One of the first questions I ask producers who approach me about help is: “Is your show a hobby or a business?” Either answer is OK, but I think it is important to know the answer from the beginning. A hobby is something you do for pleasure, something you invest in because you want to — not because you have to. A hobby is sustainable as long (or as short) as you want it to be. No apologies or recriminations if you decide to stop.
But, a business is sustainable. It may require investment to start with, but it needs — over time — to pay its own bills and even to pay you a decent income for the time you invest. A great many independent producers in this country think they are in business, but they are really “in hobby.” They work at something else to put food on the table and cover their health care and other needs. The very best of these think they “break even” if their out of pocket costs are covered — but hardly ever realize that a true break-even would include paying oneself!
I saw an excellent and poignant article about this recently. I urge you to read it and think about whether you are a hobbyist or a business person. The article’s author wrote “Podcasters and community broadcasters gotta eat. We shouldn’t expect them to starve for our art.” The writer went on to say:
“Most fundamentally, a potential radio producer or host needs to be able to put food on the table and pay the rent before she can think about making a show. While some people have the means, time or simple drive and wherewithal to create something, sometimes with little regard to their material circumstances, this isn’t something we should expect or demand of our independent media creators.”