Considering Removing Some Archived Podcasts. (And why iAmplify Sucks.)Your Thoughts?

17 Jan 2012

Tired Mic is Tired

May I consult your excellent brains on something?

I'm still at work re-tooling the podcast, as per our last conversation and all your stellar input. My progress, sadly, has been stalled by issues with iAmplify – turns out, iAmplify sucks. They're either chiseling rats or going out of business, because they've never paid me one dime of the podcast revenues I've earned through their site. They won't respond to my emails, and considerable searching has not turned up any phone numbers that work. (Although interestingly, they've removed my "Why CraftyPod is Leaving iAmplify" podcast from search results on their site. So apparently, someone is still pay some kind of attention over there.)

…This has made my re-tool all the more complex, because now the show also needs a new home.

If you're a current iAmplify subscriber, I'll soon send you instructions on how to shut down your account. If you've purchased any individual shows, now is the time to download them from your iAmplify library page. And I'll notify you as soon as my new podcast site is live. We're in the process of a lot of testing and tweaking.

Obviously, I'm frustrated by this turn of events, but I refuse to give up.

Ask
Image by .michael.newman., via FLickr

Anyway. Here's what I want to ask you about…

Here's one thing I noticed when I started selling shows: those 126 free shows make the process of selling way harder. I had originally wanted them all to be free forever, but the problem is, if there are 126 freebies for you to listen through first, then you have a good year or more of content to enjoy before jumping into a paid subscription.

That doesn't lead me to a viable business. I have no intention of sequestering all the shows behind a paywall, but I am seriously considering reducing the number of free shows I leave out there.

Stacks of Books.
Image by Andrei.D40, via Flickr

I've been analyzing the back catalog, and realizing that there's actually a healthy little contingent of shows that feature magazines, websites and projects that no longer exist. I'm seriously considering removing these altogether. There are also a few shows in there that honestly, I've just never loved - they have bad sound issues, or the interview just isn't all that compelling. All in all, I'm thinking about pulling about 20 shows - and all of these are old - from between 2005 and 2007.

I asked my Twitter community how they felt about this idea, and responses ranged from "Go for it!" to "No way, keep them all! to Don't delete the show I'm in!"

2 Little Girls Vintage Inspired Bookplate
Image by deeljea designs, via Flickr

They're mine, but they're kind of yours, too.

I know what the sound business decision is here: lose the shows that don't have lasting value and reduce the number of free shows to about 50. I'll move the rest of the free shows to a special archive for subscribers to access. In the show's future, you'll have a mix of free and paid access. So everybody gets something, and I can make this thing sustainable, so I can continue making shows.

…But you guys often see things I can't. So I decided to bring this question to you: how do you feel about losing 20 older shows for good? How do you feel about the free archive being reduced?

I think it's very natural to feel protective of the complete archive. In many ways, so do I. It represents my growth as a podcaster, and it's a little window into the growth of the craft community. And for many who've been guests in the past, it's a time capsule. All of that has value.

But at the end of the day, either this show becomes sustainable, or it has to go away altogether. So I'm hopeful for a compromise position that satisfies everyone. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: Seriously, THANK YOU all for your thoughtful takes on this question. As always, you helped me see a couple things I hadn't seen before.

I realized that I had underestimated the extent to which many of you are attached to the archives, so I've greatly reduced the number of shows I'll remove. (And this handful of shows is all about things that no longer exist.) All the rest will remain available to subscribers, and I'll keep about 30 in the free archive all the time.

...And I promise, I'll have more details on the re(re)-release of the show soon! It's a lot of work, getting it all set up on our own server, but it'll be worth it. Thank you again, you excellent brains, you!

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Comments

The podcasts are your creation, your property and I think you should do what is best for you and your livelihood. I will support you in whatever you decide to do.


:-) Thanks, Debbie! Who knows if anyone's even monitoring their email addresses anymore, but I'll gladly pass them along.

The bundling idea is one I'm definitely considering for down the road - there are all kinds of thematic possibilities there.


Well, Katin has built me a whole spiffy podcast-delivery system, so soon, it'll all be functional AND 100% under my control again. So, yay!

I think this meme of reducing information clutter is everywhere, and it makes sense that we'd be collectively scaling back after several years of "more more more."

That's an interesting idea about updating old shows - Mimi had suggested checking back in with past guests for some kind of "where are they now" episodes, so perhaps that's a good way to make some of this footage useful again.

Thanks for your input!


Quick response with two comments. (1) Bundle up the old podcasts by calendar year, sell them as a package for some kind of fee. We're pre-warned already to download any that we would like to keep for our listening pleasure while that's easily done for free. After that, and since they didn't cost us anything in the first place to listen to, charge for them. Would that make it easier for you?

(2) When you tell us how to cancel the Iamplify accounts, please include an email address or something to whom we can send a complaint about their poor business practice. They may never response, but I'd like to complain on your behalf anyway.


They are good cents, Debbie - thank you!


My first reaction was to say just leave 'em... but then I totally changed my mind. If there's out of date information or quality you don't accept... I think it's good for you to take them down. I suppose that I'm in a state of reducing these days, because with all the noise out there in the Internet and world, I think it's totally okay to edit... (not that your podcasts are just noise!) Point being, perhaps older shows can be updated or done differently to be updated?

I'm so sorry iAmplify is not working out...just crazy! I hope you find a solution :)


Hi Diane,
I'm supportive of you removing whatever old shows you would like. There is so much new content coming online in this digital world every day, I can't imagine going back to shows from more than a year ago.

I totally understand not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, but they are all grown ups with businesses of their own to run, so they should understand.

I know I'm making it sound much easier than it is, but just my two cents. Thanks for all the wonderful content you have produced over the years!


Exactly - many of the early shows feel (to me) like those awkward drawings I did in high school. While wearing braces. And painter's pants. And listening to Styxx. (Wait - what am I saying? Styxx is awesome!)

Great point about the emerging question of whether everything we've ever made really needs to be out there forever. I've heard several of the kids I follow on YouTube talking about how they've taken down their earliest videos, because their work got better over time and they wanted the body of it on display to represent what they can do now.

(Lord, now I'm referring to people as "kids." Next I'll be telling them to get off my lawn.)


I know what you mean about showing off your best work. But what about the idea of progress? What about the fact that you've changed over time. Isn't there something kind of cool about people being able to follow that transformation. Imagine if we no longer had those early Elvis recordings when he was young and fresh-faced, and we only had access to his later works. We wouldn't get the whole picture. Are his early works not just as valid, only different, than his later ones? And yes, maybe, some of his work is even un-great. Do we edit it out? Elvis wasn't born fully formed. None of us were.

I guess what I'm saying, most convolutedly, is that you were different back then. Younger. Less experienced. More raw. But you were still cool. You were still you.

So I don't think you should get rid of them. Make people pay. Just my opinion.

BUT when all is said and done, I think you have to do what's right for you. And I will live with that.

Thanks for letting me say my two-cents.

Yours,

Michele


While I appreciate that you want audience feedback and don't want to hurt any guests feelings by eliminating their interview, the thing that comes to mind when I read this is- sometimes you just can't make everyone happy, and that's ok.

Too often big businesses are so far removed from their audience that they don't consider or care about how decisions impact customers. Only to windup alienating them in the process. But I also think it goes the other way- sometimes small businesses have such a close connection with their audience that they are hesitant to make business based decisions for fear of hurting some of the customer base.

It's good to try and get feedback on what most people think, you might even get the perfect suggestion you haven't thought of yet. But at the end of the day I think you need to do what is best for your business. You might not make everyone happy but I'm sure if you explain the reasoning behind your decision everyone will understand. : )

If you cut some shows maybe you could re-interview some of those people for future podcasts.

And that's total crap about iAmplify!


You're right - it is a tricky balance. As I said in the post, I know what the right thing to do is from a business standpoint. I was just hoping that, if there was an important angle on this I was missing, all your excellent brains might see it. I always appreciate a fresh set of eyes.


I think you should remove most of them. It would be extra work, but maybe you can edit some/all of them to have a 3 minute "teaser"? That way, there would still be free content available, but not everything.

Sorry about iAmplify. That sucks.

Love you, SD!! You are an inspiration.


Thank you, Heather! Definitely, the teasers are a possibility. I've been making them for the new (paid) shows, but haven't been able to get a good read yet on whether they actually draw sales or not. They do take time to make, as you mentioned. Just so many data sets to juggle at once! Hard to know what's really what until I can give this poor boat a little more stability. :-)


Couple of notes:

I totally get that you need to make money off of podcasting and to do that you need to have fewer free items out there. But I'd suggest taking the more business-oriented ones and making those the first crop of shows to go behind a paywall. Reason? People in business are more likely to be able to afford a little bit (or find a way to deduct it from taxes?) for things that will help their business versus people whose hobby cash is already thin. Not only are they more able to pay I think they might also be more inspired to, so that could be a plus for your revenue stream.

I can get not wanting to keep around all of the old shows forever, but if you're going to move stuff behind a paywall, why not just keep those shows there? Maybe have some way of denoting that the projects/publications/whatever mentioned are no longer in operation. if you do decide to cut episodes entirely, you'll probably want to be delicate about it. As one of your former guests I can say that it would hurt to be cut, but I promise to keep that to myself and not whine all over twitter about it ;) If there were a way to notify people of *why* their interview was cut (your project is dead/the sound quality really was bad/etc) so it won't seem as personal that would really mitigate that. Although I guess anyone would take "I just didn't find the interview compelling" personally :( You could always find a way of expressing that that is more "it's not you, it's me" like "I just don't think I was a very good interviewer then, I don't think the show does you justice" or something a bit less ego-deflating. :)

So basically as a completist I like the idea of them being available somewhere, somehow. But on the issue of what stays free you'll have to balance the competing aims of supporting the crafty community and recouping something for the massive amounts of time and expense you've put into it. From a business end I'd like you'd only want to have 10-20 shows max be free, and then *not* your very best shows (else they will think everything else is downhill from there) but also not the ones you dislike either. But for supporting the community -- which is IIRC why you started out -- you'll want to provide information that will be useful to the most people, however you draw that line. You may find it helpful to ask yourself which shows do you think are the most helpful to the average crafter and use that to decide *which* episodes remain free, while limiting the number of free shows for business reasons.

Just ideas. But whatever you decide, I'm behind you :)


All great feedback, Juliann, and thank you. Absolutely, one of my biggest concerns here is the handful of past guests who might be affected. Though, for the most part, these folks have moved on to radically different pursuits. But what a great suggestion to email each one and explain the change!

And definitely, anytime an interview doesn't turn out compelling, that's my fault. It's up to me to ask the right questions and create a comfortable environment - and for sure, I'm better at this now than I was in 2005!

There's a delicate balance, too, of how the remaining free shows represent the quality that's coming out nowadays. Not all the best ones can go behind a paywall, because that leaves little incentive to subscribe. I'm wrestling with that one, too - a total Sophie's choice. :-/

The line between hobbyist content and professional crafter content is an important one, too - and also a wrestling point. The show has definitely evolved from its roots, where I would talk about one craft for the entirety of a show. That format didn't have any longevity, and those shows don't really represent the current or future content. I want more shows about pure creativity now, but they'll always be blended with compelling stories about people making creativity their profession. Maybe not the tightest marketing package, but my soul won't accept anything different. :-)


Please excuse my poor grammar and almost nonsensical word choices, I'm running on almost no sleep today :(


Hi Diane!
I believe that if the show/interview is no longer timely then there is little benefit to the listener.

Plus, if paring down to about 50 podcasts (which, holy cow, is a lot!) makes your business model profitable, then do what you need to do.


Thanks, Deanna! That is the bottom line... uh, literally! :-)


I just had this conversation about my blog with my web developer, as I am planning a consolidation/redesign. Why not slough off all this dead weight what seems no longer relevant? He suggested that I should leave it for history's sake. I am still on the fence about the subject, but it does raise the question: Does everything we make/put out in the world need to be there FOREVER? I am still undecided on that question. As a person with her 2004 line sheet files transferred to her new computer, and an avid reader of history, it seems that we are so preoccupied with documentation as part of transparency. As a consumer of media, I delete each podcast (just as i don't bookmark articles I've already read to ever go back to them) after I listen to it with few exceptions or my computer would crash. So I'm not sure of the answer. I do think that it is one of those ground breaking decisions that go along with our transition from analog to digital.

For me, I think you could very well delete the old ones. I don't keep the old embarrassing photos of my early work up. True, it shows how far I've come as a designer, but it also would be standing next to the good things; which inadvertently can have no context for the passing person who doesn't take care to look at the context or the date. Nothing is forever. Do we need to eliminate ephemera with the internet just because we can hold onto things forever?


Diane that stinks! Regarding what to have for free, I like the way Yoga Today handles their free stuff, rotating a free class every week, that way you can still have a bit for free, but it also makes me want to buy some of the paid content too. Good luck!


I'd just bundle them under "Craftypod History" or "My First Year" and call it good, whether free or a fee. That way people who listened would know going in that it's your & the communities early stuff. Seems like a lot less hassle than figuring out where to draw the lines.

I'd also offer a lot less that 50 podcasts for free. That's still a year if someone's listening to one a week....

My 2 cents. :)


I think you could remove them... and you can give everyone fair warning. Like, 'go ahead and listen now, because they'll be gone soon!'

I, personally, think that having too many of something can be a bad thing- too much choice for a customer, too much to wade through... it can be overwhelming. It seems counter intuitive, but I think cutting back can actually benefit your customers- who will find only your latest and greatest :)


Diane,

I am so sorry this all happened to you through iAmplify. I will follow you wherever you house your podcast and I will be a loyal subscriber. I have always enjoyed and learned so much from your podcasts. You need to do what you need to do to keep this business going. We will certainly understand.

Thank you!
Lisa


First off, I am very sorry that you are having problems getting your money from iAmplify, since I bought episodes and really wanted to support you that way. As far as the free shows, why don't you leave the best/most relevant/most intersting 10 up at a time as an intro to CraftyPod? Then you could direct your listeners with a quick bumper on the end to find more episodes at wherever you end up being hosted. And I think the "most relevant" tag is really important and you could change it over time if needed. After all, when I started listening to the pods I never thought I would end up hearing and thinking about craft sustainability in the way you have brought it up. If nothing else you have made at least on person be more conscious of "paying" for "free."

Have you looked at bandcamp.com as a potential host? I've used them as a consumer and been impressed. Good luck finding a new home!


I think you are doing exactly the right thing by leaving iAmplify--no business (crafty or not) should survive with those kinds of ethics... Ick. I'm so sorry about the frustration this has caused you, but you are one of the most resilient podcasters I listen to, and I know that you will bounce back to a bigger and better future!!

Regarding the past episodes--is there a window of time that you can keep them up while you make more 2.0 episodes, and then gradually take them away? Think of it as an investment, maybe? A "car payment" that gets lower and lower to eventually go away in the future (er... well... to be replaced by a new model's payments, I guess...)

Perhaps, rather than holding onto them simply for archive purposes or for new listeners, perhaps it might be less expensive to keep them available if you could find a new way of using them... Maybe culling comments around specific topics and editing them into new "Guides" to focus attention on relevant material? This might allow you to keep the best of the best and not feel bad about dropping the bulk of them. Or maybe finding an overall arching subject that's been touched upon by a couple interviews, and using segments to further explore the ideas, connecting thoughts to similar thoughts in other episodes?

Alternatively, revisiting guests as Mimi suggested is a great idea, and you can "re-provide" the old podcast to accompany the new one, only posting it for downloading when it's convenient instead of paying for it to be available all the time...

As a listener, I understand the benefits behind listening to older episodes, but I would venture to say that a lot of us also have literally dozens of new episodes of other podcasts that are competing for my time and attention as well. When considering listening to old podcasts, we're making a choice to do so over listening to new episodes of other programs... Some "relevancy" is naturally lost over time... Perhaps it could be useful to provide "summary" podcasts pointing us toward those that you feel are the most interesting and poignant for your listeners based on current topics or holidays or crafting developments... If the ones you are not currently referring to are not available, maybe that would lower the investment?

Just some thoughts!!

: )


You know, Diane, I think my sentiments echo those of Kirsten and a few others. You should ask yourself: Am I a cultural repository? Or am I a making a living off the media I'm publishing? Or is there a line to be drawn between the two?

The College I work for is in the cultural archive business. Every program/lecture is recorded, the quality isn't the most amazing, but it's there and offered to the public as a service because it's not their business model. They're in it for the tuition revenues.

You have a huge archive of things, and yes, some of them are outdated and can probably be purged without much ado for the sake of the archive. But you also probably have two types of podcasts: those that feed into your business, and those that serve as a cultural archive. Perhaps those are the low-quality, amateurish podcasts that you're not too proud of. I'm sure the content is useful, but why hide that behind a paywall?

The meat and potatoes of your podcast could be moved behind the subscription paywall. You can still offer them for free, but only to subscribers. It's an added incentive to subscribe (look at this archive of free stuff that opens up when I support Diane!) and still maintains the integrity of the better content you have to offer.

Second to that, packaging them up thematically and offering them as one-time costs could also be a great way to offer the "Best of" and still contribute to your income stream.

So yes. I say do it. But don't let the time put into that eclipse the time you put into the current and future content. Let your archive dwindle over time as you're able to migrate the right ones.


I know nothing of podcasts or their internal workings, but if you could combine bits of each freebie into one large overview, you wouldn't have to sacrifice your wonderful archive of the past. That way you're keeping a record and everyone can view it (like me who can't afford my own name). Just a wayward thought. Keeping your podcasts sustainable has got to be a huge brain exercise, but I'm sure you'll do what's best for you and everyone.


Wanted to add my two cents - and it won't be the usual lengthy diatribe, because I must run to work...but AGH. First reaction? Heart sinking. Rationally I understand that you have to do what is right for your business, but I won't lie, I have an emotional attachment to your archive of freebies.

And who is to say that those shows mentioning blogs/websites that do not exist anymore aren't important or relevant? What you've done there is unwittingly become a bit of a historian for this community. Any one who has been in it to win it for years in the crafty blogosphere will understand when "Adore" or "Little Birds" is mentioned...maybe it would be helpful for people to understand how the landscape has changed - and your podcast is a nice window into that past.

So yes...anyways...understand, but making a pouty lip over here.


To me, it makes a lot of business sense to leave about 5 or so of your favorite/most popular full podcasts free for download, then move everything else behind a paywall. That way, people can still get a taste of your podcasting talent and the high quality of your shows before buying, but it cuts down significantly on the amount of time that people can wallow in free content before making the move to support the work you're doing. I firmly believe that people are willing pay for quality content as long as they're given a straightforward way to do so. I also really like the idea of making a larger portion of the podcast archives available to those who subscribe--it adds a ton of perceived (and actual) value to a subscription, and would definitely make me choose an automatic subscription format over an a la carte purchase.


Diane, I am sure you will navigate this with grace and the utmost consideration for others! Please ultimately do what FEELS right to you and for you as you are NOW and what serves you moving forward.


Those scoundrels! That's horrible. I think you should do what you think is best and if it's taking down some shows then that's just fine. I hope that getting feedback from us helps but personally I usually just wind up getting overwhelmed by too much input. Ultimately I trust you'll make the best decision that is in the best interests of you and craftypod, and that's all I want! (Plus, since it's the internet and not the stone age, you can always change your mind in the future if things don't work out the way you expect.)


An excellent point! And one more reason to love the internet age. :-)


I'm so sorry to hear that! They are STILL continuing to charge some of my past subscribers. Luckily, someone always responds quickly (and anonymously) to these complaints via their customer service email. Lame.


I'm having the same rotten experience with iAmplify. No payment, no response. Nothing. I'm currently pulling all my videos.
Let me know if you ever find a phone number for them.


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