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Are you making the podcast you were born to make? Or do you have other creative podcasting itches that need to be scratched? Because podcasters are creative people, and while it’s great to have a popular and successful show, we often need to explore different aspects of our creativity, lest we grow bored.
The inspiration for this edition of Podcast Pontifications was music. Take Bruce Springsteen as an example. Even if you are not a raving fan of The Boss, you probably know that Bruce has used a very recognizable and consistent sound throughout his decades of making music professionally. The same holds true for some of my favorite bands, Cake and Soul Coughing. I can recognize a song by them by scent alone, even when they (or Mike Doughty, in the case of Soul Coughing) explore new directions.
But that’s not true for all musicians. Take Jefferson Airplane in whatever configuration (and name) over the decades. Their sound changes drastically from album to album. So too with Gwen Stefani. Her sound when she was fronting the ska band No Doubt is light years away from her solo pop sound. Heck, just listen to the complete discography of The Beatles and pay attention to how different those songs are from one another.
It's not just musicians who seek to explore different ways to be creative. My favorite example is Leonard Nimoy—Spock—and his poetry book Warmed By Love, arguably the most awkward book cover ever. The same for comedians who are now serious actors, and wrestlers who became chefs. Creatives are rarely one dimensional.
Creative Podcasters Have It Easy. Well… Easier.
Bands and musicians can only release so many albums per year and can only do so much touring to support their most recent album. So if they want to explore a solo project, they often find it hard to keep their current fans happy. Or keep the money flowing in.
When a podcaster decides to explore their creative itch, doing something different to break out of the routine that they are in with their show, they (often) have much more flexibility. They don't (usually) have to shut down their current podcast in order to try something new. (Though I acknowledge podcasters creating more production-intensive shows will have a difficult time of it.) For most of us, it’s just an investment of more time and energy. If we have the bandwidth, we can create a new podcast fairly quickly.
The risk is, obviously, alienating some of our listeners. If we keep our current show(s) going, we mitigate that risk. But still, word of mouth could cause a listener unfamiliar with our popular work to discover our side project first. If they don’t like it, they may wonder what all the fuss is about and give us a pass. But, hey. Shit happens, right?
Knowing When It’s Time To Try A New Podcasting Angle
Oftentimes, a drastic change from a musician or band is driven by a producer or record label chasing the latest trend so they can sell more copies. We have trends in podcasting too. Should you chase them? How are you keeping up with those changes?
Relevancy is a part of that. While there will always be hardcore fans who just want a rinse-and-repeat of the last thing produced by a creative, they are, by definition, a finite group. Over time, attrition will remove more fans than are created, especially if the tone and style aren’t in step with what today’s audience is looking for. If you’re seeing a plateau in your listenership, it could indicate your time to try something brand new.
And sometimes, creatives people just feel the need to change. To scratch that creative itch. That doesn’t have to mean huge, drastic changes. We can, in the spirit of Springsteen and Cake, make subtle tweaks that might make us more interesting to the new crowd without risking our aging fanbase. Maybe that means doing a few solo episodes or letting someone else take over the interviews for a while. Maybe bringing in a co-host from time to time. Or something else entirely different but still subtle. We get to make that call.
It’s Your Podcast And You Can Change If You Want To
I'm a big fan of exploring creative itches. But there's nothing wrong with ringing the same bell over and over again if that’s what makes you happy. Again, I listen to way too much Cake and Soul Coughing, and I’m perfectly content to put that stuff on repeat all day long.
But at the same time, I love change. I change things up all the time. So if you’re like me, make sure you find a way to scratch that creative itch, podcaster. We’re fortunate to be in an industry that lends itself to lots of ways to change. So if you’re feeling the need, go explore!
Speaking of change, would you consider throwing some my way? BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra is where you can buy me a virtual coffee to show your support.
But more important than that, please tell a fellow podcaster about Podcast Pontifications. Maybe they're just starting out on their podcasting journey. Or maybe they've been dropping episodes for a long time and need a friendly and supportive voice that’s talking about more than basic “how to get started” content and instead shares ideas that all of us working podcasters should be thinking about. That's really the core of what I'm trying to do with Podcast Pontifications ‘21. Hope you love it.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.