Note: I Originally Wrote And Published This Blog Piece On The Website Of My Older, Now Defunct Podcast “3emptypints” On April 18 2018. This “Cynics Guide To Podcasting” Is Referred To In This Week’s EP Of The Weekly Cynic Podcast.
If 3emptypints were a band—and, if you’re devising a Podcast with multiple people, you will indeed be in a band—our silence, this inability to produce material of either the audible or written, would, in the vernacular of some old school Rolling Stone writer, be described as a symptom of internal conflict. Our management team, in conjunction with our rulers at the record company, would release a statement clarifying our present and future, skirting around deeper hostilities to relay some massaged, PR cliche about creative differences.
A year after releasing our first episode, 3emptypints is at a standstill.
In that year, we cultivated a fanbase.
According to all the analytical geniuses, we experienced listenership that any indie podcast would sell their comic book collection to attain.
We launched our website, creating content that complimented the “Mindset” of 3emptypints, all to engage and retain our listeners—er, audience.
Hell, we did the most cliche of all Podcasting things: created a Patreon account! Rewards, tiers and everything!
But, a weekly podcast is a drag… devoting time to research, recording, editing, marketing.
Yet, somehow, some of us still want to do this thing.
Like you, as I began researching The How’s And Do’s Of Podcasting, I read countless articles, blogs and reddits from an assortment of Podcast Guru’s: The Grand-Dad’s from the CB radio days arguing if it was them or Adam Curry who invented podcasting, to The Millennialist Bearded Influencers whose delusional optimism proclaims podcasting as the ultimate— It doesn’t matter. All of them are hucksters and phonies, no different than some sly politician imploring you to vote. Why? It’s all a self-perpetuating racket. A big ol' money maker.
Yes, podcasting now has its own ecosystem of advocates, pundits and shills.
So, here is The Cynic’s Guide To Podcasting.
And, its all free of charge, kiddies...
As I’m sure you’ve read, Podcasting is experiencing exponential growth. Once the realm of Silicon Valley Tech entrepreneurs spewing their TEDTalk pablum, the present day is an opportunity for any and all to upload their drivel to the inner-webbings. Of course, for you, the indie podcaster, you will be uploading into the abyss…or ranting…or screaming. Yes, there is growth, but all those monies remain in the realm of the big marketing, advertising and media firms. A scan of the Apple Podcasts front page and charts will reveal a curated array of Pundits, Political Shills, Advocates and so-called Comedians… all of The Three Letter Network and Hollywood fame.
I know I know, you saw that the Dirty Laundry Leftist Political Podcast hauls in $62,000 a month on Patreon, so... I mean, you can do it too, right?
For those creators who’re insistent or just delusional on forging a legacy, remember, at this time, podcasting is still a niche. So, for those hoping to challenge, provoke and experiment with this form, you will find cultivating an audience to be tedious and frustrating. The Indie Podcasting universe is comprised of Millennialist-GenZ White Guy Nerd/Geek/Pop-Movie Culture, interspersed with Horror/Conspiracy/True Crime sub-genres and everyone’s favorite, Comedy! Which, tends to be two to ten drunken guys and gals shouting and screaming into microphones. Oh, let’s not forget the Hot Blonde Chicks Wanna-Be Influencer shows, too… Oh-Oh-Oh, I forgot: Comedy/Sports Talk. Lots of it.
“Fuck you, Jake… I want do this, you miserable, cynical bastard! It’s my dream!”
I’m going to burst your quaint fantasy of Podcasting: This isn’t a Hobby. This is a Business.
You’ve already researched the startup costs; pricing the equipment, web hosting, all of the foundational processes involved in launching your podcast. You know this little endeavor is going to cost money, so invest those barista bucks for the long term, not quick-fast-cheap-get-this-bad-boy-retweeted-two-thousand-times by #Podernfamily. Because, after your first few episodes, you will begin listening to other podcasts and inevitably you will stumble upon Tickling Tonsils Podcast episode 110, where from their mom’s dining room table, their exploration of Sheetz Vs. Rutter’s donuts (gotta live in The Northeast for this reference, kiddies) sounded fan-fucking-tastic!
It sounded fan-fucking-tastic because Tickling Tonsils rehearsed rehearsed rehearsed. They sound tested in every conceivable environment. They adjusted microphone heights and distance, twisting knobs, dials and selecting filters on their digital recorder. Their yucks were blasted through headphones, laptop, bluetooth and car speakers… Like any good business, they did quality control on their product.
“Fuck you, Jake… I will rent a recording studio!”
That’s like getting an MFA in Creative Writing: your art becomes soulless and manufactured to a sheen.
You wanna little punk DIY, don’t ya? That’s what Podcasting really is.
Oh, and Tickling Tonsils actually purchased editing software.
And, guess what, the editing process is the most important segment of podcasting.
Why? That raw audio, with all its blemishes, snorts, coughs, stuttering, slurring, is a reflection of preparation and focus in producing the podcast. You can hear when Aiden heaves himself into another tangent about Bernie Sanders, or Amy abruptly instigates a fifth-wave feminist fight during a segment about the New Zealand cricket team. Is it funny? Is it interesting? Should it be cut? Should it stay?
Slowly, you become not only an audiophile, slashing all the bumps and booms from the recording, but an editor, a storyteller. You’re taking that three hours of drunken horseplay and melding it into an hour long diatribe on Socialism In New Zealand Sports Teams…or something like that.
In a group podcast like Tickling Tonsils, the soul sucking task of editing must be shared. Why? So everyone hears the raw audio of their voice, how they didn’t contribute, or how they over contributed—you know, another vodka blasted Aiden rant—and how they may have to modify their approach, whether that is vocally or through preparation.
Like any well performing business, or collaborative endeavor, you must dedicate time to your podcast. This doesn't entail retweeting some other podcast to attain likes and followers, but sitting down, exhausted from your day job, or second job, and creating material, scavenging the news and internet for ideas. Hell, maybe some asshole at the strip club pissed you off… That’s an idea. But, how are you going to fashion that into a segment or part of the episode? And, what if Charlie has a similar story?
Ah, yes… Communication.
How does Tickling Tonsils, with five unique members, share their ideas, skits, segments, topics for an upcoming episode? Do they text each other? Email? Conference Call? (Now, that’s a good business practice, right?) Do they utilize online collaborative tools like Google Drive, Trello, Skype? And, with five unique personalities, how do they meld a cohesive episode? What if Andy doesn’t give a shit about Politics, but Charlie is a raging Liberal, Pat is a Conservative and Amy is a spittle mouthed Progressive-Feminist-Anarchist who loves her Norwegian soccer? Go Rosenborg BK!
A weekly podcast is not the day of your recording session, it is the hours you devoted to preparing for that session. If you’re unable to dedicate that kind of time to a podcast, everything will suffer.
“Jake, this podcast is just my buddies and I getting together Saturday night in our garage for some drunken catharsis… We’re just gonna record until we pass out, we aren't looking for fame and fortune.”
Alright, who is going to edit your episodes?
After a month of editing, I wanna ask Brayden how much fun it is editing your podcast.
Because, it’s going to be time and money well spent…for all of you. (sarcasm)
This piece was not to disparage anyone’s podcast, or condemn the premise of their podcast, but simply reflections on a year producing a weekly show. I’m not some New Media Entrepreneur attempting to sell you 10 Hacks For Starting A Podcast, everything I’ve mentioned in this piece, we at 3emptypints have encountered, failed at and are still attempting to perfect—if, that’s even possible.
Everyday, on Instagram and Twitter, I smirk at all the new podcasts promoting their brand, their website stores filled with merchandise, their Patreon sites readied, but not even one episode uploaded.
And all I gotta say is, Take Care…