Uncut’s Practical Guide for Podcasters to Create NFT-Membership Communities
How podcast hosts and producers can share exclusive experiences directly with fans in exchange for investing in your podcast-related NFTs.
Over the last couple of years, creators have harnessed the power of NFTs to build communities around various creative and business passions. Artwork NFTs are everywhere. So, too, are meme NFTs and sports memorabilia NFTs.
Yet why is it that very few podcasters have comprehensively utilized NFTs to successfully build and cultivate fan communities (which are different from listener communities, which we will get into later)?
In this guide, I’ll explore how podcast hosts and producers can share exclusive experiences directly with fans in exchange for investing in your podcast-related NFTs.
The Podcast Industry’s Current State of Play
If you’re a podcaster and can truthfully say the following statements, you’re ahead of the game.
I know who my listeners are.
I know who my fans are (fans being ~3% of my overall audience).
I have ways to directly interact with my listeners and fans (other than via my podcast itself).
Too many podcasters produce content in a kind of vacuum. We create it. We publish it. Then ... we often don’t really know who listens to it, let alone who our super fans are.
Even worse, most podcasters can pretty much only communicate with our listeners and fans within our podcasts. Oh, and most podcasters are earning crumbs via ads and sponsorships, both of which are time-consuming and—let’s be blunt—soul-destroying.
What if there was a different way, a better way? What if podcasters could create a genuine community for their fans that isn’t funded by CPMs or Patreon subscribers?
The Case for Podcast Membership Communities Based on NFTs
With an NFT podcast tribe, your members can gain exclusive access to your podcast community.
It’s my belief that these memberships will, in the coming years, supersede podcast subscription, sponsorship, and ad-based revenue models (which is part of the reason why I created Uncut.fm).
Segmenting Your Audience
With each NFT collection you mint, you’ll be able to create different activities and various levels of access based on the smart contract attached to particular NFTs.
For simplicity, it can be initially helpful to divide your listenership into two broad groups based on their level of engagement with your podcast:
Listeners: people who just want to listen to your show, including those who will probably never be interested in participating in your community.
Fans: people who are willing to participate extensively and invest substantially in your show and your community.
If you can think of your audience in terms of those two groups, then you can start working on creating different collectables and benefits related to your show that your fans (not your listeners) can collect, share, and trade.
As you gain more experience working with your own NFTs, it can be helpful to rethink the straightforward splitting of your audience into non-paying listeners, and paying fans. NFTs actually offer infinite segmentation possibilities. So, when you think of your fans, it can be financially advantageous to connect with those fans who want to pay much more than, say, just $10 or even $100 per month.
While keeping in mind that, according to our definitions, non-paying listeners are also non-fans, here are some examples of how you can name and group your paying fans:
Casual fans: people who kind of like your podcasts, and they’re sometimes (but not often) open to monetarily investing in your community.
Avid fans: people who are curious about your podcasts, and regularly invest small to medium amounts into your community.
Super fans: people who are invested in your podcast, and will regularly (but not always) pay generously to be part of it.
Über fans: people who totally love every episode you make, and are consistently paying top dollar to be an active member of your community.
Call them whatever you want. But know this—it’s important that you identify those people who love your content so much that it would be inconceivable that they would interact with it or pay for it in normal ways. They want insider access. They want perks. They want more, more, more, essentially. And they’re willing to remunerate you handsomely in order to get it.
With NFTs, you aren’t limited to the usual system of membership tiers. With NFTs, you can create increasingly more awesome levels of membership that cater to your true fans, thus providing them with the level of attention they deserve.
The Direct-To-Fan Approach
If you’re currently trying to monetize your fans via any traditional methods, then I’ll bet someone else is taking a percentage of your earnings. Sure, they’re providing you a service (ads, subscriptions, memberships, whatever). But I’m sure they’re also charging you a handsome fee for it.
With NFTs, you cut out the middleman. That way, with every podcast-related NFT you mint, you’ll avail yourself of a bigger slice of the pie—your pie, your earnings.
Also, if you’re beholden to a traditional platform, they own your listener data, not you. So watch out—without your involvement, let alone permission, platforms can change their policies at any time for any reason.
With NFTs, there will be no subscription, advertising, or policy-related changes that could ever undermine you. Additionally, you own your listener data, which empowers you to connect directly with your super fans.
You Own Your Monetization Model
Have you ever been annoyed with how Patreon doesn’t offer the ability to create free tiers, or allow people to join as a patron for a $0 pledge? Patreon does that because their business model is all about riding off the financial coattails of content creators like you. If Patreon doesn’t get a cut of something, they’re not interested in it, which locks you out of offering free gated content or benefits to your fans.
Have you ever been dismayed with how Anchor decides which sponsors get slotted into your podcasts? How about that Anchor doesn’t split any advertising revenue with you, the one who worked your butt off over creating the podcast in the first place?
With the above two examples, in order to be on their platforms, you have to conform to their business models.
With NFTs, you don’t have to adapt to another company’s limitations. With NFTs, you can create your own monetization model. This gets to the heart of an ownership economy where you get to design, own, and share whatever you want with your community members.
You Divvy Up Your Profits
With the customizable smart contracts associated with each NFT you mint, you decide how your profits are shared within your community. Everyone from guests to a production team, from your true fans to your hosts—everyone can get a slice.
You Choose Your “Masters”
As I alluded to in our Uncut Manifesto, most podcasters are obligated to please advertisers and sponsors. Not so, when it comes to NFTs. When you harness the true energy of a podcast membership community, your “masters” will be your fandom (not corporate interests).
Members Become Owners
In a traditional subscription model, subscribers own nothing. Essentially they can do only two things: use their subscription, or cancel it.
With NFTs, members become owners. Along with that, member-owners can do a wide variety of things, including:
Using the content or benefits associated with their NFT
Giving or lending their NFT to someone else
Reselling their NFT to someone else (with royalties going back to the original creator)
Burning/destroying their NFT so no-one else can get access to it
This range of opportunities is just impossible with traditional subscription models tied to traditional platforms.
(To read more on Uncut’s views on the crucial importance of ownership, read our company’s long-term vision.)
Challenges of Managing Podcast Membership Communities
A Lot of Elbow Grease
I’m not going to lie, creating and maintaining a podcast membership community is a ton of hard work. Furthermore, once you’ve built it, you can’t just set it on auto-pilot.
Pretty much everything related to building a strong community takes blood, sweat, and tears, including:
Being open to fan/member feedback.
Creating content or benefits that are exclusive to your community.
Organizing events for your community.
Prices Can Vary and Value Can Be Unclear
With all NFTs, their prices can vary substantially after minting, and their overall value can be uncertain. There are no silver bullets to completely solve these problems. While you, as the creator, can set the initial price when the NFTs are minted, after that, market volatility could come into play. Likewise, potential members may never become actual members by buying into your exclusive club because, to them, the benefits of joining are too ambiguous.
How Podcasters Use NFTs to Build Podcast Membership Communities In Practice
The world of tokens is still in its infancy. And while digital art is the primary form of tokens, the possibilities are nearly endless. We haven't yet seen the full extent of what can be turned into a podcast token, but here are a few use cases we've heard our podcast community talk about.
Charity fundraisers: One of the podcasters in our Podcaster in Residency (PIR) program is planning on doing a research trip to document environmental problems throughout the world. Each episode will uncover new places he’s visiting, and will invite listeners to purchase a specific token. The proceeds from those tokens will be automatically donated through the blockchain to environmental organizations.
Proof of Listening: Another podcaster in our PIR program is rewarding fans who listen to his podcast via his Uncut.FM page with a free token. Intriguingly, the token only unlocks when you’ve listened to at least 70% of the episode.
Community membership: Another podcaster wants to turn his entire podcast catalog into tokens and allow token holders access to a private group, special events, and live video chats. He also wants to offer discounts on sponsor products and services, all through their crypto wallet.
Branded collectibles: Another podcaster drops free tokens directly into the listening experience with unique images and sounds. To claim the token, however, you’ll need the password, which is revealed during the episode. The first fans who listen to the podcast on Uncut can mint these unique “Easter-egg-like” tokens for free.
Funding: Another podcaster plans to create a podcast series with three seasons. He’s producing the first one himself, and offering listeners to own different episodes through tokens. The proceeds will then be used to produce the next seasons, so it will be a collective work owned by the community. Also, future revenue will be shared with token holders.
Community-owned ad inventory: Others want to monetize their ad inventory directly to their audience in the form of tokens. The latter will be able to buy these ad spaces, keep them for their own use, or resell them later with a higher value.
What’s your idea?
How Podcasters Can Build Podcast Membership Communities on Uncut.fm
Here are a few practical steps you’ll take when creating a community on Uncut (some of which I’ve borrowed from our “How It Works” page).
Create Your Community and Tokens for Free
In this first phase, you’ll:
Build a branded home for your podcast community. (No coding or web3 experience required.)
Mint NFTs for free.
Sell your tokens to the public, or give them away for free. (For your fans, there’s no complicated signup, and no crypto-wallet required. Also, crypto and credit cards are accepted.)
Reward Your Fans
Think of your tokens as magic boxes, and put anything you can think of into them. That could include:
Exclusive access to podcast episodes, including extra shows for some membership tiers/groups
Virtual meet-and-greets with the podcast host
Participate in Q&As with the podcast host
Special invites to guest sessions
Access to exclusive NFT broadcasts
Access to exclusive NFT art drops
Merchandise and merch store discounts
Recognition and shout-outs during shows
Polling and voting on future shows
Access to private coaching
And much more.
Share Your Success
Be aware that transforming your audience into a community is really just a first step. In the near future, the next step will be to turn your community into a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). These future DAO communities will self-organize around a balance sheet and a collective on-chain treasury. Also, they’ll have all the necessary tools not only to connect with each other, but also do things together that transcend what a simple podcast can accomplish.
Are You A Podcaster Interested In NFTs?
If you're a podcaster and want to collaborate with Uncut, we’d love to hear from you.