In less than a year, Rory Farrell and Jamil ‘MAL’ Clay have gone from being supporting acts on the popular Joe Budden Podcast to carving out their own lane in the digital space and securing a $10 million bag. If there’s ever been a better example of the saying “what’s for you is for you,” the success of the New Rory & Mal podcast would be it.
On November 2, the New Rory & Mal podcast made its debut on Stitcher’s More Sauce label just months after a public, yet messy, split from their previous platform. AfroTech got the chance to speak with the duo about their new Stitcher deal, life post-JBP, and how other aspiring podcasters can get turn a hobby into a lucrative business.
When Rory & Mal began their podcast journey roughly six years ago, they had no idea it could transform into a career. It wasn’t until they sat with the late Combat Jack, who is credited for spearheading the hip hop podcast industry, that they realized its potential.
“[At first, podcasting] was just some fun thing to do with friends,” Rory tells AfroTech. “It wasn’t until we learned more and more about podcasting that we realized it could actually be a business. Rest in peace to Combat Jack; talking with him really turned my mind that this wasn’t just a fad and could really be a career. With how much attention and traffic podcasts were driving at the time, it became an actual, viable career at that point. Money was actually coming in. Until I really sat with Combat [Jack], I never thought that this could be nothing but a side-hobby that you make some extra dollars on the side for.”
The Joe Budden Podcast was able to make more than a few extra dollars through nationwide tours, merchandise sales, and partnerships with platforms like Spotify and Patreon. Leaving all of that behind to start anew would make anyone nervous. However, according to Mal, they only became more driven to succeed.
“The journey the exciting part,” he says. “You know, going through it and learning, watching things come together, that’s all exciting and fun for me. So, it [didn’t make me] nervous. We knew that our morals and our integrity would speak for itself and I think that people identify with that.”
Creating something of their own came naturally. For Rory & Mal, a formal discussion about their post-JBP future wasn’t required.
“We still have never really spoken about anything in depth. We just kept moving business as usual,” says Mal. “We built our own team of people that we work with on a personal level, people that we want to work with professionally. We were able to pivot and use our relationships in real life to basically land where we wanted to land.”
Where they landed was at SiriusXM’s Stitcher. Stitcher has ranked #1 in Triton Digital’s industry-tracking U.S. Network Report for May, June, July and August 2021. The report ranks the top podcast networks in the U.S., as measured by Podcast Metrics based on average weekly downloads and average weekly users. It was the perfect platform to rebuild a successful podcast brand. They also offered space for creative freedom, allowing the duo to test out new and innovative ideas.
“We have complete ownership, they just want to stand by us through this whole thing and wherever we need them at, they just want to be available for us,” Rory explains. “It’s an amazing partnership. They just understand what we’re trying to do, what we represent. They fully understand podcasts. That’s their thing. For a lot of these other companies, podcasting is just one element of their business, Stitcher that’s them. So they’ll leave podcasts alone, creatively.”
Rory and Mal’s newfound independence has allowed them to push boundaries creatively. Their podcast, which now includes twice-weekly episodes, also features skits and celebrity interviews. And though the freedom to create amazing content was a huge perk, according to Mal, the most valuable outcome from their transition to independence was the change he feels when he gets up and goes to work every day.
“Everybody knows their role. Everybody’s great at what they do. Everybody wants to grow and learn from each other,” Mal explains. “Everybody wants to push each other to be better. And again, there’s no egos involved, you know what I mean? This is not like we’re the boss and you work for us. No, that’s corny behavior. We don’t operate like that. It’s like we’re a family.”
In our interview, Rory and Mal also discuss how life has changed for them, their relationships with Kevin Durant and Rich Paul, and whether or not they really did get a $10 million payout as tweeted by Mal’s brother, Kareem “Biggs” Burke.
Check out our full interview and more when you download Blavity TV on iOS, Google Play, Apple TV and Roku.