Scoring Podcasts – My Tools

Scoring Podcasts – My Tools

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18 DECEMBER 2017

written by Mike

SCORING PODCASTS

MY TOOLS

 

As podcasts become more recognised, there is room for different styles and genres of audio storytelling. One of the big ones at the moment, at least when you look at the top charts, seems to be scripted dramas and narrated storytelling content.

With podcasts, you don’t have that many tools behind your belt – it’s all about the sound so, in reality, you have three elements to play.

Dialogues

Sound Effects

Music

Each is important and plays a different role; all depending on the project. For example, with a podcast like Casefile, we tend to go with just two of the elements – narration and music. Sure, from time to time we do include extra elements such as recorded interviews, police archive audio, and even reenactments.

However, most of the times the centre of the show is the narration of Anonymous Host and music underscore for the emotional connection. The goal is to create a complete audio experience with just two elements. The listener does not feel that it is either too much or not enough in the mix – balance is the key.

Today I wanted to talk about my tools I use for scoring Casefile podcast. I treat the work as I would with writing music for films therefore if you are looking at tools for creating songs, this post may not be the answer.

 

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Before starting in podcasting, I always recorded and wrote music. I used ‘normal’ recording with microphones, as well as plugins for computer music. I’ve tested many different sequencers and solutions, but in the end, decided to limit my tools and work with a minimalistic setup.

Just like for mixing, I prefer to work with only a handful of plugins but to know them inside out, to understand how far I can push them.

Limitation often offers more freedom than we think.

For some time I used software instruments in Logic, Native Instruments Komplete with 500GB of synths and Omnisphere on top of that. Before writing and recording, I often found myself sitting in front of the screen thinking what I should use as a cue. By having so many options, I was paralysed with choice and too many possibilities – until I decided to simplify the workflow and my system.

I moved everything to ProTools and stopped using Logic altogether, I’ve deleted Native Instruments and got rid of 500GB of synths. I was left with my favourite synth of all time – Omnisphere. From there, I’ve upgraded to Omnisphere 2 and for months just used that for scoring, nothing else.

Surprisingly it gave me freedom and unleashed more creativity than I imagined. Even during script reading I immediately knew what patch I would use for a particular scene, what kind of sound.

Unfortunately, Omnisphere wasn’t enough. It’s an excellent solution for scoring however it missed a vital element of writing music – pianos.

 

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Enter Keyscape.

When Spectrasonics released Keyscape, I watched all the videos and tutorials on it. However, it still took me a long time to purchase it. I wanted to be entirely comfortable working in just one synth – Omnisphere, before opening another one.

In the end, I got Keyscape, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For now, these are the tools I use for scoring – Omnisphere for atmospheric sound and general cues and Keyscape for melodies, themes and building blocks for underscore.

I often start in Keyscape; I heard a long time ago that by learning the piano you learn how to play all instruments, I think that’s somewhat true.

Keyscape is often a starting point for creating cues, even if I write simple acoustic piano melody I can always use the MIDI and play it through Omnisphere crazy sounds, making the initial themes virtually unrecognisable.

Another great thing is that by using two products from Spectrasonics I have everything in one window – Omnisphere plugin window supports Keyscape libraries as well as other sounds such as Keyscape Creative.

For now, these tools are more than enough to create amazing scores and themes. The other solution that I could use would be an orchestral synth with possibilities of creating full orchestrated music that sounds as good as Keyscape pianos (I’m looking at you Spectrasonics!)

The take away from this (apart from my obvious love for Spectrasonics products) is that you don’t need much to get working and create great sounding scores. Frankly, sometimes too much choice is more limiting than having one or two solutions that you know better than anything else.

I’m not an expert in creating new patches or making sounds with Omni, but if you ask me to score something, be it a podcast, audio drama or even a film – more than likely I will be able to do it with what I got.

P.S.

I’m not affiliated with Spectrasonics and this is not paid advertising – I just love their products!

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Audio Restoration and Podcasting

Audio Restoration and Podcasting

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10 DECEMBER 2017

written by Mike

AUDIO RESTORATION

AND PODCASTING

 

I want to give you a short intro to audio restoration, what I use it for and how you can use it for podcasting.

There are different kinds of audio restoration jobs – you can use it to ‘clean up’ sound for a court, forensic and police needs. You could restore sound from old movies and bring it up to today’s standards and digital formats.

When something is poorly recorded – noisy, distorted, has a lot of hiss or background noise – you can clean it all up with audio restoration plugins.

What I found is that most content creators who don’t dabble in sound, don’t really pay much attention to it. Let’s leave to the side directors and professional producers, but instead talk about amateur or up-and-coming creators.

It can be a lecture recording, a course, a YouTube video or an independent film. More than likely the issue of sound is left to the end, and only after the recording is done, the producers get the full picture – and it doesn’t sound right.

Fortunately, with today’s technology, not all is lost, and a lot of bad recordings can be salvaged and fixed-up to the decent level. Audiobooks, podcasts and radio dramas are a bit different. It’s all about sound so fortunately the quality isn’t left behind. However, especially for new producers, the beginning will be far from perfect.

It’s usually a cheap USB mic and a spare bedroom that acts as a recording studio and with that comes a range of problems.

But what can you do to fix them?

 

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There are different processes that you can apply to the audio in post-production such as:

Noise reduction

Noise reduction will reduce the background hiss and the constant noise-induced with the pre-amp. It’s the best tool to make the recording sound more professional. However, if you apply too much of reduction, you will the recording sound dull. The hiss usually sits in the higher frequencies so when you cut it out, you will cut the presence – the air that comes with it.

Click removal

The are many different kinds of clicks that can occur during the recording, but the most frequent ones will be mouth clicks and lip smacks. Of course, you can try to manually draw them out, but having a process that gets rid of them automatically will save you a lot of time. The thing to watch out is the transients. You want to reduce the clicks but don’t want to get rid of naturally clicky letters such as ‘k’ or ‘t.’

Pop removal

Even with the pop shield, which should be mandatory during the recording, there will be low-frequency pops that will make it. To get rid of them the best way is to apply a pop removal process. A typical low-frequency cut will also get rid of sounds that suppose to be there, that add the bass to the recording, the emphasis on the voice. Pops are much harder to draw out so you will be much better off using the removal effect but be careful – set the strength too high and you will make the voice sound thin.

De-Esser

‘S’ sounding words and letters are hardest to control, especially if you are dealing with a naturally harsh sounding voice. The best solution is to test and choose a right microphone for voice but for new podcasters that is not always possible. Second best thing is to use EQ and a notch filter to get rid of these frequencies. The third thing is to use De-Esser plugin. It works as a compression, reducing the volume of the ‘s’ sounds, don’t overdo it as you will hear the effects straight away.

You can also use the automation and gain control to lower the words and letters manually, but that takes a lot of time to do.

These are the most common processes, there are a lot more advanced effects that can help to restore and clean up the audio, but start with these and move to the other ones when you are comfortable with the basics.

 

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But where can you get them?

Unfortunately, most sequencers do not come with a range of useful audio restoration effects. The one that I know that has them is Adobe Audition. I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of the software as I don’t use it myself. However, I did hear a lot of good things about it so maybe download a trial version.

The ones I use are the top of the market products from iZotope – RX to be exact. These are costly tools but are the best to do the job and all professionals, especially in post-production work, use them.

Don’t despair though. Download the trial version and start learning, before I invested in iZotope products I used the demo versions for a long time – they come with few limitations but if you are able to work with that, only then make the decision to upgrade to the next level.

If you are still at school, you can also email guys from the iZotope and last time I checked they give 50% discount for students.

Of course, I’m sure that there are other solutions available on the market. Do a diligent research, try out trial versions wherever you can and get to work!

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Creating Globally Appealing Stories

Creating Globally Appealing Stories

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13 OCTOBER 2017

written by Mike

CREATING GLOBALLY

APPEALING STORIES

 

When starting a business, a blog or an internet show, the usual advice is to find a niche, explore it, become an expert in it and then go wide.
Competing on a global level is tough so starting with a narrow topic is a good idea, at least it seems like it.

But what if you want to create something that appeals to a mainstream audience?
What if you want your podcast to be at the top of the charts, listened by thousands?

After working on a show that speaks to a global audience, I can give you a few pointers, a few tips that hopefully can lead to a right direction.

 

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Who listens?

Understanding the audience is the most critical point on the list. Gather the data, study it, draw the conclusions.
What are the countries, regions, gender, the age of the listeners?
What do they expect, what do they like?

It’s difficult to create something for everyone, so aim at a niche but think how can you make it attractive for people who are not familiar with a genre.
Do I need to know the technical language before listening?
Do I need to be familiar with the subject?
Ideally, no.
The goal is to create a show that is popular within a niche but easy to start for new listeners.

Remember that familiarity will more than likely bring listeners. People tend to click on stories and topics they already know, the fear of the unknown is real.
On the other side, you don’t want to be re-hashing same old stories over and over again.
A mixture of old and new is your best bet, offer something familiar to the new audience and something different to established listeners.

 

The Structure

If you want to appeal to a global audience, you need to keep the listener engaged from the start and throughout the show.
I understand that not every episode will be the best, but the goal should be to do the best work each time.

Look at other successful podcasts, how do they structure their shows?
What makes them better than others? Why do listeners keep coming back?

There are limitless shows and content on the internet, the listener has a choice what to do with their time.
They may choose to listen to your podcast once, but you need to think how to make it attractive, so they come back.

The insight I’ve got is that the longer stories tend to do better, but it’s not always the case. We have Joe Rogan‘s 3+ hours per show as well as 30 minute Lore episodes next to each other on the top charts.

Whatever your format is, make your show easy to listen and understandable. Avoid jargon and technical knowledge and if you need to do it, explain the terms used.
Make sure that the show is easy to follow for people who are not familiar with the genre.

 

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Production

To reach a global audience, you need to complete on a global level. Yes, you can still record from a spare bedroom, but when it comes to technicalities, you will need to invest in a professional gear.
That means a microphone, recording software, reliable system.
You will also need to hire people to help, you won’t be able to do it on your own.

In my experience, the difference between an average and something special is usually just 1%, but it’s that 1% that most people cannot put the finger on.

The music band, the director, the artist, the company with a fantastic product.
It seems like the top achievers are doing the same thing as everybody else, but somehow they are different and better.

It’s usually a team effort. The team must work together towards the same goal.
Constant improvement, adjustments, learning from failure and mistakes are the crucial ingredients to success.

Most people say to avoid perfectionism, I agree to some extent, you can’t be extreme if you want to meet deadlines.
But attention to details and at least working towards a perfect product or show, in my opinion, should be a driver too.
If you want to be at the top, of course.
Elements of your show must work together as a whole, nothing stands out, nothing takes priority.
When gathering feedback and reviews, you want people to praise the whole show, the episode, the podcast.
It’s still amazing if they write that the narration or music or writing was excellent, but to be the best, the pieces must work like puzzles. All fit together to create the full picture.

For the last one, don’t take anything for granted.
Once you reach the top, you may think you found a perfect formula, that it’s the time to relax, to step back and enjoy.

Unfortunately, it’s not how it works.
Global audience means more pressure and higher standards, people will see if you start to slack off, everything you do is looked at with a magnifying glass.
The minute the audience is upset or bored, they will switch off the show or change to something else.

Stay on your toes, improve and be grateful that people tune in to your podcast. They don’t have to do that.

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Starting Your Home Studio

Starting Your Home Studio

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04 OCTOBER 2017

written by Mathew Dunn

STARTING YOUR

HOME STUDIO

 

This article has been contributed as a guest post by Mathew Dunn. Mathew has been playing various instruments for a long time, and he is a self-taught musician. He started MusicAlien.Net to share his experiences and thoughts about instruments and music.

 

Most of us musicians would love to have their home recording studio and luckily for us, as the technology advanced, it is now way easier and cheaper to make your home studio than it used to be.

In this article, I will summarise the essentials you need to set up your home studio and what are the most important things to look for when choosing studio equipment and on top of this I will share with you some tips which may be of help to someone who hasn’t done this before.

One thing I would like to say upfront is that you should not have a spend more mentality when picking your gear. The needed studio equipment has gotten better and better with time and the cheapest things today will in most cases beat what used to be the best 20 years ago which is more than enough to get you started if you are a beginner.

However, if you need more professional gear, then I assume you know exactly what you need it for and you will know how to make a choice. Still, keep in mind that the essentials I discuss below do not have to be the most expensive ones as you should choose equipment that suits your budget and overall needs.

Now let’s go through the most important equipment for your home studio:

 

Computer

This is a no-brainer, but I want to share with you a few tips on how to pick yours. First of all, I don’t know what your preferences, PC or a Mac, Laptop or a Desktop are. Whatever they are, they are fine. And if you are a beginner looking to start simple, then if you are reading this on a computer, that computer is probably good enough to get you started, but I don’t know how far will it take you depending on its power.

Things to consider when choosing your computer are

Ram Size

RAM is your most significant friend as a recording musician. And you should have as much as you can of it. Considering that the RAM sticks are getting cheaper and cheaper this should be no problem. Pretty much any computer which was made in the last ten years will have a motherboard support for 16GB of RAM which is more than enough.

Now if you have 8GB of RAM you don’t have to upgrade to 16 immediately but when you see that your computer needs more of it. It is wise to have some widget on your desktop to notify you of the used RAM, and once you start making more and more complicated tracks on your computer you will notice when it reaches about 90%, and your music editing program(s) begin to lag, then you will know that it is time for an upgrade.

If you have 4GB of RAM, then you will be able to start, but an upgrade will be in order soon down the road once you reach the limits.

CPU

Same goes as with the RAM. Whatever you have now will get you started, but depending on the strength an upgrade might be in order. With CPUs getting more and more powerful it is easier than ever to get one that is good enough for music production. I would go with some CPU that has Quad Core and multithreading as it will give you additional virtual cores.

But today it is a standard for any decent computer to have a Quad Core CPU, so it will have you covered. The stronger the CPU, the faster your music editing program will work, and as long as the CPU has enough power to have the program running without lag, you will do fine.

You will spend most of your time working on your computer, so this makes it the most important element of your studio.

 

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DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

This is where the magic is going to happen, and it is one of the most critical parts of your studio.

If you don’t know the digital audio workstation or shorter DAW, it is a computer program which you will use to record, mix and edit your music.

There are various DAWs out there, and if you don’t know about them, you should first research them and choose one that works for you. Make sure you select the DAW program that you are going to be able to get comfortable with since it is necessary for you to pretty much master the program (don’t be scared as that’s not hard as it seems).

You should work with the DAW program which can be an “extension” of you so that you can think about the music and not about menus, options, etc. You want to own the tool you are working with and not the other way around.

Now the good part comes in. Pretty much all DAWs will get you started, and you should learn about them and try multiple DAWs. Please do not waste too much time overthinking which program should you choose since all of them will get you started if you are a beginner and as time goes by and experience is piled up you will know if you need to change it.

Depending on the computer you use some of these programs might not be available to you as some like Logic is for Mac only but most of them work on multiple platforms.

These are some of the popular and incredible DAWs you should check out:

Sonar

Audition

Pro Tools

Cubase

Live

Reason

Studio One

A solid audio interface

You will need something to get your analog sounds like keyboards or voice into your computer in the form of a digital sound, and this is where an audio interface comes into play.

You don’t need anything special here. Don’t go around spending your money on those crazy interfaces since a decent one with two channels will do just fine.

You should look for an interface that has microphone preamp, line inputs for keyboards and guitars, stereo out and a headphones out.

Make sure to check that the product you are going to get has good reviews and that it meets your needs and you will do just fine.

 

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You need a quality studio microphone

Every studio needs at least one decent microphone in its possession as the microphone will have everything to do with how your recorded sounds will turn out.

There are three main types of microphones, but you will want to get a condenser microphone. The condenser microphone has always been used for studio recordings because their technology allows them to pick up the audio and convert it into electricity in a much more detailed way.

You shouldn’t spend thousands of dollars on your microphone since most of the cheaper microphones are good enough for any recording. However, you should research the mic you are buying well and read its reviews.

But the technology of condenser microphones has advanced, and there are so many manufacturers because of the increasing demand for this type of microphone that the prices went down over the years.

Unless you need some particular microphone for a specific purpose in your studio, don’t spend top dollar for it. Research your condenser mic thoroughly and go with some option that will fit your budget as most of these microphones will be a great choice.

 

You will need something to listen to your music

You have two options here, and they are headphones and monitors, and it is great if you could have both since they both have their uses.

But if you want to save a little money it is perfectly fine just to get the headphones first. But keep in mind that it is a bit tricky to record and mix using headphones, but it can be done.

Besides, you can always listen to your recordings on other people systems to get the proper reference on how the recording using headphones impacts the production.

It is okay to start with the headphones and acquire monitors later on. But if you do want to get the monitors from the outset you will want the monitors that fit your room, and that fit your budget.

Also do not overthink the choice of monitors since various factors will affect how the audio is perceived by the listener like the room shape, listener’s position relative to the monitors, your DAW, etc.

It is essential to research the monitors you are going to get and check their reviews but be aware that there will always be things you can’t control that are shaping the sound you hear so once you decide which monitors you want just to make the purchase and move on.

 

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Creating is the key

Your primary focus should be on getting started. The creative process will make the magic happen not just the gear so make sure you get the gear you need and don’t waste too much time overthinking it. Once you start and once a certain amount of time passes and the experience is piled up, you will know if it is time for an upgrade or if you need another piece of the ear, etc.

You want to get started. That’s the main thing you should strive for, and everything else will fall in its place eventually. Don’t give up and create every day. Work on what you love, and it will pay off in more than one way.

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Scoring Podcasts

Scoring Podcasts

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04 SEPTEMBER 2017

written by Mike

SCORING PODCASTS

 

Let’s talk about my favourite aspect of podcast production – music.

When it comes to podcasting, you only have audio to convey the message, to tell the story. No fancy graphics, no 4K video to distract the audience, no place to fool the listeners.

There are few elements of sound that you can use while crafting a story:

–a narrative, the most important aspect of podcasting

–sound effects, which add a layer of realism and drama

–music

Music has always been part of human culture. It helps to connect people, to establish an emotion, to dramatise a story. Music will play a role, albeit smaller, in interview talk shows but today I wanted to focus on drama shows, storytelling podcasts. Look at the most recent top podcasting charts; you will notice that dramas, especially true crime stories are trending.

The demand is visible, now let’s talk about supply.

Stories always draw people in; it can be music, films, books, poetry. Dry facts are helpful but often boring, and in my opinion, any topic can be taught with success if presented to the audience as an interesting story. Audio dramas are nothing new, the minute the radio was available to general public; some artists creatively used the medium. The most obvious one that comes to mind is Welles’ War of the Worlds that in 1938 scared the US nation and skyrocketed Orson’s career.

In today’s world, we have an evolution of the medium – podcasts and audiobooks.

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Audiobooks are perfect for dramatisation; however, there is often restriction when it comes to audiobook production. You will occasionally find publishing houses that allow music, sound effects and voice acting on material but more than often you will find just a dry narration read.

Podcasts are something else. The relatively new medium hasn’t got that many regulations yet and as a creator, you have a pretty much free hand in creating content.

There are many kinds of podcasts, as many as there are creative ideas but let’s look at dramas, or dramatised true stories such as Casefile.

These kinds of podcasts require a lot of work, research, scripting, narration and stellar production. Music plays a huge part in all that; it’s the emotional connection to the story, it often underlines the feelings that we have during listening, it exposes them.

Casefile is a quite different show. It’s not a drama per se, but it is produced like one. While the Host and our talented researchers focus on the story, I look at it from a different angle.

I also see it as a show and for the lack of better word, entertainment. It’s a thin line between sensationalism and making something respectful to anyone involved in the events. But the show must also be entertaining to listen, to connect with the audience and presented as a well-produced podcast.

After working on Casefile for some time, I learned a few tips that you can do with music, how you could make the episode even tenser and more real to the listeners.

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Know the story

It’s important to know the story before you start composing.

The first thing I always do is to read the script, and sometimes I will research the case before I get the script. I’m interested in the beginning, in the drama, in the final twist and conclusion.

During the read, I will note down the people involved in the events, the ‘scenes’ that take place in the timeline and musical cues where I possibly will need to add something more substantial than just an underscore.

The ambience of the episode is crucial.

All of the episodes are tragic but there is a very different character to each of them, and it will guide how I write the music. Before I sit down behind my MIDI keyboard, I compose in my head, not the melodies but the style. I will know what kind of music different parts of the story need, be it rhythmic, soft, dramatic, hopeful or dark.

Know the podcast

I don’t always know the next episode of Casefile; sometimes we change the story at the last minute, sometimes we have a break from the show. That doesn’t mean that I stop writing.

To keep my hands busy and improve my skills, every day I try to compose a cue or two, build up a music library for the next episodes. To do that effectively I need to know the show, the podcast. I need to know a general atmosphere, the overall character, the nature of what we do as a team.

When composing for the future, have in mind the characteristics such as the length of the podcast, the audience and what kind of musical impact you are looking for.

Does the drama require more an underscore or is it music-heavy?

Try to develop the style that the audience recognises immediately.

Don’t go overboard

It’s easy to get lost in composing melodies, including a multitude of different instruments and effects, creating elaborate cues. What I learned with Casefile podcast is that the story always takes the first place.

The music is there to underscore the voice, to help make seamless transitions between parts of the narrative and to bring life to the dialogue. There will be parts where I want to make an impact, a statement with the score but 90% of it will be an ambient, soft tones, almost invisible to the listener.

It’s easy to get excited, especially when you feel like you wrote something great, however, unless it is a deliberate effect, then don’t go overboard with the melodies and cues.

Use instruments that don’t clash with the voice

Another thing that you need to keep in mind is the timbre and nature of the voice. Once you know how the narration sounds on its own, you will know what kind of instruments and pads to use to compliment the voice, not the other way around.

With Casefile I try to avoid melodies with high pitch, especially when I write for string instruments, piano or guitar. These are instruments that sit in the similar spectrum to the human voice and will often clash with it.

Most of the time I will use atmospheric sounds, soft pads to underscore and melodies only where required, where a dramatic focus is needed. I’m also quite careful with rhythmic sounds.

Bass or arpeggiated synths usually work well, but drums or percussion can often be too distracting.

Rhythmic parts are great to build suspense and intense moments, but it’s easy to go overboard with them.

Listen to feedback

Even though I have pretty much a creative freedom when it comes to producing and composing for Casefile, the most important aspect of the work is communication between team members.

I’m not the only composer on the show, Andrew Joslyn sends me musical cues for each episode and often scores up to 50% of each podcast. Because the workflow is unique I often need to adjust, change or drop the cues altogether.

The voice always takes the priority, the music is there to glue all the parts together so mixing it low, or cutting elements of it are usually the best way to do that. I also look for the comments from listeners. Many people will comment on the voice or the music, but I’m interested in feedback that talks about the show as a whole.

We don’t want any elements to shine on their own; the podcast needs to work as one piece, as one story. Also, a lot of people won’t listen on a dedicated system, in the example of Casefile – headphones.

That means even though you may spend days on composing and mixing music, there will be some listeners who won’t notice it at all, listening in their cars or through laptop speakers. That’s fine too, don’t skip on the quality just because not everyone appreciates it.

In the end, it’s all about having fun, experimenting and improvement.

Even though I have enough music that I wouldn’t need to write for a few months now, I still sit down and compose new cues every day. It helps me to stay sharp and develop the craft, and of course, I like doing it too.

In the future, I will show you the technical approach to composing music for Casefile and what is my exact workflow.

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Strategy and Podcasting

Strategy and Podcasting

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11 AUGUST 2017

written by Mike

STRATEGY

AND PODCASTING?

 

I talk a lot about the importance of the discovery and strategy session.

But what is it?

Do you need to invest in one?

And what does it have to do with podcasting?

Starting any venture, be it a business, a podcast or a website is a lot of work. Some time ago I read that it takes around 18 months for a business to be profitable, and that’s assuming everything goes well.

Even with Casefile, it took us well over a year before we had any income coming in, enough to cover the costs. Considering how much luck we had on the way it still meant working on the show every week for months without knowing if it was ever going to work.

Things like that are unique, we never intended it to be a business, we never intended for the podcast to make money but looking back I can see that we could avoid many mistakes if we had a strategy in place.

That’s when design-thinking comes in. Imagine starting a new business, let’s say a sound production practice. The cost of the project would start in thousands of pounds, sometimes more.

Would you risk it if you knew that there is a strong chance it’s not going to work?

Or would you try to manage the risk but assessing the challenges and writing down the vision for the project?

Big companies and corporations know about the discovery. Each decision they make cost a lot of money and effort, things like website rebranding or changing a logo it’s much more complicated for them than it is for you.

There is a lot of cash involved, and to get approval on the project the vision needs to be clear. Everyone from marketing to programming department must know what they are doing.

There is a lot of research and planning required. Hence sessions such as these cost thousands of pounds and are out of reach for the average person. But to be the best, we need to study the best and imitate them within our means.

A business requires focus, vision and a plan. A discovery session for your, often one woman/man business is as important as for a large company because numbers are arbitrary. For them spending 500k on a website is a lot of money, but so is 5k for you.

They need to know why and what are they buying, and so do you.

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What I usually say to a client when they ask about discovery process is a simple doctor metaphor.

When you go to a doctor would you prefer to describe what you feel and what you think you need and just grab a prescription for medicine?

Or would you prefer to be checked, diagnosed and looked at by a professional before getting the prescription?

Even if you just want to start a podcast, not a full-size business.

What will be the look of the website? The logo? The name?

Do you have a target audience in mind?

What do you want to achieve with the show?

Discovery is a partnership between the members of the team. We sit down together; we talk about the business, we locate the problems and agree on solutions. The direction is clear; the goals are set, everyone is on the same page.

But what if it’s just you and the microphone?

Well, I assume you will still need help with other aspects of the show such as website, social presence, graphics.

Even if you want to do all by yourself, having a clear picture in mind will help you to focus, especially during the moments when you want to change it all up again. That’s most important aspect of the strategy session.

What most of us do, is to get excited about one thing then when the initial emotion passes we start to doubt our decision. We discover something new and pivot, to get a dose of that excitement again.

I see it over and over again with my partner’s work. Her main profession is graphic design, and most of her clients want to skip on the strategy when she mentions it. They want to get straight into the works, the graphics, the labour.

Then after weeks of back and forth, hundreds or thousands of dollars later, and multiple changes to the initial design they still can’t decide on the final product. What if the goals were aligned from the start?

What if every time they get excited about new feature or idea they could go back to the initial strategy document?

The focus is the only way to succeed in any venture. Focus and practice.

It’s like the famous quote goes

I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee

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