The Podcast Newsletter 34

Summertime in Texas is 🔥🔥🔥

Hope you’re staying cool wherever you are. Here’s some good podcast stuff from last week for you to check out.


Podcasting's 'Secret Sauce' and the Field of Dreams Fallacy

From Steve Pratt on Pacific Content's blog:

Podcasters are always dying to know two things: "how can I grow my audience?" and "how can I make more money from my podcast?" This week on the blog, Steve reveals what we at Pacific Content like to call the 'Secret Sauce' to podcasting— and explains why building a successful podcast isn't like the 1989 Hollywood classic Field of Dreams.

It all comes down to hard work plus time.

Check out the article for the full list of recommendations for hard things that you'll need to do, but these five are essential:

  • Know your audience and make a show with their needs in mind

  • Create a show that no one else can make and make every single minute of every episode a valuable use of your audience’s time

  • Get a team of smart listeners to provide feedback and notes at multiple stages of production

  • Create an efficient, repeatable process for episode approvals in your organization, which could include marketing, communications, PR, legal, and compliance teams

  • Create promotional plans not just for launch, but every single episode of your podcast


Hank Green on Big Money in Podcasting

An excellent episode from Nick Quah's Servant of Pod show:

As a veteran YouTuber, Hank Green is familiar with what happens when a quirky community starts seeing serious money, and grows up to become something else. This week, Nick talks to Green, who also makes podcasts, about whether he sees the same thing happening to podcasting.

Excellent conversation about podcasting, community, and why Spotify controlling the podcasting space would be a loss for everyone. Well worth your time, give this episode a listen if you haven't yet.

I love this observation from Hank near the beginning of the episode:

My own happiness, my own joy, my own health, are all parts of productivity. Not that they help me be more productive, but they are productions. That is stuff that I am producing. I'm making stability in my life, I'm making joy for myself... I'm making a future where my body is healthier for longer.


Restructuring Your Podcast To Be Advertising-Friendly

From Evo Terra:

I’m no fan of advertising. I've spent the better part of the last 20 years running digital advertising agencies at the VP level. And I can tell you with some authority that a lot of advertising is total garbage. I believe in my heart that advertising is a tax paid by the unremarkable. Longtime listeners of my podcast know that I've been critical of podcast advertising, mostly because I'm good at math

But thinking, like things, can evolve. And my thinking on advertising in the podcasting space is shifting.

It’s shifting because it’s impacted my company. My clients are starting to not only get unsolicited requests from advertisers but are actually booking deals. Last week, I closed a couple of first-time ad buys for a couple of clients. Another client somehow landed deals with six different advertisers for his show, and now we have to figure out how to place those ads in episodes that have been produced already but not yet released.

That’s the impetus for this program: re-factoring the process of making episodes so that advertising, sponsorship, or just good news messaging fits inside of our podcasts.

The first header in this article is the #1 rule of including advertising in your podcast:

Serve Your Listener First, Advertiser Second


The Rise and Rise of Music Podcasts

Great article here from

In many ways, the rush for labels and musicians into the podcasting space makes a lot of sense. Music and podcasting are closely intertwined – a recent study by Pex found that 17% of all podcast episodes contain music – while record labels have access to both artists and the kind of archive material that should prove podcast gold.

Announcing Atlantic’s excursion into podcasting, the company’s chairman and CEO Craig Kallman along with chairman and COO Julie Greenwald said in a joint statement that the label has “a constant stream of artists coming through the building, so the next logical step for us was to create an environment where we could spontaneously capture them telling their stories and talking about their music”.

It makes business sense, too, for labels to get into podcasting when key industry partners like Spotify and Apple are hot for podcast content, giving major labels an additional weapon in licensing talks with streaming services.


How We Shot The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020

From John Gruber, a cool behind-the-scenes look at the process they went through to produce a high-quality video interview with some high-profile guests (remotely):

If you missed it, here’s a re-link to last week’s special episode of The Talk Show, with special guests Craig Federighi and Greg “Joz” Joswiak.

By necessity, it was shot remotely — Federighi and Joz were at Apple Park, and I was at home in Philadelphia. I think it turned out pretty well, and whatever is wrong with it is the result of my middling skills as an interviewer. Technically, I think it came out amazingly well — it looks great and sounds great. It doesn’t look or sound like a Zoom or FaceTime call that was simply recorded and played back.

A lot of folks noticed that, and have asked how we made it. I have good news and bad news. The good news is the answer is very simple and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. The bad news is it’s a lot of work.

Basically, the secret to shooting a remote interview that doesn’t look like a recorded internet call is not to simply record the internet call. Instead, shoot each participant like you would if there were no internet call involved, recording video and audio locally for everyone, using decent cameras and microphones. In audio podcasting we call this technique “double-ending” — recording the audio locally for each participant. We used the same principle for my show, just with both video and audio.

It's easy to produce a high-quality audio-only podcast remotely these days, but video? Much harder.

Really, the biggest problem was just getting them (the video editors) my footage. I get somewhere between 250-300Mbps downstream, but my upstream connection maxes out around 10 Mbps. With 17 GB of footage, that wound up taking around 7-8 hours. (Because they used four cameras, Apple’s footage was close to 100 GB in total — they, however, apparently have faster upstream internet service than I do.)

Imagine trying to remotely produce a weekly show where the raw video footage is 100+ gigabytes. Yikes.


Do ID3 tags matter for SEO?

Finally, James Cridland answers a question most of you have probably not ever asked: Do ID3 tags matter for SEO?

ID3 tags, normally added by your digital audio editor, can control the information you see when you play back audio in players like Winamp or VLC. They’re little hidden pieces of information held within your audio file.

ID3 tags might be used for titles, artists, and all kinds of things. However, for virtually every single podcast app, ID3 tags simply are not used (with the occasional exception of artwork).

The only time they’re used for podcasting is in old editions of iTunes, which shows the ID3 tags when playing a downloaded show; or if you’re such an advanced user you play back podcasts in VLC or something similar. Or you still have a Rio media player.

But, do ID3 tags make any difference to SEO? Search Engine Optimisation is massively important, we’re told.

Some experts say yes. “Nobody sees your ID3 tags, except search engines, but don’t underestimate the power of the ID3 tag for podcast SEO,” says one YouTuber. A podcast host reckons ID3 tags are “a form of SEO that will help your audience find you and find out more about you”. A podcast consultant claims these ID3 tags are even used by Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

We’re not so sure.

So we thought we’d test it out.

Interesting article, but I'll give you the quick answer:

no, ID3 tags are not used for SEO.

I still recommend adding them to your audio files, since it only takes a couple seconds and I do know for a fact that there are still people out there downloading MP3 files and playing them back outside of podcast apps. If you use a Mac, the Forecast app makes it easy.


Closing Thoughts

A couple of days ago I posted this question to Twitter:

I've received some interesting responses and had a few follow-up discussions so far, and marketing a podcast seems to be the most common struggle mentioned (no surprise there).

I'd love to hear your answer if you're currently podcasting (or in the process of starting one, as many folks are).

That'll do it for this week’s edition of the Podcast Newsletter. Thanks for reading.

Now go outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts! Just remember to keep your distance from strangers and if anyone invites you to a "Covid party", just say no thanks.

Aaron Dowd
Granbury, Texas
July 12, 2020

If you’d like to support my work, please sign up for a membership or share this newsletter with a friend. Thanks to the current members for their support: Kato, Alexander, Norman, and Don.

P.S. If you’re into Half-Life (the best PC game ever made, in my opinion), check out this cool “interactive storybook” on Steam: Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours. Heads-up: It does contain spoilers for Half-Life: Alyx, and is Windows only.

P.S.S. I decided to change the name of this newsletter from The Podcast News to The Podcast Newsletter, since the point of it isn’t really news, more just a way for me to share cool, helpful, and interesting things related to podcasts and podcasting. It’s not Podcast News, it’s a Podcast Newsletter. Right? Cool.

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