The Escape Artists’ Next Big Trick

Hello! I bought a company this year! Let me explain why!

 

I’ve worked for Pseudopod for around eight years. I love my job. I get to indulge my fundamental need to aurally cosplay as Chris Stevens whilst simultaneously doing my favorite job; being the MC. Every week a new horror author comes on stage, the narrator does their magic and then I come back and tie stuff off at the end. It’s a wonderful job, just enough limelight to feed my ego, just enough analysis to keep my inner academic happy and every single week I learn a little more about horror fiction.

I love it. It’s my home, a job I’ve held longer than any other.

Last year it almost ended.

Rising costs, small donations and an organizational structure that accreted rather than being built meant that by the time we put out that colossal metacast at the end of last year, we had six weeks operational costs left.

I’ve been a temp in a lot of places. I’ve been a freelancer a lot of others. Neither of those jobs has permanence to them and I’ve had my fair share of contracts end, companies fold and magazines shot out from under me. That’s the nature of the game and if I couldn’t deal with it, I wouldn’t do it.

But I’d never had a company close around me before.

It terrified me.

So, after we’d hauled the metacast on course and got enough donations to secure a good ten months out, I got thinking. Firstly about how amazing our listeners and staff are and secondly about the one question I didn’t want to think about.

What happens next time?

No one likes to have to save someone twice. The thought of having to do this all over again, with diminished returns, broke my heart.

So I got talking to Dan Sawyer and we hatched a plan. Dan is an old friend of mine, a kickass audio engineer and author in his own right. We’d worked together on the Crudrat kickstarter and that had dovetailed neatly with the six weeks of me being up to my elbows in EA’s chest gore screaming ‘DON’T YOU DIE ON ME! DON’T YOU *DIE ON ME*!’. After the third week of hearing me complain, he suggested something.

‘Why don’t we just buy the company?’

There was, it turns out, no reason not to. So, we reached out to then publisher Paul Haring and EA’s own Stan Lee, Steve Eley and made the initial offer. They both said yes. In fact, they both did the equivalent of nodding vigorously in prose form and so we were under way. After five months of admin and due diligence, which, in Alasdair years, felt a little like five years at times, we signed off. So, Dan and I bought the company back in July.

 

We waited this long to announce because we knew, regardless of how we reassured folks, some people would still worry that would mean a drastic editorial step change. It doesn’t, and never will. We’re publishers, not editors and I’ll put this next line out by itself because it’s important.

 

We will never, ever dictate editorial policy. We have some of the best editors in the business. Getting in their way would be as foolish as it would be unnecessary.

 

Instead, our job is to secure the company as it is and expand. Right now, the metacast is going up on the various feeds and that’ll talk about what we’re doing but the Cliff Notes version is this:

Escape Pod, Pseudopod and Podcastle aren’t going anywhere.

-There’s going to be a Kickstarter next year to fund a massive expansion, all contingent on the kickstarter funding.

-This will include two new shows, which we’ll announce nearer the time.

-A massive cross company website overhaul that we’ve needed for ages.

-Narrator pay.

-Expansion into digital publishing.

 

2014 has been vast amounts of behind the scenes work getting this set up. None of it has been easy, not all of it has been fun but it’s all been necessary. Thanks to our listeners we’ve got a rock solid foundation. Our job now is to build on that to create something even more extraordinary than EA already is.

In other words, the water tank is full, the padlocks have been doublechecked and the timer has been started. But, for the first time in a long time, the Escape Artists have a full lung full of air and a PLAN. Go listen to some of the finest people I know talk about what we have planned for next year.

Also, Alasdan fan art. Make it happen, internet.

In the meantime, it’s good to be home.

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