Multitude is a podcast collective and production studio. This piece is part of a series by them about creating fiction podcasts, from ideation and scriptwriting to marketing and promotion, and everything in between. After you read this intro, be sure to check out Part 1.
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” - Mark Twain
“Rate and subscribe, five stars.” -Most Podcasts
Hello! If you’re reading an introduction to a giant resource about making fiction podcasts, you’re probably a big nerd like us and you’re in the right place.
This is a resource for guidance on creating fiction podcasts1. It will cover the entire process, from ideation and scriptwriting to marketing and promotion, and everything in between. There is a lot in here that is also useful for non-fiction podcasts, so if you’re here for that, thank you for coming too.
We are the first ones to say we are not experts. Honestly, how can you be an expert of podcasting yet? If you compare this medium to movies, we’re just about that part in Singing in the Rain where we need to reckon with Jean Hagan having a terrible voice for the talkies.
What we do have is our recent crucible of creation. The team at Multitude has written, directed, recorded, edited, sound designed, and released NEXT STOP, an audio sitcom. We think it’s a good listen and we paid attention to what we were doing as we did it.
We started this process more than a year ago, and the world into which we’re releasing our show and resource is very different than the one in which we created them. Some of the recommendations we make reflect the more-normal world we were living in during pre-production and production, particularly around in-person casting and production. Continue to use your discretion on what is best for the health of your cast and crew.
At Multitude, we are committed to creating free resources to share with the audio community. Because the medium is forming and stretching in amazing ways, we want to help that growth along the way. Through trial and error, we want to share our experiences to hopefully make yours a little bit easier on the way up. As we always say, in our writing and in the password to our wifi, a rising tide lifts all boats. And the tide is coming fast and furious, to our ears’ delight.
We will be sharing nearly everything from our many Google Docs surrounding NEXT STOP, including our budgets. We were able to have a $75k budget because of Patreon Captial, who provided a cash advance on NEXT STOP’s and other Multitude shows’ Patreon pages.
That $75k number is important for both groups of people who could be reading this.
For the independents out there: we hope that this is a guide to shoot for. If you are doing this by yourself or using crowdfunding, do not feel that your show is invalid if you do not spend that much. Eventually, we hope you do make that amount and you are able to pay yourself some chunk of change, because artists deserve to be paid. You can see how we save money in places, consolidate jobs, and value our time. Your art is a business, so we hope this helps you treat it as such.
To the companies diving into fiction podcasting: the $75k budget should be your absolute basement floor. Although we did get the cash advance from Patreon, this is still ultimately our own money earned by our own small business. If we had outside funding and didn’t have to cut corners or consolidate jobs, that number would easily have reached $125k or more ((some series have reached up to a half-million!). If you have the opportunity to become the company that pays artists what they’re worth and respects their work, you could become a beacon of hope in an increasingly muddled media landscape.
We also know that sometimes companies spend a lot of money on unnecessary stuff. This guide can help you with that. For example: hire a sound designer and let them just be responsible for the sound design instead of also becoming a de facto producer; don’t buy Facebook ads.
We hope this helps you as much as possible. If you have follow-up questions or ideas on how this guide could be expanded, please let us know.
Go create your world, and we’re happy we helped.
See how these lessons were put into practice in NEXT STOP, an audio sitcom from Multitude.
- Fiction is a huge category. It can include improvised fiction, roleplaying game podcasts, or scripted fiction performed by actors. We’re referring to the last category. In this paper, we’ll be referring to scripted fiction as “fiction.” ↩