Audio Drama Funding, an Unscientific Poll Results

I ran a poll asking audio drama creators how they fund their shows. I got 111 responses, and here’s the results.

Question 1: What is the main way you funded your show? Creators could only pick one option.

52% of shows are mainly self-funded. The next popular options are Crowdfunding and Subscription, tied at 13.5% each.

Of the 111 shows represented, 8 are made completely for free (including being hosted on a free platform). 7 are primarily funded by a sponsor (defined in the poll as “given significant money from a company or similar entity for the purpose of making the show”), and 4 were primarily funded by a grant. 2 shows are primarily funded by a benefactor (defined in the poll as “given significant money from an individual for the purpose of making the show”). Only 1 show in the poll is mainly funded by ad revenue, and only 1 mainly funded by merch.

Question 2: What are all the ways you’ve funded your show? Creators could pick multiple options.

83% of shows are at least partially self-funded, and 47% of shows received some amount of money from a subscription model such as Patreon.

Of the 111 shows represented, 25 were funded at least in part via crowdfunding and 12 via a sponsor. 5 shows received money from a benefactor, and 5 received money from a grant. 3 were funded with the help of ad revenue, and 2 with the help of merchandise sales.

Question 3: How does your show work? Creators could pick multiple options.

56% of shows give at least someone involved a small stipend. 43% of shows rely in some part on volunteer labor.

Of the 111 shows represented, 18 offer an exchange of services for at least some of the people who work on it (defined as “I’ll help you with X if you help me with Y”). 15 shows provide a stipend they feel good about to at least some of the people involved, and 13 shows pay industry standard rates. 2 shows pay via profit share.

Question 4: Do you pay yourself for your work?

Of the 111 show creators polled, 89 do not pay themselves for their work. 18 pay themselves “a little.” 2 pay themselves “a decent amount.” Only 2 creators answered with a simple yes.

With 52% of shows polled saying they’re mainly self-funded, this result is not particularly surprising. You might recall that 82% of shows were at least partially self-funded, which probably correlates to 80% of creators not paying themselves. I suspect that the 2% difference there is shows with creators that funded part of it, but were able to pay themselves something when their show made money down the line.

We can see that 30% of creators who are not primarily self funded are still not paying themselves. Breaking this down a little further, the data shows that 80% of shows funded in part by a crowdfunding campaign did not have a creator who paid themself. 45% of shows that were fully funded by others (not self-funded in any part) did not have a creator who paid themself — only 6 out of the 11 creators of shows with no out-of-pocket funded received any payment for their work.

And that’s the results! This is a pretty small sample size, limited by my own reach and who took the time to fill it out. Don’t read too deeply into these results. For example, I think it would be incorrect to say “50% of all indie audio dramas are self-funded” or “80% of all indie audio drama creators don’t pay themselves.” This data only represents 111 creators, a drop in the pond of all indie audio fiction. It’s an unscientific poll, not peer-reviewed research; I’m an engineer, not an academic.

Written by

Tal is a SoCal based podcaster who cannot be stopped from making things and will occasionally write about audio fiction.

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