The New Disruptors is ready for a comeback with your help.
I want to bring The New Disruptors back for a new season of at least 12 episodes, and I need your support to make it happen. Pick one of the pledge levels at right, and you’ll put me on track to start recording again. For more information, read on.
Update: We're nearing 60%, but I still need your help! On rewards, I’ve added a private members discussion forum for Insider ($25) and above backers. And listen to this special bonus episode recorded June 8, 2018, with Lucy Bellwood.
What is The New Disruptors podcast?
Making a go on your own is a hard business, but learning from the successes and travails of others can help. For 93 episodes of The New Disruptors podcast, I interviewed artists, writers, musicians, cartoonists, industrial designers, game makers, indie facilitators (like Kickstarter, VHX, and Crowd Supply), app developers, and unique independent operators who had either found an audience for their creative work or helped people make those connections. About 10,000 people listened to each episode over nearly two years.
This ranged from Jonathan Coulton explaining how he turned a self-driven song project into an Internet-backed musical career to Marisa McClellan’s amazing trajectory to becoming a national expert on canning foods to Katie Lane's independent legal practice as a lawyer for freelancers to Kevin Kelly creating Cool Tools, a new crack at what the Whole Earth Catalog once was. Sir Mix-a-Lot (Anthony Ray) spoke to me about being an independent producer; Chris Hawker explained how Onion Goggles and Power Squid came to be; and Yancey Strickler, one of Kickstarter's founders, detailed how crowdfunding was changing creative people's working lives. (Click those links and you can listen to or download the episodes.)
In October 2014, I put the show on hiatus as I wound down The Magazine, and had to focus on building up my freelance writing career. While I loved The New Disruptors, it was a significant weekly time commitment, and I felt I’d assembled a big-enough back catalog at that point.
But ever since I stopped airing new episodes, people have asked me when I’d bring the show back. It touched a nerve, people hearing stories of how others had created independent careers or businesses without being intermediated by gatekeepers or giving away control of what they made. I missed making the show, both the interviews and the hundreds and hundreds of connections with people who listened and shared their stories with me or had questions I could help answer or direct them to people to ask.
As giant social networks have consumed people’s attention and many are trying to break those habits and move away, the time seems right to bring creators back to the fore and reboot The New Disruptors, looking at what's changed since its first run and how people build audiences and careers today.
I’ve also spent the last three years increasingly making physical things after a long run of mostly producing digital work. I re-learned letterpress skills, and then printed a book of my writing on a 70-year-old press. I acquired a 2D laser cutter, and have been making and experimenting with designs in 2D and 3D out of paper, acrylic, and wood. I traveled to London to research a book that I then had digitally printed, and for which I handled every aspect of order fulfillment. I’ve also worked with six different crowdfunding and commerce systems in just the last 18 months. These experiences have given me more grounding in a broader range of what people make and how they get it to an audience.
Producing a new year of shows
I’d like to start recording new episodes of The New Disruptors, and I’m coming to you for your help. Guests will be an eclectic mix of folks with small audiences and large ones across disparate fields of creative endeavor. I have several people and projects in mind already, and have spoken to a few about appearing on future episodes.
I funded the first run of programs from a combination of early podcast advertising, some outright sponsorship, and patron support. That mix was tricky to maintain on a consistent basis, which in turn made it increasingly hard to pay for audio editing, hosting, travel, recording hardware, live venue rental, and cover the substantial amount of time I devoted to prepping and producing the show.
I’ve created a budget that would let me produce 12 new episodes over the next year. Those episodes would be publicly released, but backers at the Insider level and higher will get bonuses: early access to episodes, bonus audio, short videos, dispatches from the field, and access to live streams and shows. I’ll plan to film live events, too, and release those recordings to backers.
(Depending on venues, live events might be free to everyone, but backers at Insider and above will get free or discounted admission if there's a general charge, and first crack at tickets.)
The first run had weekly episodes, and I've created a stretch goal plan that would let me scale from 12 episodes to 48 based on funding targets that include scheduling live events in Seattle or Portland, traveling to conferences, and producing some more highly “public radio”-style edited episodes, too. It would also let me expand my set of portable audio gear.
Base goal — $9,000: 12 episodes, a mix of remote, face-to-face, and live recordings.
Stretch #1 — $18,000: 18 episodes plus events with an audience.
Stretch #2 — $24,000: 24 episodes plus events with an audience.
Stretch #3 — $48,000: 48 episodes, multiple live events, some more deeply produced episodes, and more travel to meet and interview creators where they work
The stretch goals don’t scale linearly with the number of episodes, as with more episodes I would also take on schedule more travel and live events and be more ambitious with production.
I know many people would like the show to return, and I’d like to bring it back. Supporting the podcast here means everyone benefits, including you!
Level of support and rewards
Supporter: For $10, you can show your support for the return of the show.
Insider: At $25, you’re a New Disruptors Insider for the year, and you get access to all the early stuff and live events as described above. I’ll also be creating a Discord forum for Insiders and higher-tier backers: you’ll be able to have discussions with me, other listeners, and guests who I invite to the forum. This is a great way to make a one-way podcast into a two-way conversation.
Disruptor: At $100, you receive Insider benefits, and you’ll be mentioned on one of the episodes with my thanks and on the show’s Web site, and receive a special New Disruptors piece of merchandise—an enamel pin of the logo in all its glory! (I also have a limited number of The New Disruptors T-shirts from a print run in 2014 in various sizes, available on a first-pledged basis by size.)
Episode Sponsor: At $750, you help underwrite an episode and have a sponsorship message read by the host (me) of about one to two minutes as on other podcasts, along with the extra message that you're a direct supporter of the show. You’d receive tickets to any events that require them. Your logo or other placement will appear on the Web site for the episode and in show notes. You can also buy a sponsorship for a good cause or waive a message being read. (The original run averaged 10,000 downloads per episode, and 4,000 people remain subscribed according to our RSS feed provider. I cannot guarantee the number of listeners to new episodes, but we’re starting with that built-in advantage.)
Season Sponsor: At $10,000, you can sponsor a set of 12 episodes, receiving all of the Episode Sponsor benefits, plus a logo or other placement at live events and throughout the Web site and in show notes.
(Ads have to be for products or services considered suitable for a PG-style general audience, which includes every sponsor I had in the 93-episode initial run. Ad copy needs to be delivered at least a week before an episode airs, which I’ll be in touch about and provide ample advance warning and reminders. Ad copy is typically a set of talking points and general messages, which I’ll improvise around for one to two minutes. I’ll also provide the standard air check, allowing you to have a copy of the ad in isolation. Contact me if you have questions.)
The New Disruptors theme music is by Jeff Tolbert. The logo is by Christa Mrgan.
Risks and challenges
This project comes with few risks, as I previously produced 93 episodes of the program on a weekly basis. Whether this project funds 12, 18, 24, or 48 episodes, I’m ready to produce a year’s worth of work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)