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So, you wanna be a Star? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Snapper Morgan   
Wednesday, 23 March 2005
So, you're ready to jump into the world of Podcast Production, recording your own show the likes of which will make Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken quake in the boots. You have dreams of making it big time, with thousands of people downloading your podcast everyday, turning your web server into liquid goo from all the hits. You've been downloading everyone else's podcast and you figure, hell, it can't be that hard.

No, isn't that hard.

Yes, it can be hard.

Technically, it isn't difficult at all. You need only a couple of applications, all freely available on the internet, to create your radio masterpiece.

Creatively, it can be taxing to say the least. Some people have the gift for gab and seem to be more interesting than others who sit by a microphone and blabber on about what pisses them off and who was cast in the latest X-Men movie. Some people have managed to find their niche, broadcasting about subjects that have a narrow focus and audience. Which will you belong to? Carefully think this over. You may find that your shows will change with each broadcast and you will morph into the showperson you were meant to be. Find out what interests you and see if others are interested in it. Be creative, be unique. And get it recorded before it leaves your ADHD addled mind.

To start with, you will need a microphone. Any ole one will do, but if you can get a nicer one, then go for it. A basic webcam microphone or one for Voice Calls will do just fine but if you can splurge, go for it.

Next, you will need software. Don't worry. You don't need a $1000 piece of software that U2 used to mix their latest album. You only need one capable of mixing several tracks and outputing to MP3. Without doing a review piece on all the available options out there, let me just point you to this one:

Audacity

This piece of software is a gem for all the world. It is a free and Open Source application for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS9/OSX and it happens to be a feature rich multi-track recorder with VST plugin support and MP3 exporter via the LAME Encoder. This software will handle all your recording and mixing needs. Download it now! It is stable and works like a charm. I personally use it for all my recording needs, both for podcasting and for my theatrical needs.

Record your show. Just hook up your microphone and start talking. Listen to it. Does it bore you to tears yet? If not, then save it. Add some music to it. Create an intro to your new show.Make it snazzy like the radio intros for your morning commute.

A word of warning. You best get in the habit of NOT using copywrited music or clips for your podcast unless you have express permission from the copywrite holders. This is to protect your butt, just in case you get famous and thus become a target for litigation. Nothing would suck more than having to pay back royalty fees on all your old podcasts once you hit the big time. So find that band you always go see every night at The Dark Horse Tavern and ask them for permission to use their music. Record some yourself if you have the talent. Or, you can go to the Open Source Audio section of Archive.org and listen to the thousands of music and audio clips they have hosted there. Most of these are done under a Creative Commons license, which gives you certain rights to use their copywrited work. Read each license because each one enumerates what you may do with the audio file. Some allow you to modify and make it your own, others allow you to do whatever you wish with the music but only for Non-commercial use. Some are more restrictive, but many allow you to use the music unfettered by royalties. It's definitely a place you need to visit.

So, you've put together your show, you've added some snazzy music to it, a cool intro, and you've mixed it down to an mp3. Be sure to encode it at a lower bit rate than your normal music mp3 files. You can get away with encoding it at 64kbps without too much audio quality loss, which helps you conserve on file size. If file size is not an issue, then 128kbps should be sufficient.

Don't forget to edit your MP3 ID3 tags. These are very important and help your fans organize their downloads on their music players. If you leave these tags blanks, then your fans can only sort via the file name. This is no bueno. Read my article on MP3 Best Practices under the Podcasting Articles section to get a better grasp on why this is so important.

So, you've read my Best Practices article, you have a pulsating mp3 file that is itching to get out there unto thousands of fan's ipods, and you have no idea what's next. Well, partner, you're almost there. All you need now are three things:

  • A place to host the mp3 files.
  • An RSS xml file.
  • A place to tell people about your podcasts.

Any webserver will do to host your mp3 files. As long as you have a web site, you're golden. There are some places that allow hosting of media files, but these are usually those free hosting sites like Geocities. They allow you to host your files but the bandwidth transfer quota is insanely small. You need a site with enough bandwidth to accommodate the people that will download your podcast out of curiosity. At first it will be a trickle, and then a stream, and hopefully, you're having to upgrade to increase your bandwidth allottement. Hey, I never said stardom was cheap!

There is one such place that looks promising. Ourmedia.org is allowing people to host any of their media files for free as apart of a philanthropic project to archive our culture for the future. Let's hope they can stay afloat.

Now, let's tackle that pesky RSS feed. Without this, no one will be able to subscribe to your podcasts, and that's what this is all about. The feed itself is simple. You just need a simple text editor. You can try it yourself by examining the RSS xml files of some your podcasting subscriptions, substituting your own information within the file. That is definitely a pioneer like attitude. Or you can go to this website and fill out their form. Once done, they will auto generate the xml file for you. Download it and name it something like “podcast_rss.xml”. Whatever you decide, be sure it ends with “.xml”.

The cool thing about this auto-generated form, is that whenever you have a new podcast to add to it, all you have to do it add another section to it. The section you need to add is in between the “ tags. You can have as many as you wish in your xml file if you wish to give your potential fans access to your entire library of old broadcasts.

Now, upload that file and make a nice page on your website with a link to your Podcast RSS feed. This is the file people will add to their Podcast Aggregators to download your shows. Mine is http://twistedlittlegnome.com/radio/tlgradio_rss.xml.

Finally and completely, the last thing you need to do is get your link listed with several major Podcast directories. You've been there before. That's where you found that fascinating podcast on Geek Dominatrix. These portals are your ticket to stardom.

I wish you happy podcasting and much success. Just make sure you're not boring.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 March 2005 )
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