From: Marc Maron
Subject: Hey, heads up


Again, I am glad you are digging the show. I just wanted to tell you when I was forwarded your email and saw that link to the Gallagher episode it panicked me. Only the most recent  50 episodes are available for free download and I see this link that takes you right to episode 145. There was an issue at the server and all the episodes were unsecure. Generally they go behind an app paywall or pay per episode download after the 6 months of being free. I work hard at this thing. Trying make a few shekels. I just didn’t want you to think that I threw that wall up there today.

Some pay per eps, including the Gallagher,  are available at WTF Premium on iTunes or people can upgrade there apps at for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or on their computer at and get access to stream all existing episodes. They are also available at

Thanks you for accidentally alerting me to the problem and I’m sorry if people won’t get directly to the episode you sited.


From: Bob Lefsetz
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

I understand what you’re saying below, but is it working for you?

I mean how much money are you making via the app and selling via iTunes.

I’ve found, in most cases, people who hide their stuff behind a pay wall end up partaking of the little money and leaving the big money behind.

In other words, you’ve marginalized your history for no good reason other than to make money. And it’s not so much.

So you put this stuff behind a pay wall and people like me can’t reach and talk about it and then you lose out on so much promotion!

What is your business?  Is it selling podcasts, doing live shows or..?

I’d say the big money is doing gigs. Selling merch at those gigs. What flows from those gigs. Anything that helps build that ultimately benefits you in the long run.

I used to charge for my writing. Now it’s free and I make much more money and my profile is much higher.

I know, I know, some of your stuff is free!

But that brings me back to my initial question–How many are you actually selling?

And I’ll tell you one more thing, a friend manages this act Corey Smith. You may not have heard of him, but he makes millions. They’ve experimented. Every time they stop giving the music away for free online, their iTunes sales falter.

Meanwhile, isn’t your goal to have everybody have your app?  So you can push them stuff 24/7?  Now a small fraction of your audience has the app and you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face.

I’d love to be disabused of the above. I’d love to hear you’re making $100,000 a year selling apps and iTunes downloads.

But I doubt it.

I’d bet the amount you make in a year is less than you do for two nights in a club.

It’s about the reach.

I’d love to hear I’m wrong, that you’re making a fortune on the app and downloads.

Clue me in!


From: Bob Lefsetz
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

One more thing, rereading this–

You’re only doing yourself a disservice.  My audience now can’t hear your work, which is only hurting you.

So everybody I turned on to you today will shrug their shoulders and think you’re just another mercenary man who doesn’t get it.

They won’t be able to listen.

So, you can preach to the converted. I tried to broaden your audience. Which now backfired, makes me look bad, and it makes me wary of linking to you in the future.

Just being honest here.

I’ve got tons to write about.

You’re ensuring that I don’t write about you.

It’s like only being able to write about Robert Plant’s album with Alison Krauss and being unable to write about Zeppelin because people can’t hear it.

From: Marc Maron
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

Okay, I will tell where we are at.

We are doing very well considering there was really no model for this and I had no idea how to run a business of any kind.

Initially we ran on donations from a core group of loyal fans. All the episodes were free and we had one sponsor–a coffee coop in Madison Wisconsin who paid four hundred a month and gave me coffee.

As the podcast picked up momentum our server, Libsyn, started sending advertisers our way. Our choice of what we would run and we split the bread with them.

As the show got even bigger and we became credible with attention from NYT, Ira Glass and some huge guests we found ourselves in a position to challenge the old radio advertising paradigm. We had definitive numbers not spun ratings books and bullshit. We began to build relationships with unique advertisers. Some of them old timey terrestrials like Pro Flowers and now but many more boutique profile outlets like IFC, SubPop, AMC, Adult Swim, ITVS, My Damn Channel, Comedy Central interactive and independent sellers of things. This become a big business for us. We have rate sheets and different tiers of presence available on the show.

The app business does well for us. The apps are all free. The upgrade is a few bucks. It enables people to stream all of the episodes and get occasional unique content. It’s not a million dollars but it is certainly up there in the tens of thousands. We are about to make the first 100 episodes available on 2 DVDs of MP3s as well.

The pay per episode on iTunes has done well for us. Some episodes are insanely popular and have sold very well and continue to sell well. Again, not music business money but an okay living money when combined with the rest of it.

Merch has become a big part of the business online and on the road. I have built a bigger audience so the road is getting good. It is gratifying especially after 25 years of pounding my head against the wall.

All combined we do all right. I split my bread with my producer who works out of NYC. We have a small operation.

So, in actuality, as I said, ALL  episodes are free for about six months.

I  have found that people want to support the show. After time they realized it was a lot of work and they enjoyed it twice a week and actually felt a little guilty that it was free. Most of my fans are adults or very sensitive, bright kids.

That’s the lowdown. It’s all a surprise and we are learning as we go. The real issue becomes how do you grow an audience in a medium that has a definite ceiling. Only a very small percentage of the world listens to podcasts. Each of my episodes gets over 200,000 downloads. How many more people are even taking in the medium? I imagine we all will eventually but now it is still early on.

Sorry if it caused you any problems.



From: Marc Maron
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

One more thing, rereading this-

I don’t know what you think my draw potential is but I just sold out my first theater in my 25 year career and that was in Seattle and it was 800 people and that is by far the most tickets I have ever sold in my life for one night or even 4 nights.


From: Bob Lefsetz
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

Thanks for the full report.

1. Can I have permission to send our thread to my readers.  The interest in new business models is huge and you’ve outlined one here.

2. I’m gonna forward a couple of emails from people now pissed the show went behind the pay wall. Just for your info. If you’re making more money charging, than more power to you.


From: Dave Cedrone
Subject: Re: Gallagher On WTF

I love your letter but this one frustrated me. I’ve tried and tried, and despite having an hour as your opener asks, I cannot access this without signing up for Marc’s premium content, which I won’t. Maybe you can convince him to unlock this one since you featured it? Also appears to be two places to get it, your link below, and this link ( both of which lead me to this stupid paywall. Grrrrr.

I found you via Howard, am a huge McMurtry fan, and saw Marc Maron on "The Green Room with Paul Provenza," which you might check out on Shotime if you haven’t already. Great stuff. Happy Holidays Bob.

Dave in the Heights, Houston TX


From: Roy Jay

Subject: Re: Gallagher On WTF

You want an hour of my life and you want me to pay for it?  Now you might be asking too much 😉


From: Marc Maron
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

I think we can get you a link that will be unlocked. I will talk to my producer. He’s in NYC and  is busy re-working the Patrice Oneal episode that we are putting out tonight as a re-release with a brief eulogy. He passed away today.

In terms of turning people on to the show there are always 50 episodes available at and iTunes for free. Like the Dice one you mentioned and many others. The Norm MacDonald is a recent personal favorite.

So, let me talk to my partner and I’ll get back to you in the morning re a new link and whether you can post the thread. Cool?

I just want to make sure he’s in the loop and he’s in the shit right now working.

I’m crashing in a few. Feel a bit ill and sad. Lost a friend today.

Again, sorry if i caused you aggravation over that link.



From: Marc Maron
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

Here’s a new link. I’ll let you know about posting that thread in the morning.



From: Marc Maron
Subject: Re: Hey, heads up.

You can run that thread if you want.


2 Responses to Maron/Lefsetz


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  1. Pingback by Comedy Around the Web, Vol. 1 « WitOut | 2011/12/02 at 10:56:07

    […] posted this email exchange between Marc Maron and Bob Lefsets on the business of podcasting. It’s a good read for people […]

  2. […] Bob Lefsetz shares a conversation he’s having about a new entertainment business model – MEB, APE, SDVM […]

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