Todd Cochrane: Raw Opinions On The State Of Podcasting

May 8th, 2008 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, General, Making Money with Podcasts, Podcasting Networks, Video Podcasts

Todd Cochrane is the CEO of Raw Voice, a longtime podcaster at Geek News Central and helps connect podcasters with advertisers via his Blubrry podcast network.

He’s also known for having strong opinions, on topics ranging from the PodShow/Mevio name change to the quality of podcasters’ RSS feeds.

I asked Todd about his perspective on user-generated content and the state of podcasting:

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: PodShow changed its name to Mevio recently, in part to distance itself from “podcasting” and user-generated media. Does user-generated media, in your estimation, mean amateur or poorly-produced media?

Todd Cochrane: I think many people have lost focus on the fact that we live in a period of time when anyone can create content. The barrier to entry is nearly non-existent. With the barrier to entry being low, the quality of the content is going to vary.

The beauty of the space remains that anyone can create content. But when it comes to judging content this is a very subjective subject. There are millions of people in the United States alone, and what I may consider to be poorly-produced content may in fact be content that my neighbor connects with.

Podcast content is not about the production quality, it’s about message and the ability to connect with others that have a similar interest.

For example – When we started my mom’s show, the goal was to reach a single person. She does not care if the show reaches thousands. She wants to reach people that can take what is said and use to their benefit. The content is produced by me.

While it may not be the highly-produced content (Mevio CEO) Ron Bloom is referring to, the important thing is that she is connecting with a lot of people worldwide that she would not otherwise. Thus, the payoff has been reaching and affecting people worldwide.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: Does the term “podcast” carry a stigma? If so, is there something that podcasters should be doing to correct this?

Todd Cochrane: I do not hear this from media buyers or people that consume the content.

Those creating podcast in the mainstream media and Mevio would like people to think the user generated content carries a stigma. The failure of a company to meet their financial numbers is not because of the content.

I think the comments by Mevio leadership is part of a bigger strategy…. What I think is being attempted by the folks at Mevio is to establish a “podcast class system.”

It appears on the surface that they are in trouble as a company, and they need to make the appearance that somehow the produced content on their site, much of which they have no rights to, is superior to all others in order to demand higher advertising rates. Ron (Bloom) took the first step in establishing a class system, by slamming user-generated content, and spitting on those that allowed them to get two big rounds of funding.

I cannot even imagine what we [Blubrry and Raw Voice] would have been able to accomplish with that kind of money. I can guarantee we would not be spitting on those that have supported us and [would] have a lot more to show for it.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: You wrote recently on your blog about your frustration with incomplete shows – podcasts that are missing important information, descriptions, artwork, categorization, etc. Where do these incomplete shows come from?

Todd Cochrane: Many are being auto-added by new people in the podcast space who are just desperately trying to get exposure, but do not take the time to complete their profiles. Part of it is because many simply do not know the benefits of good show listings and rich meta data.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: Do these half-baked podcasts perpetuate the (mis)perception that podcasts are amateurish or poorly produced?

Todd Cochrane: I think what happens is, people have great intentions, but then figure out creating content over a long period is hard work. This is why more than 50% of shows never make it past show #7.

It may add to the “amateurish” perception, but from a business model, it impacts nothing. Generally, those new shows have not yet decided to monetize their content.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: In another post on the Blubrry blog, you set a deadline and threatened to get rid of those shows with incomplete feed information. What has happened with that?

Todd Cochrane: So far, as house cleaning goes, we suspended about 400 shows.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: What do you see happening with podcasting, both on your podcast network and with podcasting in general?

Todd Cochrane: This does not directly answer your question, but I asked a podcaster recently, that was making a very significant amount of money with his show, if we could use his show as a case study. The podcaster declined — because he was making full-time wages on a part-time basis. He did not want his employer to find out he was making more money with his podcast then he was on his 9-5. The podcaster is loving life as he can double dip and have the best of both worlds.

On the other hand, we have shows to which we pay very small checks. They are happy because they understand that their “micro audience,” based on their content, is not in a position to make big money.

This is why podcasters need to pick the ad[vertising] deal they are in carefully. For instance, we have a show with 3000 listeners, which is out-performing a show with 50,000 listeners, simply because the show producer of the 3k show has amazing engagement with his audience. That show with 3000 listeners is making more than $8k a month on one of our media buys.

The subject of money is a tough one for sure.

So far as what is fair, my only hope is that companies will be transparent.

For the record:

  • CPM-based buys that I have dealt with range in the $20.00 to $45.00 level.
  • Flat sponsorships for specific buys have had CPM comparables much higher than the $45.00 level.
  • Flat sponsorships can pay very well.
  • We also have a variety of CPA buys.
  • To date the most we have paid a single podcaster on a “monthly” basis on a CPM buy is well over $10k monthly.
  • The most we have paid a podcaster on a CPA buy has been between $6500 – $8300 on a monthly basis, for over a year.

But I have to caution your readers, the focus should not be on the big payment numbers. The focus should be on the thousands of content creators. They have the simple ability to make something, and get what they have to say out there. If they so choose to monetize, we are here to help them with no strings attached, along with providing the audience-building tools we are known for on our communities.

That philosophy, focusing first on the content, not on the money-making, as applied to our business model: we treat each and every content creator exactly the same. But we temper that with some realities. Some shows have the ability to generate significant revenue, other shows may only be capable of generating enough revenue to pay for hosting and or take the wife out to dinner.

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No Responses to “Todd Cochrane: Raw Opinions On The State Of Podcasting”

  1. […] and state of the Podcasting Space as it relates to developments in the space over the past month. [] Tags: Todd+Cochrane, Podcast, […]

  2. It is true that anyone can put videos or any information online. As I heard from a educational show that it is better this way. For the longest Hollywood controlled what we say and when we say it. Even the news today does not always tell the truth, or they twist it to make us think something then the facts themselves. I strongly believe that by having everyone able to say what they want and when they want to is keeping a balance on what is, what is not, and what may be with the truth.

  3. I think it is a lot like a free market. Naturally, those shows that are more popular will become more popular. This will *probably* allow the host to increase the quality of the show and thus feeds more and more and more. However, unlike the free market, podcasting has the unique ability to allow the smaller shows to be extremely popular for micro-groups of people that truly engage in the show topic.

    Todd, thanks for the podcasting networks and for your show. You were the one that got me into this space in the beginning.


  4. Philip tom hom says:

    I worked for a movie promotion company that put out interview records. On one side was the real interview and the other side was the interview without the interviewer. A script was provided so that the local personality could pretend he was interviewing the real star of a movie we were promoting.

    Some podcasts are so scripted that anyone could pose as an interviewer. But some podcasts are so unscripted it can’t be duplicated because it is so “live” sounding.

    One podcast that I regularly listen to you will hear audio mistakes but basically since many podcasts are re-recorded you won’t hear as many mistakes as a true live show.

    Since Podcasts are content driven, I believe a listener will continue to return to a repeat broadcast knowing that they will learn new information and be entertained at the same time.

  5. Rick Savoia says:

    Todd is correct. Mevio is indeed attempting such an agenda. Although I am disapppointed, I am not surprised. Their attitude and actions in the past have alluded to it. Anyone who has been around Podshow and the Podcast Alley crowd for awhile and didn’t realize this were not paying attention.

    Todd is being kind to Mevio. What he calls a “podcast class system” I call elitism. This is New Media come full circle. It should be of concern to everyone.

    In the beginning Podshow led podcasters to believe they were going to help the New Media fledglings thumb their noses at the elitists in The Media by helping the little guy make money podcasting. In reality they were only interested in using the little guys and the fruits of their work to make money for themselves. Now they have decided that New Media has no place for the little guys. They want New Media to be just like “The Media”. In effect, they want to decide who can be part of this New Media and who cannot. They are now thumbing their noses at us. That is elitism.

    I don’t have anything against quality podcasting. I strive for professionalism and high production values in my show. But as Todd says, podcasting isn’t broadcast radio. The real quality is in the content. There are a lot of radio shows I don’t listen to and a lot of TV I don’t watch. They are slickly produced but they have no redeeming value. Is it high quality? No. It’s just well produced junk.

    I listened to a business podcast on the web today. It was difficult to listen to simply because it was so poorly recorded. I stayed through it to the end. Why? Because the topic was of interest to me and the content was great. With the right ad model this show is still marketable, because people like me will listen.

    I’ve heard DSC. I don’t care much for it. It is slick. Curry has the voice, He has the delivery, but he doesn’t really say anything meaningful, at least to me. Yes, he talks about stuff, (I hear his own ego at times) but I’ve never really heard him say anything that could change my attitude, my point of view or my life. For some, it may be interesting. In my opinion, it’s mostly junk.

    Form over substance. That’s what Mevio wants. Call it whatever you want. I call it elitism.

  6. Dave says:

    I gotta say that I find the point about the podcast with 3,000 listeners making $8K / monthly is absolutely NOT happening. There is no advertiser in the world who is going to pay that much money for such a little audience. I know. I do ad deals myself up to about 15K downloads and get paid only about $500. I think Todd is a little more hopeful that podcasting is something that it’s not right now. Hopefully it will be soon, but I think Mr. Cochrane is trying to pump up his business to attract new podcasters with misinformation. Never a good idea.

  7. Rob Safuto says:

    It’s too bad that the previous commenter didn’t link to his site as he could use some further education on the options for advertising via podcasts. On a CPM deal a podcaster with an audience of 3000 would not be able to make $8000 per month. Assuming a $30 CPM and one show a week, that show producer would be paid $360 per month. Shows with small audiences will only be able to make a very small income on CPM deals. But other deal types exist though.

    CPA deals can pay $30 or more per acquisition. This is where the engagement factor comes into play. If a show with an audience of 3000 moves 5% of their audience (150 people) to take an action each month they get a payday of $4500, assuming the $30 fee per action. If the producer can move 10% then they earn $9000. That’s a real good payday for one month. I know that a few very determined show producers have been able to achieve numbers in that ballpark.

    So I would caution “Dave” that you need to know the facts on the different deal structures Todd is talking about prior to insinuating that he is lying when you say that, “Mr. Cochrane is trying to pump up his business to attract new podcasters with misinformation.”

  8. Todd Cochrane says:


    The podcaster in question is in one of our CPA buys. I was trying to illustrate that because the show has great engagement that he has out performed the show with 50k listeners on the sampe CPA buy..

    For what its worth I have shows sponsored that have less than a 1000 listeners that are on flat rate sponsorships that are over 5k, a lot has to do with the content.

  9. Dave says:


    You are assuming an awful lot. There’s a whole bunch of “if’s” in your claim. First, advertisers do NOT give podcasters a share of the total revenue that they help create. How can you assume that a podcaster is going to make $30 from the 150 people who are “moved” to take action? That’s not how it works in podcast advertising. I’m surprised you would make such a claim. Then, how many downloads are there that never get listened to? Then after that, how can you guarantee any “action” at all for the advertiser. This is why advertisers have been slow to come to podcasting. I’m sure you knew that. But your claim, full of “if’s” and “assuming” are just not believable. I know. I’ve got a serious audience myself (1.2 million downloads in last 3 months) so I agree with you about content. I’ve got it. I think Todd is talking about hosting some professional podcasts. Advertisers love ESPN but not “Joe’s sport talk podcast” even though Joe might be more knowledgeable. It’s such a young medium and we, the pioneers have to take our bumps and bruises along the way like Lewis and Clark. But coming back to your claim, it just ain’t happening the way you say it is.

  10. Todd Cochrane says:


    We don’s represent any professional podcast, all of the shows we represent are independent content creators. If you are getting 400 thousand downloads a month then you should easily be clearing 15k a month on your show.

    I get calls each week from people telling me they are moving huge numbers yet are not willing to have those numbers validated on our stats service.

    Their are only a handful of shows actually moving those kinds of numbers each month. If you are indeed moving those kinds of numbers. I would be happy to put you on our system. Some of the biggest names in the space utilize our stats service because it gives them a third part system to validate the downloads and we would love to try and move your inventory.


  11. Dave says:

    My numbers are Nielsen certified with Libsyn.

  12. Todd Cochrane says:


    Nielsen certified is worthless all they are doing is paying Nielsen to say they are certified means absolutely nothing. Do you think Nielsen is actually looking at your stats NOPE. Do you think they independently validate what is being sent to them NOPE. They do not have a stats service they are hoping the data Wizzard sends them is correct..

  13. Dave says:


    I’m starting to wonder if you really know anything about podcasting at all……

  14. Todd Cochrane says:


    Nielsen takes the numbers Wizzard gives them. They say they are certified. If I was willing to pay Nielsen a check every month they would be willing to certify our numbers the same exact way they do Wizzards. Do you not think it is odd that no one has ever quantified exactly how nielsen certifies those numbers? Has Nielsen ever published a paper on how they validate data? Could it be that they dont have a system in place to validate the data? Could it be that this is a pay to play action. Again Worthless Certification and Media buyers could care less.


  15. taniaelis says:

    Todd – Nielsen’s “verification” is meaningful to media buyers.

    Ad buyers have no idea what they are getting on the Internet – and what Nielsen’s numbers do is make them feel like they can compare apples to apples a bit better.

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