Hi, Gareth here.
I recently cancelled my music streaming subscription. In this post I'm going to cover why, as both a consumer and creator of music.
Let me go back a bit. I used to have a really healthy music collection; if I liked a song or an album I'd buy it. Sometimes if an album was really special I'd buy it on vinyl (in fact that has carried on throughout, and has played a part in my decision-making).
And then streaming came along.
I resisted the charms of having all of the music at my disposal whenever I wanted it, but in the end I had to dip my toe. What transpired was an ocean of content and a family plan...I still bought the odd album here and there, mostly on vinyl though. I started on Google Play Music, moved to Spotify and then back again, ending up on the recent YouTube Music. Both Spotify and YouTube Music seemed intent on managing everything on my behalf, giving me updated playlists whenever I opened the app. I found them quite overwhelming, and in the end it made me wonder what value I was getting from them. Sure, it's great to hear about an album, open the app and start playing it straight away, but honestly I was beginning to avoid that action, a reaction against the 'everything immediately' culture that seems to have crept into our society. I began to feel like I would be doing myself a favour by reintroducing anticipation and focus into my music consumption. That's what I get with vinyl; it's an experience. I order a physical product or go to a physical shop, and sit down to listen to it, to feel engaged by it. I wanted that feeling for everything else, and it made me realise that having access to everything had made me a passive listener.
I've been a professional audio creator since 2011. It's been mostly music for TV (check out Scream Street on CBBC, it's a hoot), also releasing albums and EPs, and more recently podcasting. When I made the switch to subscription-based music streaming, there was a voice at the back of my head that said 'this is less fair to music creators, you get next to nothing when your music is streamed on Spotify'. I did it anyway, the consumer in me won that battle; I wanted all the music, and I wanted it immediately thank you. On top of that, it was really helpful with research for work, but in hindsight that was just an excuse if I'm honest.
Let's look at those figures then. There are plenty of royalty calculators online if you want to check for yourself.
In 2020, 1000 streams on Spotify will give the creator £3.44. Er, wait. What about if the artist is signed...that money will go to the label. So for 1000 streams the songwriter will receive a fraction of £3.44...do the maths, that's £34.40 for 10,000 streams. £344 for 100,000. That's not even close to a month's rent. 1m streams? £3,440. And signed artists are getting a smaller portion of that, although logic dictates with label marketing they are more discoverable.
Let's compare that to something like online platform Bandcamp. As a distributor, Bandcamp takes a 15% revenue share for music released via their website. That means as the creator you receive 85% of each sale. If someone buys your album for £8, you get £6.80. Sounds a bit healthier for one sale doesn't it? Oh, and you set the price, which means you're in charge of creating something fair for your audience. You can also set the amount of times visitors to your page can stream for free, a pretty neat feature for those who genuinely want to try before they buy.
This year the music industry was hit hard. Live and touring musicians saw their work cancelled overnight. I had delays in my TV composing as the first lockdown happened. I was lucky that my quarterly TV royalties kept coming but there's been an autumn dip as things get going again. For musicians though, many rely on touring and live performances to give them a salary, because they certainly don't get it from streaming. Suddenly you have most live and touring musicians relying on music streaming to give them an income. Or rather, not.
I met a guy called Tom Gray at the start of the year at an industry event. He was talking about the streaming model being broken back then, and the lockdowns have magnified his message, adding pressure to the record labels and streaming services to rethink their strategies. If they don't figure out a better way to pay creators, at some point there won't be any creators left to pay, it's really that simple. If you'd like to know more about that, search for #brokenrecord on social media.
So here we are, I've just bought and downloaded my first album since cancelling my streaming subscription. It's Moral Panic by Nothing But Thieves. Seems apt. As a consumer I'm going to reconnect with listening, and as a creator I'm going to do my best to support other creators. For me it feels like the right thing to do on a day like Black Friday.
Hi, Gareth here. It is with great delight that I can announce that The Sound Boutique has been awarded Best Media Audio Solutions Provider 2020 by Corporate Vision.
United Kingdom, 2020- Corporate Vision Magazine has announced the winners of the Media Innovator Awards 2020.
The greater media landscape is an ever evolving one, adapting to the changing needs and wants of the consumers it serves. Above all else, innovation and creativity are the key to enduring success in such an environment, regardless of where your company specialises in the industry. From top-tier marketing firms, to those looking to reinvent digital media, it pays to differentiate yourself from what is, by all regards, an incredibly competitive field.
Corporate Vision launched the original Media Innovator programme to recognise those that took this ethos to heart. To adapt, grow and evolve to the needs of the industry in the pursuit of bettering it and challenging others to follow their lead. Discussing the success of their winners, Awards Coordinator Jazmin Collins said: “I offer a sincere congratulations to those recognised in this year’s programme and I hope you have a wonderful rest of the year ahead.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Corporate Vision Magazine
Corporate Vision is published monthly with the mission to deliver insightful features from across the global corporate world. Launched with an eye towards bettering business practices across the board, Corporate Vision focuses on spotlighting advances in the HR, marketing, coaching, and recruitment spheres, with the goal to shine a light on the gatekeepers of better business. Those that help build, through no small amount of creativity and expertise, to develop an altogether more productive and more efficient world of work.
Corporate Vision is bought to you by AI Global Media, a B2B digital publishing group founded in 2010. The group currently has 13 brands within its portfolio that include luxury lifestyle, construction, healthcare and small business focused publications. AI Global Media is dedicated to delivering content you can trust.
Starting a podcast: how are you going to publish it?
Happy Friday one and all. I hope you've had a good week. This is the last post in this Starting A Podcast series, so I hope that you've found some of what I've written useful.
When a podcast is commissioned the finished episodes are published on the broadcaster's platform, like BBC Sounds etc. If, however, you are publishing your podcast yourself there's an almost overwhelming amount of choice of podcast hosts, with everything from free to expensively priced tiers.
Once you've decided on your podcast provider, it doesn't stop there. Most podcast hosts will push your podcast episodes out to other providers, but it's worth checking that they do, and if not, set them up yourself using your podcast's RSS feed url. It's really not an exact science, and with Apple still the largest provider by far, you'll want to make sure it's been accepted by them. This means following their guidelines for artwork, quality and ratings even before you've published an episode. The benefit to Apple accepting your podcast is that the Google gremlins will pick up your podcast from there really easily, making it more discoverable.
Anyway, back to the podcast provider. This is the centre of your podcast universe. Here you'll be able to upload episodes with artwork and show notes (make sure you include links to your website!), and examine the stats once you're up and running. I've been using Buzzsprout for a little while now so I can recommend that, but it would be definitely worth a search online for podcast host comparisons.
A little tip here: choose a day and time to publish your podcast and stick to it. It doesn't matter too much if it's on Monday at 10am or Friday at 10pm, just be consistent. Your audience will expect it at least on a certain day of the week and will happily hit the unsubscribe button if you're being inconsistent.
If you have any questions or comments about anything mentioned in the Starting A Podcast blog series, I'd be happy to talk.
Have a great weekend and happy podcasting!
Starting a podcast: how are you going to record it?
There are definitely different approaches here, and I feel it depends on who you are and what you want the feel of your show to be. By the way, I'm not going to simply recommend microphones and software here, this is more about techniques you can use regardless of how you record.
My whole career is based around making sounds sound good. I'm a composer for TV and I offer podcast production (editing dialogue, treating audio etc) and audio branding services. Production quality is high on my list of priorities, because if it wasn't I feel it would have a knock on effect to those other areas. That's not to say that my approach is right for you.
If you simply have a great idea and want to get started, you have a voice recorder in your pocket. Nowadays, smart phones have pretty good microphones, and there are free apps to record with and free apps to edit with (mental note: that's a whole other blog post for the future). Some podcast hosts even offer recording via their apps so you can record and publish seamlessly. I'm not sure if I've said this for a few posts, so I'll say it again: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT. Listeners can be forgiving of lower production quality if your idea is good and well executed. That said, if you want to go the extra mile, it's only going to improve your prospects.
My first little tip is about echo. Whatever you are recording on, whether it's your phone or the most expensive microphone ever built, if you record in a really echoey room it's going to be off-putting. Look around the place you want to record, are there lots of shiny surfaces? These surfaces are the nemesis of recording dialogue as sound reflects. If you have fewer shiny surfaces the chance of sound bouncing around and creating echo is reduced, simple! True story: I had a guest on Creative Cuppa recently. When she popped up on the screen she was in her wardrobe, surrounded by hanging clothes. She recorded on her hand held recorder and emailed her side of the chat to me afterwards, and it sounded AMAZING.
My other tip is about guests or co-hosts. We're currently in a situation where recording in the same room isn't an option, so remote recording is the way to go. There are lots of ways to do this. One way is to record everyone involved over the internet, through whatever video conferencing programme you use (Zoom is able to record each person separately which is a bonus), and there are professional remote recording websites (at professional prices) for those who really want to go the extra mile. The only downside to this approach is that you are entirely at the mercy not only of your internet connection but of your co-hosts' and guests' connections too. I much prefer remote guests to record themselves. I talk through how with them beforehand, and generally if they don't have podcasting equipment, recording on their phone and sending it afterwards works just fine.
I could go on about recording techniques all day long, but if you do your best to eliminate that echo, it'll make everything else a little easier.
If you have any questions about this or any other post in the 'Starting A Podcast' series, feel free to contact me. Until next time, have a very happy Friday and a great weekend.
Starting a podcast: will there be a structure to each episode?
I previously mentioned that the simpler the idea, the better. If you listen to Creative Cuppa, it might sound like relaxed chats with creative people over a nice cuppa (that's the simple idea), but it's taken a lot of work to make it sound that simple. I decided before I started what the format was going to be: no longer than 15 minutes; audio ident --> theme music --> intro --> chat --> links --> outro.
The 'chat' itself is researched. I don't give the guests a full set of questions, but before we hit record I'll run through the signposts I've come up with, the areas to chat around. It's not meant to be a formal interview, and I have to be prepared to let the conversation be flexible. Because, well, that's what a chat is.
But here's the thing: the 'chat' part of the podcast is the only flexible part. It's surrounded by the structure, the walls that make the show recognisable. Why? Because whether we like it or not, we just love routine. Routine is what gives a podcast the 'comfort blanket' feeling. You're discovering new things in safe surroundings. So long as you decide what your format will be and stick to it, i.e. you are consistent, you'll find your show will become its own thing very quickly and people will begin to be drawn to it.
If you have any questions about formats or any of the questions raised in this blog series, feel free to reach out. For now, have a very happy Friday and a fabulous weekend.
Starting a podcast: who will be on your podcast?
Will it be just you, or will there be guests? Will you have a co-host or do you prefer to fly solo?
Questions like these are to do with time and money. If you are involving other people in your show, consider what will they get out of it. Whenever I collaborate I like to share ownership 50:50. It's my personal preference, but it means that we share the highs, the lows, the deadlines, the everything. And it's way more fun having that shared experience than inflicting your 'vision' on someone else every week. It encourages both parties to come up with ideas and more importantly to let good ideas in wherever they come from.
Next on the agenda is the question of guests. Because you put the time in and decided what your podcast is going to be about (you did that didn't you?), you can start researching potential guests in that field. It's likely your podcast will be based on a subject you are passionate about, so don't be afraid to write a dream wish list of people you would love to have as guests. It's a bit like if you could have anyone round for dinner sort of thing, except it's entirely possible some of the people on that list will say yes. It's happened to me a few times and I've finished recording still pinching myself. Keep in mind though how being on your podcast will benefit your guests, dream wish list or not.
Finally, if you want someone to edit your dialogue, or come up with bespoke music, or book guests on your behalf, be prepared to pay them. If this is a hobby for you, it doesn't mean it is for the people you want to be involved.
For now, have a very happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.
p.s. if you still haven't figured out what your podcast is going to be about, try our Podcast Format Starter form, it might help you gather your thoughts.
There Is Another Way Podcast
I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on Dr Neil Bruce's podcast 'There Is Another Way', which explores the world, life and creativity. We talk freelancing, creativity, rejection, networking and so much more.
You can hear the episode by searching for 'There Is Another Way podcast' in your podcast app, or click in the artwork in this post.
Whatever you're doing, have a happy and productive day.
Starting a podcast: what will your podcast be about?
I ended the last blog post with the mantra: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT. The podcast itself exists to deliver that content, so if you haven't decided what you want to talk about then it's time to stop and think about it.
If you don't know yet, you might want to decide before you start (unless it's a podcast about improv 🤔). Even if you want to produce something that involves externalising thoughts that come into your head when you hit the record button, it's useful to know that ahead of time so you can figure out who your audience will be, potential guests, artwork and so on.
Choose something that you are passionate about and keep it simple. Most successful podcasts have a really simple idea behind them, with all of the content feeding into that idea. If you can describe your idea in a short sentence you might just be on to something.
If you do know what you want your podcast to be about but aren't sure how to go about it, listen to some podcast episodes relating to your topic. If you open your podcast app and search using the topic keyword, e.g. 'fashion' or 'photography' you'll see what's already out there. Put the time in and listen to some shows.
Finally, in the podcast section of this website there's a form that might help you. Feel free to use it (but please don't hit submit if you don't want us to respond!). It's designed to help you get your thoughts organised, and may give you a spark of inspiration. Of course, if you have a budget and would like us to help you, hit that submit button.
Until next time, have a very happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.
Starting a podcast: why do you want to make a podcast?
With over a million now in existence, it's a good time to consider starting a podcast. There are loads of resources online to help, and in the next few weeks I'll point you towards some of them.
You might want to start a podcast to extend your brand, or talk about something that is close to your heart, or simply HAVE FUN. Whatever the reason, there's never been a better time to get going. It really doesn't take much to record something and publish it online to start building your audience.
There's a lot to consider before you get going, however. The 'tip of the iceberg' questions I think that are important are:
The question of why is something you should definitely answer before you start. Podcasts can be time consuming - especially when you're getting going - and there's nothing sadder than an abandoned channel. A podcast isn't just for Christmas etc.
If your answer is 'I just want to make a podcast', you need to reach past that and consider the next question: what will your podcast be about? I'll go into more detail about that next time, but please remember this: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT. The podcast itself is merely the content delivery system. Like I said, I'll go further into that next time.
For now, have a very happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.
Podcast Production Services
Last year co-producer Dan Watts and I started our first podcast via The Sound Boutique's audio brand 'screenless'. We learnt a lot about podcast production in that first series: how to properly plan a format; how to set up a work flow for production; what equipment works best; what to expect from guests and how to plan an interview; how to edit dialogue while keeping conversations sounding natural (and not like they're edited). We also wrote the audio ident and other incidental music, and mixed and mastered each episode ourselves.
There's so much more involved, but you get the picture. Producing a podcast is made up of lots of little jobs, and we've covered them all. The whole process from strategising about making a podcast to publishing finished episodes...we've done that, and we're still doing it. Making A Soundtrack season 2 is now in production, and we can't wait to share it with you. The new podcast, Creative Cuppa, is going from strength to strength.
We also realised that we now have a new skillset: podcast production services.
Producing and editing your podcast can be tricky and time consuming. We can help with that. There are two main ways we are offering podcast production services. These are:
If you are thinking about starting a podcast or know someone who is, feel free to reach out and say hello via the 'Podcasts' section of this website.
Have a great weekend.
Posts by Gareth Davies.