At The 2019 NAMM Show, Chris Bates and Tyler Marolf of TeacherZone and Los Rios Rock School shared why and how to start a podcast. Bates and Marolf have produced 21 podcast episodes for their music lesson and performing arts business. The podcasts have been streamed more than 8,000 times and now have listeners all over the world. Here are highlights from their session. (Watch the video for the full session.)
Podcasting builds community. And for small retailers, it can do so in an increasingly global world. Podcasting also builds a tribe. Your business may be music retail, lessons, performance or all three, and ultimately, you want to create fans of each business. Podcasting also helps you make friends and build trust. You’re bringing people into your business or home. It’s intimate. Plus, you’re including people who might not feel comfortable interacting in person. Bates commented that if you affect just one person, it’s worth doing, as it can change your business. And, of course, podcasting gives you a voice. It enables you to share yourself with your community.
Smartphones have driven podcast usage. According to podcastinsights.com, there are currently 630,000-plus podcasts with 77 percent of listeners ages 15–54. Forty-nine percent listen at home, and 50 percent of all homes in the United States have podcast fans. Plus, podcast growth has doubled in the last three years.
How Do You Podcast?
Bates and Marolf brought some basic gear to show to the audience, commenting that you don’t need much to get started.
• A simple USB mic to computer if you’re a single host
• Mic: Shure SM7B (as an example)
• Board: Yamaha MG10XU (as an example)
• Podcast creation and hosting apps, such as Spreaker or Libsyn
• Livestream to YouTube
Bates also shared a DIY hack to make long-distance guests sound as if they’re in the same room on your podcast. You can do this on your iPhone or Mac:
1. Use iPhone earbuds, and FaceTime your guest, so you can see each other and give signals when needed.
2. Put your headphone cans on, and use the countdown “3, 2, 1, record.” (Press Record.)
3. Use the same countdown to start your bumper music or intro.
4. Hit Stop when you’re done.
5. Your guest should Dropbox or Google Drive you his or her file. Add it to your track using GarageBand or Reaper. At that point, both voices sound as if they’re in the same room.
Create Your Podcast Brand
You’re trying to create a following, so you need to create a brand name, niche, website and social media group.
• Create a logo. Also, start your podcast with the same music and intro for consistent branding.
• Buy a domain. You don’t need a separate URL, but you can choose to have one in order to have a place to host your podcast episodes, blog and other activities.
• Create a landing page or website. Use your podcast as an SEO mechanism for your current website.
• Create a forum. A Facebook Group becomes the portal for people who listen to your podcasts to talk to you.
• Use a transcription service. You can have your podcasts transcribed and blog them for SEO. Consider posting your whole podcast conversation as an article.
How Often Should You Podcast?
Both Bates and Marolf suggested that the frequency is up to you—you can podcast daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Their podcast, “The Teacher Zone,” does an average of one to two episodes per month. Bates stated that their mission is to share ideas with other music schools and dance academies all over the world to help each other grow. Los Rios Rock School has a short, 10-minute “radio show” podcast for weekly updates. Don’t put it off—just start.
Create A Formula—Your Script Outline
Marolf described the podcast medium as storytelling, so you’ll want to create an outline. They split a podcast into a three-part series, “How to Start a Business,” after looking over their outline and knowing it would run long. They also discovered future topics from listeners asking them to expand on a specific point.
Bates and Marolf recommended you do the same thing every time. They have only re-recorded a podcast once—they said they tried to read the outline during the podcast and didn’t sound authentic. Here is their outline for “The Teacher Zone”:
• Bumper music. It includes a bell that’s built into Spreaker. They use their own music, so they don’t have to pay for rights.
• Intro. Bates and Marolf introduce the podcast.
• Ads. This includes sponsor mentions. (“Brought to you by …”) According to Bates and Marolf, you may want to turn off the commercials (to monetize) because you can’t control what the advertising is.
• Topic. It could be part of a series.
• Main points
Topics and Guests
Who would your audience like to hear from? Bates and Marolf declared they’ve only had five guests in 20 episodes, so don’t be worried about who to feature. You have friends who can tell interesting stories. Have other podcasters on, and promote each other!
Editing Your Podcasts
• You can podcast live and not edit a thing. If you choose to edit, Spreaker is an app that Bates and Marolf use, but Marolf suggested Googling the top 10 podcast software brands and choosing one. You can hit live or offline. Their first two episodes had no editing because they were learning and just went for it.
• Bates and Marolf mentioned using GarageBand for editing. If you have a Mac, GarageBand is already loaded and easy to use.
• Once you’ve created a podcast, release it to the world. Use an online software that distributes your podcast as soon as you post it. Once they go live, Bates and Marolf have a couple hundred followers that will download immediately through Apple or Google Play. Spotify and iHeartMedia require you to have a minimum number of podcasts before applying. Use an email list and social media to get listeners. It starts stacking up, and your fans start sharing.
• You can pay to get listeners. You have the option of using marketing strategies, such as email, ads, guest speaking on other podcasts and so forth to increase your reach and visibility. Facebook ads can generate listeners.
And, once again, don’t wait. Be consistent, and don’t give up!