April Is Podcast Experiment Month
As working podcasters, we’re often focused on our own systems and process that get our content out to the world. But with so many of us sheltering in place, it’s providing an excellent opportunity for experimentation. Who knows what will come out?
I talked about podcasting from a place of abundance yesterday. One of the benefits of abundance is that it affords you the opportunity (read: time and resources) to do weird things. Super-lean organizations have a hard time with this. So do those who live hand-to-mouth in their business, art, or whatever they do. Like a podcast.
But in an effort to “lemonade” our current global situation, I’m declaring April 2020 as Podcast Experimentation Month. No, there’s no “official” proclamation from anyone other than me. But someone has to be first, right? This is a good idea and I'm hoping other working podcasters like you will jump on board and find a productive way to get through our changed circumstances. Because if we’re gonna be locked inside, we might as well try some different things!
Location-based podcast experiments
Going a little stir crazy? Change where you record your show. I saw a great post on Reddit that showed someone’s podcasting set-up their garden. That would certainly capture a different ambiance, right? And while you probably can't (and should not) go to the park and record, you certainly are able to go into your backyard or balcony.
You could also change up where you podcast from by changing to a different room or section of your house. Each area will have a different tonal quality on your voice. Maybe you've been podcasting from the exact wrong place in your home for some time! And as odd as it may seem, try recording from inside the car you haven't driven in two weeks.
Assuming you’re not under a shelter-in-place order, go take a walk and take your recording gear with you. If that’s not easy, remember that Amazon, Sweetwater, and BSW are all still shipping equipment. So if you need to buy an inexpensive dongle or an adapter to make the connection between your mic and your recorder for portability, you can do it. Just be sure to stay six feet away from people as you’re out in your neighborhood.
Experiment with different podcasting equipment
If you're like me, you probably have more microphones than you know what to do with. I do 99% of my voice work on my Shure SM7B. But I also bought a Samson Q2U because it was cheap. I have a couple of SM58s, some rarely-used lavs… Heck, I even have an old Blue Snowball I haven’t used since 2005. That would certainly change the tone of my voice. Not necessarily on this show, but for others.
You could also use this time to get to know aspects of your equipment you might not be completely familiar with. I know a lot of people still like to use the Blue Yeti microphone. That’s fine, but please use April’s Podcast Experimentation Month to learn exactly how it works. Those three settings on the back all do different things. Listen to those differences. Try different mic placements, like maybe don't put it in the middle of the table and shout at it from across the room? Or crack open the manual and see exactly how the equipment you have is designed to be used and try using it that way.
Experiment with voices other than your own
Are your kids stuck at home with you? More than one of my clients has had kid noises creep into their recordings in the last week. But maybe bringing those kids on to the show and somehow incorporating their voices on purpose would be fun for them, for you, and for your listeners?
If you produce a monologue show like mine, maybe you could try adding some additional voices, either as guests or co-hosts. It doesn’t have to be a full-format shift. Again, you’re just experimenting this month.
Experiment with better podcasting software
If you’re using Audacity, GarageBand, or some other free service, and you've never really seen the need or had the desire (or perhaps the time) to try professional-grade audio engineering software, now might be a great time to download the fully-functional trial versions of Hindenburg or Reaper. Yes, they each come with their own learning curve. But April, as Podcast Experiment Month, is a great time to get over the hump.
It's also a great time to download trials of amazing plugins that make your podcasting efforts sound better or be done more efficiently. Waves, iZotope, and other audio plugin makers often have free trials so you can see if they make your life better.
Experimenting with your format
That might mean trying your hand at making shorter episodes. Let's say, by way of example, that you normally do a 10-minute show. Do you think you can get out what you need in a little more than six minutes? Maybe you should just end the episode there and see what your listeners think?
Great idea, me.
In the meantime, share this episode with your podcasting friends who find themselves with some free time on their hands. Tell them that April is Podcat Experimentation Month. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.