11 December 2017
On Friday I paid $30 to watch a live recording of a podcast I could have downloaded for free a few days later.
I wasn’t alone. Powell Hall in St. Louis seats 2,689 people, and it was sold out. We were all there to watch Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark record a new episode of “My Favorite Murder.” I’ve never actually listened to the podcast–I was there because a friend got a group together for the performance.
In all honesty, I was stunned by the the size of the audience. As much as I love to listen to podcasts, I had never considered them in the same realm as musicians. Even if a podcast has a big audience, it amazes me that so many people just in St. Louis alone would show up for the event.
So of course I spent half of the show thinking about how this phenomenon applies to crowdfunding and entrepreneurship. :) Below are the reasons why I think people are willing to show up for a live performance or for a Kickstarter campaign when they could just get the same thing later.
- Bragging Rights: Even before the rise of social media, there’s something special about telling your friends, “I was there when….” We’re collectors of experiences, and we like to show them off. The My Favorite Murder hosts didn’t ask people not to take photos–I’m not sure if it was a deliberate decision, but the result was that tons of people were taking photos and posting them to social media in real time. There’s a certain level of pride inherent to Kickstarter–you’re at the foundation of something new. Creators can reinforce this by encouraging participation.
- Kinship: It feels really good to be in the same place as people who are passionate about the same thing as you, especially if it’s a LOT of people. There was a palpable energy to Powell Hall, and I’ve felt the same thing on Kickstarter when people come together to share their excitement. Creators can encourage this by sharing their passion, and they can maintain it by addressing toxicity.
- Entertainment: I didn’t fully understand the appeal of the podcast until the hosts started talking. Sure, true crime is interesting, but is it enough to get 2,689 people to show up for a recording? But I soon got it. The hosts are VERY funny. They’re entertainers who have clearly honed their craft. It reminded me of my recent post about Kickstarter Live. Kickstarter Live isn’t inherently appealing; rather, people will watch it if you entertain them, just as Leo did for Joan of Arc.
- Novelty: As I mentioned, I’ve never listened to the podcast. But my friend was excited to be there, and it seemed like a novel thing to do on a Friday evening. I had a great time, and now I might start listening to the podcast. Similarly, Kickstarter gives people a reason to become a fan. It’s novel–it’s a one-time event.
- Celebrity: I think at least some people in the audience of the My Favorite Murder recording were there because they wanted to be in the same room as the celebrity hosts. I can relate to that–I once attended a Patrick Rothfuss reading for that exact reason. I’ve even seen videos of thousands of people who show up to be near famous vloggers. Now, even though Kickstarter creators are not celebrities in the traditional sense, sometimes people are just looking to interact with the person in the spotlight. That’s you.
I think my biggest takeaway is how much more powerful “now” is versus “ongoing”. The present is fleeting, transient, and scarce–you get one chance at it. Even though I want to produce games that are consistently available to those who want them, I also want to create memorable moments and experiences to inspire people to act now and feel great about it.
Have you ever watched a podcast being recorded live? Or a book reading by the author, concert, or live sporting event? Why do you go to some live events and not others?