A lot of businesses and their founders know they should incorporate, but podcasters aren’t always as familiar with this. Many podcasters work with agencies who handle their monetization and get paid out as a “contractor” or “sole proprietorship,” so they don’t necessarily see why they would need to incorporate. The key thing to remember is that, if you’re a podcaster, you’re operating a content brand that is potentially earning, or going to earn, revenue. You’re a real business and you should set yourself up as one. The first step in treating your podcast as a legitimate company is by getting it incorporated.
When I started my podcast, Float or Founder, I knew I wanted to protect the brand that I am working so hard to build. I wanted to tell the world that even though podcasting is new to me, I have long term plans ahead for it. Though my personal and professional brand are intertwined (as are most people’s nowadays), I do not want them to be dependent on one another legally. Incorporation through Founded helped me handle all the things I wanted to accomplish with setting up my podcast. See below for some of the benefits you get when you incorporate your podcast.
Incorporate Your Podcast for Brand Protection
When you’re solely an online operation, it’s important that you can find ways to protect your brand. Many things, like owning your podcast brand as a domain name or creating a brand, are a great start. Podcasters don’t often make personal websites, as they rely on their podcast hosting provider to create RSS feeds or mini websites on their behalf. Despite this, it’s a good idea to build a podcast website, as well as create some social media channels, to establish who you are.
When protecting your brand in the real world, having a trademark and a corporate name are great ways to establish your brand and ensure no other podcasters can use your name. Incorporation registers your corporate name within your province or across the country, meaning others won't be able to register the same company name. You can also take the additional step of registering a trademark to protect your brand throughout Canada.
Incorporate Your Podcast for Professionalism
If it seems like everyone you know is starting a podcast nowadays, you’re not wrong. In Canada, up to 27% of us are tuning in to podcasts and there is increased demand for more Canadian content. Accessibility to the industry is a lot easier nowadays and there are many initiatives to increase diverse voices in the podcast space. If you’re a new podcaster, it can feel overwhelming to put your voice out there. A great way to set yourself apart is to add professionalism to your brand. Part of starting any new company is making it official by registering your company with the government and establishing yourself as an operational business. The same rule should apply to podcasters. Incorporating your business in Canada is an extensive process but solidifies that you’re serious about your pursuit and in it for the long haul.
Incorporate Your Podcast to Protect Yourself
Recently, there have been a few stories peppering the news about individuals suing podcasters for libel or copyright infringement. You should always aim to operate your brand legally, professionally, and appropriately. Though podcasters hope this never happens, you may find yourself in a situation where you have used copywritten music or published a podcast that accidentally revealed a launch date or other proprietary information before it should have. Even if your podcast guest signs a release or if you’re certain you found the music on a free stock music website, the individual is still able to file a lawsuit against you. If you’re not incorporated, the owner of the song you used or the disgruntled podcast guest you hosted could come after you personally. Incorporation protects you and your personal assets from being pursued in legal action against your company by separating your company from you.
Further, if you have co-hosts coming in with financial backing to support the show, incorporating is a great way to tell them you take their pledge seriously. You’re able to divide up the business shares once you’ve incorporated. If you were ever to sell your podcast or receive sponsorship, your co-hosts and contributors know they will receive fair compensation and exactly what to expect. This helps manage who the owners are, who has the most voting rights, and what percent of the podcast each contributor is entitled to.
Incorporate Your Podcast to Monetize
There are many ways to monetize your podcast, such as advertising, sponsorship, and affiliate marketing. If you are incorporated, people can pay your business directly. As a podcaster who is monetizing, you’ll need to invoice clients, track your revenue, pay your employees, and have everything prepped come tax time. Corporations are taxed differently than individuals, and you may find some great tax incentives or benefits by going through the process of incorporation. If your podcast is making money, it’s a business, and it should operate like one.
I believe it’s important for every business to incorporate and podcasts are no exception. If you’re a podcaster, make your brand official by incorporating your company. It protects you, personally, from a legal perspective, registers your company name throughout the province/country, and adds professionalism to your podcast. You have put a lot of time, energy, and investment into your podcast. Let’s make it an official company!