Podcast Live Events Will Bring In Over $55m This Year

Amira Valliani
Nov 18, 2019 · 7 min read

The podcast industry is hot right now. With one-third of Americans listening monthly, podcast ad revenue is expected to cross $500 million this year and predicted to hit $1 billion by 2021. Most measurements of the size of the podcast industry only take into account ad spend, but podcasts are earning an increasingly significant share of their revenue from non-advertising related sources. These encompass everything from t-shirt sales to listener-supported or paywalled content (which we help make happen at Glow), and of course — live shows.

We follow all aspects of the growth of the space and asked ourselves if there was any data on the size of the live events market. Our jumping off point was this Axios report from July that podcast live events had grown over 2000% in the past six years, based on data from the ticketing platform Vivid Seats. We analyzed data from Vivid Seats and found that the podcasting live shows industry will be worth over $55m this year. To put this in perspective, that is more than 10% the size of the podcast advertising market last year ($479.1 million in 2018). Here’s what else we found:

  • The top 10 events account for nearly half of the total market, coming in at $26,387,318
  • The average ticket price is $63. Event sizes range anywhere from 200 to 6,000 people.
  • Google searches for podcast live events spiked this year (peaked in May, up 244% from Dec. 2018)
  • Events are most popular in Oregon, Minnesota, and California

*Note that this research is based off of numbers from late summer, so the numbers may have shifted a bit. However, all of the above is a good proxy for order of magnitude and broader trends.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these findings.

Podcast live shows will bring in over $55m this year‍

We reached $55 million by analyzing ticket sales for podcast live events on Vivid Seats. We broke events down into two main categories: top-grossing tours and everything else. For the top-grossing live tours, we approximated revenue for each podcast’s tour to be $26.4 million in aggregate. We then broke the remaining shows into subcategories by analyzing average audience size and ticket cost. From that data, we were able to determine that the remaining events collectively brought in $23.4 million. The Vivid Seats data we analyzed took into account 460 shows, but some podcasts do their ticketing independently. So, to supplement our research, we created a sample of data from podcasts that don’t ticket through Vivid Seats (such as Moth Radio Hour).

Surely our process was not perfect — in fact, we intentionally built this estimate to be conservative. In analyzing this data, we looked strictly at ticket sales. These ticket sales only account for events that have already happened or been announced as of late-August 2019 (when we began our research). Chances are that there are many events that we missed or will be scheduled before the year ends.

The potential of live events is much greater than just ticket sales: there is extra revenue to be earned from VIP experiences, pre-show meet and greets, event sponsorships, merchandise sales etc. We also weren’t able to include revenue earned from gigs performed at large fairs and music festivals (where total attendees can surpass 100k) or other such events.

One point to consider that puts this statistic in perspective: in 2015, podcast ad revenue was a similar size ($69 million). Today, that number is closer to $500m and expected to hit $1 billion by 2021. We can’t expect the growth of these two industries to grow in the exact same way, but if the trendline in advertising is indicative of other trends in the industry, we can continue to see significant growth in live shows.

Google search trends for podcast live events are up, and they’re largely concentrated on the coasts — with some notable exceptions‍

We wanted to better understand where this demand was coming from, so we analyzed Google search trends for podcast live events. Interest has been growing steadily for several years but spiked dramatically in just the past 8 months. Searches hit an all-time high in May, up 244% from December 2018. While interest has leveled off a bit since this all-time high, we expect interest to continue to rise in 2020 and beyond due to the proliferation of content and events in the podcast industry and continued growth in consumer interest.

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live”, accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

We also looked into where geographically these searches were coming from in the United States.

Although podcasts are popular across the country, demand for live events seems to be much stronger in certain states than others. As of November 4th, 2019, the data shows that 2 of the top 3 states in searches for “Podcast Live” are Oregon and California, indicating that there is significant and growing interest in these events on the West Coast as opposed to other areas of the country.

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live”, accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

Interestingly, of the top 10 states in searches for “Podcast Live,” 7 of them are states that are primarily on the East and West coasts of the United States (in order from top to bottom: Oregon, California, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, New York)

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live,” accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

We can break these searches down even further, to see exactly where geographically demand is most concentrated.

When we break searches down by city to see where searches for live podcast events are highest, the results track with our earlier results demonstrating higher interest for live events on the Coasts. The top five cities where search rates are highest include (in order): Portland,OR Los Angeles, CA, Seattle, WA, New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA.

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live,” accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

The cities ranked from 6–10 in search rates fall within the same general geographic regions which we have delineated, indicating that interest for live podcast events is growing most significantly on the coasts of the country. The cities 6–10 are: Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA, San Diego, CA, and San Jose, CA.

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live,” accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

However, when we look at searches by metropolitan area, live events seem to be a bit more evenly spread out across the country. Though the top five metropolitan areas continue to track with the results of the broader search data we’ve discussed — centered on the coasts — metropolitan areas in the 6–10 indicate burgeoning search interest for live podcast events across the country.

The top five metropolitan areas in search in live podcast events are: San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Austin TX, Portland, OR, and Hartford/New Haven, CT.

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live”, accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

As shown in the graphic below, the top 6–10 metropolitan areas for search interest include notable regions such as Minneapolis-St Paul, MN at #6, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI at #8, St. Louis, MO at #9, and Detroit, MI at #10.

Data from Google Trends search query “Podcast Live,” accurate as of November 4th, 2019.

The proliferation of live podcast events and the growth in search interest for these events indicate that the podcast industry’s push into live entertainment will only grow in the future. Furthermore, growth in interest for these events is currently centered on the coasts of the United States.

For podcasters interested in effectively monetizing the enthusiasm of their listener communities, live podcast events are a great option to deepen the bonds between them and their consumer bases. The most successful podcasters will be the ones who can leverage their community’s loyalty and support by centering their live podcast events in the geographic communities where there is the most demand for live podcast events.

Glow believes live events represent a fantastic opportunity for creators to have a chance to engage directly with their fans, and can represent a very strong component of a broader membership program.

To learn more about building a membership program with Glow, click here.

The simplest and most flexible way to build your podcast’s membership program. Easy for you and seamless for your listeners. Get paid in almost any podcast app, and start for free.

Amira Valliani

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