If there is really something that deserves the term ‘growing like mushrooms,’ it is podcasts. Currently, you can find podcasts dealing with practically anything, even if it is purely personal. In a way, podcasts have become a new form of blogs. Of course, music podcasts are probably one of the most common around.
But, starting your own music podcast is not such a simple thing as it might seem on the surface. Selecting your music and making a playlist is just one thing in the process.
Creating a music podcast involves quite a number of elements. Selecting the music is just the first step. The one that should precede it is the purpose and goal of the podcast itself. But, as with any other podcast, the one dealing with music runs in episodes, and you always have to think in advance.
Setting up the technical part, recording, editing, and airing your podcast is yet another step that needs careful planning. But, there is a specific element of music blogs that every potential podcaster needs to consider. Does the music you are going to air have adequate permission, i.e. license?
In between, there are a number of seemingly minute details a potential podcast has to deal with. Are you going to have guests on the podcast? Will the podcast include only music or are there going to be talking parts? If so, for every episode, you need to prepare a script.
Then there are specific technical details you need to consider. Are you going to include special effects, like using 3D audio, and how to do prepare these from the technical point?
Only when you think and prepare such elements through and through can you really start making your music podcast.
What is the purpose of your music podcast?
One characteristic of all music fans is that they want to expose an audience to the music they think deserves it. As Oreilly.com nicely states, “music is the common denominator that joins all of us, and it’s a way of sharing memories or introducing us to new artists, songs, and even styles.”
This is certainly the goal of many music podcasters, so their first goal would be to determine what kind of a music show they want to present. Is it a specific genre or genres, or is it just the music across the board they like and should be heard more.
The other thing to have in mind is the fact that music might be the theme of the podcast, but it is still a program on the air. A show. Just compiling a playlist and playing will not cut it. Listeners can simply open Spotify, Tidal, or any streaming services that are emerging daily and pick up their playlist or create their own.
That is why all potential podcasters that want to present the music they love or think deserve attention should think out their show in advance. Possibly, two or three in advance, keeping in mind a common theme or a thread of their podcast.
The other type of music podcast is the one done by musicians themselves. In most common cases, musicians want to present the music they create and expose it to wider audiences. They also may want to focus on different musical techniques with detailed musical examples.
As Music Gateway points out, others involved with music, songwriters, producers, music critics, audio engineers, and others may decide to do a podcast that focuses on music from their perspective. So, how should somebody from one of these two groups of potential podcasters approach this task?
Making a podcast as a music lover
As mentioned above, determining the theme of your podcast is the first step that you need to take. It can be a specific musical genre. Or, it can be a focus on a local or regional music scene. Or, it can be simply the music that the potential podcaster thinks deserves attention. Essentially, there is a multitude of possibilities. So, the theme of your musical podcast is there, what is next?
The second element a potential music podcaster has to think about is the length of each of the episodes. While a radio station always determines the length of a show, podcasts do not have such limitations. O’Reilly (above) gives an example of a music podcast that should last 30 minutes:
“The average pop song is 3 minutes and 20 seconds long. A show that includes six average songs, including talking and an intro, will take about 30 minutes. Keep in mind that more-successful podcasts are less than an hour in length. This is, in part, because of the trade-off between file size and show length. A longer show can take more time to download, which can become a deterrent for listeners.”
One of the major factors potential music podcasters have to consider is licensing.
A composition license is a license that the musical piece’s writer or composer holds. In the U.S., three agencies hold these licenses: ASCAP (http://www.ascap.com/), BMI (http://bmi.com/), and SESAC (http://sesac.com/). A copyrighted piece of music will be registered with one of these three agencies, which will distribute royalties to the writer of the piece of music whenever it is performed. A mechanical license is based on that performance of the song. The mechanical license for a song is owned by any combination of the artist, the recording company, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA; http://riaa.com/).
More on making a podcast as a music lover
To play a piece of music in your podcast, you must meet the requirements for both the composition license and the mechanical license.
Usually, you can acquire the composition license by paying royalties to ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. Look in the liner notes of the CDs containing the music you’ll be playing to see which of those three agencies the music is licensed to (above source).
As O’Reilly also notes “a simple way of avoiding the licensing problem altogether is to focus on independent artists. An immeasurable amount of excellent music is available in all styles, released by independent artists. Several good resources for independent music are available on the Web, including GarageBand (http://www.garageband.com/). Keep in mind that it’s still essential to ask for permission to play independent artists’ music in your podcast, and permission will likely be granted more freely.”
Assembling each and every podcast show requires consistency. This consistency should not only be thematic but also in its technical elements, like the formatting of the music files, order of play, and others.
Having a few shows’ worth of music prepared ahead of time will allow you to ensure that you have plenty of content for future shows, and will shorten the amount of time it takes to cement your podcast’s style or “feel” (above).
This certainly means doing detailed research, not only for each show but for each track that you are going to play. From the artist and title of the song to additional information that your listeners might find useful: the album that the track is available on, where the band is from, maybe some trivia about a member of the band, and a more popular band that she came from. Anything you find interesting about the track, your listeners might find interesting as well.”
Podcasts by musicians and others in the industry
Music Gateway (above) deals with the benefits of music podcasts for musicians and others wishing the music industry. For them, starting a music podcast will allow them to:
- Become a thought-leader – “Your years of experience and knowledge won’t be put to waste, as podcasts give you a stage to speak from a place of authority in your field or specialty, and your listeners to learn from a trusted source.”
- Increase their fan base – Podcasts function as another lead magnet to grow your fanbase or following. Once your podcast tribe starts to grow, listeners tend to be quite loyal based on the value and transformation you have created for them. Their trust in you will grow, as will their interest in your products including previous albums, merch, etc. They also may develop a genuine love for your personality (above).
- Better networking – If you engage guests on your podcasts, it is a great way to meet and learn from new people in the industry, engaging them in an authentic way. You may even rekindle relationships with old music colleagues or music lovers. Never forget that your listeners may also become good friends.”
- Get better at their craft – Preparing for a podcast episode may sometimes require additional research to supplement knowledge, strengthening the ability to organize, explain and deliver content.
- Monetize their knowledge – If subscription and listenership are high, they could be in a position to monetize their podcast through ad placements and other partnerships such as podcast networks.
Podcast directories and other details
When your music podcast is ready to be aired, there are still some details that you need to consider and work on.
One is preparing an RSS feed. This is the element that allows users “to subscribe to your podcast in order to listen to it without visiting the exact website where it is located. A podcast RSS feed also updates subscribers when new episodes are uploaded, so subscribers never have to go searching for the new episodes (Music Gateway, above).
There is also an additional step you need to take. That is submit your music podcast to podcast directories. It would seem convenient that your host submits your podcasts to various directories for you (some do). Otherwise, this is a step that you have to otherwise do on your own, but only once. After initial submission and approval from a directory such as iTunes or Spotify, your episodes will automatically populate the respective directories once uploaded to your host.
Some of the more popular directories are:
- iHeart Radio
- Google Play Podcast Portal
- Promote Your Podcast
The above list of steps and tasks might seem extensive, but it actually includes more specific details. To learn more, you can consult other articles on podcasts presented on BunnyStudio’s blog page.
Some of the technical elements of doing a music podcast would certainly benefit if you engage freelance professionals, and BunnyStudio would certainly be able to help you with that.