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  • Author: Keith Conrad
  • Spotify Begins Testing 99 Cent Low-Cost Tier

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    Spotify has begun to test a new subscription tier that would carry a lower monthly price while offering some – but not all – of the benefits of paid subscribers. What is being called Spotify Plus costs as little as $0.99 per month – well below the normal $9.99 premium rate. According to The Verge, Spotify is testing a variety of price points.

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    The low-cost Spotify Plus plan will still include ads but will let users skip an unlimited number of songs. Users will also be able to select a specific song rather than just the shuffled tracks that free users are currently limited to. 

    In a statement to The Verge, Spotify confirmed the test was being conducted under a “limited number” of its users. “We’re always working to enhance the Spotify experience and we routinely conduct tests to inform our decisions,” the rep said. “Some tests end up paving the way for new offerings or enhancements while others may only provide learnings.”

    Last week Spotify reported it had nine million fewer monthly active users during the second quarter than it expected even as its worldwide active user number hit 365 million. It blamed softer listening numbers in countries where COVID lockdowns were in effect. That seems somewhat counterintuitive. Spotify also said the percentage of monthly active users engaging with podcast content only improved “modestly” compared to Q1.

    So apparently Joe Rogan isn’t quite the draw they expected him to be. I kid, I have all of my podcasts on Spotify and actually use it for most of my audio consumption. I have been a premium subsrciber for a while now. My main reason for subscribing was to avoid the advertising. I could definitely see the value is being able to choose specific tracks to play.

  • Best Podcast Hosting Platforms I Have Used

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    There are a lot of platforms out there. Most offer the same options when when get right down to it, but they all have their own unique charms. I’ve used all three I’ll mention here for various projects.

    Libsyn

    Libsyn is a podcast hosting service that has been around since the early days of podcasting. As a matter of fact, when i started one podcast it was basically the only game in town. They’ve probably held onto a lot of their business because they’re a service long-time podcasters have used all along and they aren’t too anxious to make a change if they don’t have a specific problem.

    Libsyn’s pricing plans start at $5/month with an upload limit of 50MB (which is too small for most people) so at a minimum you would will likely need the $15/month plan that bumps you up to 250MB of upload per month and basic statistics.

    Podbean

    Podbean has a free plan with 5 hours of storage and 100MB of bandwidth per month.

    This is another easy way to start off, but you’ll need to upgrade to get more advanced stats, a custom domain, or more website customization.

    Podbean allows you to have multiple podcasts (For a price). So it is a great option if ultimately you’re like me and like to shotgun podcast ideas all over the place rather than just having one podcast like a normal person.

    RedCircle

    RedCircle is my hosting platform of choice these days and it’s still relatively new. It launched in February 2019 focused on “semi-pro” podcasters.

    One of their unique features is the ability to reach out and cross-promote your podcast within the platform. You can search for podcasts, reach out to them to pitch and set terms, and swap pre-recorded messages promoting each other’s podcasts.

    The best part about RedCircle is hosting the podcast is actually free. They made all of their money from commission on premium content and any ad sales through the platform. So they only make money when you make money.

  • How Long Should an Episode of a Podcast Be?

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    How long should your podcast be? As I’m scrolling through the various podcasts I listen to on a regular basis, it’s tough to get a gauge of how long one should be.

    Let The Content Be Your Guide

    Ok, I felt kind of lame just writing that headline.

    At the end of the day though, unless you’re doing a show live on a radio station, it isn’t like you need to worry about length too much. The short answer I always give people is “Make it as long as it’s interesting”

    Podcasting is on-demand content, so take as long as you need to create a great episode. Maybe you have 9 minutes of interesting things to say about your specific topic, maybe you have a good guest on and you could do two hours.

    I’d be more worried about going too long as opposed to hitting a specific goal.

    Should All Episodes Be the Same Length?

    See above. If you’ve said what needs to be said and you’re happy with the content, call it an episode. But at the same time don’t but things short because you happened to hit 20 minutes.

    After you get some episodes under your belt you’ll develop a system, process, and routine in place for putting your episodes together. You might find your episodes are all similar lengths because that’s generally how long it takes to do it.

    Having some consistency can help give your audience an idea of what to expect out of every episode.

    How long Is Too Long?

    One of the biggest podcasts out there is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Those episodes tend to be 3 hours long, sometimes more. Normally they have multiple episodes too. But if you’re a history wonk, you’re interested and keep listening. Also, if you’re board and on a really long road trip.

    Of course Dan Carlin already has an audience. If audiences are just stumbling on your show and all of the episodes are 180 minutes, it might be tough to get them to check you out. It’s a delicate balance.

    So basically, you shouldn’t feel boxed in by length. Never feel compelled to cut short good content just for the sake of hitting a specific time. But also be mindful of your listeners and don’t waste their time.

    Also, if you have an idea for a podcast that could potentially go 180 minutes talking about history, we should probably talk. You’re my kind of person.

  • What Makes For A Great Podcast Interview?

    It takes a lot of things to make an interview go well. When everything clicks, it can make for great content. If things go wrong it just wastes everyone’s time.

    First of all, just remember not every interview is going to go perfectly. Sometimes the guest is boring, they rambled all over the place, they focused on pitching their own product, or they had horrible sound quality.

    Preventing this from happening requires some preparation work. Once you have a process for it though, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to repeat.

    Have a pre-interview call (or email)

    Generally if you’ve gone through the trouble of trying to book someone to begin with, you have a pretty good idea of the insight and experience they bring to the table. But once you actually have the interview scheduled, it’s a good idea to talk to the guest ahead of time just to give them an idea what to expect from the interview.

    As I’ve mentioned before, don’t be afraid to tell them what questions you plan on asking ahead of time. At the very least give them the broad strokes of the topics you want to discuss. You’re not Perry Mason interrogating them, and giving the guest plenty of time to come up with the best answer possible is going to make for better content.

    If it turns out they’re just reading talking points or otherwise giving less than genuine answers, you can ask follow up questions to make things a little more interesting. But you don’t want to blind side the guest. Even if you’re not worried about having the guest on again, it won’t make for very good content if you’re trying to surprise them and it ends up putting them on their heels.

    Be clear about technical expectations

    Guests who aren’t podcasters themselves may not understand what sort of setup they need in order to sound good on recordings. The COVID-era has certainly changed that since many people have upgraded their home offices,

    If it all possible the guest needs to have a microphone, not just speak into their laptop mic. Even headphones with built-in microphones end up producing a decent result.

    Don’t assume anything is common sense. Some guests call in for a podcast interview from a loud place like an airport. Always ask the guest to be in a quiet place for the interview, even if you have to delay or reschedule the interview to get the best results.

    Do a deep dive into their background

    When you schedule the interview, ask the guest (or their publicist) to send you a bio for the guest and any information on what they are promoting.

    Take a look at their previous interviews. There might be an interesting angle that you explore more deeply or one that went horribly wrong that you’ll definitely want to avoid. It pays to know that stuff ahead of time.

    Ask the guest (or their publicist) if there are a few specific questions the guest would like the host to asks. Generally if they have a specific thing they want to promote, they’ll be more than happy to give that to you. That doesn’t mean you have to focus exclusively on what the guest wants to promote, but you should know what they are looking to get out of it.

    Be clear about what everyone wants out of the interview

    Most guests are going to have something specific they want to promote. That’s not neccessarily a bad thing, if it gets them in the door. Just remember the interview should serve three angles: the podcaster’s audience, the podcaster, and the guest. In that order.

    Some guests are going to treat the interview as more of an opportunity to pitch their products or services. The only person that benefits is the guest. It doesn’t do much for you or the audience, though.

    Just be clear with them about what you’re looking for. Maybe reserve a specific part of the interview for pimping their product. Explain that they should build up their credibility with an educational, audience-first interview. If they give the audience a reason to be interested, they’ll stick around to hear about the book and/or product in question.

    Ask the guest to help promote the episode

    Guests can help grow your podcast’s audience. Even if they don’t have a huge built in audience, if they have one person who becomes aware of your show that’s a good thing.

    The more specific you can be ahead of time about what would be helpful for you (and them), the more likely the guest will follow through on promoting the show.

  • Sports Illustrated & iHeart Media Sign an Audio Content Deal

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    The content wars rage on.

    Sports Illustrated has struck a deal with iHeartMedia to create podcast content. The agreement will see the co-production of at least eight new original podcasts while the iHeartPodcast Network will pick up distribution duties for the podcasts Sports Illustrated is already doing. There are also mutual marketing and promotion commitments.

    Two of the original podcasts are scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2022. The Sports Illustrated brand will be used on editorial and analysis-based podcasts. Other podcasts will come from Sports Illustrated Studios offering scripted and limited series content.

    That’s interesting to me, because I would think the scripted content would be the bigger draw at this point.

    Sports Illustrated Weekly will be a weekly audio magazine. The companies say each 45-minute episode will feature deep-dive segments on the biggest news of the week. There’s also a show called Lateral Damage planned, which will be a sports-related true crime podcast. Because there’s not enough true crime content out there.

    I’m just happy to see so many radio companies finally getting serious about podcasts. That can only be good for people making podcasts, right?