Podcasting Case Study – Coverville
What is it?
The Coverville podcast is generally released two or three times a week and is based around a variety of cover songs (reinterpreted versions of previously recorded songs by another artist.) The show generally begins with a brief introduction and overview of the show’s theme for the day. The songs are then played with a few details about the song and artist, as fell as some fascinating bits of trivia interspersed in between. The shows are generally about 35 minutes and feature roughly half a dozen different songs. Information about the performing artist and source album is provided, along with information about the artist being covered.
While the concept of an all covers show may seem rife with second rate songs, and almost unbearable versions of good songs you couldn’t be more wrong. The covers on the show could easily stand on their own as songs and feature diverse and interesting interpretations. For example, a jazz version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, or mellow acoustic cover of Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, both are unexpectedly entertaining.
The show also mixes things up from time to time by having “cover story” shows which features covers that were all originally by the same artist. For example, a show that exclusively features covers of Pink Floyd songs. There’s also the occasional Originalville shows featuring the little known originals of songs whose covers became famous. Coverville began simply in September 2004 as the hobby of tireless host Brian Ibbott and eventually grew to an audience of around 25,000 dedicated listeners per show.
Originally Ibbott saw sponsorships as way to offset his operating costs, and was sponsored by few other podcasting related sites such as ipodder. After all since Coverville is a music show that means obtaining licenses, buying cds, and mp3’s, etc. Not mention that while more listeners are great it also means more bandwidth which in turn means more money. Also since the Top 100 on iTunes is compiled by ranking the number of subscriptions over the last week it’s often dominated by the bigger names. These shows are often something which usually originated in another medium and have been repurposed for use in a podcast. Take for example the Ricky Gervais podcast based on the popular comedian’s antics, or the popular LOST podcast which revolves around the happenings on the show. Not only is it already a wildly popular television show but has the financial backing of ABC networks. So what’s an indie podcast to do?
Coverville has still has several podcasting related sponsors, as well as a few smaller sites, and larger retailers may not be far off (Coverville was sponsored by Tower Records over the summer.) However, while the larger retailers are still somewhat of an anomaly in the world of podcasting they’ve begun appearing more and more. Also by joining an advertising network (Coverville has joined the Backbeat Media Podcast Network) they’re able to offer a deliver a larger and therefore more appealing audience to current as well as potential advertisers. Coverville has also received the People’s Choice Award for Best Music Podcast at the 2005 Podcast Awards which is thanks in part to the number of avid fans the show has produced. In fact in an industry that’s largely word of mouth having an active fan base is critical. So with more subscribers continuing to join, fans of the show raving, and higher profile sponsors joining on the future of Coverville is looking very bright indeed.
So in short by creating a loyal fan base, gaining word of mouth recognition, and joining with other podcasts in order to attract more advertisers Coverville was able to go from a hobby to a means of revenue.
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