I happen to love podcast tech. And there's a good chance that you, a listener to this podcast about the future of podcasting, also kind of dig podcast tech. But you also know that we are in the minority.
Most podcasters—and I know I'm casting a very wide net, what with millions of podcasts available—do not love podcasting tech.
In fact, I think a large number of podcasters fear or avoid podcasting technology. Assuming that is true, imagine how many people don't even entertain the idea of having their own podcast because of similar fears. People with stories worthy of telling and being heard who are unable to get past the tech hurdles of podcasting.
Some will say, "That's fine; there are too many podcasts as it is." But you, dear reader and/or listener, will not say that because you know that is horse shit. We have plenty of room for more podcasts, and I refuse to let anyone claim differently without casting at least a stern glance in their direction.
One thing that has me terribly excited for the future of podcasting is how the entire process of making a podcast has, for many, changed drastically in the last 20 years or so. I'm talking singularity-level changes! Brand new technology from several providers that often looks alien to people like you and me, but is a complete game changer on so many levels.
Alitu, a service from The Podcast Host, is one of those services reimagining how podcasts are made. They're the Branded Benefits Sponsor of today's episode, and I recently sat down with Colin Gray to ask him how Alitu makes podcasting better:
Colin Gray: The goal with Alitu is to make it incredibly easy to create a podcast. Everything from recording to editing to publishing. We've enabled our users to forget about the tech behind it all so they can concentrate just on their voice and getting their message out to the world.
That's the goal; to make the tech just disappear so creators can concentrate on their message.
Evo Terra: There have been a lot of tools that make podcasting easier. But far too many of them don't really make podcasting better. Easier and better don't often follow parallel paths. Do you honestly think that having the tech disappear helps make podcasting better?
CG: I do! So many podcasters worry so much about what microphone they should buy, how to edit in a fancy DAW, what platforms they should be posting on, and more things that don't really matter that they don't spend the time to actually get better at presenting. Or getting better at the way they speak, to get better at engaging with their audience, or to get better at designing their content.
One of the great things about podcasting's early days was that you could do anything because all the controls from Radio were gone and you could do what you liked.
That comes with downsides, like people thinking that podcasting is all about winging it. That there's no plan required. You just get on a mic, and you chat away with your friends.
But actually concentrating on how you design your content, thinking about what your listener wants from your show, and how they can best consume your content? I think that makes a huge difference.
So yeah, I think having more time to spend on those much more important aspects of podcasting can and does make podcasting better.
ET: I agree that we get caught up in the tech and wind up using our brains to make decisions that would be better handled by bits. After all, we're a creative species good at planning, strategy, and other cerebral stuff. So let's get into the how for just a moment. How does Alitu work?
CG: We started out with editing. The biggest question we'd see on The Podcast Host, a site with hundreds of thousands of readers every month, was always, "Oh, please; how can I make editing easier because I hate editing?"
So not everyone feels this way obviously. But the majority of podcasters we hear from want to spend less time on editing. We also see editing-averse people are using tools designed for audio engineers with way too many options and features the vast majority of podcasters don't want or need.
So that was our first goal; strip out all of those things podcasters don't need and create an editing platform that's specific to podcasters. We made it as simple as possible and included only the stuff podcasters need.
And that worked out well. We received a really good response to that first version.
ET: I first saw Alitu in an earlier version, like maybe four years ago? I know a lot has changed since then, and also that a lot of other systems and services are available trying to also hide some of the tech bits. What is Alitu doing that makes it better than other similar tools?
CG: We're deeply committed to automation. Take the audio cleanup, for example. That's a real audio engineering job, but one that's been pretty well solved recently by huge investments by forward-thinking audio companies like Dolby who know audio back-to-front. Alitu integrates with Dolby Audio to power our automated audio cleanup, clearing the noise, adjusting levels, automatically doing de-essing and de-plosives, and that kind of stuff.
We feel that level of cleanup isn't something most podcasters should worry about. It should be fixed automatically, so we do it automatically.
We've also figured out clever ways to automate things like adding theme music to an episode. Theme music sounds great when you fade it in and overlap with the voiceover. It's a little job that podcasters do the same every single episode the exact same way... and we've automated it.
Of course, we can't automate everything. Yes, there will be some parts of an audio file that need to be edited by a human. But if we can automate all the bits that don't require that, we make editing less of a dreaded chore and something that's pretty straightforward in our editing tool that's designed just for podcasters.
And now, we're adding in all the other tools a podcaster needs to our single interface. A call recorder to capture interviews or conversations with your co-host. An integrated media hosting service. Having all of those in the same place saves so much time simply by not having to go from one tool to another. Alitu clients record in one place, have their audio automatically cleaned, and then placed straight into the episode builder. They can pop in their adverts, their intros, and anything else needed for the episode. Finally, the files are automatically sent straight to the hosting platform. All of that from one place, not different places. Not using different pieces of software or loading up a bunch of different online services. Just one place where podcasters can do the whole thing.
It's efficiencies like that where we see improved quality. There's no downloading. There's no converting of files. There's no exporting. All of that gives people more time to concentrate on the content.
ET: For those of us who know our way around Pro Tools, Reaper, or Hindenberg; should we switch to Alitu? Or are your advances not created for people like us?
CG: It depends on your goal. I know people who use Alitu to create one show, but then they use something like Audition to create another complex show where they want to have the full audio engineering experience and control.
But the reality is that not all shows require that level of engineering complexity. Simple chat shows or even company-focused shows serving as a marketing channel; many of them don't warrant such a hands-on approach. In fact, the opposite is often true, and the creator just wants it to be quick and easy to publish yet still sound great!
So yes, we do have highly qualified audio engineers using Alitu because it's easy. By the way, I use it. I use it for all of our shows, and I've been a professional audio engineer for years. I like using Alitu because I just want to concentrate on talking these days. I don't want to worry about the clean-out, the editing, all that kinda stuff.
So yeah, I think there is a place for Alitu in almost everyone's toolbox. Whether you use it or not on every podcast you make depends on your goal.
ET: So is everything the way that you want it? Are there new, cool things on the horizon for Alitu and The Podcast Host?
CG: Yeah. Like loads of new stuff. Transcripts was a feature we added that had a really big effect. People were really happy to have that in there as an accessibility tool, as well as a quicker way of making new show notes. But we're wanting to integrate transcripts into our editor as well.
Everyone's seen text-based editing, and we want to build on that by adding it in. We're in a unique position where we've got a great visual waveform editor that's extremely simple. Adding text-based editing to that will give our users real control over not just the words to cut out or a quick way to highlight sections you want to edit out, but allowing the fine-tuning control to adjust the edges of those edits, previewing them, and other delicate controls. We can take what's been done before and make it much better inside of Alitu.
ET: If you can make it easier for someone who's not as comfortable using complex DAWS and encourage them to do more content-based editing because they no longer see it as an arduous task... Yeah. I do think that would actually make, make podcasting better.
CG: There I know who wouldn't be podcasting without it. Like literally would not have tried to conquer the tech. People who are really tech-phobic. Likewise, I've seen podcasters give up because it was too time-consuming, too many different steps or too much confusion in their process every single week. But then we showed them Alitu, they started playing around with it, and it became so easy that they started up their podcast again, are pushing out weekly episodes, are becoming consistent, and growing their audience after all.
A big thanks to Colin, Alitu, and The Podcast Host for being today's Branded Benefit Sponsor. And for reminding us—yes, even those of us who know what the hell we are doing—that even we are probably spending time and energy doing things that would be better left to software and systems. Systems and software that, frankly, could probably do a better job than we can. At least sometimes.
So check out Alitu to see what processes you could be leaving to a robot, freeing up your creative human brain to do more important things. And let me know what you think!
With that, I shall be back next week with yet another Podcast Pontifications.