Amira Valliani

Sure, podcast advertising revenue is growing with some forecasters predicting it will top $1 billion as soon as next year. But for a lot of podcasters the live event circuit has become the real money-maker. Now one podcast executive has looked at the data and predicts the live event business will put $55 million in podcasters’ pockets this year.

“To put this in perspective, that is more than 10% the size of the podcast advertising market last year,” says Amira Valliani, co-founder and CEO of Glow, a podcast platform that allows show producers to offer “memberships” to fans. In a blog post she explains she based her conclusion by collecting data from the live event ticketing website Vivid Seats and a sample of shows that sell tickets on their own. Event sizes ranged from 200 to 6,000 people with an average ticket price of $63. Events are most popular in Oregon, Minnesota, and California.

Among the 460 events tied to a podcast, Valliani calculates the top ten events account for nearly half of the total market, coming in at $26,387,318 in combined sales. She says her estimates are deliberately conservative with the tally only including hard data through the end of August and not including smaller events that may be flying under radar but still producing revenue for podcasters. “If the trend line in advertising is indicative of other trends in the industry, we can continue to see significant growth in live shows,” says Vallinai.

At first blush the intimate nature of podcast listening wouldn’t seem likely to deliver a ready-made crowd of ticket buyers. But the passion that listeners have toward content, combined with an interest in being surrounded by like-minded fans, has proven to be a powerful draw. Vallinai says her review of Google search data has revealed that interest in podcast events has been steadily growing in recent years with a more dramatic spike this year. “Searches hit an all-time high in May, up 244% from December 2018,” she says. “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.”

Geographic differences have also emerged. Vallinai says her data has shown more podcast fans on the West Coast are interested in attending a live event compared to other regions of the U.S. The top five cities where search rates are highest were Portland, OR; Los Angeles; Seattle; New York; and San Francisco. And she notes, overall, podcast event interest was generally better on the coasts than in the Midwest or South. That could help steer where podcasters book events in the coming year.

Glow offers “memberships” to fans, who in exchange gain access to ad-free content, early access to new episodes, back catalog, and exclusive content. The company announced last month it would no longer take a cut of the money raised by podcasters from their supporters. Glow will only charge credit card processing fees. The company sees itself as building a service more like Shopify to help podcasters develop e-commerce revenue.

Vallinai also sees live events as playing a larger role in the monetization equation. “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,” she says.