I had been building my brand for just a few weeks when I decided to do a podcast. What I wanted to talk about? Not a clue. What format did I want? What was the topic? Who was involved? These are just a few of the questions that needed to be answered.
I felt like I was only close enough to one person, Jed, on a daily basis who was analytical, adventurous, and articulate enough to carry a podcast with me. Or, at least, he was a good match for me. I wrote a lengthy proposal to him (almost formal, certainly business-like) hoping he would opt-in.
My name is Andrew Keefe and I am the co-host of The Music Challenge Podcast. A nerdy, music commentary podcast (that you can find anywhere) and we’re about 10 episodes deep. And this series chronicles our first season.
Picking a Partner
I didn’t fancy the thought of doing my own podcast for long when developing my first- and I’m so glad I didn’t. Why? Two minds are much more creative than one, in this case. My only reservation was that my prospect’s attention wanders from time to time with a tendency to get bored with projects. And, this was something I wanted a commitment for at least a number of episodes. This is not just a hobby. It’s a project that has to be managed.
But, Jed would be a good litmus test in that if it wasn’t interesting enough for him to keep interested- then it wasn’t going to be interesting to a listener.
The email opt-in was a pitch and an inquiry that would offer Jed half ownership very clearly and creative input. Decisions are made very democratically to this day.
Jed opted in. I had a partner!
That was the first question answered. Success. That was easy compared to coming up with a topic.
Jed and I are lucky that we have a variety of interesting topics in common. But, he’s the age of 40 and I’m 48. We thought that would offer perspective. We’re fishing partners, we like photography and had a great love for common music. We were looking for commonalities that we could talk about to even fill a podcast of undetermined length.
Music was the strongest and most interesting topic that we knew. We have both been to hundreds of concerts, participated in fanhood all of our lives, and cared enough to articulate. Our idea had to be peerless. A foundation we could build upon over and over again. It had to have a tweak- not just a topic.
We had several meetings at a large-chain coffee shop throwing ideas at the wall. Coming up with a multi-dimensional topic that could last based on a concept was elusive. I wrote out several pages of notes by myself trying to refine what would be the final concept for days. I wanted one simple “mission” statement.
The initial concept was a Frank Zappa podcast. It was meant to be kind of an introduction to the man and his craft. I am an ardent Zappa fan and have been reading for twenty years about his life and music. I always wanted to do this podcast. But, in the back of my head, I knew the topic would be eventually stressed, and frankly, ideas would be fleeting after executing the initial concept.
While pop stations are fit for child intake and consumption for the masses- at an early age I liked to “surf” the backwaters of radio.
On a lonely day in a coffee shop, not wanting to waste my time, I just started to jot down my musical history and the history of what I listened to. It started with genres and moved into the names of bands. I jotted down several bands that were formative to me. And, there was the first appearance of our concept of formative albums.
My Musical Family Tree
As a youth, I consumed radio like everyone else. While pop stations are fit for child intake and consumption for the masses- at an early age I liked to “surf” the backwaters of radio. We moved right before high school, and I found myself with a ton of free time. I started checking out albums from the Champaign Public Library as much as ten at a time!
I picked albums out from the library based on any criteria. The album cover, name recognition, etc. Some I listened to once and recorded on a blank tape for future listening. Some, I didn’t get to. But, I listened to a huge amount of music and it couldn’t be denied.
I was also starting to buy physical medium as a youth. Not as much, but the albums I bought were formative. I listened to them over and over because I took ownership and I was building a collection.
When I presented to Jed the brainstorming sheet I had made solo in the coffee shop where I started to list my formative bands and albums from the teen years of my life- his head spun. As a music fan, going back to try and determine was a sticky exercise. What were the seeds? What band led to another and why? Much less it conjures up a topic that everyone loves- themselves and their personal music.
The idea bit us. We ran it past a few people that podcast fans, music fans, and people we love. We kept it down low among my friends. We were excited about having stumbled on a novel idea- we couldn’t find anything like it.
It took days to refine our original thoughts into a single, simple, clear statement that would communicate quickly exactly what we were doing. It’s like a late-night party question meant to inspire conversation. What are your formative albums? That’s it.
The “mission” statement for what we called The Music Challenge Podcast took shape. When that question is exhausted, there are infinite ways to present a musical question to the audience and use it for the conveyance of content. So, that’s my podcast. The first anyway.
As I said, we were excited. It seemed cool and intriguing. But, in my head, I was also prepared, if not expecting, to fail. Failure would be that no one listened and while I love the mechanics of podcasting- if no one listened it would be pointless. And, people weren’t just going to stumble upon it at first. It would need marketing.
Realistically, it took a month to get the concept extremely sleek and in a pretty package. I later read that you should be able to convey your concept in a sentence if not a phrase. Bam! We had proceeded with due diligence and done something “correctly”. We followed a process and the results felt promising.
A podcast was born! The Music Challenge Podcast: Your Formative Four. But, we were just getting started.
Be sure to read the entire series of “My Podcast Adventures“.