11 Oct 2019

How To: Start a Music Podcast

The radio was a godsend, when you think about it. The majority of the public may have been literate by the time it was created, but that didn’t mean everyone had the time to read the papers. So originally, it was a way of getting the news to the masses.

Instead of ‘extra, extra, read all about it’, you would dial into the BBC World Service and see what was going on. And while it may seem to many that with the advent of streaming services, radio is becoming irrelevant, the truth is that it’s still an essential part of many people’s daily lives, and it’s displayed in a myriad of ways. From ad revenue increasing year on year, to nuclear submarines using the absence of BBC Radio 4’s Today show as reason to trigger a ‘doomsday protocol’.

But radio has other practical uses beyond the threat of nuclear winters. Pirate radio stations were how fringe and banned music was first transmitted. Radio waves were policed, they made sure that appropriate material was aired, so people went to great lengths to air the more risque shows. Most famous were the ships in international waters outside of governmental regulation.

If you read back through the past few months of ‘how to’ articles, you’ll notice a common theme: the internet. The internet has changed the way that people listen to music. It’s changed the way that people market themselves. It’s changed every aspect of the music industry, and the radio is no change. But while the radio is still around in a big was, it has also evolved, today the fringe music and ideas are put out online over podcasts

If you want to find the world’s latest, most obscure country music releases, there’s a podcast. If you want to expose the world to Bulgaria’s newest music copyright laws, you can make that podcast. And the beauty of it is that it’s all on the internet which is open, it’s free and you can broadcast around the globe.

But how do you get started?

Equipping Yourself

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The difference between being instantly viewed as either a professional or amateur podcast is sound quality, which means you need to make sure you’re recording properly. You can start off just using your phone mic, rather than paying for a separate one, but if you choose to do so, it would be best to investigate the various apps available. Take, for example, Opinion. Available to iPhones, it allows you to improve the sound quality of your recording, as well as edit and post it online.

If you do decide to invest in a separate mic right from the off, then the options are limitless. Realistically there’s no limit to how much you can spend, but there’s you don’t need to blow your whole student loan on a mic, decent podcast mics are easily available for under £100. The main decision you need to make is whether you’re going to go for one with an XLR or a USB. XLRs can be plugged into mixing desks, but in general the sound quality you can get from a USB mic makes this function redundant.

The Idea

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As with starting a music blog, it’s vital to make sure that your podcast has a theme. If your listeners are tuning in to find out about the latest updates in the folk music community, an interview with Dubstep’s biggest producer could potentially lose you listeners permanently.

You should also figure out who your audience is going to be. If you’re aiming it at music professionals, there will be terms and organisations you can mention without further explanation – anyone in the industry should know who PPL is, for example. But if you’re planning on interviewing metal artists, and Phonographic Performance Limited happens to be mentioned, then it might be best to explain what it is.

Brand Yourself 

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It’s a safe assumption that you want as many people as possible to listen to your podcast. There’s no point going to all the effort of recording, editing and posting if it’s not going to go anywhere.

It’s possible to earn money from advertising revenue and sponsoring through podcasts, so you need to think of your podcast as a business, and as with any business, branding is key. Find someone who can design you a good logo that’s instantly recognisable. A jingle also wouldn’t go amiss – just a short bit of music edited into the top and tail of your recording lets people instantly know that they’re in the right place.

Branding your podcast adds to the authenticity. It means that people are much more likely to choose yours over any of the competition, but then also when they’re listening, they’ll trust what you’ve got to say. Learn more about branding in our Beginner’s Guide to Branding” article.

Posting and Hosting

The final step is to post your podcast online. With the podcast industry booming, hosting sites have become extremely common, so it’s worth doing a bit of research about where would be the best place to have your podcast hosted. While there are niche sites available for different genres of podcasts, the host with the biggest reach has always been iTunes. However, unlike many other hosting sites where you just upload onto your own page, iTunes requires you to submit yours and wait for it to be approved before it can be hosted online.

Streaming sites have also entered the podcast market in a big way, with Deezer going to great lengths to put themselves ahead. Their 250% increase in podcast listeners over the past few years has had a lot to do with them partnering with big names in the podcast industry. But, as with Spotify, one of the benefits you receive from using Deezer are its in depth analytics.

If you want to jump straight in, it would be worth having a listen to some of the more popular ones already available so you can get a feel of what works and what doesn’t. But if you’d prefer to get a bit of experience first, ACM produce several podcasts by students, for students – get involved!

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