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Personal experience: how I started a podcast studio
Personal experience: how I started a podcast studio

Lika Kremer - about her journey from the editor-in-chief of the Snob publication to her own podcast studio "Either / Either".

Personal experience: how I started a podcast studio
Personal experience: how I started a podcast studio

The Libo / Libo podcast studio appeared just a few months ago and is now actively working on several shows at once - about ethical norms, rules for starting a business, teenage thinking and the history of Russian sex. We talked with the co-founder of the studio Lika Kremer and found out why it is necessary to record the releases right now, how the project works from the inside and what it is like to develop a format popular abroad, which is just beginning to gain momentum in Russia.

First experience of creating podcasts

Before the opening of the podcast studio, I was the editor-in-chief of the Snob publication and the host of the Here and Now program on the Dozhd TV channel. In the spring of 2016, I realized that more than anything else I wanted to work at Meduza, dropped everything, moved to Riga and became the head of the video department. At that time, I had been regularly listening to podcasts for several years, and it turned out that among my colleagues there are also fans of the audio format: these are Alexey Ponomarev, Pavel Borisov and a few other people. In our free time, we recorded and tried to convince the management that we should try making podcasts for Meduza.

When we launched, they started scolding me for endlessly distracting employees from their main work with my podcasts. There was even an internal meme that "Lika cannibalized" Medusa "", involving everyone in the recording of the episodes. It was difficult at first, but we were persistent and consistent enough that after a few experiments something similar to the product began to emerge. And then the editors decided that Meduza should have a podcast department, which I headed. This is how I began to manage all the audio shows that were just in their infancy, including one of the most popular podcasts in Russian, "How to Live".

It seems to me that I can feel what kind of product can be in demand. In addition, I followed the English-speaking industry and saw how podcasts are developing there and how quickly the number of listeners is growing. And, of course, an important role in our success was played by the fact that Meduza has a large 12 million audience, to whom we regularly said: "Look, we did something new and very cool!"

People responded because they were interested and - what is important - convenient. Under the leadership of Ilya Krasilshchik (former publisher of Meduza. - Ed. Note) and the development department, we released our own platform that allowed users to listen to podcasts directly from the Meduza application. When it is convenient for a person, the likelihood that he will perform non-standard actions for himself is much greater.

Prospect direction in Russia

Audio consumption is embedded in the visual world very naturally. Driving from work, brushing our teeth, or exercising on the treadmill are all moments when we're ready to listen because audio frees our eyes and hands. Podcasts can be played with different motivations: to become smarter or to feel that you are not alone when you hear the voices of imaginary friends, pleasant companions with whom you want to agree or argue in your ears. And these are the people you chose yourself.

Another important argument in favor of podcasts: they provoke an on-demand-revolution (the ability to select and consume content at a convenient time. - Ed.) Video consumption has moved into this mode in the last 10-15 years. A generation of our mothers and grandmothers sought television at a certain hour to see their favorite program. We no longer run anywhere and watch everything when we want.

In the American market, the same has already happened with audio, so this revolution will inevitably reach Russia.

Changes are being introduced into our lives very smoothly: podcasts were invented in the early 2000s, but they have gained a truly wide audience only now.

This is primarily due to technology: the Internet used to be much slower and all the files had to be downloaded to the iPod. Now only 14% of Apple Podcasts users download What's the Difference Between Streams and Downloads? episodes, and the rest listen to them in the stream, because the network coverage allows you to do this.

At the same time, it is not yet clear whether podcasts in Russia will be played in the same way as in the English-speaking world: we do not have accurate audience research. We see how many people come to the open recordings of the episodes "How to Live", "Norm", "Money Came", "It Happened". But still, the audience for podcasts is not comparable to the audience for YouTube. If a popular blogger organized the same meeting, even more people would come.

Study of the format abroad and search for an investor

When I realized that podcasts were gaining popularity, I decided to go to America to bypass all the major foreign studios and figure out how everything works. In general, I went wild. After that, I unexpectedly became a podcast expert for myself, although in fact I learned everything from scratch and on the go. They began to come to me with the question: "How do you do this?" I realized that in Russia there are very few people who understand at least something in podcasts. They contacted me for advice, asked to give a lecture or help start an audio show.

In the winter of 2019, Ilya Krasilshchik introduced me to Lev Leviev, our future investor. And from the first conversation it became clear that we could do something together: Lev was ready to invest in a platform for podcasts, and I rather believed in a content project related to their production. It seems strange to me to promote a platform when there is nothing to download to it: there are monstrously few good podcasts in Russian that can gather a large audience. Therefore, I offered to create a studio.

I believed so much that everything could work out that I convinced Leo of this.

I told him about the New York startup Gimlet, which sold itself to the big streaming service Spotify at the time of the negotiations. It was a very high-profile deal in the market, and I decided that I wanted to use the Gimlet model, adapting it in Russia. Lev agreed because I spoke very convincingly, really believed in this project and had no doubt that we could repeat its success, but in our own way. Thus, I got an investor.

Choosing your own business

When I secured financial support, I had Meduza podcasts and two independent projects that we did with my future business partner Katya Krongauz. One of them is the show It Happened, in which two hosts debate the changing ethical norms in modern society. The second project is “The dog ate the diary”. This is a conversational podcast hosted by three teens, 11, 12 and 13 years old. We selected them through a casting, which was posted on Facebook, and now they answer weekly questions from their peers in an audio show: they argue, tell stories and give advice.

I was involved in my own projects in parallel with my work at Meduza, and this led me to a situation of conflict of interest.

With my left hand, I launched the podcast "Give birth first" in Riga, and with my right foot, the show "The dog ate a diary" in Moscow.

At the same time, I enlisted the support of an investor and received several promotional offers. In general, it became clear that it is impossible to combine two things, so you have to choose: create a podcast studio at Meduza or do your own project. In a way, this is where the name "Either / Either" appeared - it was necessary to decide, and I did it.

As soon as I realized that very soon I would become a co-owner of the company, I fell into a terrible panic. I am not the most systematic person and cause quite a lot of chaos. It turned out that I would be in business, although I do not understand anything about entrepreneurship. The only thing I know how is to come up with projects, find interesting and professional people, engage them and turn them into employees.

The very first person with whom I went to consult was lawyer Dmitry Grits. He explained to me all the subtleties: how to draw up contracts with contractors, hire employees, which is better - LLC or individual entrepreneur. Then I turned to Sasha Mansilla-Cruz, my friend and business consultant. He helped draw up a competent business plan and figure out how not to spend all the money from an investor instantly. Then we started communicating with an accountant and learning about tax systems. We talk about all this in the podcast "Either it comes out or not." It helps to understand how people who know nothing about business learn this process.


Initially, I had a partner who appeared even before the studio opened - Katya Krongauz. We both have a lot of energy. We constantly invent, fuss, run and negotiate, so we needed a calm, measured and structured person.

Podcast Studio: Lika Kremen and Katya Krongauz
Podcast Studio: Lika Kremen and Katya Krongauz

Andriy Borzenko became such a colleague. The three of us are the backbone of the studio, but we quickly got a fourth employee - Polina Agarkova. She met me when she was interviewing for her graduate work at the Higher School of Economics. Polina asked very sensible questions, so I invited her to be an intern with us. Almost immediately it became clear that he is an irreplaceable member of the team, so now we are sharing responsibility with her, getting feedback and seeing a huge contribution to our work. In general, Polina is our junior, but already a full-fledged partner.

Podcast studio: Andrey Borzenko, Lika Kremer, Katya Krongauz
Podcast studio: Andrey Borzenko, Lika Kremer, Katya Krongauz

In addition to her, the team has a sound designer and editing director Ildar Fattakhov from the city of Noyabrsk. Once he heard one of the episodes of the podcast "It happened so", wrote to us on social networks and offered to help with the sound absolutely free, because he listens to us and loves us. From that moment on, Ildar collected all subsequent issues of the show "It happened so" and did not ask for a penny for it. He now does at least half of the Either / Either studio podcasts.

This spring I wrote in Telegram that we are looking for an editor who loves freedom and interesting projects, a little punk and a little editor. 30 people responded to the post, some of whom turned out to be experienced professionals. Two of them became editors of the podcast "The Dog Ate the Diary" - Ilya Arzhadeev and Pavel Tsurikov.

There was another wonderful story that happened to me in the spring. I was doing a course at the British Higher School of Art and Design, and Arthur Belostotsky called me with an offer to become one of the teachers. I heard that he was doing the podcast “Brewed a Business”, but I was a little taken aback by such impudence, so I refused and invited him to just go to the course and listen. At that moment he was in Ulyanovsk, so he said: "Is it better for my wife to come to the course?" I was surprised again, but when Anya took her classes, she turned out to be one of the best students.

Later I read an interview with Arthur, listened to his podcast and realized that this is absolutely my person. Alex Bloomberg, CEO of Gimlet, is as much of an authority to him as he is to me. I thought we urgently needed to work together. Arthur is currently producing and editing two projects for us, including the podcast Either Come Out Or Not.

At the very beginning of our work, we contacted the girls who are doing the show "Norm", and realized that we were drawn to each other. They offered to make a joint project about motherhood. It will be out very soon.

Podcast formats

A spoken podcast is easier to record because it focuses primarily on the presenters. If the show has a clear idea, and the hosts are witty and charismatic people, then there are no problems: they sit in front of the microphone, talk for about an hour and a half, and then the issue is edited from this conversation. The sound should be of high quality, and the editing and editing should be reasonable, but overall the production cycle is quite understandable.

We are just starting to experiment with narrative podcasts. They need a script, so this is a trickier thing. There are three parts: what you come up with, what you want to tell, and what needs to be obtained.

The work is comparable to the production of a documentary film: there are always empty cells that need to be painted over.

In some cases, this requires a business trip to another country, and sometimes a long hunt for a specific hero. You try to get a single picture, but you never know for sure if you can complete this puzzle. It takes a lot of time, effort and agony, but the result is much less predictable than in conversational podcasts. Plus, narrative shows are more expensive as the production process takes longer.


By the time of opening, we had not spent a lot of money, but there are things that cannot be saved on, for example, a lawyer. I felt confused and anxious, so it was important for me that all actions were carried out according to the rules and did not break the law. We still allocate quite a lot of money for this item of expenditure, because in the long run, if screwed up, everything can cost many times more.

If you cannot write a business plan yourself, it is very important to involve an interlocutor, friend or professional consultant. He will sit with you for several hours or days, but outline preliminary directions of work for the next year. When you roughly understand what to do and how to make money, it helps a lot. I check our business plan almost every day, and the fact that we fit into it calms me down. At the same time, you need to remain flexible, analyze and discuss what you are failing. The strategy can change, but it is necessary to have it in front of your eyes, especially for such anxious and inexperienced people like me.

The biggest money in our case goes to people, because we are producing an intellectual product. But we bought budget equipment for the studio, because we are not making any risky investments yet, we are very conservatively spending the funds that we have. Spending strongly depends on the specifics of projects and the number of people in the team.

Ways to make money

There are several ways to make money on podcasts. The first is partner shows for brands and advertising that fits harmoniously into the release. We launch some of our projects together with partners. But in the case of "Either it will come out or not," we did not wait for it and started on our own, and after two issues a bank for entrepreneurs "Tochka" came to us, which became a full-fledged participant in the podcast. At the same time, the rights to the show belong to us. This is a completely different way of cooperation than negotiating with companies several months before the launch and agreeing on documents. This option turned out to be much simpler.

In addition, the show "So It Happened" has a partner - the Joom marketplace. He also appeared after the release of the podcast and offered a column in which he tries to break into the show and win the audience's attention.

For another of our partners, Delivery Club, we have created a very cool column "Thought experiment about a courier", which is an example of cooperation for other companies. It's funny, catchy, unadvertising and integrates harmoniously into the content. Between the main topics of the ethical podcast, we discussed situations in which an imaginary courier finds himself. For example, he delivers an order, and the door is opened by a 10-year-old boy who is like two peas in a pod. And then the man remembers that 10 years ago he was already in this house, but under different circumstances. Does the courier have the right to inform the boy that he is his father?

Then a dispute begins: one presenter believes that it is not worth breaking the secret, and the other is convinced that everything needs to be revealed, because otherwise no one will tell the boy the truth. This is a very cool format that could exist as an independent one, but it harmoniously integrates into an already existing structure and becomes a natural part of it.

Podcast studio: our wall is red
Podcast studio: our wall is red

The second way to make money is crowdfunding. Podcasts with a good audience can earn up to RUB 150,000 a month using the Patreon platform. For listeners who make translations, we give a little more than it appears in the public domain, for example, we release the show a day earlier, we thank directly in the podcast, and for the largest investment we invite you to the episode. Most often people translate a very small donation, but this is gratitude for what we are doing.

If you have a great show and a large audience, crowdfunding can be a great way to exist.

Another option is paywall. On the one hand, I say that in Russia this system cannot yet work normally because of the small audience, and on the other, I see a successful case that destroys my convictions: the podcasts of Arzamas. This is such a high-quality and evergreen product that it seems that colleagues are able to collect good money by means of a subscription.

At the same time, we do not provide services for the placement of microphones, the inclusion of recording and technical support of other people's podcasts. If you came, then let's come up with something cool together for everyone to like. We even turned down some orders that might have made us money because we decided on principle that we could afford that kind of legibility. We do only what brings us no less pleasure than the client.

Errors and insights

The best decision is to do podcasts now, not sometime later. You will hit all the bumps in the emerging market, lock in a seat, and have an audience by the time others start doing the show. The market is still half empty and there is very little competition.

A lot of people now make podcasts about money and business because they are advertising-intensive. I'm sure historical shows will be popular. Telling about the past in such a way that it was impossible to tear yourself away is a very accurate, correct and grateful undertaking. Also, I think some publication will make a good news podcast in the near future.

One of the dumbest mistakes we made was the studio in the walk-through room. We wanted so badly to have a home that we didn't even notice this problem when we made our decision. The room is located in the center of Moscow, just three minutes from the metro, but all the time we are talking, people are walking by me. When we record podcasts, we have to close the doors so that employees cannot enter the studio or leave the office.

Podcast studio: there are a lot of carpets here
Podcast studio: there are a lot of carpets here

The second jamb concerns affiliate podcasts. We did not immediately realize that we were not ready to give the rights to what we were doing, so we did not accurately separate the shows for partners and our own.

Life hacks from Lika Kremer

  • Don't start a podcast until you've answered your questions, “Why am I doing this? Why isn't it text? What am I using audio for? " You shouldn't create a show just because everyone is rushing to do podcasts. It is important that there is no better way to tell the story than in sound.
  • Don't try to do radio programs. They are created for everyone and have a very arrogant intonation: the presenter seems to be speaking from a stool. Podcasts are put into their ears by listeners of their own free will. People will not choose to join the company of evil mentors who show in every way that they know this life better. They try to find friends who can teach something in the same way that an older brother, a smart friend, or just people you enjoy listening to would do. Talk informally and don't teach your listeners how to live. A podcast should sound very intimate and create close contact with the audience.
  • Don't expect immediate results and don't stop. Podcast audiences are growing gradually, so post episodes regularly - once a week. At first, they will collect only 50 auditions, but in a year there will be more people. Of course, sometimes it will seem that the text can collect more traffic, but the podcast audience is very loyal - it stays with you for a long time. True, first you have to grow it.
  • Do not sell your product. You will never gather an audience with golimy ads in your life. Podcasts are a choice on their own, so it’s much more important to tell an interesting story than to sell something. A narcissist session is a bad idea for your own show, even if you're not a brand.
  • Think over the format and stick to it. Don't do interviews first, then monologues, and then investigations. Unlike text, the show cannot be viewed diagonally, so the content should be predictable. You need to teach people that in your episodes three handsome men are discussing how to raise children, and every time to give out exactly that. If in the next episodes men are replaced first by teenagers and then by grannies, the audience will leave, because they will not understand what product you are giving out.
  • Make no mistake with the platform. There are many options for uploading podcasts, but not all of them can boast accurate measurements, and reliable feedback is very important. In some cases, platforms count as listening every moment the device accessed the RSS feed to download a piece of the recording - the frequency depends on the quality of the Internet, so it is impossible to calculate it. Most users listen to podcasts online, so the numbers can vary significantly. If you want to get honest measurements, use a platform that is certified by the IAB (a non-governmental organization that brings together the giants of the global media industry. - Ed.).
  • Don't do it cheaply and on your knees. A buttonhole in this case is not the best option. Keep an eye on the sound quality: If you can't be listened to, the podcast is unlikely to have an audience.

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