by Nicole McCray
Whether you are a busker, independent musician, solopreneur, songwriting freelancer, a 9-5 employee with a band that gigs in the evenings, or a music teacher at a school or in a home studio, you may have thought about starting your very own music podcast. There has been a boom in podcast listeners in the wake of the pandemic, and podcasts have become more mainstream in our digital lives.
Perhaps you have a musical passion or hobby that you wish to share with others; know the ins and outs of becoming a career musician; or are considered an expert or guru in a music industry field. Starting a podcast is an excellent way in which to share that knowledge and expertise – you will find and connect with other music experts and enthusiasts and impart knowledge to music fans.
You might think that it’s too overwhelming to start a music podcast, and you may even believe that it’s an expensive investment because you need a lot of equipment, hardware, and software. However, that is not the case at all, and you can start a stellar music podcast and get it up and running without having to spend a lot of money.
Begin with the Basics
If you’re wondering whether or not to start a music podcast, you should first ask yourself why you want to do so—knowing your “why” is part of the battle with developing a podcast that attracts people.
Millions of listeners are always looking for new voices with new insights and perspectives, and you could provide it while boosting your business, broadening your brand, and expand your exposure online. You may have some incredible value with what you have to share that can be of great service to your listeners, so maybe the better question is – why not?
You don’t need to be “the best” to get started, but you have to get started to be great. To get started, you just have to buckle down and do it.
- Listen to other podcast shows within your topic or niche for music – check out your competition, not copy them, but listen to what you like or don’t like. It is helpful to find out where they receive more listeners and subscribers to adapt your own podcast. For example – if your music podcast is centered around building a music business through teaching and offering online music lessons for children and adults, you could check out a podcast like The Vibrant Music Teaching Podcast for inspiration. If you’re a musician, check out Cassie Fox’s list of 11 great music podcasts over on Louder Than War.
- Record yourself on your phone a few times to see if you enjoy doing it. You have to get used to the sound of your voice, and you have to make sure that it is engaging enough for your prospective listeners. Not to mention, when doing a music podcast, there is a chance you might be singing – so you have to be comfortable doing that as well.
- Listen to the playback of your first episode. If you don’t find what you have to say to be very interesting, then maybe you should choose a different topic or narrow down your niche to be more specific or unique. Remember to practise, practise, practise – you will eventually progress, but it takes time to get there.
Hardware and Software
Audio quality is very important, as well as the location from which you will be recording. You don’t have to have the best equipment or hardware to start, as many podcasters just use their phones in a small room or cupboard to cut down on the bouncing sound waves.
You can purchase a relatively inexpensive microphone that will plug directly into your cell phone or even a lapel mic so that you can get clear, professional-sounding audio. These microphones can range from about £20.00, so they aren’t too expensive to invest in when starting. If you want a little more quality and don’t mind spending some, you could look into the Shure MV7 microphone for podcasting.
Next, you may want to learn more about editing your podcast and what software to use. If you are a Mac user, you can use the free program Garageband for editing your episodes. There are free options with editing your audio and using Audacity, a free download for PCs.
Time is expensive, which is why I think this will be the most costly part of starting a podcast until you become proficient in editing. You can always hire someone to do this later to save you some time as your podcast takes off but to start, you’ll probably want to do it yourself to save money. Editing helps cut your episodes down from being too lengthy, getting rid of big breaths, coughs, “ums” and other filler words and unwanted sounds you make when speaking.
You’ll find detailed audio editing instructions on YouTube, but here’s a few tips to get you started:
- Start a new track for each kind of different audio input – e.g. one track for your voice, one track for a guest’s audio recording, another for each piece of music you play.
- Don’t drive yourself up the wall trying to edit out every single “um” and pause – a bit of natural conversation feels good on the ear.
- After you have bounced your separate tracks into an MP3 file, listen to it back on a few different speakers, ideally, or send it to some trusted friends to listen to. The volume level should stay consistent throughout the podcast, so make adjustments to the levels when that is not the case.
- If you’re planning to talk to guests on your podcast, a good way to do this remotely is via Zoom. Seeing each other on camera while you talk will give you the human connection and help your conversation to (hopefully) flow, but you can take just the audio recording to add to your podcast recordings. The recording settings of Zoom allow for recordings of each participant separately, if preferable. If you really want to be sure of a good recording, you may also wish to ask your guest to record their voice on their phone or by another means at their end, as a back up.
To build a better podcast brand, you definitely need to create cover art. Many free options, such as Canva and PicArts, are popular and free for creating various logos, graphics, social media posts, pdfs, and more.
However, if you are not the creative type, and instead you wish to hire someone to create your podcast cover art, you can always hire someone on UpWork or Fiverr. Just keep in mind that you will pay for these services. You could even possibly ask a friend who happens to be an artist that will work within your budget.
Intro and Outro Music
Of course, most music podcast hosts want to be known for their extraordinary music that leads into or out of an episode. You can find free music with no royalties for use through the podcast host. You can also purchase royalty-free music to use within your episodes for a small fee through places like AudioJungle.
Make sure that no matter what music you have permission to use, it is truly royalty-free or that you purchased a license for its use; otherwise, legal action can be brought against you, and that would definitely be costly.
If you are featuring your own music, or music by other musicians, it is best to check for permission with the copyright holder before using – that might be the artist themselves, or their label.
Hosting & Promoting Your Podcast
Promoting your music podcast will be your main job once you have launched your episodes. Even before you launch, it is a good idea to build hype. It can be time-consuming, but it is essential to draw people into listening to your episodes whichever way you can.
Do some research and locate where your target audience hangs out, then use that platform to promote your music podcast to the masses. It would be a good idea to have a website to host your podcast, and if you’re looking for free, one of the best options is Anchor FM, which was purchased by Spotify, so it is up there with the heavy hitters.
You can always engage with sites like Buzzsprout, Libsyn, or EC Podcasts, where you pay a small fee per month to have your podcast hosted and delivered to a range of different platforms, but you will have more exposure, and your podcast is promoted to a much wider audience.
Once your music podcast is published, you will need to continually promote the individual shows and the podcast itself using social media, emails, and newsletters. These sites help with promotion, but the ultimate responsibility is on you. Marketing is essential to your upkeep, along with the consistency of your podcast episodes. With some work and time put in, you can eventually monetize your music podcast and earn more income.
So as you can see, it doesn’t cost a fortune to begin a music podcast, but you have the advantage of receiving many rewards for what you invest. Just remember that it takes time to build up a following and provide quality, support, and consistency with your music podcast, and you will see it become successful.