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#6: Podcasting Software

By | January 10, 2007

Adobe AuditionOnce you have your equipment, there are basically two other elements that stand between you and producing a great podcast. The first one is software. You’ve got to have a program that will allow you to record and arrange your podcast. I’m gonna be real upfront with you at this phase. There are a lot of free solutions out there and lots of articles have been written on producing your podcast with those free solutions. Some of that stuff I’m sure is great, for example Audacity is a popular free audio program, but if you really want to make your podcast soar to the top of the charts, you’re gonna need something that will let you do a full production.

What do I mean by ‘full production’? Well, first, let’s look at what you get with some of the free solutions. I’ve reviewed only a handful of packages out there like WebPod Studio, for example. And what they give you is a very simple way to record a podcast and package it, as is, and then distribute it. That means you sit in front of the mic, hit record, talk, hit stop, package. That approach might be OK if you’re talking about 3 or 4 minute infocasts or something, but not if you’re planning on doing a real radio-style show.

Here’s what happens with a high quality show. You record you show. You go back and edit any terribly bad mistakes. You cue up music for the intro and outro. You tweak the sound a bit and clean up any noise. Then you mix the whole thing down so that it sounds like you have a huge production team and some highly skilled talent sitting in front of the mic (and that would be you).

So how do you get all of that? First I’ll be very general, and then I’ll talk more specific.

Multitrack Recording
Those of you that are completely new to the world of recording might not be familiar with the phrase ‘Multitrack Recording’, but that’s OK. When we’re done with today’s podcast, you will be. Multitrack recording involves just what it says, several, or multiple tracks. You’re talking on one track. There’s music on another track. You might have a guest on the phone on a third track, etc. What this allows you to do is edit or enhance or manipulate each of the tracks individually. When everything is all mixed down, you get just the standard stereo left and right channels, but you could have used half a dozen tracks to make it sound right.

The software that you select has to be capable of multitrack recording. This way, you can control your music separately on one track, your voice on another and so on. This is what will give you that automated, professional radio station kind of sound.

Royalty Free Buyout Music
I could do a full podcast on just this topic, and perhaps we will in the future, but now’s a good time to mention it. It’s a good idea to have at least a small collection of royalty free buyout music. This is music that you pay a little more for upfront, but you can do pretty much whatever you want to with it. You might want to have theme music for your show, or just want to play something while you do a read, either way, you’re safe with buyout music. Otherwise, you might have to pay an organization like BMI in order to play music.

Most music is copyrighted and there’s lots of people out there that will play it anyway, but there’s also lots of people getting in trouble for playing it, and that’s probably not what you want. Don’t think that just because you like a certain singer or band, that they’ll be happy with you playing their music. Chances are, they won’t be.

Buyout music isn’t real expensive either, you can get a CD of 40 or so songs for probably less than $50. It’ll make your podcast sound a lot more professional.

Commercial Software
Now for some specifics. My goal here is to be able to show you how to create a great podcast. In order to do that, I’m going to have to teach you skills from several different venues. You’ll have to learn about audio, about voice work, about equipment, and about software. That means that eventually, I’m gonna just have to show you what I do. Exactly what I do. So at this point, I’m gonna tell you what I use. You don’t have to use it. I’m not telling you that it’s the best and only software out there, but it’s what I use and that will make it simpler when I tell you how to do something.

It’s called Adobe Audition. It used to be called Cool Edit Pro and actually I used it way back then which is kinda while I’m still stuck on it probably. Adobe bought the product several years ago and they’ve made some great enhancements to it in the last few years.

It has a great selection of effects built right in and it does just about everything I need. ProTools is another program you could consider, I’ve heard a lot of great reviews about it, but I’ve never really had the need to change.

Whatever software solution you chose, you have to be able to record your work. Edit it. Mix music or other audio with it, and then mix all that down to an mp3 so you can put it on your site. The free software that I’ve looked at was VERY limited but you could probably pull it off with something like Audacity, and if you’re on a budget, software is one place that you can sometimes get something for nothing.

We’ve got our equipment and our software, our next podcast will cover some Podcasting theory like, ‘How to Podcast?’ and Podcasting Best Practices.

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Topics: Audio Recording Software, How to Podcast, Podcast Promotion | No Comments »


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