Blogher '06 Session Discussion: Audio/Podcasting on Day One

BlogHer Original Post

11th in our series introducing you to each of our BlogHer Conference '06 sessions and their speakers, and finding out what you would like to get from each session. Today, I bring you from Day One:

Audio/Podcasting

Instructors will be on hand to serve all user levels. Beginners will create & post an audio entry with Susan Kitchens. Advanced users will get hands-on instruction and interactive Q&A about advanced techniques, plus best practices in promotion and distribution from Nicole Simon and Anita Campbell. [Equipment list will be provided.]

The first order of business will be to break into groups from beginning to advanced users. For the beginners the goal will be to walk out of the session having created your first audio blog/podcast. For intermediate to advanced user the goal will be to get questions answered on how to improve your technical expertise and to point you to the best ways to spread your audio-love around.

Now to that equipment list:

If you break down the functions of learning about audio blogging, you can segment it into five section:
Record it
Edit it
Host it
Distribute it
Promote it

[img_assist|fid=613|thumb=1|alt=Nicole Simon]When I asked audio guru Nicole Simon for a list of what equipment was required for people to take this session, she immediately replied: "Nothing." Don't worry she elaborated as follows:

They need to bring along nothing if they want to participate. I would hate to have something on a list and for people to think they have to buy it to the session. They should be prepared though to "pay" with being interview guests!

Do we recommend you bring equipment? Yes. It is more fun. But I would recommend you buy nothing you don't have already. Go borrow from friends, yes, but buy nothing without knowing what you really want.

So there you go...minimum required equipment list: nothing. Nicole's big picture thinking? Priceless.

But just in case you are interested in an equipment option list, all of our instructors chimed in with some suggestions:

[img_assist|fid=617|thumb=1|alt=Susan Kitchens] Susan Kitchens will be working with the newbie audio bloggers, and suggests the following:

If you've got a laptop there to work on, then some software I'd recommend is:
-Audacity (open source [read: free], cross platform)
-LameLib to export to MP3 format.

That's the easy part. Specifying recording equipment is more difficult...price ranges can be all over the place.

Here are some possible recording setups. (I confess I'm biased toward portable recording equipment because I go out in the field to record oral history and interview people about it).

USB microphones: Directly record into computer using USB-powered microphone. Headsets w/ microphones work okay. Logitech has several of them; prices are low ($25-50) for entry-level "Do I want to do this or don't I?" exploration before committing big bucks. These can be used w/computer to Audacity, or to computer/Odeo to make recording immediately available on Odeo.

That is probably the lowest cost option.

More portable options include:
-iRiver with microphone
-iPod-plus-iMic
-Minidisc recorder + microphone
-Various flavors of solid state digital recorders that record uncompressed WAV files, e.g. the Marantz PMD 660/670/671, the Edirol R-1 or R-8 (coming this summer!), the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96.
-Hard-disk-based digital recorders that record uncompressed WAV files: Archos Gmini402,
-Voice recorders/MP3 recorders: digital recorders that record to proprietary/compressed sound formats.

Microphones. Aaah, there's a whole 'nother subject. Including Phantom, Plug-in power, preamps. All of which does make the ~$35 Logitech headset seem simple and easy, doesn't it?

[img_assist|fid=613|thumb=1|alt=Nicole Simon]Nicole just has a little more advice to add:

-If you do bring equipment, don't forget your USB cables! If you would like to record with your digital camera or mobile phone, make sure you have the connecting cables for this as well. Remember to bring the power
adapters.

-You will need headphones when you edit, you will not be able otherwise to hear anything. Recommended are the non ear plugs kinds if you have them, so you could let someone else listen (like the cheap ones you get on the plane).

-Microphone suggestions: Take your headset from your VoIP set-up (e.g. Skype) with you. If you don't have one, buy that instead of just a mic. You can make good use of it if you use VoIP anyway. Look out for some which do sound natural and don't give you the 'telephon voice sound'. (AFAIK: that means you should look for 20-20000 Hz instead of 18-18000 Hz specifications.)

[img_assist|fid=621|thumb=1|alt=Anita Campbell] Anita has branched out from being one of the premiere business bloggers to hosting and distributing the Small Business Trends Radio Show. As a marketing-focused blogger/podcaster, Anita will focus on the best ways to distribute and promote your audio work...it is different than promoting and distributing regular blogging...and she does have a few suggestions for tools prospective audiophiles should look into:

To distribute, users will need a blog with an RSS feed, so that the audio blog can be enclosed in the feed. I recommend Feedburner for the feed, because FeedBurner is set up to properly render and track statistics on podcast downloads. I'll also discuss the various directories and aggregator sites where you can distribute your work.

To promote your audio work, make sure you're making it easy for users to subscribe to your podcast feed.And that you're pinging major aggregators and podcast sites. But after that, there are a whole lot of other promotional activities - none of which involves equipment.

Anita will help you understand not just the tactics of promoting your audio blogging, but how quality really matters: quality of your subject matter, quality of your execution. If you're serious about becoming an audio-blogger with a following, Anita is your guru.

So, that's what we are envisioning for the session. But what do you think. What do you want to learn? What do you want to hear? What do you never want to hear again? What would make you attend this session?

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