Now that the technical barriers are being lowered: the podcast revolution, she is a-rolling.
Andre from A Beautiful Revolution has put together a charmingly idiosyncratic 20-minute broadcast. (If “charmingly idiosyncratic” doesn’t sound too much like I’m damning it with faint praise. ‘Cos I’m not.)
As to how I recorded mine: tempted as I am to say “smoke and mirrors” and retain the mystery, there have been so many queries about this that I feel obliged to share what little I know.
How to record a Podcast, Troubled Diva style. Offered up with all the wisdom and experience of ONE broadcast!
Caveat: This is merely a record of how I did it, in a very low-tech, quick-and-dirty manner. It is absolutely not meant to be some sort of definitive guide. There are zillions of ways of doing this sort of thing, and many, many guides to doing so. (All of which I have cheerfully ignored. Mea culpa.)
1. Ingredients: a microphone and some recording software. I simply used the kit that came with the Dell machine. It took a bit of digging around to find it, but it wasn’t too difficult to fathom out.
2. Ingredients: some MP3 mixing software. I’ve been using Mixmeister for nearly six years now. There may be some more sophisticated tools on the market, but it’s dead easy to use and does groovy things like beat-synching into the bargain. The cost has gone up a bit since I bought it: it’s $49.95 (dollars not pounds), but there’s also a free trial version which lets you muck around with all the features.
3. Ingredients: some web space, and something which will let you convert WAVs to MP3s, such as the freeware CDex.
4. Give yourself between two and three uninterrupted hours to record the broadcast. Don’t do it in bits, or you’ll lose the flow and the sense of time/place.
5. Decide on your playlist. I did this fairly quickly, working on gut instinct. There’s no point in over-thinking this sort of thing: spontaneity is key. Otherwise you mind end up with a rather dull and worthy list of things you feel you “ought” to play. Also, bear in mind that most people will only listen to the podcast once, so there’s not much point in scheduling “growers”. Think of it as a radio show, not a mix CD.
6. Import your chosen MP3s into Mixmeister, and create a new playlist.
7. Set up the microphone. I rested mine on a little china dish, just behind my keyboard. Too close, and you’ll get distortion on your plosives (and, I dare say, hiss on your fricatives). I also set my recording levels to max: you need the speech sections to be nice and loud.
8. Record each link separately, and save it as a WAV or an MP3; Mixmeister recognises both. I didn’t record mine “live” as the songs were playing; instead, I played bits of the two songs that I was linking (especially the beginnings and ends), and had a quick think about what I was going to say. But only a quick one, mind: over-think, and you’ll lose the spontaneity and run the risk of sounding overly self-conscious.
9. Other tips: try and do each link on the first take, without giving space in your head to the possibility of a re-take: the tension and adrenalin this produces will concentrate your mind and improve your flow. Besides, do you really want to be sweating over this thing all day? You should also try and speak loudly, clearly and confidently, minimising any apologetic mumbling. Own the airwaves! You’re the star! If in doubt, fake it!
(To this end, it helps if you’re alone in the house/flat, without any fear of being overheard or interrupted. You know, like when you’re impersonating Mick Jagger in the mirror, or enjoying a leisurely auto-erotic interlude… for successful podcasting contains elements of both these skills.)
10. Each time you complete a link, drag the file into Mixmeister and insert it into your playlist between the desired songs. My style is to start each link over the end of each preceding track, and to let it run over the intro to each following track, usually stopping just before the vocals kick in. If you’re using mixing software, then this is wonderfully easy to accomplish.
11. Once you’ve finished the show, export it as a “mixed file”, ie. save it as a WAV, then use something like CDex (quick and easy freeware) to convert it into an MP3. I recommend changing the “Settings” in CDex to encode the MP3 at 128k. Any bigger, and the file will start getting too large for some people to download.
12. FTP the MP3 to your web space, and post the link to your blog.
13. Job done? Yeah, but all you’ve really done so far is create a great big MP3. To call yourself a proper podcaster, you have to create a feed for your MP3s, so that people can subscribe to it and have all your subsequent podcasts download automatically. There are probably all sorts of clever techie ways of doing this, but here’s an easy way.
14. Go to del.icio.us, and set yourself up with a username and password.
15. Now go to the del.icio.us “post” feature – or better still, use the “post to del.icio.us” bookmarklet on your toolbar (oh look, you’ll work it out soon enough). Enter the full filename of your MP3 in the URL box, e.g. http://www.troubled-diva.com/troubled-diva-podcast-01.mp3.
16. When prompted for “tags”, enter something unique, that no-one else is likely to use: I used “divacast”. It doesn’t need to be particularly catchy or memorable.
17. Del.icio.us will then automatically set up a feed for your brand new, unique tag. The URL of this feed will be http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/system:filetype:mp3+blahblahblah, where “blahblahblah” is the name of your unique tag.
18. Post the URL of the del.icio.us feed on your blog, so that people can grab it and subscribe to it.
19. Next time you do a podcast, repeat steps 15 & 16, using the same unique tag as before. This will automatically update the feed, meaning that the new podcast will automatically download onto your subscribers’ hard drives.
20. To subscribe to a podcast from iTunes, see my handy guide below.
Heavens, so much tech talk! I feel quite wrung out.