Media Hosting, iTunes Rankings, New & Noteworthy

VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn Rob Walch joins us for a chat on this episode. Rob has been in podcasting from the very beginning and has a wealth of experience in the medium.

We talked about media hosting, and why you might want to think about hosting with Libsyn. iTunes, and the myths and misinformation surrounding the rankings and New & Noteworthy categories. Why you might want to have an app made for your show. What should be on your podcast’s website. And some poorly researched articles doing the rounds at the moment.

You can also find Rob on The Feed (The Official Libsyn Podcast), Podcast 411, and Today in iOS. One particular episode he mentioned on this episode was his chat with Aaron Mahnke of Lore.

And if you’re signing up to Libsyn in the future, remember you can always use the coupon code ADPP to get a free month there.

Other things mentioned on this episode, the Out on the Wire Podcast, 11th Hour Audio, and the Audio Drama Promo Trailer Park.

As always, get in touch with us at any time on podcast@audiodramaproduction.com

Political Messages, Character Beliefs, & Prejudices

Should you try to steer clear of politics, or is it okay to write a political message into your story? That’s part of the discussion on this week’s episode.

Also, what about your characters? Can they have all sorts of beliefs and viewpoints without these ever becoming the main focus of the story?

We’d love to hear your own views on this – send them over to podcast@audiodramaproduction.com

Links

How To Get Your Audio Drama In iTunes

iTunesAn overwhelming majority of podcast listening takes place through iTunes/The Podcast App. If you’re running an Audio Drama podcast you absolutely must be listed there if you want to build any kind of fanbase at all.

Putting episodes up on Youtube is fine, but don’t make that the primary place you send people. The majority of Audio Drama fans want to subscribe to and download their favourite shows, and listen to them away from their screens.

Setting a podcast up and getting it into iTunes is pretty straightforward. Here’s our step by step guide to help you towards your big podcast launch.

How To Get Your Audio Drama In iTunes – Step By Step

  1. You need a media host to essentially create your show in podcast form. There are many media hosts out there, but we recommend Libsyn. Other good media hosts and Blubrry and Spreaker. Avoid Soundcloud as they are a perennial shambles. Archive.org is free, but it is slow and unreliable.
  2. Sign up to Libsyn – use the coupon code ADPP to get a month free there.
  3. You can start a Libsyn account from $5 a month, or add stats for $7. If you’re putting out a minimum of one episode per month this will be enough. If you want a bit more storage you can up that to $15 a month though.
  4. When you sign up you’ll be asked to pick a show ‘slug’. Ours is ‘audiodramaproduction’. Pick one as close to your show’s name as possible. You can change it further down the line, but you won’t want to, as it can harm your show.
  5. Go to ‘Settings’ and ‘Edit Show Settings’
  6. Fill out your show’s details.
  7. It’s a good idea to get “Audio Drama” in your show title so people can find it in a search, so, for example, we might put “Aftermath | The Audio Drama”.
  8. Upload your cover art. Make sure it’s 1400 x 1400 and under 500kb.
  9. Click ‘Save’ once you’re done in ‘Edit Show Settings’
  10. Go to ‘Destinations’ and ‘Edit or View Existing’.
  11. Beside ‘Libsyn Classic Feed’ click ‘Edit’
  12. Select your iTunes categories (these aren’t very Audio Drama friendly – ‘Performing Arts’ is probably the most appropriate).
  13. Enter your show’s info on this page and hit ‘Save’. This is where iTunes will pull everything from.
  14. Go to ‘Content’ and ‘Add New Episode’. You need to have at least one episode in your feed to submit your show to iTunes.
  15. Upload your episode by hitting ‘Add Media File’.
  16. Fill out your episode details.
  17. Don’t copy text from a Word Doc into the description box, as hidden code can cause issues with your feed.
  18. Click ‘Publish’ to publish your first episode.
  19. Go back to ‘Destinations’.
  20. Under ‘Quick Links’ and ‘Libsyn Classic Feed’ you’ll see a URL like http://yourslug.libsyn.com/rss – copy this link. This is your RSS feed.
  21. Open iTunes.
  22. On the right hand side menu, select ‘Podcasts’ then further down ‘Submit a Podcast’.
  23. You will be asked to log in, if you aren’t already.
  24. Click the + icon.
  25. Copy your RSS feed into the box. Hit ‘Submit’.
  26. Job done! Apple will be in touch (usually within a week) to tell you your podcast has been approved and is now listed there.
  27. You can also submit your RSS feed to other directories (like Stitcher) to have your show listed there too. It won’t do you any harm to be listed in as many different places as possible.

Download Numbers. The Potential of Audio Drama

Download numbers are discussed, and sometimes obsessed over by podcasters. However, it’s better to focus your attention on those who are listening, rather than stressing over those who aren’t. Keep creating great Audio Drama and you will grow your audience.

With that said, let’s take a look at some hard numbers that can provide useful milestones for your show as it grows. These are compiled by Libsyn and were presented originally on their podcast The Feed.

Based on the number of downloads received for a SINGLE EPISODE in the 30 day period following its release.

More than 169 downloads puts your podcast in the top 50%

More than 1300 downloads puts your podcast in the top 20%

More than 3800 downloads puts your podcast in the top 10%

More than 5000 downloads puts your podcast in the top 8%

More than 9600 downloads puts your podcast in the top 5%

More than 27,000 downloads puts your podcast in the top 2%

More than 52,000 downloads puts your podcast in the top 1%

Also mentioned on the show, The Once & Future Nerd’s new USB cassette, Mirth Defect, Bootlegger, We’re Alive, Fire on the Mound, Pen & Paper, Ars Paradoxica, Return Home, Nova Dark, Paragon Podcast Network.

Your Show’s All-Round Packaging

Having a great story and cast, along with excellent recording and production values should be enough to take your show to the top, but that isn’t the case.

If you have poor cover art and a website that looks like a 1998 bulletin board, most listeners won’t even give your show a chance.

How much thought are you putting into attracting potential fans to your site, and how easy is it for them to subscribe and listen to your episodes once they get there?

Attention to detail is important if you want to create an all-round professional image. You can grow your audience by making it easy for listeners to consume your show.

Things that contribute to an ‘all round’ listener experience

  • Your show is discoverable – clearly marked as an Audio Drama in the title
  • You own a website that’s easy to find, preferably a .com.
  • Good visuals, not just cover art, but other artwork. Maybe character sketches, maps, or concept art

Artwork

  • Cover art – needs to be eye catching against hundreds of others in iTunes
  • But also needs to work well when displayed small, as it will be
  • Don’t cram too much text in there. Best just to have your title
  • A decent design resource – Canva

 If someone finds your website when they Google ‘audio drama’, what’s the next steps?

  • Do you have an episode list that’s easy to navigate?
  • Do you have easy and clear subscribe links? iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, etc
  • ‘About’ pages are the most viewed pages on most websites, take advantage by putting vital links (listed above) there
  • Make it easy for people, you want them to listen/subscribe

 What’s the journey a listener might take after discovering your show?

  • In your credits you’ll send them to your website
  • Better to send them to yoursite.com and not a soundcloud or iTunes link (we’ve made this mistake ourselves in the past, sending people to sites we don’t own)
  • Is there a clearly marked ‘contact’ page with a number of options?

 On the subject of websites

  • Make sure your site your site works on a phone
  • Ask a friend to Google your show, find it, subscribe, and download your first episode

Hosting

  • Never host your media (episodes) on your website
  • Use a media host like Libsyn or Blubrry
  • Soundcloud is okay if you’re just getting started with one off shows, but avoid using it as a primary media host for a series

Other tips

  • Links page, share the love by linking to your favourite shows
  • Metadata/ID3 tags – make good use of them before uploading your finished MP3

Also mentioned

Big thanks to our Valenhigh backers as we continue our crowdfunding campaign. And Laurence Fishburne enters the world of Audio Drama with a show that’ll be produced by non other than Kc Wayland.

 

Inequality. Character Inner Voices. Media Hosting

On this episode we’re taking another look at gender equality in the medium as we invite friend of the show Fiona Thraille on to offer her own opinions on this topical discussion.

Links mentioned by Fiona were Geena Davis Institute on Gender in MediaThe Femenist FrequencyWomen in Audio Drama Facebook Group, and The Smurfette Principle.

On top of that, we’re also joined by Bryan Lincoln of Lincolnaudio.com and The Fullcast Podcast. Here Bryan offers tips and techniques for how to present your characters’ inner voices and thoughts in an audio form. This segment was a condensed version of an episode created for his own show, which you can listen to here.

We also have two clips on the show, Seaburn, and Simple Harmonic Motion. We mentioned our affiliate partnership with media host Libsyn (use coupon code ADPP for a month of free hosting) and their own excellent podcast The Feed, as well as our Patreon campaign, and listener survey.

Want to get in touch? Email us at podcast@audiodramaproduction.com, find us on Twitter @YapAudio, or join our Facebook group.

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Audio Drama on Spotify. Changing DAWs, & more on audio storytelling

There was some pretty big news in the podcasting world last week as Libsyn (via their own podcast The Feed) announced that they were partnering with music streaming giants Spotify. By the sounds of it, podcasts will be available on the service by the summer of 2015, which means that you could soon have your own audio drama listed on there, alongside their estimated 70 million users.

Elsewhere, we’re chatting about DAWs. Digital Audio Workstations. Those awkwardly named, but essential pieces of software we use to put our shows together. Which one do you use? Have you ever switched from one to another, and why?

And if you listened to episode 45, you’ll have heard part one of the Sonic Society‘s Jack Ward talking about what makes an audio story. Well you can hear part two in this very episode. Where does your own show fit into Jack’s Octahedron? You’ll find a transcription of this segment at the bottom of the page, and clips heard were from One by OneThe Woman in the BasementBiological Clock, and Escape from New York.

Other shows mentioned on the show were The Once & Future NerdAlba Salix Royal PhysicianHidden Harbor MysteriesThe Table Round, and the Hadron Gospel Hour.

Finally, we’re backing Neil from Twilight Audio Theatre to reach his Kickstarter goal of $650. He’d like to use it to pay his talent, and he’s an all round nice guy, can you lend a hand by making a small contribution? Oh and check out his podcast The Geeking too, there’s some great audio drama related content on there.

Get in touch…

My Unified Theory of the Audio Story

Part 2

By Jack Ward

How is an Audio Story represented? Is there a way to best articulate all the kinds of stories you can have in audio? I’m Jack Ward from the Sonic Society.

JW1Last time I postulated that there are three corners of the Audio Story triangle- Audio Drama based on scripted plays, Audio Narrative based on prose or novel form, and Experimental Audio that takes all kinds of forms, not the least of which are sketches and improvisational audio.

We identified that every audio drama production, company, writers, and producers have ‘neighbourhoods’ or plotted areas that we can- triangulate…as it were and just being able to visualize that brings us to a deeper understanding of the character of a group of stories or a company, and the style of the writer or writers involved.

But as much as I love this model. It’s not complete. Although it covers all the various sources of audio stories it’s kind of flat because it doesn’t look at how story is executed. So I’m standing right here, in the very centre of our massive Audio Triangle- exactly between Drama, Narrative, and Experimental to bring some depth to the story.

So our middle portion is growing… higher and higher until it reaches its own peak.

JW2Our Audio Triangle has become an Audio Pyramid. Because this third dimensional piece. This extra fourth point I like to label, “Intimate”.

Now I understand labels are problematic, and once we rise above everything, we’re in a precarious position of falling. I’m not trying to say that one kind of audio story connects with people, and another does not. What I’m saying is, the higher you are in Intimacy with the Listener, the less you need to build an audio world around them and the more you require the Listener to construct the landscape in their own heads.

Now I know that I depicted the end point of Narrative last time as being that lone voice with no sound effects or music, but that was really to try to help you picture better the difference between script and prose, Drama and Narrative. There really doesn’t need to be sound effects or music in Drama either. When I was a kid there was show on television called “Story Theatre” in which actors- like Alan Alda got together in no costumes, with no props, and no sound effects and acted out fairy-tales. This was one of the most intimate portraits of story because watching you had to imagine- without prompting- the actors riding horses, the trolls and the bridges they lived under. So much is created by the viewer or the listener that there’s almost a direct line from the writer through the voice of the actor to the audience. There’s nearly no intermediary in the way.

It is… for lack of a better word. Intimate. One of the key elements OF the audio story is that it is the MOST intimate of mediums. The cinema and television and even a stage play you witness from a distance and it takes incredible art to bridge that gulf between performance and audience to erase that distance and be immersed in that experience.

But audio is best experienced intimately, by which I mean that the images are drawn straight from your imagination. The sounds strike up the story inside your head, and the listener is, in a real way, a co-creator, filling in the elements of the set, sound effects, and atmosphere with colour, texture, and lighting. Even the characters, although hinted at, by their voices and the descriptions in the story emerge entirely from the listener’s mind.

This is why closure is so effective in art, because it allows the experiencer to complete the message.

In my play “One by One”, sound effects and dialogue describes the beginning of a great plague that’ll wipe out all of Halifax.

It’s the acting of Tanja Milojevic that sells the growing fear of the crowd. As her character keeps calling for her boyfriend and then as she runs away in fear, we’re provided just enough in the scene for the listener to understand and complete the picture.

The more intimate the portrayal of the story, the fewer clues the story provides.

Take for example, this clip from the now legendary (did we just dream this series) “Midnight Radio Theatre” by Billy Senese.

Did you feel the simple nature of that scene? It’s intimate. There’s not a lot provided or needed to paint a rich picture of the characters, their relationship and the world that surrounds them. It is in the execution of this scene that brings closure from the minds of listeners.

Here’s another quick example. “Biological Clock” from Ira Gamerman from the Truth Podcast.

While both of those clips are happening in a kind of modern day setting, they don’t have to be. However, it could be fair to say, that the more removed you are from the present setting, the more apt your producer and audio engineer will need to provide clues to better paint the soundscape for the listener.

JW3It would be too simple to suggest that our peak of the Audio Story pyramid- “Intimate” requires little or no sound effects to achieve. I don’t think the answer is that you just eliminate your sound effects to create intimacy in your audio story. But there is a sense of purity that comes with shaving off everything that’s not needed to tell the story, and keep the narrative as clean and clear as possible. Intimate.

This style was found in a lot of Old Time Radio shows because sound effects were live and unless run by a team of people, were executed by a single Special Effects Artist. This was the guy or gal who needed to get rid of the high heeled shoes in time to break open a door before rendering a thunder strike in the air.

Starkly produced and executed audio drama demands a lot of their listeners, but it also provides- in strange way- a very rich soundscape because it lets the listener create it themselves.

But what if your goal is to create a rich and textured soundscape for your listeners?

That sound you’re hearing below us, is our pyramid morphing one last time. We may have one point going up where we’re standing now, but down below, the base of the pyramid, is jutting outwards into its final point. This transforms our pyramid structure into an octahedron or for the nerdy among us, an eight-sided die.

On all eight facets we connect the three points in the middle of “Drama”, “Narrative” and “Experimental” with the final ‘North’ and ‘South’ poles of the audio story being “Intimate” and… “Dynamic”.

What is Dynamic in our now fully three-dimensional audio world?

Dynamically executed audio stories represent the cinematic, and are often described (unfairly I think) as the “modern day audio drama” sensibility. Dynamic audio stories can include multi-layered sound effects representing- what I call the “every blade of grass” group.

Dynamic audio stories cue in the listener, by giving much more texture to scenes. Listeners don’t need to work as hard to get into the story. You don’t have to imagine that sound of the speeding freight car, or the steam-powered lightning gun, the Dynamic story has it produced for you.

Similarly, when a story is executed Dynamically expect to have characters’ positions in the audio to be defined and deliberate. Dynamic audio is especially concerned with perspective and using music to set mood and tone.

When Dirk Maggs tells you that he wants audio drama to be cinematic just like the movies, you can be certain it’s not an accident that his productions are robustly Dynamic.

Some other Dynamic groups include: Epic Audio, Aural Stage Studios, Final Rune Productions, Darker Projects, Wayland Productions and of course again in Broken Sea Audio when either Stevie Farnaby or Bill Hollweg get behind the wheel… Like this scene from “Escape from New York”

Dynamic audio stories can instantly transport listeners to new worlds with 3-D holographic sound structures and a deep understanding of how to use a lot of sound in ways that avoids becoming a cloud of noise, but instead a rich environment. You might think of it this way. An Intimate execution of an Audio Story is like a book. A Dynamic execution of an Audio Story is a film experience in sound.

Again, it’s no accident that Dynamic producers often describe their radio drama as “audio movies”.

So now… you can consider where, in the diamond shaped octahedron of Audio your favourite stories lie. Do Dynamic and Intimate executions of audio stories say something of the writers and production companies who use them? Absolutely.

Would someone who grew up with the Spartan use of sound effects and perspective in Old Time Radio or with a deep appreciation for community theatre have a difficulty appreciating Dynamic more than Intimate audio? Similarly, would someone who considers themselves a visual learner and a lover of movies find the “Intimate” portrayal of an Audio Drama bland and uninteresting?

In the ten years of the Sonic Society, there’s been nearly a hundred and fifty contributors of audio shows and most of those in the last five. Can you imagine where they would all fit on those eight sides?

Where would you place Campfire Theater or Dick Dynamo? Certainly many audio production companies have multiple places on the map, but wouldn’t that also find them located a little closer towards the region of “Experimental”?

Icebox Radio for example, depending upon whether they are presenting a live or studio production, or a holiday, or series show would certainly have different places on our octahedron, and knowing Jeffrey Adams, that’s just how he likes it.

Same with companies such as, Misfits, Pendant, and Gypsy who are all cooperative groups with varying genres and concepts.

Still others like Harry Strange, Desert Gems, The Once and Future Nerd, Wormwood, Bell’s in the Batfry, Kung-Fu Action Theatre, and Doctor Floyd through genre or single series would have clear positions on our eight-sided world.

And that’s it. All the points on the Audio Story compass. All aspects of story representation and execution formed together.

The only question that remains is this… Where do you like to make your story, and who do you want to listen to it?