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Podcast Hosting with Podbean - an Alternative to Libsyn?

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Podcast Hosting with Podbean - an Alternative to Libsyn?

We're back with another post, as we continue to review the various podcast hosting platforms available on the Internet. In case you missed it, check out the pieces I wrote on how to best move your podcast off SoundCloud with Libsyn and Buzzsprout.

In this insightful post, we dive into Podbean's free podcast hosting services and address some of the concerns the podcast community has expressed with them. I know when I was personally looking through Podbean reviews, it didn't look pretty.

They also didn't look very recent either, with the most recent negative review written in 2012. Old, but still relevant? Maybe. I decided not to leave it up to chance and reached out to Shannon, the Director of Communications for Podbean, to get directly to the source of the issues their past clients have had with them.

 

The Top Two Most Common Complaints about Podbean

It's not a good sign when the first few spots on Google, for 'Podbean Review', are negative. It's also not a good sign that they're all outdated, as I couldn't find anything that was relevant in the 2015-2016 time period. The two biggest concerns and negative remarks that I extracted out of Podbean were:

  1. Their inability to give you control over your own RSS feed. This means that once you give your RSS feed to Podbean, it's theirs forever and you won't be able to get it back; essentially forcing you to start all over. New podcast, new following, and a brand new iTunes page. Ack!
  2. Their terrible customer service offered by non-native English speakers on, with the lack of ‘know-how to fix’ what should be simple solutions. There's nothing worse than dealing with Comcast-esq customer service, questions unanswered, and a support team that doesn't respond to cancellations.

But as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, these reviews are old...way old. They shouldn't even be mentioned in this article, but I know our audience is bound to come across what I found on Google, so it needs to be addressed.

 

According to Podbean, These Problems Have Been Fixed

Shannon was quick to address the concerns I mentioned above, and frankly, after seeing her in-depth response and the various actions taken by her and her team, I feel Podbean is on a fast track to success.

Podbean has already fixed problem number one, and now users are able to move off their platform should they wish. For those who are interested in switching to Podbean services, Shannon offered this helpful article - How to Set a New Feed.

In regards to problem two, Shannon did mention that the company no longer offers phone support. Instead, customers can contact them via email or live chat. Their live chat isn't 24/7, but it does cover around 20+ hours or so. If you can't reach support via live chat, then email is the second best form of communication, of which they quickly reply to. Shannon acknowledges that their customer service was horrible in the past and said Podbean has made major improvements in that regard. Here is what she had to say to me via email:

We have made major improvements to support and have a much more experienced/long-term team now. Of course, no company’s perfect and sometimes they run into complexities, etc. Fortunately—and this is what I think is great about us—me and David (CEO) review twice/week with the team (and more as needed) and help them address any issues, reply to customers having difficulty, help them improve responses, etc.

I (and our community manager, Jennifer) try to be pretty active on social media too, in order to help podcasters. We explain that our Support Twitter isn’t monitored constantly for support requests, so direct contact to Support is best, but we interact consistently with our customers (and other podcasters)—not only for problems, but to proactively help them with resources, marketing ideas, promotion etc.
— Shannon Martin - Podbean Director of Communications

 

What's Great About Podbean?

One of the main reasons why podcasters prefer Podbean over other podcast hosting service platforms is affordability. Their unlimited audio plan goes for as low as $9 a month, with their annual sign up package. They are currently preparing to offer HLS to podcasters who provide video of their interviews as well.

Podbean is an easy and powerful way   to start podcasting. Everything you need. No   technology to learn.

Podbean is an easy and powerful way to start podcasting. Everything you need. No technology to learn.

Podbean seems to be a perfect option for those that have very little technical knowledge. The platform provides easy-to-use tools that can help set up an attractive podcast page. Shannon told me that Podbean is the first host to provide a blog-like platform/page for podcasters. Shannon also believes their back-end editor is simpler to use than WordPress's editor, which can be a huge bonus to some. If you're an independent hobby podcaster without a website, then this option could be ideal for you.

If you already have a website for your podcast, then no problem. The site makes it easy to redirect the feed to your own website, so those who are seeking a little more customization will be glad to know that they're not stuck to Podbean's platform.

Here's the interesting thing about Podbean. They offer affordable integrated monetization. This is what Shannon had to say about it:

We were one of the first hosts (and still, the most affordable—taking only a 15% revenue share with no upfront fees) to offer premium content options (subscriptions or fees for single, “bonus” episodes) and we are the only one to offer integrated crowdfunding (patron support).

CF is also available to podcasters who host anywhere, and I think this is a hidden gem! The great thing about our program is the page pulls in your RSS so it looks great with recent episodes shown there—and for Podbean podcasters, the “become a patron” button is automatically on their page (others can get our pre-formatted buttons, super simple to put on their pages).

Also, if their listeners listen in our apps, the buttons will be there right on the screen so no extra steps, telling them a separate site to go to later etc. CF was so going at first, but we’re really seeing it be more widely adopted and many people are doing quite well with it. Look for something special in the advertising space to be coming soon as well!
— Shannon Martin

 

Finally, I'd like to mention that Podbean does something unique that other podcast hosting service providers don't do as proactively, which is to promote their clients’ content regularly. Podbean promotes 5 podcasts each week on their homepage and in their app, giving their clients some great exposure. They also do regular shout-outs on social media. I like that they do this a lot, because it means they really do care about what their customers have to say and what they are putting out into the world.

I recommend that you check out Podbean, as it seems some of the major problems they had in the beginning have been fixed and that they're actively working towards building a stronger community and service.

 


About Podfly

We are a boutique podcast production service that creates beautiful sounding audio and highly descriptive and well-crafted show notes. We have a small team of audio engineers and writers to help perfect your podcast and make it sound great. If you're starting from scratch, we can teach you how to set up your audio equipment and craft an excellent podcast with intros and outros included. You can contact me at Ayn@Podfly.net for more information or reach us through Podfly's contact form.

 

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HARRY DURAN - PODCAST JUNKIES

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HARRY DURAN - PODCAST JUNKIES

Hurricane Sandy was an eye-opening experience for Harry Duran and it really got him out of his comfort zone.

The Podcast Producers welcomes Harry Duran of the Podcast Junkies onto the show. Harry's podcast is incredibly unique in both style and vibe. You feel like you're able to let loose and relax into your chair whenever you listen to his show. We invited this Podcast Junkie on the show today to get to know him a little bit better. Harry believes that the 15-20 minute mark is when an interview tends to hit the sweet spot and start to get good. He also loves to interview people with the video on so that he can see his guests' reactions to his thought-provoking questions.


A special thank you to the exclusive sponsor of Season 2, Podcast Movement. Podcast Movement is the world's largest gathering of podcasters and people involved in the podcast industry, taking place this July in Chicago. With over 1,500 attendees from around the world, and over 80 talks, workshop sessions, and panel discussions. Featured speakers include Alex Blumberg from Startup & Gimlet, Anna Sale of WNYC's Death Sex & Money, Glynn Washington of Snap Judgment, Kevin Smith, Tracy & Heben from Another Round, and more announced every week.

 

To see the full lineup, and to register, visit PodcastMovement.com , and use the code PRODUCERS to save $50 off the cost of registration


KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

[1:20] Jessica has lost her voice. 

[2:30] Could you be silent for 11 days? 

[2:50] Harry Duran joins us on today's show! 

[3:50] Jessica loves Harry's podcast because you can let your hair down and get loose! 

[4:50] Thank you so much Podcast Movement for sponsoring us! 

[5:00] Why are you going to Podcast Movement? Call us at 347-480-1153 and leave us a message.

[7:15] Harry, do you ever listen to your own show? 

[9:25] Shout-out to all our Lebanese listeners. 

[10:50] There are many layers to producing really good music. 

[11:50] What was the most uncomfortable interview Harry ever did? 

[18:45] Doesn't it get distracting when you have a Skype interview with video on? 

[19:55] Harry is trying to get more comfortable with the silence during an interview. 

[21:25] Waiting and letting people continue their secondary thought after a question is answered can reveal much more than their initial response.

[21:50] The real meat of the conversation comes in about 15-20 minutes into an interview. 

[23:05] Who is Harry? 

[23:50] Harry is spiritual, but not religious. 

[25:25] Harry and his wife, Nathalie, have a dog named Disco who has been with them for 11 years. 

[26:50] Who is Nathalie? 

[29:15] Harry is a pure New Yorker at heart, but it's important to get out of your comfort zone. 

[30:05] Harry talks about living through Hurricane Sandy. 

[32:30] Most people will not be able to survive more than three days because they don't have an emergency plan. 

[36:00] Jessica doesn't want to teach her kids that strangers are bad, because most people aren't like that. 

[38:10] Harry is sooooo good at marketing. 

[40:25] You're never trying to sell the mattress, you're trying to sell a good night's sleep. 

[41:40] Hey Harry, help us come up with a retention hashtag! 

[43:45] First three people to hashtag Harry will get a free Podcast Junkies t-shirt. 

[46:15] Heads up listeners! We're recording these shows and then releasing them. We're not batch producing The Podcast Producers this season. 


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dbx® 286s Review - Part 1 of 2

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dbx® 286s Review - Part 1 of 2

Why do the radio folks sound so much better?

We've all dialed up the radio star blaring through the car speakers, or tuned into NPR to hear the host almost speaking directly into our ears. Whether it’s Howard Stern or Ira Glass, there's that extra something something that seems to make their audio sound WAY better than ours. So what is it?

Well, there is the voice training, the high-end microphone, the awesome sound proofed studio, producer, and post production engineers. But if we can put all that aside for a moment, there is a part of the chain not mentioned here and often overlooked.

Whether you use a mixer, an analog/digital interface, or or any type of USB microphone, there is a built-in component that affects the volume (or gain) of the microphone's signal. This is called the preamplifier. Now for most this is simply a knob you turn to make the microphone "louder". For those with a bit more audio engineering background, it's a chance to manipulate and enhance the sound of your voice before it gets recorded.

 

The dbx® 286s microphone preamplifier.

Enter the secret weapon of broadcasters and savvy podcasters alike - dbx® 286s. There are dozens of great 'preamps' out there, ranging anywhere from $60 to multiple thousands. In today’s example, I’m looking specifically at an industry favorite, the dbx® 286s.

From the manufacturer’s literature: The dbx® 286s is a full featured Channel Strip Processor that delivers a studio quality microphone/instrument preamplifier and four processors that can be used independently or in any combination. Why mic up vocals and instruments through a noisy, blurry mixer? The sonically pristine dbx® 286s Mic Preamp has all the features you need, including wide-ranging input gain control, switchable +48V phantom power, and an 80Hz high-pass filter to remove low frequency hum, rumble or wind.

This sub $200 unit resides, for most, between the microphone and the analog to digital audio interface. For example, my signal chain is as follows: Shure SM7B Microphone > dbx® 286s > Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 > MacBook Pro. Notice that I have the preamp “driving” the microphone as well as preprocessing the signal ahead of converting it to digital audio for the computer.

Now this is where the unit really shines. Not only does the preamplifier sound great, it has plenty of juice to feed the gain-hungry SM7B. After the preamp, the signal is passed to the patented dbx OverEasy® compressor. Here we can really accomplish that “in your face” FM broadcast DJ sound, or dial it back to a warm, smooth NPR style close-mic compression. Next in the chain is a de-esser and enhancer. These controls (used sparingly) can round off the sharp edges of the signal, add a bit of ‘oomph’ to the bottom end, and a bit of sparkle to the top frequencies. Now that we have a big fat, warm signal, it’s time to kill some noise. The expander/gate is a powerful tool to tame the worst rooms. I personally use it two-fold: 1) as a noise gate to mute the channel when there is low or no input (in between speaking); 2) to cut off the echo of my given recording room. Last is the output before sending the signal via ¼ “ to the Focusrite.

Did I lose you? Not to worry. I’ll be showing you how to adjust all these yummy knobs in Part 2, so check back in a few weeks. For now, let your geek flags fly and know that there is a lot of power and sonic goodness in a small package, at a very reasonable price.

 

Don’t put the cart before the horse.

If you’re currently on a low-end microphone, like the Audio-Technica ATR2100 or another dynamic cardioid you picked up for under $100, a preamplifier might not be the best, next equipment investment. Stepping up your microphone quality first is a better way to go.

Consider podcaster favorites like the Shure SM7B or the Heil PR40 as the front of your signal chain. Either of these professional grade microphones connected directly to a nice USB interface such as the Focusrite 2i2, will give you incredibly improved sound over your USB microphone. See here, Podfly client and Podcast Producers co-host, Jessica Rhode’s new set up.

She went from the ATR2100 to the Heil PR40 and Focusrite preamp, and the difference is very noticeable.

So, the first step might be looking at getting a better microphone first. However, at $200 for this preamp, maybe you deserve to take the credit card out for a spin and get both. Hey, you’re worth it.

The sound quality of my podcast sounds so much better with the Heil PR40. The ATR2100 was a great mic, but a year and a half into my podcasting journey, the time came to up-level my game. I noticed that with the ATR2100, while my sound was clear, there was a bit of distortion in comparison to the Heil PR40, with which the sound is crystal clear
— Jessica Rhodes, Interview Connections/The Podcast Producers

 

It’s still all about the instrument (your voice).

Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t polish a turd”? Crude, but true. This applies very well in the audio industry. There has always been a misconception in the record industry that studios somehow can magically make bad singers sound good. There must be some fancy equipment, computer software, and a little bit of fairy dust up the engineer’s sleeve that can make anyone instantly sound like Celine Dion. Not true.

Yes, there are ways to correct pitch and enhance aspects of the voice. But there is no “talent” switch, and definitely no “make me sound amazing” knob. All this incredible technology is designed to elevate the quality of something that is good in the first place.

Have you ever met someone and their voice simply floored you? They start speaking and immediately something in you says, “wow, you have a great voice!” Well, that’s not coming out of a $200 preamplifier.

Remember that upgrading your equipment can improve your audio quality. It cannot, sadly, improve your voice. That said, you wanna be sure to be making this purchase to improve what's already good, rather than try and fix what might be broken.

 



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Regardless of whether Podfly Productions, LLC receives a commission, please trust that we only recommend products or services we use personally, that we have tested, or that have been recommended to us by colleagues that we trust, and that we believe will be good value for our readers and clients.

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DAVE JACKSON - SCHOOL OF PODCASTING

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DAVE JACKSON - SCHOOL OF PODCASTING

Welcome to the first episode of season two of The Podcast Producers. We'd first like to say thank you to Podcast Movement for sponsoring us. So, what's in store for season two? Well, we're taking a different direction to the second season than we did in the first. Our goal this season is to have fun and interview some 'old-timer' podcasters. We are kicking off this season with our first guest Dave Jackson, the host of School of Podcasting. He is funny, he has been podcasting for a long, long while, and he's working with Libsyn now! 


A special thank you to the exclusive sponsor of Season 2, Podcast Movement. Podcast Movement is the world's largest gathering of podcasters and people involved in the podcast industry, taking place this July in Chicago. With over 1,500 attendees from around the world, and over 80 talks, workshop sessions, and panel discussions. Featured speakers include past Alex Blumberg from Startup & Gimlet, Anna Sale of WNYC's Death Sex & Money, Glynn Washington of Snap Judgment, Kevin Smith, Tracy & Heben from Another Round, and more announced every week.

 

To see the full lineup, and to register, visit PodcastMovement.com , and use the code PRODUCERS to save $50 off the cost of registration


KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

[0:06] Thank you Podcast Movement for sponsoring us! 

[0:50] Welcome to season two of The Podcast Producers! 

[3:45] Are we seriously going to do another ten episodes in two months? 

[4:10] Wait! Why are we doing this? What's the purpose of season two? 

[5:15] The most important part for us is to make this enjoyable and fun. 

[5:55] How did we choose these guests for the show? 

[7:55] Our guests have been podcasting for at least one year. 

[8:50] Today's guest is Dave Jackson from School of Podcasting. 

[9:55] Podcast Movement bought all of our ad space for season two. 

[12:45] Are you guys going to Podcast Movement? Call us at 347-480-1153 and leave us a message.

[14:00] Welcome Dave! Sorry we had to reschedule twice. 

[19:00] Dave has helped more people at Libsyn than he did as a teacher. 

[20:45] What are review swaps? 

[23:20] At the end of the day, review swaps are hurting you more than helping you. 

[26:20] The number of reviews you have does not increase your audience size. 

[26:50] At the end of the day, it's really about delivering value to your audience. 

[28:10] The podcaster, Max Flight, started a Slack group for his audience. 

[29:15] Don't focus on the stats. Instead, focus on your target audience and create relationships with them.  

[29:50] What's the deal with iTunes’ New and Noteworthy section? 

[32:45] You're actually not going to see a huge audience spike if you're in this section. 

[33:45] Don't make such a big deal about getting into New and Noteworthy. 

[35:35] Dave has a loud cat and his listeners can hear him in the background. 

[39:15] Which podcasts does Dave listen to? 

[41:15] Dave doesn't find the comedy category podcasts all that funny these days. 

[44:20] Did Dave receive comedy training? His timing is always on point. 

[46:50] Want to grow your audience? Find your competition and then start your show with them. 

[47:15] Corey talks about the elevator incident with Ray Ortega. 

[48:10] Dave Jackson is Corey's hero. 




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