Creative Strings Podcast with Violinist Christian Howes: Exploring intersections between creativity, music education, string playing, DIY music business, and culture. Creative Strings is a non-profit organization with a mission to support music education through outreach, summer conference, and online curriculum.
My brother Lewis Howes started a very successful podcast called the School of Greatness. This got me interested at first. I was interested in content marketing through video and blogging and I realized that podcasting is a different and easy way for people to consume valuable content.
My goals were the same as with all of my content marketing, i.e., to share valuable content in order to entertain, inspire, or inform people in my specific community regarding music education, music culture, and culture at large. Through doing this my hope was also to spread these ideas and create a deeper connection to my audience and position myself as an influencer and authority within my niche. The podcast format has allowed me to connect authentically and more personally with my community for sure. I started the podcast about three years ago in 2015. It probably took me three months to launch the first episode.
I release episodes on average once per month, although we sometimes take a break for a few months and then release a "new season". It usually takes about three weeks to produce an episode. I have a small team of independent contractors who help with different facets of production. We spend on average $500 per episode on labor, production and marketing. I founded a non-profit organization, Creative Strings, and the funding is connected to our marketing budget. We also found two sponsors who help pay for these costs.
We have two sponsors. When we began there was one. I don't want to share the exact sponsorship revenue, out of respect for our sponsors' privacy, but our sponsorship revenue helps us cover the cost of producing and advertising our podcast. I reached out to both sponsors with the following pitch: "We would like to feature your company and products to our audience in our podcast episodes. We will include links and images and branding, and I will personally make a pitch for your services and brand to our listeners in my authentic voice. We will share all of our activities transparently with you and do our best to use the sponsorship to invest in building the reach and audience of the podcast. Would you like to try it out for a season of ten episodes".
Our first sponsor ElectricViolinShop.com has stayed with us for 30 episodes. our second sponsor Yamahastrings.com joined after 15 episodes and is still with us. I am not looking for other sponsors and would prefer to stay with our partners for the long term as long as it serves them. I am not sure how many downloads we get per month. We average 1,500 on Soundcloud, but I do not know how to measure downloads on itunes, googleplay, or stitcher. I hope to learn more about this from Listennotes!!! Perhaps you could share this tip with me!
I use my protools Mbox and two mics to capture live audio interviews. Since I am also a music producer, this is equipment I am comfortable with. Since we have now gone to sharing the extended video interview on youtube, we sometimes set up a separate camera live OR record Skype video calls (through ecamm Skype recorder). Sometimes our audio quality is not as good and our engineer uses noise scraping software to improve it in post. I strive for production values, but don't let this stop me if there's an opportunity to get a quick interview on the road using a mobile phone or using Quicktime with a simple laptop internal camera and microphone.
Content is whats most important, not the perfect audio or video, in my opinion. I seek people who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives within my industry, and we cover a cross section of themes instead of a very narrow theme. One thing which makes us different is the liberal use of many, sometimes LONG, musical excerpts because we are musicians. We want to combine storytelling with listening to the music behind the musicians. I also sometimes do solo podcasts. Something I'm very excited about is that I plan to release my upcoming music album in one podcast episode. I'm not aware if anyone has done this before?
We promote to our email list of 10,000 readers. We promote via Linkedin announcements to our LinkedIn groups which we founded years ago. We share on social media, repurpose on youtube, and usually take out a FB or YT ad. We also repost on QUU and guest blog on other websites occasionally.
Experience podcasts as a listener or consumer. When you go through the process as a consumer you will get ideas about what to do for your audience. DO what you can yourself, but don't be afraid to hire out for help with things you don't know. Start rolling! There's nothing like doing it to get better. Listen back to yourself to take notes on how you can improve. Ask for feedback.