Podcasts for artists are a great way to build and connect with your audience and they’re becoming more popular than ever. There are currently over 750,000 podcasts with 22% of Americans listening to a podcast at least weekly. With the rising interest and low production costs of running a podcast, anyone interested in creating content for arts and creative markets can take their DIY spirit and start their own podcast.
Whether seeking to reach new audiences, better acquainting outsiders with artistic, creative or design concepts and leaders, or simply build community with others, podcasts are your ticket to self-published content. The set up is pretty simple: you need good but inexpensive microphones, a laptop, and virtually any audio editing software to produce quality and interesting content. Here we present a few things to consider when starting a podcast, keeping unique and timely audio content in mind with an eye toward creativity.
Who is Already Doing Podcasts for Artists?
Like any other worthwhile endeavor, to create something new and different, you first have to research the existing market. The best way to do this is to become a devoted listener to creative podcasts yourself. By following shows investigating subjects that interest you or that produce similar content to what you seek to cover, you quickly learn what makes a podcast compelling and popular. A good place to start is in iTunes’ ‘Arts’ category, listed on their podcast landing page. This category tell you which shows are getting the most traction. Patreon also provides listeners with a collection of the top-earning podcasts, many of which are arts-focused.
Once you get a sense of what translates to a wide audience based on existing shows, start thinking of topics and subjects that seem lacking in the market based on your work as a creator. Jot down some notes about how you could personally fill these gaps with content that you can deliver. Perhaps a podcast for artists on graphic design exists, but it fails to tackle the particular ways that freelancers in the field face unique challenges to find work. Maybe a program on hip hop music falls short in addressing the unique challenges that musicians of color face. Regardless, finding your niche is essential in drawing a crowd of followers.
Rotate Guests and Themes
While it’s crucial to pick a well-defined subject matter for your show, equally important is maintaining a sense of variety and continuity between episodes. Not only does this encourage subscribers to keep coming back for fresh ideas, but it means that your episodes can be interesting as standalone podcasts, without requiring someone to listen to the whole series in order to understand one show. In the creative sphere, one of the best ways to accomplish this is by hosting a rotating roster of artists and creatives and to focus each episode on their practice and personal experience.
Many successful podcasts for artists will often feature guests that they feel deserve a larger audience, or who have an existing audience that they feel would engage positively with their own show or work. This method can also lead to fascinating interdisciplinary dialogue. In this setting, artists of different mediums can get together to talk shared challenges, ideas for the future, and more.
Feature Expert Guests
While some podcasts are framed around the notion of outsiders’ perspectives on various topics, the most widely-listened to shows feature guests with first-hand expertise and experience in the subject matter discussed on each program. As is the case with print columns, or television talk shows, listeners will engage with informational content in part because of the content creators’ informed perspective and credibility.
This is especially true in the creative world. A personal understanding of the struggles and rewards particular to a medium or artistic practice is paramount to speaking knowledgeably on the topic. You’ll quickly find out that the bare-bones nature of a podcast severely limits the possibility for gimmicks and flashy editing that other communication formats afford. Podcasts for artists will quickly lose listeners if they display a lack of expertise about a creative topic.
Listeners have different preferences for the length of podcasts that they favor. Likewise, the habits of your listeners and subscribers can vary drastically. When do people listen most to podcasts? During their commute is an opportune time. That’s why research shows that, while it varies by category, the average length of a podcast is 43 minutes, and the average “Arts” (broadly defined) podcast is around 30 minutes. But what about the targeted listeners for your podcasts? It’s important to define who they are. So, if your podcast is devoted to the struggles of freelancing as a UX designer, you may want to consider catering to the brief intervals of time between assignments that they may have. A shorter episode length may be appropriate here. If you host a show that deals primarily in the world of art departments at universities, your listeners will likely work on academic schedules, translating to a following that has free time in longer chunks during holidays, evenings and weekends.
Job descriptions don’t always tell the full story, however. If you speak with creatives heavily involved in a scene that requires particularly long commutes, like Los Angeles, you may want to make longer episodes made for lengthy drives. If you work with those living and working in a smaller metropolis, such as Philadelphia, you may want to do the opposite. Above all, it’s necessary to consider how much time listeners to podcasts for artists will likely want to invest in plugging into your program between their other commitments, and what times they will likely be listening.
Integrate Creative Content
This will be one of the more challenging aspects of producing podcasts for artists: centering a show around creative work, and doing it well, can help to elevate your show by giving listeners access to original work with every episode. If your program is focused on typography, you might consider including a link to the website of some of your guests’ portfolios, or even a Dropbox/ Google Drive link including some of their original font work. If you record an episode with a painter who posts a good deal of their work on social media, you may want to include links to their social channels for listeners to check out. Some art forms may lend themselves to integration within the episodes themselves, including music, book readings, and performance recordings. These clips and links will augment a solid block of time spent talking.
With the right guests, a unique show concept, and a small initial investment in the proper technology and equipment, you can position yourself for success. Whether your aim is to expand your own opportunities, help to expose audiences to up-and-coming talents, or to build a network of creatives that share your vision, the process of running podcasts for artists can be complementary to your own role in the arts and creative fields.
Evan is a freelance writer and media strategist who resides in Brooklyn by way of Los Angeles. A recent graduate with a degree in media studies, his work covers music, visual art, and local creative happenings. His writing has been featured in XLR8R and Our Notebook.