Beatles podcast mania: Irish-made Nothing is Real nears three million downloads

It’s a love that has lasted years: music listeners’ fascination with The Beatles is “never-ending”, according to the makers of an Irish-made podcast that has cut through the noise and outlived several rival series dedicated to the Fab Four.

Nothing is Real – A Beatles Podcast, presented by Jason Carty and Steven Cockcroft, is now nearing a total of three million downloads as this week’s release of the “final” Beatles song Now and Then coincides with its eighth season and a string of live dates.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to run out of things to talk about,” said Adrian Carty, its producer, who is a cousin of Jason Carty and also occasionally appears on the podcast. After initially embarking on a 12-episode first season in 2019, the team is now planning for a ninth run.

“The problem with podcasts is a lot of people do three episodes and they go ‘I’m not a millionaire yet’,” said Mr Carty of the crowded audio market.

While nobody is set to make millions anytime soon, Nothing is Real has reached “a tipping point”, he said, bringing in advertising revenue through the Acast platform and earning monthly subscription income – via Acast Plus – from listeners who wish to sign up to bonus episodes and/or an ad-free experience.

Jason Carty, a doctor from Dublin, and Mr Cockcroft, a solicitor from Belfast, are multiple Beatles Brain of Ireland champions who have converted their rivalry into a good-natured, detail-wielding podcast double-act, laying down their thoughts on everything from a month in the life of The Beatles – the most recent episode looks back on November 1963 – to songs they wrote about each other.

At a sold-out event in Dublin’s Sugar Club venue next week, the pair will reflect on the key moments that defined the concert career of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Adrian Carty attributes the presenters’ appeal to their consistent approach to research and analysis, with up to 90 pages of notes prepared per episode. The “evergreen” stories told on the podcast have propelled it up the charts, with each new episode on a Wednesday typically garnering 17,000 downloads, he said.

When the New York Times dubbed Nothing is Real “an Irish gem” and listed it in August as the number one fan-led music podcast, it triggered an immediate 5,500 jump in downloads, while other high-profile endorsements – screenwriter Charlie Brooker named it as one of his cultural highlights in the Observer – have also added momentum.

“We’re a Beatles show that just happens to be made in Ireland by Irish people,” said Mr Carty. Listeners now mostly hail from Britain, the US, Ireland and Australia, in that order.

An “issue with scale” for Irish podcast makers, especially those hoping to build a loyal audience without the backing of an established media company, means many give up after a few episodes.

“The better ones will keep going and rise to the top,” Mr Carty said.

The podcast’s longevity has also been sustained by a steady stream of fresh Beatles content, from Peter Jackson’s Apple documentary series Get Back in 2021 to McCartney’s headline performance at Glastonbury 2022 to the arrival on Thursday of Now and Then, billed as the last song to feature all four members.

The band continue to attract listeners who are too young to remember the 1960s, but want to learn more about their legacy, Mr Carty said: “People are fascinated by who The Beatles are and what they did.”


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