Well my friends, I am so pleased to announce that we are no longer a part of the PodShow Mevio network. Actually, the official Independence Day was October 1, 2008, and I made the announcement on Twitter, so you may have already heard the news. The reason for this post is that I want to make the announcement to the larger audience who don’t follow me on Twitter. (By the way, if you would like to add me on Twitter, click here.)
I’ve been considering what exactly to say in this post. There is SO much I could say, but I want to maintain a certain level of, shall we say…decorum? I don’t want to get into personal issues or finger pointing, but I do wish to give some facts.
In November, 2005 I met Adam Curry for the first time, interviewing him for the one year anniversary show of Lifespring. (Listen here. The interview begins at 28:26.) Adam and I talked about many things…Jesus, podcasting, the music business, advertising in religious podcasts, independent content producers, and more.
Some quotes from Adam in the interview:
“There will never be a forced anything within the Podshow network……if you’re unhappy with something then we’ll stop it…”
“I can’t be some exec sitting up at the top……I just gotta help you be successful. To help you grow and satisfy your audience, and get people to you.”
“You will be responsible for the messages that you let in to your audience.”
He said that it would be something like, “This podcast is brought to you by Limelight, GoDaddy, and Podshow, and then straight into whatever you’ve created, there’s always going to be some of that……and you can even opt out of that, I guess…..But at the end of the day, what you do in your podcast, you are responsible for your audience, so you have to have the right to say”Yes”, “No”, or whatever, and be creative and say, ‘Well how ’bout we do this?'”
“Let’s figure something out. What’ll work for your audience?……What are they interested in? Tell me that.”
These are some of the statements that I relied upon when making the decision to join the PodShow network in January, 2005. Adam seemed quite clear in these statements that I would have the veto power on anything PodShow wanted to put on the show, and would be willing to try my suggestions for alternative approaches.
The reality of our relationship was not exactly in line with what was spoken that day.
Several months after happily agreeing to take on GoDaddy as a sponsor of the show, I became embarrassed to be associated with them because of the Super Bowl TV ads GoDaddy ran. In going to GoDaddy’s website, I saw other video ads that seemed to me to be hostile and derogatory to people who objected to the ads. As a result, I told PodShow that I no longer wished to be associated with GoDaddy. I asked if there was a contractual obligation to continue the ads for a specified amount of time. They told me I could discontinue immediately, with no worries.
It was well over a year before PodShow offered another advertiser opportunity for the Lifespring show.
Punishment? I don’t know. I do know that other shows in the PodShow network were offered sponsorships that would have been good for the Lifespring audience. Based on a statement made by Adam in an email to the PodShow producer’s email list in January, 2008, my shows were in PodShow’s top five percent of shows in terms of downloads. I’m still puzzled as to why I wasn’t offered other sponsorship opportunities.
And then there was the “Help PodShow Suck Less” campaign, which began in May, 2007. Instead of running “This podcast is brought to you by….” prerolls, PodShow began running spots for this ill conceived promotion. Some of the spots were in extremely poor taste (in my opinion), and about half of the Lifespring audience quit listenening. These spots ran even on the “Lifespring! Family Bible”, “Lifespring! HymnStories”, and “Lifespring!s In Touch With God’s Character” shows, which are specifically targeted to my Christian audience. I got emails from many listeners objecting to the spots, some of which said that as long as I was associated with PodShow they would never listen to another show.
When I passed this information on to Adam, he suggested that I create some other spots that could run on my shows, which I did. To PodShow’s credit, they did substitute their spots for mine. I’m not sure, but I think they even went into rotation on the entire PodShow network.
But the damage had already been done. I looked at the download statistics provided by PodShow, and it was clear that the numbers were decidedly down. Adam’s response?
“Thanks for your email. I am going to disagree with your assessment of your download requests. By the time you read this, all new short Suckless promos will be in rotation, this should address your concerns regardless. Lets keep an eye on your stats and reviews one week into the new month when all stats are in and tabulated.”
That’s the last time Adam and I ever had direct meaningful contact. This email was dated June, 1, 2007. There was no followup from him or anyone else within PodShow.
In August, 2007, PodShow ran a preroll on the Lifespring shows for a video website, somewhat like what Mevio now is. There was a video on the home page of this website that was set to play automatically when you landed on the page. The video that ran included hard core pornography!
This was the final straw. Up to this point, I was willing to try to work with PodShow and give them some slack, understanding that their values were not based on the Christian world view, and that they could not be expected to understand completely the standards that I felt necessary to maintain on my shows. But porn? On the Lifespring shows??? There was no way that it could be a surprise to them that I would object to this.
Here is the entire email that I sent to Adam and the two fellows who were responsible for producer relations:
Guys, this one is beyond the pale.
I can not have this website, ********** (I have removed the link for obvious reasons) associated with ANY of the Lifespring! shows in any way whatsoever. Period.
I really must insist at this point that ANY prerolls be approved by me before they run on my shows.
Adam, you told me in the interview that we did together in Ontario that a show producer would have the right to approve ads that appear on his/her show. If you would like, I can send the audio and video of our interview to refresh your memory. We discussed the matter, and I mentioned that because of the nature of my show that this was an extremely important issue to me. You agreed. I joined PodShow with this understanding. In my mind, it was part of the contract.
Until I get your assurance that all future prerolls get my approval before appearing on my shows, I will be hosting my own content. This will cost me, but I would rather spend the dollars than lose even more audience than I have already lost because of the suckless campaign. My numbers have not yet recovered from that PodShow effort.
Sorry it has come to this.
I sent this email at 2:44 a.m. on August 2, 2007. I received a phone call from the fellow who was in charge of producer relations at the end of the day, somewhere around 5 p.m. I remember the call well, but don’t have the exact time. He apologized on behalf of Adam, and told me that ALL prerolls were going to be stopped on all of my shows, and that they were working on a system that would allow all of the PodShow producers to be able to opt in to different prerolls.
I accepted the apology and the prerolls did stop, but I never heard another word about a preroll selection option going into production. I continued to post the Lifespring shows on the PodShow network’s servers.
From that point on, the relationship with PodShow and Lifespring was pretty uneventful. It seemed to me that they were tolerating my existence on the network. After all, the Lifespring shows did add to the download numbers that they could report to potential advertisers, even though none of my listeners ever heard any messages from advertisers.
At this point, I have to address the topic of advertisers that the Lifespring audience might respond to. In the interview that I did with Adam, he said, “Let’s figure something out. What’ll work for your audience?……What are they interested in? Tell me that.”
In January, 2008, I met one of the PodShow advertising sales reps at an event in Los Angeles. He asked me to send him a list of advertisers that I would like to have on the Lifespring shows, so I sent him a list of about twenty suggestions.
Guess what I got back in the form of a response.
Silence. Nothing. Zero.
I will not speculate on the reasons for the lack of answers. The point is, Adam had said that PodShow would consider suggestions from me for advertisers, and there is no indication of that happening.
I did continue to get checks from PodShow because of download bonuses. And in the interest of full disclosure, I even continued to get GoDaddy bonuses. The long tail effect really does work with podcasting. Listeners would hear archived shows and use my GoDaddy discount codes, even shows that were over a year old. To their credit, PodShow paid me every month for those sales. I did not ask for, nor did I expect to receive those bonues, so I give them a lot of credit for that.
On September 4, 2008, PodShow, now called Mevio, informed me in an email that all producers’ contracts were being “converted to Mevio revenue share agreements”, and that when I signed and returned the new agreement, it would supercede the old agreement.
After reviewing the new agreement, I decided against signing it, but not because of the monetary concerns. In the new agreement, Mevio was reestablishing their policy of running prerolls on my shows. I have learned that their standards do not align with mine, so I could not sign the contract.
During the month of September, waiting for the inevitable email that would come from Mevio informing me that they would exercise their option to terminate our agreement, I made a mistake. I contacted the advertiser that they finally brought to me in June, 2008, asking if we could strike a deal in which my discount code would continue working for me after Mevio and I were no longer “partners.” That was a major faux pas, and I should not have done it. I didn’t do it out of malice, only ignorance.
You see, here in California, the “non compete” concept is nearly always thrown out of court when such clauses are contested. In my mind, it’s not an issue. I don’t think in those terms. My listeners were responding to the ads because I was talking in glowing terms about the advertiser. Not because they were brought through Mevio, but because I believe in the advertiser.
I completely forgot about the clause in my original contract with PodShow that said I couldn’t solicit an advertising affiliate. My bad. I won’t make the mistake again.
Anyways, on October 1, 2008 I received an email from Mevio’s attorney informing me that unless I returned a signed contract, they would be terminating the PodShow agreement. I didn’t send them a signed contract, and on October 2, he sent the formal email announcing the termination.
I’ve read that many of the PodShow/Mevio producers have had their contracts terminated recently, so I am in no way saying that this is unique to me.
I wish Mevio and those associated with Mevio well.
What is ahead for Lifespring Media? At this point, all I can say is that I intend to continue to produce content that shares the message of hope, love and Good News. Jesus is my messasge, and until it becomes clear that He does not want me to continue, I will do what He called me to do on a cold morning in Joshua Tree National Park in October, 2004.
The economics of producing the shows has obviously changed. I’ll be paying for hosting and bandwidth, I suppose. I’ll depend on my listners to support the advertisers that I bring to the shows, and I’ll depend on the generous gifts of the listeners, too. And I hope to produce content that will be available for sale soon. Be watching for that.
My intention is to make this post the last time I address the PodShow/Mevio chapter in the life of the Lifespring podcasts. The reason I even wrote this was to set the record straight, as I see it. Lifespring was the first Christian podcast not based on repurposed church sermons, and the first Christian podcast signed to the PodShow network. It was a grand experiment, and one that taught me a lot. But now that it is over, it is over. I’m glad for the time with PodShow, but it’s time to be an indie again, and I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store.
For those who have stuck with me these nearly three years, THANK YOU. Without your prayers, your encouraging emails, your phone comments, and yes, even your monetary gifts, I’m not sure I could have stayed with it.
For those who left because of my affiliation with PodShow, I hope you return to the family.
For those who found this post because of an internet search or a Google alert, I hope you’ll give the shows a listen. You are the reason I do the shows.
What is Lifespring all about? Jesus said, “…whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” It doesn’t matter where you’re at. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter your age, your sex, your station in life. Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Lifespring is about answering that question and the question of how and why the answer can and does affect your life today! What will you find here? Music, conversation, and reasons to believe.