. There’s no doubt that both PodCon and PodCon2 delivered abnormally high numbers of moments that will be cherished forever. But for several different reasons, we’re not going to be doing PodCon again. We’re going to go ahead and put it all on the table here, so it might be a little more inside baseball than a lot of people are looking for. The short version is: We couldn’t make it sustainable.
But in part to help people understand, and in part to aid anyone who might be interested in trying something like this in the future, here are some of the main reasons why we weren’t able to get PodCon to a safe, sustainable place.
- We couldn’t fundamentally change PodCon to make it make more financial sense. A lot of the advice we got from people was to specialize (focus on fans or on creators or on business). We don’t want to do this for two reasons: First because we had already built an expectation that would be very hard to change. And second because we…don’t want to. This isn’t some ideological purity here, we’re absolutely fine with events that do that, it’s just that we, personally, are not passionate about running that kind of event.
- Large podcasts have a successful and sustainable business model in live show touring. This can make it difficult to attract creators who can sell tickets without paying them the amount that they would make doing a touring show. We also wouldn’t want podcasters to negatively impact their livelihood just to help us out for free.
- This “evening out” live show system also works well for podcast fans. Many of our attendees (DEFINITELY NOT ALL) expressed to us quietly that they’d rather have an evening out than a two day event.
- Conventions are expensive to run and attend. We wanted to run a show that paid staff a living wage, paid for the travel expenses and lodging of all invited guests, looked and sounded fantastic to audiences, and invited a variety of guests without thinking only about whether they could sell tickets, but also the value of the perspectives they could provide. We couldn’t do that in a sustainable way and we’re unwilling to compromise on any of that stuff. In fact, we even made some compromises to save money at PodCon2 that we ultimately didn’t feel good about.
- Sponsorships were extremely difficult to sell. Ultimately, this is how the convention business works, you need money from sponsors and exhibitors as well as ticket buyers. And let me tell you, we are extremely grateful to all of the sponsors and exhibitors who helped get PodCon closer to the black. But we needed one or two big-name sponsors to help us out with title sponsorships, and after hitting all of the fanciest people we knew with sticks, no big money ever fell out.
We’re not saying that no one can do it, in fact, we want very much for someone to step into the niche we’re leaving behind. If there’s anyone who wants to do that, and thinks they have the expertise, free time, and connections necessary, we would love to give you whatever encouragement we can.
What didn’t work was doing it the way we did it. But there are other ways!
Regardless of any of this, having been able to be a part of PodCon for these last two years is something all of us will cherish. There’s always something deeply special and ephemeral about events. Those two or three days in which amazing, peculiar, and enlightening things happen always end, and then we take those moments with us back to wherever we’re from.
That was always going to be the case, but this level of finality is never fun! We’ll remind you that, for all of our attendees, the shows are available for you to listen to via our PodCon Podcast (just search for “remote attendance” in your inbox if you don’t know about that, if you don’t find anything and got remote attendance or a ticket to PodCon email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
And, if you want to go and get a piece of PodCon, we also have a bit of leftover merch that you can buy here. We’re going to be otherwise be donating out in a few weeks.
Finally, (and obviously) we are so grateful for all of the support, vision, talent, thought, care, silliness, and kindness people brought to this event over the last two years. We’re all even more in your debt than we were before.
Hank, Travis, Justin, Jeffrey, Joseph, and Monica
Note: The PodCon.com website is down right now. This is unrelated…it’s just a glitch our server is having and it should be back up shortly.