Facing The Dragon Behind Podcasting

With the podcasting market growing by leaps and bounds, the question often arises: “Why would you want to do a podcast?” or my favorite, “Why wouldn’t you?”

The big takeaway from months of studying the podcasting world, for me, was how easily the home studio crowd can add podcasting to an existing client list. Sorry if I’ve given away a secret, but the opportunity is just too big to ignore at this point.

From my own experiences and those of others I’ve known, the average home studio looks nothing like a magazine cover. Most aspiring home studio engineers probably have less than a grand invested in their whole rig and those cats need the work.

I say “those cats,” like I’ve already reached budget-less success and just throw cash into whatever bottomless pit I choose. Nay I say unto thee. If you’ve read the WYWU Road Report on PSW, you fully understand my own investment.

My need was for a way to more-fully engage with the industries I serve by carefully deciding what I was and was not willing to do, day after day. Personally, unless my wife gave birth to them or we consider them family, I have zero interest in tracking and mixing the projects for anyone anymore. But, I already owned most of the gear to do basic home recording and it wasn’t staying very busy or making me a dime.

For about six months prior to launch, I attempted to understand podcasting in the long-run. Was it a sustainable concept? Could it be something based on what I already do and who I already am? Did it require a laundry list of new gear and a crew of experts to produce it? Was I willing to launch with obvious imperfections in the final product?

These were the questions I needed answered before investing in another push to create new content. Well, here’s the list of answers…

Is Podcasting sustainable?

I have incredible conversations with smart and passionate people all the time. Traveling to trade shows has been part of my gig with ProSoundWeb anyway. The only change to my routine that works well for me was in recording these conversations. Essentially, the only new accessory I needed to utilize the growth potential around me was a microphone.

Now that’s not necessarily a new or genius idea, but it does kill two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone. I needed to shift gears to get off the access road and merge back onto the freeway. I also needed to do it without adding significant additional responsibility or expense. I can do this forever. So yes, sustainable. Check.

But everyone’s already doing it.

Podcasting is still in its infancy, regardless of what you think you know. I recently heard a respected podcaster discussing his logic in jumping into something when there already “millions of podcasts out there.” Well first, there were roughly 750,000 podcasts (as of the 2019 NAB Conference) out there, and the life expectancy stands at around seven episodes.

Check me on this…

“Also, a common question is “how many podcasts are there?” and most of the data out there is outdated, but we have an accurate method for determining the number of shows – and it’s currently over 850,000.

There are also over 30 million episodes as of January 2020.

To highlight the growth, Apple confirmed there were over 550,000 podcasts at WWDC 2018 in early June.”

From the 2020 Podcast Stats & Facts page.

If you want something that will really bake your noodle, read Podcasting Is Going Mainstream

A great idea is greater if it can survive for ages. If you put yourself on a timeline from “then to now” you won’t get it. You have to look from now, on through the timelines of generations going forward. We’re creating historical documents, not closing statements never to be unearthed by our great grandchildren.

What I’m saying is this: If you are one of the many owners of a bedroom studio, podcasting appears to be another opportunity for justifying those credit card charges you already made. Whether it’s your own show or something you help create, produce or engineer, podcasting is worth looking into. Just give it the same production treatment as if you’re mixing music.

I’m also going to suggest adopting a more collaborative and less competitive attitude with your work. ProSoundWeb now has WYWU, Signal to Noise, DCSoundOp and a forthcoming Church Sound University podcast. We’ve interviewed some of the same people and even discussed similar ideas but we’re each unique and pushing each other forward. Don’t “hide your light under a basket” and keep the good ideas all to yourself. Get to know others and promote each other as much as possible.

We all have unique voices and perspectives. And besides, the global population is developing a voracious appetite for podcasts that won’t be satisfied with any number of shows. Unless you’re just copying someone else, it’s a great expression of your own unique style and interests. Have fun with it and continuously improve the production along the way.

This generation of podcasters is likely pioneering a format which will evolve over time. The last set of numbers I heard said podcasting generates about 500 million dollars worth of revenue annually with expected growth nearing one billion in less than two years. (also from numbers discussed at NAB2019) If you get in, don’t quit. Focus on creating good content and don’t worry about making money for one or two years. Build your content, your brand and your audience before reaching for their wallets.

If you’re just in it to get paid you’re in the same trap as the starving artist. You must create to maintain your mental health and express yourself. Once your income and expenses place demands on your creativity one side gets the short end of the stick. Either the creativity or the money will suffer, and eventually both. (My theory, no real research attempted.)

My thought is this: if you need extra income and already have the skills and gear for recording and editing then podcasting is absolutely worth looking into. If you have a passion to create, there are no rules about how you do it.

Facing Stage Fright

As discussed in my episode with Michael Lawrence, I fully understand that the ProSoundWeb subscriber list is chock full of committed, life-long professionals who make their living in a world with microphones and loudspeakers on each end of their signal chain. We have fun in here, but we’re making sure to produce accurate information because our audience will bust our chops quickly and forthrightly.

I think my biggest roadblock was basically stage fright. I was proposing to produce a no-budget show with some borderline-ridiculous demands, like insisting on face to face interviews. Recording in less-than-desirable situations was going to be unavoidable. Resolving to focus on the content of the interview, rather than the background noise or the sound of my well-traveled southern drawl at center stage was where I dismissed my biggest fear.

The sound of my own voice has historically annoyed me for years so I can’t imagine what my listeners are enduring. It was useful for tuning PA systems and project studios since it’s pretty tough to dial in. Prior to practicing with the existing studio rig, I didn’t want to listen to my voice. I guess I had my self-doubts and some concern about ridicule for a brief season while planning the podcast. I couldn’t care less anymore, just give me the content and let me have this conversation.

I had to come to terms with my willingness to do the best I could do with minimal investment in gear and make do with what I already owned. I had to decide how to deal with the judgment I feared that was holding me back from something I wanted.

I had to face the dragon holding my treasure and break that monster. I didn’t see it as something I could slay once and “be done with,” so I had to make it an ally. Don’t let the dragon stand in your way, but don’t bother facing it if you don’t even know what’s behind it. What treasure do you seek? What hill are you willing to die on? How important is this to you? Do your homework and learn to welcome the criticism that often contains answers you didn’t even know you were looking for.

(Thanks to KazuN and Bru-nO from Pixabay for elements of the opening image.)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s