Getting and Staying Directly in Your Audience's Ear: How to Utilize Podcasts and Internet Radio
Ever wonder how beneficial a podcast could be as supplemental content for your audience? The Maine, an independent alternative rock band did, and created connections deeper to their fans than they could have ever imagined. You can learn from them and start your own!
by: Tori Stevens
In the music industry, there are only so many ways to market yourself in an interesting and original way. There’s always the typical ways, event promotion, through tours and concerts, benefit shows and store appearances, where most of the money is made, in addition to music videos, magazine interviews, and collaborations with brands.
But when there isn’t music to promote, and the band is no longer new to the scene, how do you keep your fans engaged and entertained, staying relevant in their minds? You go to where their interest already lies, of course. Podcasts and internet radio have become extremely popular in the past couple of years, especially with the rise of YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud. More and more people opt for these internet outlets over traditional radio stations, and smaller artists may never find their place on there anyway. A great way to follow this trend is by deciding to create your own content.
How can you get started making your own content? You’ll need a couple things to actually get on the air, which are equipment and a platform to post on. Audio quality is important, but luckily it isn’t too hard to find decent microphones at a good price these days. You can get a consumer grade USB mic, such as the Blue Snowball Microphone, for less than $60. If you are audio savvy, you may already know how to record audio and can easily upload your podcast straight to YouTube or your streaming service of choice. However, if you aren’t, there are plenty of online websites, such as that assist you in recording, editing, and hosting your podcast, such as Podbean, Zencastr, or Tryca.st to help you get your content out there.
Okay, so you can record. Now what? Let’s take a look at a great example from an independent band that was the inspiration for this entire article.
The Maine started their 8123 (the name of their own independent label) podcast at the tail end of December 2017. Since then, they have amassed 171 SoundCloud followers for their podcast channel alone, 230k Twitter followers, 99,822 subscribers on YouTube, 130k Instagram followers, and 788,086 Facebook followers. This came about following the success of previous tour diaries, album listening sessions, and live streams they had done, on top of their musical ventures. They took a venue they knew was already working for them and capitalized on it.
So what are they actually doing and why is it successful? There are several identifiable steps you take their lead on to reach your own audience.
Step One: Content
The first step is having good, relevant content that their fans actually want to see. The Maine constantly reaches out to fans on social media, asking for any questions they may have, what stories they would like to hear, and run frequent polls to pick their topics. The band has become notable for their habit of already doing this, in regards to setlists, places they ought to tour through, merchandise ideas, and what fans would like to see differently with how their shows are run, even going to efforts to keep ticket prices low. They have started doing different specific podcasts and radio shows, such as ‘Do You Remember?’, where they discuss touring memories of the band, stories behind old songs and videos, and what has changed with them since then, and #AsktheMaine, which is their specific Q&A podcast. They keep their content varied, specific to what fans genuinely want to hear about, and consistent; they release at least 3 podcasts a month, on top of their other efforts. So, make sure your content is original, interesting, and frequent. Your audience will lose interest if your content is boring or if they have to wait a long time and forget about you.
Step 2: Accessibility
The second step is maintaining accessibility. They keep this content free, a core part of their brand, and put it out on multiple channels, so that their audience can listen on whatever their preferred platform is, be it YouTube, SoundCloud, ITunes of Google Play. They have occasionally discussed doing these podcasts live, however, ensured listeners that they would repost a recording at a later date, as to not isolate those who may not be available to listen at that specific time. The beauty of a livestream can be the exclusivity of it and the excitement of real time interaction, but when the content is something that people would hate to miss, you never want to cut your audience off or make them feel like they are missing out.This is one of the key features of the Internet, and why DVRs were revolutionary when they came out -- the ability to consume media at your own pace, on your own time, whenever you want to is something you want to embrace as a content creator. Make your podcast available to be listened to easily
Step 3: Awareness
The third step is creating and keeping hype and awareness. The Maine let fans know when they are recording one through sneak peeks on their Snapchats, Instagrams, and Twitter accounts and then create follow up posts about when the episodes will actually be released. Keeping it in your audience’s mind holds their interest even further and keeps them actually wanting more, more so than if the content had just been handed to them with minimal notice. After sneak peeking, they do posts on all of their platforms, announcing that it has been released, and then reminders a couple days after, in case anyone missed it. However, an important note is that they do not let their accounts become inundated with these announcements and reminders. They mix their content up and keep their fans that may have no interest in the podcast still following them, by avoiding becoming spammers. As previously mentioned, they also keep up consistency with the content, which is key to holding people’s interest -- the audience knows they will always have more coming to look forward to. They have been so successful with this, they have even gained attention from alternative music media outlets, such as AltPress, which even get the word out about their podcast for them. As digital media pros, we all know how important shares and backlinks are.
Of course, getting started will take a bit more creativity than taking the lead from an indie band and going live, but if you want to start your own podcast, these steps are key to keep in mind to ensure success for yourself! Keep your content interesting, original, and relevant, make it accessible in many ways, don’t forget to promote it, build hype, and avoid becoming a spammer. Happy casting!