Blog: Ron Suarez

So You're Thinking About Doing a Podcast

Maybe you're a musician and you have your own content. That's great, but you still have to secure publishing rights if you performed, but did not write the song. If you not a musician, but you want to create a podcast with music, then you need to be sure your content is podsafe. I have links to a bunch of sites that offer and define podsafe music in my account. Delicious is social software for sharing bookmarks.

What should you put into a Podcast?

Include interviews, so it not just a monologue and let people find out about the artist. Some people may be concerned about giving away their music in a podcast and loosing sales. This should not really be a concern. First, don't put all of your tracks into podcasts. And, since I'm recommending interviews, consider samples, rather than entire tracks. If the interview is truly interesting, then you would not want entire tracks anyway. Each podcast episode is one MP3, so people who want to steal music from a podcast would have to edit it before being able to listen to or share the song by itself to avoid a purchase.

Include enough for a fan to get the feel of the music and focus on delivering the message you want. This, of course takes time and effort, but as music artists, this is what you already do when recording your music. Just make sure to find someone who is good at talking. Be sure to talk about your history and let your personality show through.

Many podcasters use a music only format and if you don't have time for interviews this is something to consider. By mapping podcast episodes to blog postings, you can provide the additional info listeners would like to have in the text of the post.

Podcasting Best Practices

  • Use what you already know about your fans to influence your podcast productions.
  • Commit to a doable schedule (e.g. weekly, monthly) and keep to it. Don't release a bunch of episodes all together and then stop for a couple of months.
  • Provide easy ways for fans to give you feedback about your podcasts and communicate back to them directly.
  • When you perform, let people know you have a podcast. Put links to your podcast on your primary web site and in any print material you distribute.
  • Audio podcasts that work well currently are about 20 minutes in length. Successful video podcasts are only a few minutes long. If people want more, they'll tune into a couple at a time.
  • While you don't need MTV quality, think about what your audience will expect.
  • Deliver information to your fans about your history, where you're heading and make sure your personality shows through. 
  • Write good descriptions for each episode and ideally have these appear in a blog post that is associated with the audio or video content.
  • Follow web standards, so your content will be found and also syndicated more easily.
  • Have a web site dedicated to your podcast, but list your podcast in all the popular directories. Ping these directories to ensure your podcasts get updated.
  • Get experienced people to help you who understand both marketing and the technology necessary to support your marketing efforts.
Of course, many podcasts are not about music and do not include any music. Most of the advice here still applies. Even if the topic of your podcast has nothing to do with music, you can reinforce your brand by having a music clip that goes along with you "station or show ID." Try listening at the Michigan Technology News Podcast web site. Each episode starts with a teaser about the story, then the main content is surrounded by opening and closing billboards that identify the show and sponsors along with music in the background. I didn't have to worry about copyrights for the music, because I generated it on my Korg, EMX-1 electronic music production station, which comes with hundreds of patterns you can remix into endless permutations.

In the next installment, I'll be talking about where you can go to get the tools you'll need to create a podcast.