• This is a series of guest posts by Budi Voogt, who runs an artist management agency and record label, and writes a blog about music marketing and the industry. His book, The SoundCloud Bible, is launching soon.
Looking to gain an audience for yourself and your music outside of where you’re from? Not old enough to play in clubs yet? Feel you’re too old to play in clubs? Need the discipline of a regular gig even if you don’t have a DJ residency? Feel your music isn’t understood where you’re from? For all of these reasons and many more, having your own DJ podcast is a great idea. This series will show you how to do it.
A bit of background…
Back in the day we used to have radio. Now, with the rise of the internet and social media, that platform is hardly relevant any more. Maybe you’ll listen to it when driving your car, but I guess rarely any more than that. Perhaps your parents still listen to the radio a lot. I rest my case. With the fall of radio has come the rise of “podcasts”: digital media products that are delivered in episodes.
Both DJ mixes and live sets work well in this format, as do radio shows or interviews. Indeed, podcasts are becoming the main platform for pushing such content: think of Armin van Buuren’s “A State Of Trance” or the Defected Records “Defected In The House” mixes. These big guys are all using podcasts to make sure people listen to their content. And so can you.
Podcasting actually started off as something quite obscure and specialist; it took a while to find its feet. However, in the end it’s not surprising that podcasts took off: Apple and its iTunes store kind of made that inevitable. With the major popularity of iPods and iPhones, Apple’s allowing its users to publish and subscribe to podcasts through the iTunes store made podcasting big news.
Thanks to iTunes, it is easy for suppliers to access a large audience through what has become pretty much the preferred music delivery platform. For subscribers, there is a wide variety of podcast shows to subscribe to, and all they have to do to access the content is click some buttons in the store. They don’t even have to download anything separate to get started. Besides that, the iTunes store subscription allows “notifications” for when a new episode of a podcast is published, encouraging more interaction.
Now more than ever, it really is a great idea to produce decent online content, and then to get it not only on iTunes as a podcast, but also on services like SoundCloud and YouTube too (or Mixcloud, or MixCrate, or any of the other services that offer similar streaming). So in this series we’re going to show you how to go from concept to finished, published podcast, concentrating on helping you to get your content on iTunes, YouTube and SoundCloud.
This time we’ll look at the concept and recording your podcast, the next article will help you to get the material on YouTube and SoundCloud, and the final part will look at iTunes. Once you know how to do it, though, the methods are pretty much the same whatever service or services you choose to use.
Picking a concept
So let’s get going! And to start your own podcast, you’ll need to develop a concept. You want to create something that stands out, is unique and most importantly, that people will love so much that they’ll want to hear the next episode too. Elements of a good concept include its contents, name, visual presentation and more. You need to figure out what type of podcast you want to host and with what content you’re going to do it. Here are the elements you need to have covered:
- Your material – Assuming that you’re a DJ, you are naturally going to want to publish a DJ set or a live mix, right? All pro DJ software such as Traktor Pro, Serato DJ and Virtual DJ offers options to record straight to your hard drive. If you’re playing with CDJs or other decks, you’ll need to record your master output via a sound card into a laptop, for instance, or using a dedicated digital recorder. (If you were lucky enough to have picked up the Pro Mixtape Formula course from this site recently, you’ll have a great head-start in producing fantastic sounding DJ mixes…)
- Name – A brand needs a name. A damn cool name at that. I recommend you pick something that makes the podcast sound like a stand-alone entity and that is related to your artist name and/or music’s genre. Here are names of popular shows to help you along: A State Of Trance, Club Life, Remedy Sessions, Release Yourself. All of these sound like they are separate entities and brands of their own. Work with that
- Frequency – Determine how frequently you want to issue your shows. Typical DJ podcasts are issued once a month. However, more frequently is possible too and might be better if you want to establish an audience quicker. Keep in mind though that preparation can take a lot of time and that people become reliant upon your delivering. Don’t promise to do it once a week if you aren’t 100% sure you can always make that happen. Besides, it should always be quality over quantity. One great show a month beats two crappy ones
- Artwork – An important element of creating a recognisable and trademark style is good artwork. You’re going to want to create a visual style for your show in which you can display its name, but also add the episode number and possible guests. In terms of files, you want to get a square image (of at least 1400×1400 – iTunes requirements) and possibly a cover for Facebook (dimensions 851 x 315). For an idea of the kind of things that work, check out this and this
- Introduction – You’ll earn extra credits if you add a nice introduction to your podcast. Adding a short snippet of 30 seconds to the start of all your episodes will give your show something that’s instantly recognisable. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the epic intros of the Defected In The House or BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix for an impression. You can craft such an intro using a DAW like Fruity Loops or Ableton
- The spoken word – Are you going to use speech recordings in your show? This could be useful if you want to interview people or talk about a subject. If this is the case, you’re going to need a decent microphone to record this. There are good digital mics out there that plug straight into USB, or you may want to put the output of your DJ controller through a mixer and add the mix there, or try your controller’s built-in mic input – beware that cheaper controllers don’t route the mic through the software, though, ruling out digital recording from within your DJ program. You’ll probably have to experiment here
- Guests – Many DJ podcasts and radio shows frequently have guest mixers in their shows. It’s a great way to easily get new content and to diversify it, but most importantly, it’s an incredibly efficient way of attracting listeners. Say you’re planning on doing a monthly show with a set of an hour, you could ask a guest to deliver a mix of an hour and easily provide two hours of content on a monthly basis. Ask the guest DJ to promote the podcast on social media once it goes live. His or her audience (that probably didn’t even know about your show) will be directed to it. The guest gets attention, you get a bigger audience. Win-win
By following these steps you should be able to piece together a solid concept for your podcast show. Make sure you stick to it, as consistency is essential in developing a name for your brand. Make sure you don’t underperform in any of these parts: for example, lousy artwork could make people skip your show, even though your actual audio content could be superb. Put on your A-game!
Some things to consider
Before we can move on actually publishing your podcast show, there’s a few things you need to have considered.
- Distribution – Where are you going to publish your podcast? I recommend that you push the audio through SoundCloud and iTunes podcast, and a video through YouTube. (As for the latter, you can do this by either encoding your audio file as a video file, adding some still imagery, or for bonus points, videoing yourself while you are recording your podcast. People actually tend to favour the more personal approach – more next week on this.) Anyway, whichever of these services you go for, be strict about publishing there on time
- Copyright – The tracks that you’re going to play in your set belong to someone and they have copyright on them. The rights holders are often artists, labels and publishers. To legally play those tracks in your set, you need to get permission from these rights holders to use the track. Sometimes this can be granted for free, however typically this is arranged using a licence agreement. Here the licensee (in this case you) pays either a flat fee or a rate per use (say minutes played) to the licensor (rights holder) for permission of use. Now honestly, this whole process of “clearing tracks” and “obtaining licences” is something that’s only really done by the bigger boys. There are tons of DJs out there using copyrighted work without permission, and often the rights holders allow it as it’s free promotion for them – as long as you’re not making money from your podcast, of course. Still, shows like BBC1’s Essential Mix clear everything that is aired on their show. This can be too expensive and time consuming for a small DJ, but at least you now know this is how things work – and why SoundCloud in particular may without warning remove your mixes. You have been warned…
- Will it get heard? – This is something you have to be critical about. Think about how solid your fan base is…. regardless of whether you have a huge amount or not, this whole podcast thing will work much much better if you have at least a few dedicated supporters that are going to be willing to spread the word about your podcast. To ensure that you’ve laid the foundation for your show to catch on, you should have set up at least the following: a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube Channel and SoundCloud account. Make sure to interlink everything, add a contact email and possibly a biography. Bonus points for having your own domain to link it all
Capiche? Good. Seneca said that “luck is when preparation meets opportunity’. I believe that is true, so prepare the best you can!
Once you’ve got your concept nailed and your first show recorded, it’s time to get it out there. We’re going to start with SoundCloud and YouTube next time, then move on the following time to look at iTunes.