You are not just relegated to playing other peoples' music; if you are in a band, you have access to your own music to play on your podcast. One of the best examples of a band creating a podcast to help promote themselves and their music is the podcast for The Reverse Engineers (www.thereverseengineers.com). Every band out there needs to check out what they did with this podcast. It is probably the best format for a relatively unknown band to promote themselves and connect with their fans. We asked The Reverse Engineers some questions regarding their podcast and podcasting in general:
TotPM: What are people going to hear when they listen to your podcast?
The Reverse Engineers: The idea that we had was to take the songs from Max Q, which is the record we put out last year, and just talk about each one of the songs, and then play each song. We had a lot of people from all over the world that were wanting us to play in their town, and it's kind of neat when you hear a band you want to see them live or talk with them or somehow interact with them. So the podcast for us was a way for us to kind of connect with people in a different way and actually talk about what the music means....
The first 12 podcasts, each one was about a different song on our record.... We covered every song on the record, and now we are going to try and do some live performances and put them on our podcast. And just have people find out a little more about our daily activities and stuff as a band and just as people.
TotPM: I [Rob] used to listen to only one radio station growing up on Long IslandWBAB. I just do not see that kind of loyalty anymore. Do you think podcasting will fill that gap?
The Reverse Engineers: Isn't it wild though, everybody has like [their favorite old radio station, where] they know what the FM station was they used to [listen to]. That was their station. And nowadays people don't give a damn because radio sucks so bad. And that is what is exciting about the podcasts....
So hopefully this next generation will be talking 20 years from now about "I remember xyz podcast," and they will hold it in that kind of esteem, because radio has completely lost that. No one cares about their radio station anymore.
TotPM: Why should independent musicians be interested in podcasts and podcasting?
The Reverse Engineers: One of the things that is our job as independent musicians is to find out ways to get airplay, because it is still really the way to get heard is for someone to actually run across your music through some other means instead of just going into Amazon and maybe finding it or going to your website. FM radio long ago kind of stopped being accessible to independent artists and then college radio was the way for you to get heard. And now college radio is also pretty much inaccessible to independent artists because they are being just hounded by the [major] labels as far as pushing their product. So podcasts are providing a valuable service for bands. [They] are replacing college radio for that type of task that we [as bands] have to do, which is show people [our] music. And the great thing is it is worldwide accessible.
TotPM: What advice would you like to give out to any bands that are not podcasting?
The Reverse Engineers: Regardless of what the podcast is about, as long as it is an audio documentary of the band they are in, they should get involved. Podcasting can be as cheap as buying an MP3 player that has a mic on it [for example, the iRiver IFP 890 series]. When you are at a gig or before a show and you want to record it, record it. It is a great way to even do an audio diary of your band, even record your shows and play live songs on your podcast. It is just another way a band can promote in a much more personal way.
When you are in a band it takes a while between records, so if you turn somebody on to your record immediately, they will turn around and go, "When are you coming out with something new?" Well, it takes a while to do one of those, so it [the podcast] allows you to go ahead and quickly and inexpensively get something out to your listeners to keep them aware of you and give [them] a little different side of your band or introduce [them] to the personalities behind the music and just kind of deepen the experience and really make them more than just a passive fan.
It's also a really great way to actually build our fan base in ways we never thought possible. The fact that within 3 or 4 months we have gotten 1,600 subscribers, it is a great way to really build a fan base and communicate with our listeners. Each episode we make sure to tell them to email us questions so that we can talk about it on the show, so there is that whole interactive thing with the fan that I think is a really cool thing.
When it comes to putting music on your podcast, be creative in picking that music. What good is it to feature independent musicians if all everyone does is play the same 10 or 20 songs from a dozen musicians? Don't play it safe, and don't emulate what radio has become. You will find listeners of podcasts expect more than that. Don't just use the sites listed in this chapter. If you go out of your way to find new and interesting music, you will grow your listener base. If you are continually the first one to play new music that is enjoyable to listen to, word of mouth will quickly spread about your show. Finding new songs and artists who have not yet been featured on other podcasts will take quite a bit of work, but for anyone doing that kind of podcast, it is sure to be a labor of love.