The only feeling better than listening to your favorite music, is sharing your favorite music. There’s perhaps no better way to do this than with a podcast, especially given the recent rise in popularity of the medium. Around 90 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, while in South Korea this jumps to 58% of the population. Podcasts are an international medium, and they are excellent for both music fans and artists alike to listen and create.
But be aware that it takes a lot of time and dedication to succeed in this already saturated space. Hobbyists can enjoy making intimate podcasts for small audiences, but to build up a larger following and earn ad revenue you will need to create unique weekly episodes that are interesting and entertaining. Here’s how to get started.
Music Podcast Theme and Format
You may already have an idea burning in your mind, or a particular direction for your podcasts. If not, now is a good time to think about the overall theme and format of your show. This will give your podcast episodes more continuity and help you to carve out a niche in the music space.
Will you cover a certain genre of music? Specialize in remixes or mashups, or focus on a geographical area like your home town or city? Keep in mind that it will be easier to work with independent artists for copyright reasons (covered in more detail below).
If you are a musician yourself, it makes sense to build your podcast around your own genre or style. That way you can introduce your audience to your own music, and also keep your ear to the ground and become knowledgeable about your own industry and fanbase.
Do You Need To Be An Expert?
If you have a certain area of expertise, then that will make for a good starting point. It’s always beneficial for the listener if you can provide at least some expertise. For example, in the Thinking Poker podcast by Andrew Brokos and Nate Meyvis, the hosts offer in-depth strategy and tips along with expert interviews. Others take a more explorative route, intending to expose the listener to new material.
Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman carve a very unusual niche with their RU Talkin’ R.E.M RE: ME?, which focuses exclusively on covering the host’s favorite bands, U2 and REM.
Whatever road you go down, it’s important to add something value that your listener can soak up. You don’t have to be an expert, but you have to find a way of making your music podcast unique, interesting, informative and entertaining if you want to build a long term audience.
Licensing Is Very Serious
There’s no point mincing words with this one; licensing is a very serious issue, and you need to get it right if you don’t want to find yourself facing an infringement case which could affect more than your podcast revenues. Be aware of the myths and risks, and always gain permission.
To play licensed music you must meet the requirements for both the composition and mechanical licenses. This is a difficult process and can be costly. The easiest route is to ask permission directly from the artist and/or recording studio. A polite email can go a long way. Explain how and why you will use the track, and emphasize that you will accredit the artist and link to sales pages.
Independent artists are usually easier to cooperate with, as they will have more of an interest in the promotional elements of appearing on your podcast, especially as you start to gain an audience. You’re far more likely to gain the rights you need from Bob the guitar player down the road than you are to play songs from The Beatles White Album. In any case, make sure you do your research, follow the proper precautions and gain appropriate permissions before using any licensed music in your podcast.
Put Your Podcast Together
If you are playing music during your podcast, then it’s simple enough to break down the show into tracks. If you play five 4 minute tracks, then you have 20 minutes of music. That leaves 10 minutes of introductions and discussions to polish a 30-minute show.
Select your music and compile it into your software. You can use programs like Audacity to do this. Now is a good time to check that the tracks work well together to give a good overall podcast composition. Some songs may clash, others may not create enough contrast to peak listener’s interests. Take your time and line up the perfect playlist.
Next, you can research the tracks to fill any gaps in your knowledge and to give the listener additional information. You may want to speak about why you picked each track. Speak informally and address your audience to make it personal.
Once you have recorded your intros and conversational elements, you can put it all together, using fading effects to bring tunes in and out. With everything lined up, it’s time to broadcast your podcast. Now all you have to do is promote the show, but that’s a different story…