All posts by Shawn Thorpe

About Shawn Thorpe

Podcaster, freelance audio editor, WordPress enthusiast living in California.

Get a Deep Discount on Hindenburg Journalist in Honor of World Radio Day



Hindenburg SpecialMost podcasters key in on one digital audio workstation and then use it, sometimes forever, unless they feel a specific need to try something different. (I’ve operated this way myself for over a decade now.) There can be some sizable roadblocks to adopting a new DAW, with getting over the learning curve and the potential expense of a new software package being the largest. But once in a while, a deal happens that’s so good, you can’t pass it up.

In honor of World Radio Day, the makers of Hindenburg Journalist, a full-featured digital audio production application, are selling the DAW for just $1.90:

At Hindenburg we always celebrate World Radio Day by collaborating with other organisations and offering radio producers discounts.

In 2017 the theme of WRD is “Radio is You”. A particular focus area is improving the collaboration between radio stations and the surrounding Civil Society, Non-Government Organisations and Educators.

As this is an area Hindenburg is particularly engaged in, we are teaming up with Cultural Survival to promote their mission to advance Indigenous Peoples’ rights & cultures worldwide.

In 2015, the World Bank adjusted the global poverty line figure to $1.90 per day per family of 4.

This means that a family must earn at least $1.90 a day to meet its most basic food, clothing and shelter needs. A family earning less is generally accepted to be living in extreme poverty.

It is estimated that half of the world’s population, about 3 billion people, live in poverty. Of that, at least 700 million people live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.90 per day per family.

A large number of these families are Indigenous Peoples, who are furthermore often discriminated against and denied equal access to education, media and services in their home countries.

For the whole of World Radio Day around the world, from 00:01 in Kiribati on the Christmas Islands, to 23:59 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hindenburg will proudly offer a full Journalist licence for $1.90*. We will match all income from those licences sales and donate all proceeds to Cultural Survival.

As per tradition there will also be big World Radio Day discounts on Upgrade Journalist to PRO and Journalist PRO.

Even if you’re happy with your current DAW, I strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of Hindenburg Journalist at this deeply discounted rate. Who knows? You may find out you really like it!


Facebook Launches Live Audio Streaming



Facebook logoSocial media juggernaut Facebook has pushed into multiple new digital media territories this year. The company’s latest bid to become the one platforms that rules them all comes with the launch of Facebook Live Audio:

We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video. We’ve even seen some Pages find creative ways to go live and reach audiences with audio only by using the Facebook Live API or by adding a still image to accompany their audio broadcast. Our new Live Audio option makes it easy to go live with audio only when that’s the broadcaster’s preferred format.

We also know that publishers sometimes go live from areas that lack strong network connectivity. Though we alert the broadcaster if their signal is low, Live Audio presents another option for connecting with audiences in real time from low-connectivity areas.

Many podcasters use Facebook to promote their shows, and many podcasters also use live-streaming services for audience interaction. While Facebook Live Audio wasn’t necessarily designed for podcasters, it seems Facebook if finally acknowledging the workarounds audio producers have used to get their content onto the platform. The launch of Live Audio should make it easier for everyone to get non-video dynamic media into Facebook.


Stitcher Launches Stitcher Premium Subscription Service



Stitcher RadioPodcast syndication platform Stitcher has launched a new premium tier. Appropriately called Stitcher Premium, the new paid version of the service was announced in a recent e-mail:

…we are launching Stitcher Premium, a new premium subscription option for Stitcher listeners. Stitcher Premium includes:

*Ad-free Listening – Premium removes the extra ads that Stitcher includes in our free product and also includes completely ad-free episodes of top shows like ‘WTF with Marc Maron,’ ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!,’ ‘Stranglers’ and many more.
*Bonus Episodes – extra bonus episodes of popular shows available exclusively on Stitcher Premium. Listen to bonuses from ‘Game of Owns,’ ‘Superego,’ and ‘Harris Football,’ with more still to come.
*Stitcher Originals – over 40 exclusive shows created and produced by Stitcher, from the comedy adventure of ‘Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium’ to the parody of ‘Hardcore Game of Thrones.’ The Stitcher Originals catalog is growing into the largest catalog of ad-free premium audio.
*Comedy Albums – listen to over 120 comedy albums from comedians like Louis CK, Maria Bamford, Aziz Ansari, and Hannibal Buress.

According to its FAQ, Stitcher Premium will replace Stitcher’s previous premium service, Stitcher Plus. Stitcher Premium launch pricing is $4.99/month or $34.99/year. Also from the FAQ, Stitcher reveals that Stitcher Premium will eventually replace Midroll’s Howl app (Midroll parent E.W. Scripps acquired Stitcher earlier this year) :

(Q) I’m also a Howl app subscriber – weren’t you guys bought by Midroll and isn’t this content the same that comes with Howl?
(A) Yes! You can still access your Howl content via the Howl app. We are working on a migration plan for Howl subscribers to Stitcher Premium – stay tuned!

In the e-mail quoted above, Stitcher also noted that podcasters who are currently listed with Stitcher can ask to be included in Stitcher Premium by contacting Stitcher directly. But the e-mail doesn’t say anything about what benefits, if any, come from being included in Premium. Will podcasters who get accepted into Stitcher Premium receive a revenue share from subscriptions? Is Stitcher Premium only for “premium” content that’s not available thru a podcast’s public RSS feed? Hopefully, these questions will be answered soon.


Dropbox Dropping Access to Public Folders



Dropbox LogoCloud storage and file-sharing service Dropbox has proven to be an invaluable tool to many podcasters. The service makes it easy to share files, either thru unique publicly accessible links, or by giving multiple Dropbox users the ability to manage and modify project folders. While those are good (and allowed) use cases for Dropbox, one way podcasters have utilized the service is about to go away forever: Media-file storage and distribution.

It’s true that some podcasters have been taking advantage of a “loophole” in older Dropbox accounts by storing files in their Public Dropbox folders and then linking to those files in their podcast RSS feeds. This process works because Dropbox Public folders have the unique ability to generate truly public file URLs. Yes, it is possible to get a sharable link for nearly any Dropbox file. But most Dropbox share links won’t work for podcasting, as the links themselves are crammed full of code that can’t be read by most podcatchers. Dropbox Public folder URLs are meant to be truly public, and don’t have the limitations of other files being shared thru the service.

But that’s about to end. In an e-mail recently sent to users, Dropbox announced it will be phasing out Public folders for everyone:

The Public folder was the first sharing method we introduced, and since then, we’ve built even better ways for you to share securely and work together with your team.

As a result, we’ll soon be ending support for the Public folder. Dropbox Pro users will be able to use the Public folder until September 1, 2017. After that date the files in your Public folder will become private, and links to these files will be deactivated. Your files will remain safe in Dropbox.

If you’d like to keep sharing files in your Public folder, you can create new shared links. Just make sure to send the new URLs to your collaborators.

Converting Public folders to private folders will kill the ability for those folders to work for media hosting. If you’ve been relying on this hacky solution to power your podcast files, you may want to start looking for a new media host.


Spotify Backs Out of SoundCloud Deal



spotify logoIt seemed strangely appropriate when rumors started circulating earlier this year that media-streaming service Spotify was contemplating a buyout of music/podcast-hosting company SoundCloud. In podcasting terms, the two companies have shared similar profiles as being on the edges of the podcasting space, without ever completely taking the full plunge into the industry. The potential acquisition felt right somehow, if only because it might bring the newly formed SpotiCloud (Soundify? That surely must already be taken.) more into the center of the podcasting space.

But that chance has been dashed, as Spotify has reportedly walked away from the deal with SoundCloud:

The companies were in advanced talks on a deal in September, the FT reported, as Spotify looks to compete with Silicon Valley titans such as Apple and Amazon in the competitive streaming market.

However, the deal has fallen through because Spotify did not want to slow its path towards a flotation with the costs and licensing agreements needed to buy SoundCloud, according to someone familiar with the matter.

The fates of both Spotify and SoundCloud have seemed uncertain for awhile. Both companies have struggled to turn a profit. Spotify is headed for an initial public offering, and it’s possible that taking the company public may save it long enough for the company to build some true staying power. SoundCloud, on the other hand, has taken on a lot of debt thru multiple rounds of venture capital funding. After being passed over on two high profile buyouts (first Twitter and now Spotify), SoundCloud’s next move is anyones guess.


Call Recording Service Zencastr Comes Out of Beta



Zencastr logoThe ability to record VoIP calls is essential for many podcasters. A number of solutions have been devised to handle this process. But those solutions often include makeshift implementations of hardware and software that may be complex or unreliable. A handful of services have spring up over the last few years to try and tame the VoIP-recording beast. One of the leaders in this area, Zencastr, recently launched version 1.0 of its service. Here are a few of its features:

  • Live Editing Soundboard: “This allows you to Inject your intro, outro, advertisement, or other sound bite into your show in real-time as you record. You can trigger the sounds by clicking the button or by using the 1 – 9 keys on your keyboard. You can customize these sounds to be whatever you want. You can even add .mp4 video files and playback the audio from them.” Audio played thru the soundboard will be heard by all sides of the VoIP call.
  • Live Monitoring: “You can now enable microphone monitoring to hear yourself in the mix in real-time so you can adjust levels accordingly and guarantee the best possible result. This is helpful in making sure your levels sound good against the levels on your soundboard samples.”
  • User Cards: “…you can now see what microphone a guest has selected. Now you can be confident that they haven’t accidentally selected the wrong microphone. Additionally, you will see a warning if the guest is low on disk space. You can hover over this to see exactly how much space they have left.”

The service has a multi-tiered pricing plan, ranging from a free “hobbyist” plan to a “professional” $20/month plan. An enterprise-level Zencastr tier is coming soon.

Zencastr states that what’s been achieved so far is just the beginning of what it has to offer. If you’d like to learn more about Zencastr, check out the company’s website.


Jukedeck Makes Affordable, Original Instrumental Music



Jukedeck logoMost podcasters look for music to be used in intros, outros, and bumpers. Finding the right music can be a challenge in itself. Navigating the complexities of licensing and legal requirements can make the process even more daunting. Many podcast producers have relied on online sources of Creative Commons music. Or they’ve turned to services like Fiverr to find low-cost composers for their musical needs. And while those services can be used successfully, they do have their drawbacks. It can be time consuming to find the right piece of music or the right music producer to work with. And it’s not always a guarantee you’ll be getting a truly original composition, or that the music isn’t already licensed somewhere else, even if it also carries a Creative Commons license.

Jukedeck is looking to change that. The service lets users input different descriptive variables like “pop,” “folk,” or “ambient” for a piece of music, combined with a related “feeling” setting (example: for “pop,” the feeling options are “uplifting” and “melancholic”) and a time length. Jukedeck takes that information and creates an original piece of music based on the variables.

Jukedeck has a multi-tiered pricing plan for the tracks it creates:

  • Individual/Small Business Plan: Free if you provide direct credit to Jukedeck for the song or $0.99 if you want to purchase the track without having to give credit to Jukedeck. This plan includes a royalty-free licence for commercial or non-commercial use by an individual or a business with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Large Business Plan: This plan has a cost of $21.99 per track and comes with a royalty-free licence for commercial or non-commercial use by an individual or a business with 10 or more employees.
  • Buy The Copyright Plan: For the cost of $199, you have complete ownership of the music you’ve purchased thru Jukedeck.

If you’re in need of some music for your next podcast production, it’s worth giving Jukedeck a look. You can experiment with the different compositions offered by the service using the app on Jukedeck’s homepage.


Podcasters Receiving Phony “Cancellation” e-Mails



No ScamsMany podcasters have been receiving phony “cancellation” notices. These messages are being sent from a source identifying itself as “Podcast Authority,” using the e-mail address podcastauthorityofficial@gmail.com. The “cancellation” notice reads:

Hello (name of podcast producer),

I hope you are well. Unfourtunately I do not bring good news today. I regret to announce that as of today we have choosen to cancel your podcast. There will not be any further episodes of (name of podcast).

We understand this may come as a shock to you. Unfourunately some of the content in the last few episodes has been absolutely unacceptable. We are therefor left with no choice but to discontinue your podcast as of immediately.

I hope you understand why we have had to make this difficult decision and we wish you the best of luck with further ventures going forward.

Yours Sincerely,

Alex

A Google search for “Podcast Authority” and its attendant e-mail address turned up no useful information as to who’s behind these notices. Regardless, these messages are fake and can be safely disregarded by any podcaster who receives them. At this time, these cancellation notices appear to be nothing more than a harmless prank.

Considering most podcasters are independent producers, those producers would be the ones to decide when their shows would be “cancelled.” And while a podcast hosting platform could drop a podcast from its service for any number of reasons, it still couldn’t truly “cancel” the show.

If you’ve received this message from the so-called “Podcast Authority,” just delete it and move on.

Tip of the hat to Andrew from AB Film Review, who forwarded the message to me.

Original image by Widjaya Ivan on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.


Patreon Adds Charge Up Front Option



Patreon LogoCrowdfunding platform Patreon has become a prominent monetization source for many podcasters. By default, Patreon charges backers once per month, and after it takes fees off the top of those charges, it passes payments on to Patreon creators. In response to Patreon users who’ve asked the service to make payments go thru faster, Patreon has added a new Charge Up Front option.

Charge Up Front will only be available to Patreon creators who use the service to collect monthly contributions from their backers. Creators who operate their accounts on a charge-per-creation basis (example: podcasters who only collect from backers when they release a new episode) are not eligible to use Charge Up Front. Current Patreon users who opt to switch to the Charge Up Front option will not be able to switch back to the standard monthly collection system already in use by most Patreon creators. Also, per-creation creators who switch to a monthly-donation plan in order to take advantage of Charge Up Front will not be able to change back to the per-creation option:

Charge up front is permanent and cannot be changed; once you elect to charge your patrons up front, you cannot undo this. If you switch to charge up front from a per creation account type, you will not be able to switch back to charging your patrons per creation.

Another thing to keep in mind about the new Charge Up Front service:

For security purposes, payouts from your account will be placed on a temporary hold for five days after opting into “charge up front.” This feature is gradually being rolled out and is not available for all creators yet. You’ll receive an email notification once it’s available for your page.

If you’re a Patreon user and you’d like to begin using Charge Up Front, follow the link at the top of this article to learn more about the feature and how you can enable it.