If you interview guests for your podcast, chances are you’ve wondered whether or not you need to have guests sign a podcast guest release form beforehand.
This is a question I hear all the time, and my recommendation is almost always yes. It’s a smart and easy way to protect yourself from potential trouble or disagreements in the future, and logistically it’s much simpler than you may think.
So in this post, I’ll explain why I say you need a podcast guest release form, and what your contract should include. And since I assume you aren’t a lawyer, I’ll also share some of my favorite contracts and digital tools that you can use to create and send digital contracts.
Please note that this post does not contain legal advice. It’s simply my personal recommendation.
Table of Contents
Do you need a podcast guest release form?
My short answer is yes: almost all podcast hosts should consider having guests sign a release form before recording the interview.
There are a few reasons why this is a good idea:
- It keeps you protected if the guest later decides they don’t like the content of the interview and want it taken down or certain parts edited out.
- It gives you permission to edit the episode as you see fit.
- It gives you permission to continue using the episode’s content long into the future.
- It gives you permission to decide against releasing the recording.
Without a release form, your guest could come to you later (even years after the episode airs!) and demand that you take down their episode or edit it all over again.
There have even been cases where someone sued the host of a podcast they appeared on because the host’s views or brand had changed. So even if everyone seems onboard today, it doesn’t mean things can’t change in the future.
And sure, that’s an extreme example. But I think it’s worth the extra peace of mind to know that you are protected from such a lawsuit, even if it seems unlikely.
Is there a case where you don’t need a podcast guest release form?
To be fair, not everyone uses a podcast guest release form. Maybe you’ve even been a guest on a podcast without signing one. (I know I have.) So do you really need to use one for your podcast?
It all comes down to your personal level of risk management. If you don’t use podcast guest release forms, you’ll need to be prepared for how you’ll respond if a guest later demands that you take their episode down or edit something out.
However, if you aren’t sure you want to have your guest print out or digitally sign a full podcast guest release form, you do still have a few different options to keep yourself and your podcast protected:
- Include a checkbox in your application process for guesting on your show that acknowledges the guest agrees to waive their rights to the content.
- Have the guest give a verbal agreement at the start of recording, and keep that for your records.
What to include in your podcast guest release form
“But wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “I’m not a lawyer! How do I know what to include in the podcast guest release form?”
Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be super long or complicated. In fact, many podcast guest release forms are under one page. It just needs to cover the basics and protect your right to use the content of the interview.
Plus, you shouldn’t need to write one yourself. In fact, I have a few recommended free and paid templates that you can download and customize for your own podcast. (More on that in a minute.)
Here are some key points that are typically covered in a podcast guest release form:
- It gives you the right to edit the content as you see fit.
- It grants you permission to use the guest’s voice, image, intellectual property, etc. in your content.
- It protects your right to use this content in the future, across current and future media platforms.
What podcast guest release form template should I use?
The good news is you don’t have to create a podcast guest release form from scratch. Here are some of my recommendations for templates to use at different price points:
1. Gordon Firemark (free)
Gordon Firemark offers law services for entertainers and creatives. He provides this free podcast guest release form for download, as well as other paid offerings after you opt in to his email list.
2. Nicole Cheri Oden ($37)
Nicole Cheri Oden is an attorney who offers legal templates to entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses. Her podcast guest release form (expired) costs $37, and comes with annotations to help you customize the template for your business.
If you use Podpage – one of my favorite inexpensive website tools for podcasters – a guest agreement and release is already included in the paid plan. You can upload your own podcast guest release form, or use the free one they provide.
How to send contracts digitally
So you have your podcast guest release form ready, but how do you send it to your guests?
If you use Podpage, you don’t need an additional tool. Otherwise, I recommend one of these form builders or dedicated contract management tools:
- Jotform: a form builder you can use to create versatile forms to collect signatures from your guests, or more broadly to run forms or surveys for any part of your business.
- HelloSign: my pick for eSignature tools. The free version will get you three signatures each month.
- DocuSign: another popular signature tool. There’s no free version, but the $10/month plan will get you 5 signatures each month.
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Melissa Guller is the founder of Wit & Wire, where we help everyday experts become profitable course creators. She previously worked full-time for Ramit Sethi, Teachable, and General Assembly. Today, she shares simplified tech tutorials and modern marketing strategies through our blog, YouTube, and Wit & Wire Weekly newsletter