February 20, 2019

Podcasts go prime time as Spotify buys Gimlet Media and Anchor

Podcasts Audio Gimlet Spotify

Podcasts are about to enter the big leagues. Spotify has officially completed a deal for Gimlet, by-and-large seen as the largest and most influential podcast media company. For those unfamiliar, Gimlet flew out of the gates with their debut podcast series, StartUp, which chronicled the efforts of Co-Founders Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber to kickstart Gimlet. Not to be forgotten, podcast platform Anchor, which handles the distribution and monetization of podcasts was also acquired. In total, Spotify spent approximately USD 340 million for both companies.

Why would Spotify buy Gimlet?
This move feels very Netflix-esque in hopes of acquiring the foundations of content. By acquiring Gimlet, Spotify gets access to both the company’s IP of shows and also a proven podcast studio. It’s clear that Spotify sees value in the future of podcasting and by owning the rights to hit shows, they can maintain higher margins and not hammer out licensing deals.

Is this really a gamechanger?
We’d say that this, it totally validates podcasts but it perhaps isn’t the most important thing that’s challenging podcasts currently. Discovery, monetization, metrics (ugh), and marketing are arguably all pillars within the podcast world that currently more attention.

A prediction from Marc Andreessen about audio and podcast content
“The really big one right now is audio. Audio is on the rise just generally and particularly with Apple and the AirPods, which has been an absolute home run [for Apple]. It’s one of the most deceptive things because it’s just like this little product, and how important could it be? And I think it’s tremendously important, because it’s basically a voice in your ear any time you want.

For example, there are these new YouTube type celebrities, and everybody’s kind of wondering where people are finding the spare time to watch these YouTube videos and listen to these YouTube people in the tens and tens of millions. And the answer is: they’re at work. They have this Bluetooth thing in their ear, and they’ve got a hat, and that’s 10 hours on the forklift and that’s 10 hours of Joe Rogan. That’s a big deal.

Of course, speech as a [user interface] is rapidly on the rise. So I think audio is going to be titanically important.”

February 2, 2019

Podcasts are the latest storytelling opportunity for fashion brands

Podcasts and fashion brands and houses for storytelling

Podcasts are the latest storytelling opportunity for fashion brands. For fashion brands, they’ve often been slower to adopt newer technological advances including social media and e-commerce. Podcasts don’t necessarily fall within that category in the purest sense, but the latest technological backing has made it an interesting marketing medium that even big fashion houses can’t ignore.

If you’re familiar with the MAEKAN world, you’re among the relatively early-adopters who recognize the power of audio storytelling and its ability to complement the vapid and ephemeral world of social media.

Who’s gotten involved?

  • Chanel launched “3.55” in 2017 and features various creatives who have interacted with the house
  • Gucci’s self-titled “Gucci Podcast” started in May 2018 and focuses on those who have collaborated with Creative Director, Alessandro Michele
  • Maison Margiela’s “THE MEMORY OF… With John Galliano” brings listeners into the insights behind each collection
  • The Barneys Podcast speaks with various personalities that the retailer comes in contact with including Alexander Wang, Victoria Beckham, Thom Browne, and Heron Preston

But are they popular?
The current sentiment is that podcasts generally only attract certain types of listeners. They are the brand loyalists and those with an active stake in the industry. According to The Business of Fashion, “Though the audiences may be small, they could prove an effective way to find and engage with super-fans, much like how brands work with micro-influencers who forge deep connections with their followers.”

Creators and designers still need their stories heard
It’s clear that fashion thrives in visual mediums but for creators and designers, the inability to tell profound stories due to the rapid fashion cycle ensures there’s a place for podcasts. The purpose behind what you create and the documentation doesn’t need to be understood by the end consumer, but it’s undoubtedly part of the creative process.

Dana Schwartz of PR Firm The Hours Agency put it best, “No one is willing to tell in-depth brand stories anymore, so podcasts give brands a platform on which to do that, to not only control but really expand on the brand narrative.

See more over at The Business of Fashion.

January 31, 2019

"How to Record a Simple Co-Hosted Podcast Today" — Part 2: Creating Co-Host Dynamic

We recently got a request on Slack via Jeremy L. asking how we record MAEKAN It Up now that Charis is in London. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you achieve a respectable standard of audio. Naturally, you can always go higher-end with better mics and more equipment but that sort of defeats the purpose of testing and simply “doing.”

The co-host dynamic is most critical here, more so than the audio quality itself, since the relatively low prices of simple equipment has made the hardware tools more accessible. The following is the process we’ve adopted.

Here’s part two of our guide (part one can be seen here) on how to create an engaging dynamic with your co-host.

But Before You Start, What’s the Podcast’s Foundation?
Having a certain expectation week-in, week-out is really helpful in developing a flow and rhythm. There are numerous types of podcast formats including:

  1. Discussion between co-hosts on a topic/theme
  2. Discussion of news
  3. Interviews with guests
  4. Fictional stories
  5. Whatever your mind can think of

Over time the initial format of the show will matter less. It’s the feedback and insight gained from each published episode that makes an impact. For example, perhaps the original format winds up being too long and challenging, making weekly recordings difficult. Or perhaps you notice that the style you want to achieve can’t be done without more resources.

MAEKAN It Up focuses on the discussion of news from the past week in hopes of creating context and relevance around the subject. Our other audio stories don’t necessarily prescribe to this guideline and follow many different formats around interviews and original music.

Another point worth noting is that, like any new thing you put out, the most exciting and challenging time is the start-up phase. It’s exciting because you have carte blanche to figure out what makes the most sense with the limited amount of listeners. Once popularity and brand recognition set in, it’s often much more difficult to change course.

The Considerations Around Establishing a Good Co-Hosting Dynamic

  1. Hold yourselves to a regular schedule. Speaking together frequently is the thing that helps the most.
  2. Prep your part of the conversation with written notes in advance so that when the other person is speaking you’re not focused on what you’re going to say, but you’re genuinely listening and responding. (We use a Dropbox Paper template that we fill out every week.)
  3. Do not allow use of mobile devices or the computer beyond what’s necessary for podcasting purposes. Turn off notifications while recording.
  4. Be honest and shoot straight with your thoughts and opinions, especially when you disagree.
  5. Especially in the beginning stages, record more rather than not enough, it’s always easier to edit.
  6. Interrupt naturally, like regular conversations. As per Part 1, you can easily stagger answers since they’re on different tracks to create a more seamless listening experience.
  7. But also take your time to think. Let your co-host know you’re thinking and then speak with intention. (You can always edit out silences later.)

Our Favorite Tip
When engaging in conversation, one of the best ways to get more insight and context is to ask the simple question, “can you give me an example?” This immediately does two things:

  1. Allows for more color to the statement
  2. Grounds the statement in something real

Speaker 1: A good co-hosted podcast comes down to the dynamic of the hosts.
Speaker 2: Can you give me an example of some tips on how to improve that?

January 31, 2019

"How to Record a Simple Co-Hosted Podcast Today" — Part 1: Creating Decent Audio

We recently got a request on Slack via Jeremy L. asking how we record MAEKAN It Up now that Charis is in London. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you achieve a respectable standard of audio. Naturally, you can always go higher-end with better mics and more equipment but that sort of defeats the purpose of testing and simply “doing.”

The co-host dynamic is most critical here, more so than the audio quality itself, since the relatively low prices of simple equipment has made the hardware tools more accessible. The following is the process we’ve adopted.

The Steps

  1. Download a mobile app that allows you to record high(er) quality audio files (ideally 24-bit, 48Khz WAV).
  2. Get a set of headphones with a mic (naturally, this is THE MOST bootleg minimum).
  3. Get a set of over-the-ear headphones.
  4. Call your co-host on Skype/Google Chat Hangouts with video and via a computer and make sure that you can hear each other through the speakers.
  5. Hit record on your phone app.
  6. Tell your co-host to put their mic close to their laptop speakers.
  7. Clap once, wait a sec, clap again (two claps).
  8. Then plug your headphones into your computer.
  9. Finish recording and then export your audio and edit.
  10. When you match it up in post-production, use the “clap spikes” to sync

What to Do After the Recording? 
What you’ve done is create two “cold tracks” that exist offline. It ensures clean audio, and while an inline mic isn’t great, it’s better than any onboard computer mic and a crappy compressed MP3 recording. Also since both tracks are clean (there isn’t sound bleeding over), you can cut and rearrange quite easily.

Apps/Things to Download

October 12, 2018

Spotify now allows anybody to submit podcasts to their platform.

The boom in audio has dramatically changed the media landscape in the past 12 – 18 months, and now Spotify is opening up its podcasting section for submissions.

What does it mean?

  • Anyone can upload their podcasts to the service.
  • Paying advertisers will be granted audience stats & daily engagement statistics
  • This could significantly expand the reach of podcasts given the reach of Spotify
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