Can I hire you to consult/produce my podcast?
Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org! Whether it's editorial oversight, developing a new show, tweaking your production process, interviewing subjects in the field or editing already-recorded material, I have a wide range of skills and services to offer. I especially love projects that elevate underrepresented people and movements, and allow for close collaboration.
How do I get into audio production?
Listen a lot. Practice asking people questions. Interview your friends and family–worst case scenario is you end up with a great archive of your own life! Listen to what you’ve recorded. Practice selecting the best or most interesting clips and putting different pieces together in GarageBand or Audacity or a pro-level editing program if you have access to one.
If you’re the kind of person who always liked school, and you have a little extra cash, sign up for an audio production class. Sally Herships teaches a radio bootcamp in NYC at UnionDocs (Here’s what the 2017 program looked like). I learned basic audio production at Pasadena City College. Community colleges are a great and frequently affordable resource, regardless of your age, prior education, and (in California) immigration status.
Volunteer at a local comedy night or The Moth or hang out with a hustling musician to learn about live sound.
Join podcasting Facebook groups (I know but that’s where they are) and listservs to start meeting people. Apply for scholarships to industry conferences so you can learn more without losing all the cash you’ll need for your amazing audio project.
Don’t get discouraged. We need your voice. You’ve got this.
How do I make a podcast?
At minimum, you’ll need a microphone, something to record into (digital audio recorder or computer), editing software, and access to the internet.
Wait, I mean, how do I make money from my podcast?
Advertise (keep in mind this is tough with fewer than 50k downloads), ask your audience to support you, make merch, host live events, seek grant funding, pitch your idea to an existing podcast company or collective, work with a brand to make original content, sell adaptation rights to a film company, or try to sell your current employer on it.
What are the things I’m not thinking about?
You’re going to need artwork to accompany your show. These are the specs. Make it good. Not too busy, with easy-to-read text when it’s a thumbnail. Make sure it looks cute on Instagram, too.
You need permission to use music on your show. Free Music Archive is a helpful resource. If you can afford to hire a composer, do so! You’ll have the option of exclusive (more expensive, all yours) tracks or non-exclusive works (composer can license to others) which might allow for a price break.
You’ll probably want a website to host your past episodes. And you’ll definitely want to track how people are interacting with your show, which for many producers means publishing through a third party that helps you do that (Art19, Simplecast, Libsyn).
Google "RSS feeds" to learn more about the technical backbone of podcasts, in its glory and frustration.
Wait, what’s an audio producer?
Unlike film, games, or advertising, a producer in audio typically has an editorial focus. She might pitch story ideas, book and secure sources for host interviews, conduct the interviews herself, or edit current/archival materials. She might also do extensive research, write whole scripts or mix a final episode of a broadcast piece or podcast. She might do all of these things for different shows, or specialize in one part of the process. For example, I've done everything I've noted above, but my greatest areas of interest and expertise are new show development and editing tape.
If you're thinking, "I really need help with this podcast thing," a producer is the job category you're looking for. When interviewing candidates, be sure to specify which of these many skills you're looking for, and ideally have them rank-ordered.
How much should I pay a producer / How much should I charge a client for doing audio production?
Rates vary based on project, roles and experience. The Association for Independents in Radio has a helpful rate sheet. It’s my opinion that many of the rates listed are on the low side. If you are in a position to hire, use these as a minimum guideline. If you are in a position to hire for a well-funded startup or media company, don’t assume that podcasts are an easy tack-on to someone’s existing job. Audio may be “cheap” compared with the equipment and personnel on a film shoot, but doing it well takes time, money and expertise. Please don’t exploit people!
If you’re an audio producer looking for jobs or finalizing a contract, read Ann Friedman's indispensable and fun guide to negotiation. Also check out this salary survey compiled by Alex Laughlin. If you hate reading, the #1 consistent tip from my ladyboss friends: suggest the highest amount you can say with a straight face.
What kind of gear do you use?
I have a Marantz PMD 661 digital audio recorder and Shure Beta 87a mics. That’s a pretty typical old-school radio person approach. You can use a smaller recorder or an audio interface that allows a high quality mic to connect to your computer (or, in some cases, tablet). There are lots of good options. I’m not a fan of USB mics. They tend to be noisy, break more often, and not tremendously easier than a radio reporter’s field kit. But like I said, I have some old-school biases.
Software: I edit and mix with Pro Tools. I know lots of audio pros who love Hindenberg (despite the ominous name, it’s designed with podcasters and journalists in mind and is comparatively affordable). Logic and Audition are also pro-quality. Garage Band and Audacity work too if they work for you.
What should I read to get started?
Can I send you something in the mail?
Sure! Love letters, checks, and books for review:
4470 W. Sunset Blvd #105, Los Angeles, CA 90027
... as the ladies of She’s All Fat say, chill vibes only, please.