Paying people what they’re worth? In this economy?
The internet, still a mere teenager in the grand scheme of human invention, raised us all to be freeloaders. Endless, regular consumption of information, entertainment, connection, porn, you name it—it’s all there, and it’s all free, and we all made ourselves feel better about that because a few advertisements showed up on the right side of the page. Should we pay for every little link click? No, I don’t think we should, because we don’t pay to browse in Target, either, we only pay for the $534 worth of stuff we end up buying. Should we pay for skilled, specific content created by talented people whose work we choose to consume with regularity? Yes, world, I think we should.
Personally, I don’t trust…humans, so I’ve removed the option. My podcast is only accessible behind a paywall and there are currently 663 people who don’t mind at all. In fact, they’re happy to pay for a podcast they want to hear every week and the community they want to interact with for support every day. But just as a little reminder, and maybe for funsies, last week I posted a public episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify reminding people that my podcast is only on Patreon, plus a little ten-minute lagniappe of an episode to remind them why my content is valuable. Seven days later, three thousand people had listened to it, and three of those three thousand people had signed up for my Patreon. I hadn’t posted a public episode in four months, so more likely than not the only people who even knew the episode existed were subscribers I got when my content was free. I’ll also remind you that they didn’t have to listen to the episode. They wanted to.
And here’s something true that you may have not realized yet: Paying for what you regularly consume isn’t “supporting creators.” It’s buying something you want, just like you do at Sephora. My Patreon isn’t collecting charitable contributions. It’s an even exchange of valuable work for a very accessible amount of money.
But it’s not about me, at least not just me, there’s a world of talent out there giving people what they want, and other people getting it for free. So here are five reasons I think you should pay for your podcasts in the hopes that I can contribute to narrative change around what we pay for, and why.