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Live and Pre-Recorded Podcasts: Which Is Right For You?

Among the types of podcasts you can create there are two categories that revolve around the structure of the podcast, not the content. Those categories are live and pre-recorded podcasts. 

Live and pre-recorded podcasts can cover the same types of topics, bring in similar podcast guests, and be equal in terms of podcast accessibility. The key differences are shaped around the podcast production process and the pros and cons associated with each type of podcast. 

In the podcast production part of the Mr. Thrive Media business, we work with both live and pre-recorded podcasts. We see the benefits to both and the way you have to structure your podcast for each format. 

In this Mr. Thrive blog, we’ll open the doors of podcast production to dive into the difference between and benefits of live and pre-recorded podcasts. From there, you can decide which is right for you!

The Breakdown of Live and Pre-Recorded Podcasts

On a base level, the difference between live and pre-recorded podcasts is there in the name of each format. Live podcasts are streamed to their audience, and the audience can interact in real-time. For pre-recorded podcasts, each episode is recorded and edited, then published in the podcast directory of where to share your podcast

From editing–or the lack of it–to audience engagement, live and pre-recorded podcasts occupy very different spaces in the podcast industry. They both have their benefits, that’s for sure. Which one is right for you depends on the structure you want for each episode and the type of relationship you’re building with your audience.

Podcast Production For Live Episodes

The podcast production process for live episodes is different from the recording and editing of pre-recorded episodes, but it’s just as much of a time and effort commitment. When it comes to live streaming podcast episodes, the producer of the podcast is typically there as a moderator for the process.

Their job includes making sure the live stream is running smoothly and being recorded for the future. If there are visuals to be put up on the screen, they take care of those functions. Overall, the work of podcast production for live episodes is focused on making sure the stream goes smoothly so viewers and listeners can enjoy every minute of the show.

Podcast Production For Pre-Recorded Episodes

When it comes to podcast production for pre-recorded episodes, the focus is on getting the content created, without worrying so much about the immediacy of the episode. There’s more leeway for stumbles and pauses in the episode, as they can be edited out later on. 

For pre-recorded episodes, the podcast production team can still be a part of the recording, but their main job kicks in after the recording. Editing the recording for accessibility and ease for listeners takes time. More seasoned editors and producers become adept at getting episodes ready for sharing, but the importance of the job remains the same. 

The Pros and Cons of Live and Pre-Recorded Podcasts

Now that we’re established on the process of making live and pre-recorded podcasts it’s time to dive into the pros and cons of each. Before that, however, it’s important to note that both live and pre-recorded podcasts are equally good ideas. The differences between them make for different benefits, but there are benefits on both sides.

When we look at this from the Mr. Thrive perspective, we think about the podcasts we produce. There are many pre-recorded podcasts we work on, and they’re excellent. From GTM Disrupted with Mike Smart to Left Brain vs. Right Brain with Stu Levy, pre-recorded podcasts are successful and draw customers in through engaging content and the skills of hosting

On the other side, there are live podcasts like The Cost of Not Paying Attention with Janine Hamner Holman. Janine’s podcast is live-streamed, with our founder, Chaz Volk, moderating the episode. You can watch it and interact in real-time, and enjoy it in the future on a variety of podcast sites, including Janine’s YouTube channel

Our mix of clients shows us both forms of podcast production are valuable in their own ways. Read on to learn those value points, to decide which type of podcast format will work for you.

Live Podcast Pros

The pros of live podcast episodes include:

  • A direct interaction with your audience: when people can listen to your show in real time, they can interact with you in a more direct fashion, giving you a more engaged audience.
  • A creative edge that can be framed for many different ventures: being able to host a podcast live gives you public speaking skills, and the opportunity to venture into more public speaking and community-centric roles.

Live Podcast Cons

The cons of live podcast episodes are:

  • The inability to edit: when you live stream, what you say, including anything you stumble over, is out there for the audience to hear. 
  • The importance of doing episodes at a specific time: many podcasters use a specific time for their recordings either way, but when you’re live streaming, you’re often committed to a very specific timeframe, which can be hard to maintain.

Pre-Recorded Podcast Pros

The pros of pre-recorded podcast episodes include:

  • The ability to edit: creating pre-recorded podcast episodes means you can make sure each episode is exactly what you want it to be.
  • The freedom to create episodes on a varying schedule: when you’re posting episodes that have already been recorded and perfected, you can post them at any time, and you can record when it best suits you.

Pre-Recorded Podcast Cons

The cons of pre-recorded podcast episodes are:

  • Less of a direct connection with listeners: when you pre-record your episodes, your listeners can still be completely engaged with the podcast and you, but not with the same touch of connection you get in live shows.
  • A struggle to cover breaking industry news: if your podcast is about a subject that has rapid change of any kind, and you pre-record episodes, it’ll be harder to work episodes around breaking news in your niche.

The Balance of the Podcast Industry

Across the podcast industry, different hosts make use of live streams and pre-recorded episodes to achieve their goals. There is a large number of podcasts that are pre-recorded instead of live-streamed. This is primarily because of the efficiency of recording a bunch of episodes and getting them posted without the work of a live stream. 

The majority of podcasts being pre-recorded also taps into the bulk of podcast listeners. Statistics show 73% of listeners use their phones over laptops or desktops. 

On the other side, there is a loyal fanbase for live streams and video podcasts (or vodcasts). From November of 2022 to May of 2023, the number of vodcasts being made grew from 39,194 to 50,800, meeting an increasing demand. According to a study from Riverside, video podcasts can be up to 50% more engaging than audio podcasts. 

Overall, the balance between live and pre-recorded podcasts is balanced because of the different benefits of each format. For some folks, audio podcasts are more efficient. For others, the connection of a vodcast is what it’s all about.

Frequently Asked Questions About Live and Pre-Recorded Podcast Plans

The difference between live and pre-recorded podcasts is a central point of the making of different types of podcasts. Because of that central role, there are lots of questions that come up when you look into live and pre-recorded episodes. Our answers to these frequently asked questions cover some of the base questions, which will get you started on learning more.

Should You Live Stream a Podcast?

Yes, if live-streaming a podcast fits your goals for your podcast and business, live streaming is a good choice. It can depend on your niche podcast topic, your goal audience, and your comfort level in terms of having a live show. Live shows have just as much of a chance of success as audio podcasts, so if it feels like the right move, it’s worth it.

How Long Does a Live Podcast Last?

A live podcast should fit within the same time frame of an audio podcast, namely half an hour to an hour. Something in the middle, around the 35 to 40 minute mark, is generally the best choice. You’ll have longer and shorter episodes, but with the live factor, consider how long people will want to be watching something at a particular time when you’re structuring episodes.

Do Podcasts Have Live Audiences?

Yes, podcasts often have live audiences when the show is being live-streamed. For the most part this live audience is linked into the show through a comments section. Some podcasters have the option for the audience to call in. Overall, the live audience of a podcast is following along in real time, with the option to interact moment to moment.

Do Podcasts Usually Have Background Music?

Most podcasts have background music for their intro and outro, but not necessarily all the way through. There are also plenty of shows that use background music and sound effects for transitions in the podcast, before advertisement breaks, and for repeated pieces of each episode. Using background music is a good idea, and you’ll find the balance that works for you.

Live Or Pre-Recorded: Suit Your Setup to Your Show 

Whether live or pre-recorded podcasts are the right choice for you, Mr. Thrive Media can help you achieve your podcast dreams. From podcast editing to vodcast moderation and management, our podcast production services have got you covered. We can bolster your podcast with our marketing services to reach your audience. Reach out to get started today!

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