To Be an Entrepreneur, Geek Out In Ways Others Won’t

How do you build a podcast empire? Scott Aukerman explains the pedantic, unglamorous, behind-the-scenes work that went into founding the brilliant Earwolf Podcast Network.

Scott Aukerman: I think a lot of the comedians, when they are working on what they're doing, a lot of them don't want to be businessmen as well, they just want to go up and be funny. They want to come to the club, they want the mic already to be there, and they just want to talk into it—and then they want to leave and they want to get their check and they want to go. 

When I was starting out I was in a situation where there weren't theaters in town that I could perform at, so I would have to literally rent theaters that I was at. And I remember I did a show for two nights and we spent $1500 on the show and I had to do every aspect of like buying all the props and figuring out where the mics were going to go. And a lot of people don't want to do that, and so when I first started podcasting there were very few comedians who wanted to do it because the first obstacle that's right there is like the equipment. How do I record it? Most comedians don't have a portable recording set up on their own so right there it disqualifies people. And they're not interested in buying it.

And then the other part of it is, when you podcast it's like, “Well okay I recorded it, how does it get onto the Internet?” And most people don't want to take the time to figure that out. When I first started podcasting I was also a producer as well so I was used to wrangling talent and figuring out equipment and just kind of involved in all aspects of it. 

So when I first started my podcast I would get really interested in how it would get onto the Internet, and I didn't really know what it was, and I didn't know that you had to put it up on a hosting site then that hosting site feeds it to the rest of the world, including iTunes and all that. I just thought like, “How do I put this on iTunes? Do I call iTunes? How do I do this?!” And someone said, “No, no, no, you find yourself a hosting site, it feeds it. Everyone else, once you ping it in iTunes, they'll start automatically refreshing it anytime you put up an episode.” So I got very into that and I started looking at the numbers and I started looking at the cities that were the most popular cities to listen to the show in, and I started seeing the trajectory of the numbers, and all that stuff is honestly very fascinating to me.

A person who ended up being my business partner in Earwolf, the podcasting network that we created, when he came to me originally he was just asking me about managing the show, maybe he was a business manager. When we had that meeting I was kind of not interested because I had a manager, and on my way out the door he said, "You know what would be really interesting—but it's probably too much work for you—is doing like a podcast network where we get a bunch of shows and we all gang up and we try to take on the industry together." And I said, "Yes! That's the idea I like." Because I like doing really complicated things that are ambitious. I love doing the ambitious thing. 

So the problem at the time though is, to try to get a comedian to do a podcast, how do you get them to do it? And what we found was, well, we're a network, we'll buy all of the equipment, we'll rent the studio. The comedian can just show up, record it, leave, and then we'll upload it to the Internet. We'll track all the numbers, we'll sell all the merch. We had a garage that all the merch was in that we would mail it all out to people on the weekends.

If you start to take care of that for everyone then that can be a business. And so the comedians who we had shows with, most of them are just interested in the side of the business where they can increase their popularity through the podcast, which helps their touring, which helps their merch sales, which makes them money. 

And I was always interested as well in the other side of “How do we help people make money?” So to me that always made sense to me—to be the person behind the scenes working with people rather than just kind of being the comedian who's like, “All right, someone record me, I’m going to be brilliant.” It made more sense for me to be the guy who was pushing other people up as well.

 

If an idea comes along that is complicated and terrifying and you want to run a million miles from it—you’re probably onto a great thing. That’s the takeaway from Scott Aukerman, who co-founded the podcast network Earwolf, home to podcasts by Stephen J. Dubner, Hannibal Buress, Katie Couric, Jeff Garlin, Chris Gethard, and Lauren Lapkus. Aukerman explains how he went from being a comedian with an interest in podcasts, to a businessman who co-runs an audio empire. Entrepreneurs aren’t a different species, they just geek out in ways that others don’t. Scott Aukerman’s podcast is Comedy Bang! Bang!.

Why the US must break the grip of huge monopolies

Monopolies wield an immense amount of economic and political power and influence. So what can we do to make the economy more equitable?

Videos
  • According to Vanderbilt law professor and author Ganesh Sitaraman, America has a monopoly problem—a problem that is almost universally acknowledged as such, yet little is done about it.
  • Sitaraman explains how monopolies of today share DNA with trusts of the 19th century, and how the increased concentration and consolidation of these corporations translates to increased power both economically and politically.
  • "We need to think about reinvigorating our anti-trust laws and the principles of anti-monopoly that gave spirit to those laws and to lots of other regulations," he argues. Restoring faith in government and the economy starts with dismantling the things that make people question its allegiances and priorities.
Keep reading Show less

Average human body temperature mysteriously declined, finds study

A new study seeks to understand why the average body temperature is no longer 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Credit: MAXIM MARMUR/AFP via Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Average human body temperatures have declined, show several studies.
  • A new paper looked at an indigenous population in the Amazon over 16 years.
  • They found the new body temperature of the observed people to be 97.7°F, not the standard 98.6°F.
Keep reading Show less

New study says cosmic acceleration and dark energy don't exist

An Oxford scientist claims a Nobel-Prize-winning conclusion is wrong.

NASA
Surprising Science
  • Paper by Oxford University physicist Subir Sarkar and his colleagues challenges how conclusions about cosmic acceleration and dark energy were reached.
  • Physicists who proved cosmic acceleration shared a Nobel Prize.
  • Sarkar used statistical analysis to question key data, but his methodology also has detractors.
Keep reading Show less

One is the loneliest number: the history of a Western problem

The negative associations of introversion help to explain why loneliness now carries such social stigma.

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
'God, but life is loneliness,' declared the writer Sylvia Plath in her private journals.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast