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The 411 on podCasts, podCasters and podCasting. podCast411 is a show about interviewing other Podcasters, similar to Inside the Actors Studio except for Podcasting
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Jul 13, 2016
Thoughts on Podcast Movement 2016 and Podcast Hall of Fame

Let me start by saying KUDOS to the Podcast Movement Team (Dan, Gary, Jared, Mitch and all the Yellow Shirts).

Podcast Movement 2016 was the best podcasting event I have been to and I have pretty much been to them all. It had a great mix of indie podcasters, business podcasters, Radio Podcasters - both as attendees and speakers.

It also had the talks and the place to hang out physically together - that was really key to the success.

We had 4 people at the Libsyn booth and we were slammed the entire time. PM14 and PM15 were good - PM16 was GREAT!!!. Even my wife commented on how well it was run.

Again Kudos to everyone involved with putting on PM16. I can’t wait for August 2017 for the next Podcast Movement.

Obviously for me - Wednesday night and the Podcast Hall of Fame induction will be something I will never forget and I was so glad to share the night with my wife. I am honored to go into the Hall of Fame and really love that I was able to go in with two of my good friends - Mignon Fogarty (AKA Grammar Girl) and Gary Leland (AKA Podcast Pickle) - See picture.

Speaking of the Hall of Fame one thing I am really proud of is everyone one in the hall of fame has been a guest on (or host of) podCast411. I even went through and found all the interviews I still had live and below is a playlist player that has all the interviews I did with Hall of Fame members and only those interviews.

(Note - My interview with Todd Cochrane - ep 22 was pulled a long time ago for audio quality reasons along with my other first 30 eps - I will try and find Todd’s interview and get it cleaned up and reposted).

I hope you take some time to listen to those 12 interviews below - it will really show you how podcasting has changed over the years. It has been an incredible 12 year run and the Induction into the Hall of Fame is something I really cherish - thanks to all in the academy that selected me for this great honor.

Thursday and Friday at Podcast Movement were incredibly slammed for us at the Libsyn booth. Thanks to all that came by and dropped off their business cards - seems quite a few of you had something good in your wallet.

At one point I counted over 180 different podcasters cards on the table. Many of the shows cards were completely wiped out. So many people looking for shows to listen to and interview. We also gave out a couple hundred plus t-shirts to libsyn customers - this years color was a nice deep Red.

There were so many Red shirts on Friday it looked like an episode of Star Trek that was not going to end well for the extras.

It was great hanging out with fellow libsyner’s - Elsie, Krystal and Dave. Libsyn is a company where some of us work remotely - and these events are often the only times we get to meet face to face. Amazingly - even with 4 people at the booth - most of the time - we still were too busy to handle all the traffic.

Even when sessions were going on we were still slammed. I guess it really helps when you roll out great new features (destination stats, publish audio to youtube) the week before and announce a big partnership with iHeartRadio the first day of the conference.

Great Job to our dev team for really making our message an easy one at the conference.

The one thing that was sad was I did not get out to any of the sessions - per above we were slammed. The only two I went to - I was speaking in. My - Yes All the marketing advice for your podcast is BS session was really well received. And I think I am starting to see a swing in the pendulum.

Previously it had all been about monetizing your podcast - but when I started that session saying it is ok not to monetize - it was very well received. I had quite a few people come up to me afterwards thanking me for saying that.

Seems there are more and more podcasters that well just want to podcast. I think some people are tired of having the “monetize your podcast” mantra shoved down their throat 24 / 7 / 365 - some podcasters (many podcasters) really are GASP doing this for a hobby and personally I can’t think of a better hobby. It will be interesting over the next 13 months to see if this is a trend or a blip.

Now go and listen to some old episodes of Podcast411 and see what those in the Hall of Fame have for you for advice on podcasting.

 

Jul 3, 2016
411 iTem 0231 - Lou Mongello from the WDW Radio Podcast

411 iTem 0231 - Lou Mongello from the WDW Radio Podcast

Give us a call - 206-666-4357

Send us an email - podcast411@gmail.com

 

Links Mentioned in the Interview:

WDW Radio - Blog Link

WDW Radio - iTunes Link

Podcast Movement

Podcaster Hall of Fame

Blogging While Brown

 

Jun 26, 2016
Hey Podcasters What’s in your Wallet?

At NAB/NMX in 2015 in Las Vegas last year I was walking over to the Las Vegas convention center Sunday morning with Gary Leland.  I had my big suitcase full of stuff for the libsyn booth - it was definitely over packed.  In the suitcase were a couple of boxes of flyers, a bunch of t-shirts, a big bag of chocolate, The libsyn banner and a couple of big bags of business cards from libsyn podcasters.  About half way over one of the wheels on the suitcase split. It was still rollable but tougher to pull.  A couple hundred yards later the other wheel split.  Now it was really hard to pull.  Gary offered to help cary it - but since he was already carrying a big bag of T-shirts for the libsyn booth (Thanks Gary) I said no and just hoped I would make it to the booth before the wheels completely locked up.  Thankfully I did make it to the booth before the wheels gave out completely.  Whew!

 

The one thing that takes the longest when setting up the libsyn booth at shows is laying out the business cards from podcasters that host with us.  We have a tradition of dedicating about half our booth space to those that make libsyn possible - our podcasters.  This allows Podcasters business cards to attend the shows we go to even if the Podcasters themselves can not.  See the photo above for a look at last years NAB/NMX setup.  

 

There are well over 50 different podcasts whose cards we have out and we will get more during the show.  But even if that number was 100 it is a small number percentage wise out of all the podcasts that host with libsyn (>28,000).  Is that because we pick and choose who goes out?  Nope.  It is because that is all that sent us their cards or dropped off their cards at past events.  When I ask some podcasters why they did not send in their cards, there is one answer I hear more than any other.  “I do not have business cards for my podcast”.  HUH? Really?  How can you not have business cards for your podcast I will ask them.  Some say they are just too busy to get cards made, a few admit they are just to lazy to get it done, some will say they can’t design anything graphical, and a last group will say they don’t see the value in business cards for their podcast.

 

For the first three groups, Google “Design Business cards online”.  Enough said.

 

It is that last group this article is for.  At every event we have had cards out at, there have been multiple people that will look over the plethora of cards presented and go through picking and choosing cards.  Some of them will say they are looking for a new show to listen to. If that was your card - Score you just gained a new listener.  Other podcasters or news media people will say they are looking for guests to interview.  If that was your card - MAJOR score you will likely gain many new listeners.  

 

Beyond putting business cards on the libsyn booth - there are many other great ways to market with your business cards.  I have heard of people going into book stores or libraries and finding books that match their topic and leaving their cards in the books.  I have seen at events business cards placed in elevators or on billboards or other high visibility spots.  But I think where it comes in most useful is when you the podcaster are telling someone about your show.  Word of Mouth marketing is by far the number one way podcasts grow. And nothing backs up your own word of mouth about your podcast then when you can hand over a card with your podcast info.  One it makes it easier for them to remember the name and where to find your podcast and two it shows a higher level of legitimacy about your podcast, in that you spent the time and money to get cards printed.  

 

For my own business cards for Libsyn on the back I have my three main podcasts Artwork with the URL’s for each podcast site page.  I found not having a card for my podcast - Today in iOS was hurting me when I went to someone to ask for an interview at a trade show.  But when I could hand them a card showing my artwork and website URL - I found them much more receptive to come on my podcast and also hand over samples to test on my podcast.  At Show Stoppers - a special event for the media attending NAB - they required you give over a business card to get in.  CES has had that requirement as well for the Press.  A business card adds a greater level of legitimacy to your podcast.  

 

Back to our NAB/NMX 2015 setup experience from above. After I finished the libsyn booth I gave my wife a call.  When I told her about the issues she said I should leave those big bags of business cards behind as they weigh a ton.  Blasphemy I said - I would leave behind libsyn flyers before I did that. I can easily replace the libsyn flyers - but those individual podcasters business cards - they are priceless.  Ok well maybe not exactly priceless as a new suitcase did set me back $100 - but you get the point. 

 

Next week will be the biggest Podcast event of 2016 - Podcast Movement.  Are you going to be ready for the show with your own business cards?  Or as the title states - What's going to be in your wallet when you get to Chicago?

 

Jun 16, 2016
The Pod 11 - The most influential Entities in Podcasting

 

This list is in response to this other list - The Pod 22 the Most influential people in NY City Pro Podcasting 

 

Rather than look at individuals - I wanted to look at the teams and entities that are really the most influential in ALL of podcasting - not the very small niche that is NY City Pro Podcasting.

 

The list in no particular order - but numbered so someone who does not read this intro can mis-report on it.

 

1. iTunes Podcasting team - it is more than one person at Apple - and clearly with 65% of the downloads directly to iTunes or the Podcasts App - this is the most influential team.  Additionally another 15% of downloads comes from aggregator apps that pull from the iTunes directory.  

 

2. Libsyn - The first podcasting hosting company - responsible for hosting around 35% of the top 200 shows in iTunes US.  Libsyn will deliver over 25% of all the downloads iTunes and the podcasts apps play.  No one else is even close. 

 

3. Scripps - They purchased Mid-roll and now Stitcher - it is very clear they are in this space for the long term and have the financial chops to back up their plans.

 

4. Blubrry - That team has been part of Podcasting before iTunes was supporting podcasting.  Their plugin supports a large number of podcasts and their ad sales support has been there since the beginning.

 

5. Podtrac - Their Ad sales also from the beginning and support many podcasts big and small.

 

6. Soundcloud - Sure their tools suck and they are all focused on Promoting the Soundcloud brand - and a simple search of “buy soundcloud plays” shows you for $50 you can buy 50,000 plays - BUT, they still do power a good number of shows and Twitter gave them life for at least 18 more months.

 

7. Podcast Movement Team - The guys behind Podcast Movement now have the largest podcast only event.  This is where people through out the industry go to get influenced.

 

8. PodcastOne / ACE - Norm and Adam combined to build an instant and powerfully influential entity.  Ok - lots of other people are involved in this tandem - Gary, Mike, Mike and more.  

 

9. IAB Podcast Technical Working Group - This is the team that is working to standardize what the definition of a download is, so that everyone can talk in one standard language to advertisers.  

 

10. GPM Team - Finally native Podcasting support for Android users.  Right now it is about 1.7% of plays for big shows - That is actually really good for the first month.  

 

11. Overcast - Ok Really this is just Marco Arment - but what the heck - Marco is smarter than most teams combined and Overcast is the number one 3rd Party App on iOS.

 

Honorable mentions:  She Podcast Facebook Group, Podcast Paradise Group, Podiobooks Team, Roger Wilmut (Don’t know who Roger is - then you don’t have any right making a list on influential podcasters), NPR, WNYC, Gimlet Media, Spreaker, Podbean, Podomatic, Panoply, LA Podfest team,  Blogtalk, TWiT Network, Audible, 5x5 network, Art19, Pod to Pod news letter, Auphonic team, BossJock Team, Serial Team, QDNow Team, Nerdist Industries, Clammr team, CBS. 

 

Jun 12, 2016

There was a suggestion recently on one of the Google+ Podcast communities that we should be going to higher bit rates for our Audio files to compete with the big guys. The basic idea was Indie podcasters needed to up their game by upping their Bit rate.  I took issue with that stance, good quality in podcasts is not about higher bit rates - it is about starting with a good source file and having good content.  Most people listening with ear buds would be hard pressed to tell you the difference between 64 kbps vs 96 kbps vs 192 kbps bit rates and if you put them in a car and go down the highway - none of them can tell any difference. 

 

Before we get into what I am going to recommend for bit rates lets look at what some of the top podcasts in iTunes are doing to get a feel for what most Podcast listeners are used to.

 

Here are 13 of the top Podcasts:

  Bit Rate Chart

 

As you can see there is definitely no consensus.  Bit rates varied from a low of 40 kbps to a high of 128 kbps.  5 were at 64 kbps, 4 were at 128 kbps with a 5th at 128 kbps true Stereo (really like 64 kbps mono quality wise) and 2 were at 96 kbps.

 

There was also no consensus on Mono or Joint Stereo with 7 at mono and 5 at Joint Stereo.

 

The only thing there was consensus on was 44.1 kHz sample rate and MP3 format and all were CBR = constant bit rate = good.   Remember VBR = Bad.  

 

Based on the specs above and testing I have done, for most podcasters I recommend the following settings and it is what I use for my latest podcast - KC Startup 411

 

 

.MP3 Format

64 kbps - bit rate

44.1 khz - sample rate

mono

 

This works out to about 0.5 MB per minute. 

 

If you are an audiophile and you just want your files to sound the best possible then you can go to 96 kbps bit rate (which is what I use for my Today in iOS and Podcast411 Podcasts). This works out to 0.75 MB per minute. 

 

I do not see any reason at all to go to 128 kbps or higher bit rate for spoken word audio - It is just overkill.  First 99% of the audience can not hear any difference between 96 kbps and any higher bit rate.  Second going with a higher bit rate means your files are larger - which means more storage space and hosting costs for you and more importantly it means more bandwidth usage and costs for your listeners.  

 

Increasing your bit rate above 64 or 96 kbps will not (NEVER EVER) gain you any extra listeners but due to bandwidth costs it may cost you a few. Remember outside the US most people pay per MB of data used - be considerate of your listeners. 

 

It is far better to start with a good quality source file with good content and encode at either 64 or 96 kbps then it is anything else.  WTF with Marc Maron gets more downloads then anyone reading this and he is encoding at 40 kbps - enough said.

 

Jan 2, 2015

This is an article I wrote for the September 2014 issue of Podertainment Magazine

There is a trend I am starting to see with some podcasters - they are starting to heavily spam Twitter.  What they are doing is sending out massive amounts of tweets, often using multiple twitter accounts.  These tweets will be packed with different trending hash tags and a direct link to one of their old episodes.  They will do a different tweet for each old episode and will do these tweets over and over and over.  And when I say spamming Twitter - maybe “Twitter Bombing” would be more accurate description.  We are talking about in many cases 10 or more tweets an hour - 24 hours a day - 7 days a week - 52 weeks a year.  (In one case it is over 150 tweets an hour)

Apparently some lets call them “Snake Oil Salesmen” have told these podcasters if they twitter bomb like this for their old episodes it is “guaranteed” to grow their audience.  Well I went and looked at the stats of three of these Twitter Bombers and the data was fascinating.  First - here is how often these three shows were tweeting.

Show A - 16 Tweets an hour

Show B - 11 Tweets an hour

Show C - 7 Tweets an hour

When I looked at the overall stats for daily downloads for all episodes they all looked similar to the chart below (chart 1)

Chart 1

And if that is the only graph you look at, then the numbers and trend lines look great.  Maybe these Snake Oil Salesmen have found the magic bullet to growing audiences?  Ummm - NO!!!!  Because the devil is in the details (or data) and when you look closer at these shows stats they all have something else in common stats wise.  The following three charts are for the three shows I looked at.

 

 

 

 

(Charts A to C)

Let me explain the charts above: 

The Horizontal axis is for how many    episodes back in a shows catalog that episode was released and the vertical axis is for the number of downloads for that episode.  For example a 3 on the horizontal axis means it was 3 episodes ago for that show, a 33 means it was 33 episodes ago.  Look up for the number of downloads for that episode.

In Podcasting if you really are growing an audience - then your downloads from a few episodes ago should be greater then the downloads for your episodes from much further back in your catalog.  That is not what I have found with any of the Twitter Bombers - The Blue line is the chart of the per episode downloads - and the Red line is the trend line.  In all three cases the trend line was strongly negative. With the most recent episodes getting almost no downloads compared to old episodes.

Worse than that when you go and look at their user agent information what you find is very very few downloads are coming from iTunes.  This means yes they may be getting some listens to old episodes but they are not getting listeners and definitely not getting subscribers.

All Twitter Bombing is doing is proving some people will click on anything - but these people that are clicking on those links in tweets - they are not coming back - they are not subscribing - and they definitely are not listeners of the shows.

Why does all this mater? Why not just let these Twitter Bombers blissfully think they are growing their audiences?

Because many of these podcasters that are Twitter Bombing are now starting to hit up advertisers for advertising. What the Twitter Bombers are showing advertisers is Chart 1 above for their stats. They definitely are not showing Charts A to C.  When these advertisers then pay money for ads on these shows and the ads don’t perform, and they definitely will not perform because there is no real audience to take action, do you know what the Advertisers think.

“Wow Podcasting has no ROI”  

And that is bad for all of podcasting. For ad campaigns I run at libsyn, I will not include any twitter bombers, simply because I need to protect all those shows that actually have real audiences - not just listens.  Including Twitter Bombers in a campaign would likely mean the end of those campaigns.  

Here is a simple message for the Twitter Bombers out there.  When it comes to growing your audience ie LISTENERS - there is one tried and true way to do that - WOMM - Word of Mouth Marketing.  This is where you produce a really great show with really great content - and your audience tells their friends and so on.  That is the ONLY proven way of growing and sustaining a real audience.

Please stop “Twitter Bombing” - and take that time and effort and put it towards creating great content.  

 

Update 1/9/15:  I want to clairify the definition of "Twitter Bombing".  If you are tweeting out the direct link to your latest episode 1 to 3 times in a week and saying here is my latest episode - that is NOT twitter bombing - that is good social marketing. You can even use the tools in Libsyn to get that first tweet out when you release your episode.  But if you are tweeting 5, 10, 20, >150 times an hour 24/7/365 using popular hash tags - that DEFINITELY is Twitter Bombing.  

 

May 14, 2014

CBR - Constant BitRate

VBR - Variable BitRate

 

--------

 

I like to say there are two ways to explain VBR vs CBR.  There is the non-tech way to explain it and that is simply:

 

VBR = Bad,  CBR = Good

 

And really that is all you need to know - some really smart people figured that out back in 2004 when podcasting started - and that is one thing that has held true over time.  

 

Ok - I realize not all people accept the simple just because type answer - for those looking to be shown why - here we go:



VBR is an old tech / hack that was created to make MP3 music files smaller and was popular back in the heyday of file sharing.  Today there is no need for it - available bandwidth and storage today is much different than 15 and 20 years ago.  But more importantly ISO standards for MP3 do not require players support it.

 

According to the standard (ISO/IEC 11172-3:1993) Section 2.4.2.3

 

"In order to provide the smallest possible delay and complexity, the decoder is not required to support a continuously variable bitrate when in layer I or II.  Layer III supports variable bitrate by switching the bitrate index. However, in free format, fixed bitrate is required."

 

and

 

"For Layer II, not all combinations of total bitrate and mode are allowed."

 

Hence, most Layer II coders would not have been written with VBR in mind, and Layer II VBR is a hack. It works for limited cases. Getting it to work to the same extent as MP3-style VBR will be a major hack.

 

In short VBR's day in the light and mass use is way way behind us - back in the late 1990's and pre-podcasting.  

 

If you really want to make your music files sound better and take up less file size today - use .m4a format.   But for podcasting especially for spoken word podcasts - I do not see any advantage to going with VBR vs going with CBR at 96 kbps or 64 kbps and MP3 format.  And I only see potential issues with players that do not support VBR.  

 

What we recommend at Libsyn is:

 

.mp3

64 kbps - bit rate

44.1 khz - sample rate

mono or joint stereo.

 

Personally - I go with 96 kbps on the bit rate and mono.  

 

Here is some more info:

 

http://www.schillmania.com/projects/

soundmanager2/doc/technotes/

 

 "MP3 Format Caveats: Additionally, some very low and very high bitrate MP3s, and Variable Bitrate (VBR) MP3s may play either too quickly or too slowly ("the chipmunk problem"); if you are encountering this issue, try re-encoding at a different bitrate (between 64 kbps and 192 kbps, for example.) Using Constant Bitrate (CBR) encoding may also alleviate this problem."

 

This is for their HTML5 player. HTML5 players do not need to support VBR and many do not - which means the play back time displays wrong and in some cases the file stops playing before you get to the end or you get the aforementioned chipmunk effect.   

 

And more:

 

iOS 6, iOS 5, iOS 3 - these are all devices we had reports on at libsyn where VBR was causing issues with play back of episodes.  This is something that was put to bed a long time ago.  But still we get reports of files not working at libsyn that are VBR in nature.    Look at all the big shows out there you will not find a single big show that does VBR.   Not one.

 

http://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4249

 

Now granted most articles you find about issues with VBR are a few years old or older - but I think that is because most people learned early on not to do VBR - all the books out there say don't use it - all the tutorials say don't use it - well all the credible tutorials.   And guess what basically no one is using it - Hence you don't see any new posts about issues with it.

At libsyn we have seen many users that used VBR have issues.  One of the first checks I do when I hear someone is reporting playback issues with a flash player or html5 player is check how they encode - if they encode with VBR I tell them to change it to CBR - and the issues almost always go away.  There is a reason that This American Life, TWiT, Adam Carolla, Joe Rogan, NPR and all the other big shows use CBR - it is just the better solution for the end users and causes the least amount of issues.  

  

To sum up -  just remember - VBR = Bad / CBR = Good.  

 

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