The internet is changing the game for celebrities

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: celebrities, podcast | Tags: , , , , |

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The internet is changing the game for celebrities

Podcasting? That’s so 2005, you might say.

With online video, social networking and microblogging remaining social media’s most-talked-about technologies, it’s easy to forget about podcasting.

Sure, the overoptimistic projections about podcasting’s future haven’t panned out. But that doesn’t mean that podcasting can’t be a powerful tool in the arsenal of entertainers and media personalities who increasingly have the ability to make it on their own.

Proof of that comes in the form of American entertainer Adam Carolla, who launched his own podcast on February 24 after CBS radio cancelled his show. Thanks to his contract, Carolla is reportedly unable to go back on radio through the end of the year and CBS is paying him quite well until then.

But not one to sit around and cash checks, Carolla threw up a (very) basic WordPress blog, signed up for iTunes and started a podcast.

In its first day, his podcast was downloaded more than 250,000 times. Within the first week, it has hit the 1m mark. It’s now the #1 podcast on iTunes.

As Ryan Spoon notes on his blog, this is quite impressive. With no marketing, a simple setup and no out-of-the-ordinary delivery/distribution deals, Carolla’s early success begs the question, “Does he even need radio anymore?

It’s one that he was prepared to ask himself. In his first podcast, he indicated that he’d look to expand out his venture once his CBS contract expires if it proved successful.

Of course, podcast downloads don’t instantly equate to dollars and Carolla will have to figure out a business model if he looks to take his podcast to the next level commercially. It’s also fair to point out that without his big media exposure over the years, Carolla wouldn’t have been able to garner such an audience so quickly.

But even if Carolla’s experience isn’t applicable to that of the average person, he does prove that the internet is changing the game for entertainers and media personalities.

With his podcast, Carolla runs the show. He controls operations, can set his own direction without approval from higher-ups and has almost no limitations on what deals he makes. Even if he eventually expands and monetizes but never makes anywhere near what CBS was paying him, those things have their own value.

Media companies need to take heed. To keep top talent around, they have to realize that they’re competing with the internet. Their best entertainers and personalities have already made their fortunes; control (both creative and commercial) is going to be more valuable to some of them than an extra $5-10m.

From Radiohead’s distribution experiment to Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die to Adam Carolla’s podcast, it’s clear that entertainers and media personalities are getting hip to the power the internet provides them with. It’s now up to the media companies to decide whether they’re going to come along for the ride or fight tooth and nail for an old way of doing business that’s clearly not nearly as appealing.

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