The world has gone crazy over podcasting, and I have too. It has been said recently that Podcasting is growing faster than anything in history.
To think that each and every one of us can become a radio programmer and people can subscribe to our taste in music is just simply amazing. One night, at about 2am when I should have been asleep, I was updating my MySpace.com page (www.myspace.com/gillimoon) with some new photos and adding friends. You know, the typical business transactions of the new music paradym shift called "artist empowerment". Getting Friends on MySpace has just become my new answer for worldwide domination!
Anyway... there I was adding friends when suddenly I saw Madonna was asking me to be her friend. I thought, heck this is probably just some fan site of Madonna, but okay I'll accept the invitation. Click. Madonna is now one of my 800 MySpace.com friends. But I was curious. I decided to go to her page. There she was, the real deal, with lots and lots of info on her new album which I'm very excited to hear. I was more excited when I saw, center page, a little icon saying "Podcast Madonna's new album". "Podcast", what does that mean? I immediately wanted a podcast just like Madonna, so I went directly to the company hosting her podcast, gcast.com. From there I began setting up my own podcast, not even knowing what it was, but ever so curious. gcast.com then forwarded me to garageband.com, which is their current host for indie artists. I had an account with garageband.com and so it was time to get my hands dirty. It was now 2.40am
I spent the next hour dabbling in uploading mp3s, and creating 3 podcasts under my profile. One about my own music which is at www.gillimoon.com/download. One for my warrior girl music and females on fire artists at www.warriorgirlmusic.com and one for Songsalive! elite members at www.songsalive.org. You can subscribe to all three podcasts at www.gillimoon.com/download.
So what is podcasting? A Podcast is recorded audio distributed via RSS. Podcasting allows anyone who wants to broadcast to reach a huge potential audience online. More info: Wikipedia's podcasting entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast. You need an application, commonly called a "podcatcher" to download and organize podcasts.
Garageband.com, which allows artists to create their own podcasts free of charge, has a very easy step-by-step guide on setting up your own podcast. It's like "podcasts for dummies" and that fits right in with me because I hate reading manuals and guides when getting into new technology. I am too impatient. They sock it to ya in one minute. Here's what they say about podcasting:
"If you don't know what "podcasting" is, don't worry! You're not the first to ask. Podcasting is a new trend, and there are a lot of people who haven't heard of it or don't know exactly what it is. Basically, podcasting is like blogging, but with audio. ("Blogging," which stands for "web logging," means maintaining a web-based journal). Podcasting is a combination of: a new capability for listeners not only to download an audio file (MP3) from the internet, but to subscribe to receive future audio files from the same source or "channel," and a growing trend of amateur DJs creating their own "radio shows" as giant MP3 files published on the internet, including both music and talk. Podcasting is very significant for independent music for several reasons. First, it has fueled the rise of amateur DJs who are helping ordinary consumers discover music that they might never otherwise hear on the radio, These amateur DJs help level the playing field for all musicians. Second, podcasting also allows consumers to "subscribe to a band" and receive future material (or messages) from that band -- just as if the band had their own radio station. Third, podcasting addresses a new generation of youth - "Generation i" - who don't own radios or CD players, but who own computers and iPods. For this new generation, podcasting is what FM radio has been to past generations."
So,... with this small but power-packed piece of knowledge, I began to investigate podcasting further, and I have found that it truly is an amazing phenomenon.
Garageband seems to be the way to go for the startup podcaster. Bob Baker, fellow warrior-boy and trusty friend who continues to think the same thing when I do (way to go Bob!) wrote about Podcasting in his e-newsletter: "I went ahead and tested the service by setting up a page there for my Artist Empowerment Podcast. I posted one of my earlier shows plus a newer one with more spoken word marketing tips and some killer songs by Chris Gallagher, Heidi McCurdy and Denny Blake. The GarageBand podcast deal is pretty quick and easy to use. In addition to basic podcasting, you can also record podcasts by phone, encourage other sites to embed your podcast onto their pages, and have fans sign up for email alerts. I think I'll combine this new Gcast page with my own hosted Artist Empowerment Radio podcast page (which I also publish at no cost using a combination of Blogger, FeedBurner and OurMedia), in addition to a lengthier streaming version at Live365. You should probably do the same with your original music: publish podcasts via two or three various targeted, high-traffic sites. The more places people can access your songs, the better your chances of connecting with fans. However, be aware of the pros and cons of making your songs available to others who produce podcasts. Check out this GarageBand BBS Forum post by Domenic Scarcella. It does a good job of explaining the difference between Direct Plays vs. Playlists vs. Podcasts." http://www.garageband.com/bbs/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=radio&Number=248775&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&vc=1#Post248775
Check out Bob Baker's Podcast at http://www.garageband.com/user/TheBuzzFactor/podcast/main, and his website is TheBuzzFactor.com and http://MusicPromotionBlog.com/
Samantha Murphy, independent artist and podcast pioneer, (who I mention below), creates her Podcast with any recording software (her preference is Protools). Read below on how she does that. The cool things about having your own Podcast is
a) You can have it embedded in your own artist website, your MySpace.com page, anywhere you can manipulate the html code of a webpage you host on the Internet.
b) Fans can listen to your podcast
either through the Internet, there and then from your webpage, or download the mp3s to their computers through a podcatcher download the podcast to their ipods through a podcatcher subscribe to the RSS feed so that every time you as the podcast host change your show, it automatically updates on their computer or ipod (this is the coolest part!)
c) Fans can also take the html code of your podcast and put it on their sites, thereby adding to the ultimate goal of spreading your music far and wide. Talk about viral marketing at it's best!
But what are the pros and cons of that? What are the ramifications of spreading music, what with the new digital download rights arena, the RIAA's feelings on this, and well just how do artists get paid? Isn't that what we want in this new music revolution? For artists to finally be in control of being paid? I mean, Napster was certainly a great catalyst for change, where the consumer became in control of what they wanted to listen to, but it opened up a can of worms on how to allocate royalties for the artist. It has been suggested that Napster created a phenomenon where consumers thought music should just be free. We all understand the concept of sharing music in order to get the word out there, but at a certain point shouldn't the artist be paid for their hard work and creativity? So how can podcasting help the artist? I attended and spoke at the Rockrgrl Music Conference (www.rockrgrl.com) last weekend in Seattle WA, which was a very inspiring weekend for me. I went to a few workshops. I happened to sit in on a really great Panel discussion about Podcasting. Oh.my.god i'm so inspired to embrace this new technology. I have already developed 3 podcasts in the last week. I took notes. I was writing like crazy, because I was eating up every word they said. Actually the panel was also about blogging, which included discussion groups like Myspace.com and where Napster was going, so I'll entrance you with a little update on the world wide web phenomenon for music herewith:
On the panel were Panos Panay from Sonicbids (another trusty friend who picked up my Newsweek interview while lying on a Cyprus beach and loved that i mentioned Sonicbids! What a small world!). Also on the panel were Jeff Heiman from Play Network, Michelle Santosuosso from Napster, Elise Nordling from Soma FM and Samantha Murphy, artist/podcasting pioneer. Samantha seemed to know exactly what podcasting was about and as an info junkie like me, she just sort of took the ball and ran with it at the beginning of the year, so she's leaps and bounds ahead of the pack and seems to be very cluey about what it is, where it's going and what the benefits are.
Samantha said that Podcasting is an mp3 download. It's not a broadcast. Apparantly it will be legislated as an mp3 download. You can create a podcast with talk before a song and after, just like a radio show. You can make that in any recording software, like Protools. (I use Cool Edit because it's simple and you can insert mp3s/wavs and record your voice, but you don't need a Mac or a huge studio set up). It can be from 3 mb to over 40 mb.... but better to keep it light as people have to download it. Fans can listen to the podcast at their leisure through their ipod or computer. Panos Panay says it's like "Tevo for Radio".
Once created it gets fed to other different sources and RSS feeds. Itunes picks it up also, and it can get a lot of attention if it's officially listed. KCRW, the ecclectic public broadcast radio station in Santa Monica CA, was one of the first to create a free podcast (for members) of their weekly show on their website KCRW.org. When itunes first picked it up they had 100 subscribers. In one day it went to 100,000 subscribers. They now have over 1 million subscribers. Not bad for a left of center non-profit radio station.
There are copyright issues that are going to happen... Elise Nordling, radio host in San Francisco who also has her own podcast, mentioned that there are two copyright laws involved when it comes to podcasting. The first is the Song composition - owned by the songwriter and publisher. The second is the sound recording - owned by the master owner/Artist and/or Record Label. So basically, at this stage, anyone hosting their own podcast needs to get permission from both these two entities, which could be the same person. An independent artist who has produced and funded their own album most probably owns their songs and their masters. But not always the case. It can be a real hassle hunting down the copyright owners to get their permission to podcast essentially their song.
At this point in time there is no way to pay/track royalties for the use of songs in podcasts. Podcast hosts have been able to find lucrative ways to make money though. Jeff Heiman from Play Network runs a podcast and he collects money through advertising. In turn, he has begun a nice payment model where he allocates a percentage of advertising revenue to the artists (and/or copyright owners as per above) for playing their songs. But he is always very careful to play songs that are easy to get a release. He admitted that since there is no revenue stream in place yet, that the best thing to do is split the advertising revenue on a favored nations basis. (Each artist played gets the same amount of money).
Elise Nordling and Samantha Murphy only play songs of artists that can give permission for both parts of the copyright there and then. Elise says she simply asks the artist to sign a form and then she can play them. They don't want to go chasing labels and 5 different people just to play their music.
Panos talked a little about Adam Curry, who started podcasting. He mentioned that the best podcasts are where you get to hear snippets of songs in a show of about an hour. Some songs are only 30 seconds long because copyright legislation allows "fair use for demonstration" which is 30 seconds long. This kind of overrides the need to always get permission. (I thought this was kind of spooky to hear this. It reminded me of the early days of Napster when they claimed they were just sharing songs with their friends... yeah 100,000 of them which spread to millions!)
So then the Napster representative began to speak herself. Michelle Santosuosso was particularly concerned for artists and their royalty payment needs, which was very ironic to hear, although I was certainly comforted if indeed Napster is now understanding this dire importance. She said that the RIAA is upset because they cannot collect fees for the copyright owner yet from Podcasts. How ironic again? You know who the RIAA represent right? The major record companies. Isn't is such a shame (I am using sarcasm here) that the labels are unable to stop spreading art, that consumers can control what they want to listen to? Samantha Murphy has been keeping a close watch on the discussions and future of these download rights for the songs. Apparently Ascap and BMI are already collecting $300 a year from major podcasters for so called "broadcasting" songs. The weird thing is that the songwriters are not getting paid? So where is the money hiding? Why aren't songwriters getting paid. They claim it's too hard to divide it up because it's impossible (at this point in time) to audit the statistics and downloads. So why are they collecting the money and who are they harboring it for?
Michelle from Napster offered a cool site to check out called www.musicpodcasting.org. It's the Association of Music Podcasting. I went there and got another blast of information which my brain is just soaking up like a sponge. In their own words, AMP was formed in January 2005 to unite podcasters who play awesome, legally available independent music. We are a bunch of music lovers who have access to great, mostly independent music that you probably haven't heard of (yet). We provide a fresh alternative to the radio you may be used to. It is all 100% legal and safe to download."
At the Rockrgrl panel, Michelle at Napster defined the new era of podcasting as being majorly powerful for indie artists. Even Derek Siver's CDbaby.com has joined in on the fun. He has offered over 2,500 artists' songs to www.podsafeaudio.com, from cdbaby artists who've opted in to this opportunity. It's listed now at itunes. Powerful grassroots marketing stuff don't you think?
Samantha Murphy says that podcasting is growing faster than anything in history. In January there were one hundred associations of music podcasting. www.musicpodcasting.org was the first. Now there are millions, and once you create a show, it's up there in cyberspace in perpetuity.
Success stories for artists through podcasting? Panos from Sonicbids says that it's not about success stories through this phenomenon. Podcasts, EPKs (electronic press kits that he has re-invented with a vengeance), and web blogs are merely tools to get out there. We are living in the best of times, where artists are able to make a living by what we love to do. It used to be about being signed to a label and touring. Now it's about diversifying the access to the world to get our music out there and making a living from it, and the Internet is truly where it's at.
I walked away from that panel on fire and ready to take on podcasting more and more.
So how do you manage your subscriptions to podcasts? Well I've discovered Juice, now on my 7th day of podcast introduction heaven. It's a "podcatcher". I'm getting very cluey on these terms, all in one week. Juice was called Ipodder, but they changed their name. They say "We squeezed "iPodder" out of our name. What’s left is... pure Juice." http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php is where you can download the software to your computer. If you want to listen to podcasts, this program is for you. Juice is the premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere. Once installed, the program offers you a way to manage your podcasts... which music program to play your podcasts on (itunes, Windows Media Player etc), checks for new podcasts when the application is started, and more. If you use Windows, like I do, it automatically sends new podcasts to your "My Received Podcasts" folder that Microsoft creates in your Documents. It's pretty seamless really, and very exciting.
Very soon we'll be able to make our own branded Juice Receiver with preset subscriptions so i can package all my podcasts in one area and have it downloaded from my site. For now, you can subscribe to my podcasts individually. Feedburner.com is another cool site to collate all your podcast feeds into one.
But I like Juice. It uses a yellow lemon for it's logo and I don't know why, but that sucked me in. So, go get Juice at http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php and add my podcast feeds to your list today: Warrior Girl Music podcast, featuring Females On Fire artists and gilli moon http://www.garageband.com/user/warriorgirl/podcast/main.xml
I know my Warrior Girl Music marketing mentor and distributor, Ernie Campagna (former A&M executive now independent revolutionist of the new music paradigm with Experience Entertainment) would say to me: "Gilli, now it's about the artist reaching directly to the consumer. That's it. By-pass the middlemen. You can reach your audience directly now. Do your art and they will come." He then emailed me an mp3 of Joni Mitchell's 1970 recording of "For Free", and her words said it all. She really knew it all didn't she?
Thanks for reading,
Online Podcast Resources
- how to create a podcast (feedburner)
books you should read
Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook
201 Self-Promotion Ideas for Songwriters, Musicians
and Bands on a Budget