In my ‘other’ life, I am a hockey fan. I can’t even call it my ‘other’ life, really, because I podcast about hockey. But I love hockey, and whenever I can, I go to games outside my ‘home’ rink in Colorado. Traveling to other rinks, and meeting hockey bloggers and podcasters from those cities and teams has become a bit of a hobby, and I’ve made some good friends along the way.
Last night, I was at a Nashville Predators game with Buddy Oakes of the Preds on the Glass blog and podcast, and he brought up something that I was unaware of: Blog Talk Radio had started charging for their services, and it wasn’t cheap.
Considering the services it provides, Blog Talk Radio probably isn’t that inexpensive to run – a live streaming show, with callers and a chat room, and when your live show is done, it posts the show to iTunes. There are bandwidth and storage considerations, site maintenance, and all sorts of work going on in the back end. It was inevitable that they would be charging something for their services.
I am not someone who believes that everything online should be free. In my own podcasting world, I could use a free service or two, but instead pay for my hosting, and rely on that to service my needs. I pay for software I like, and contribute to a few podcasts. I don’t mind putting my money where my mouth is. People should get paid for their hard work.
But Blog Talk Radio took this a little too far. Their rates for their ‘premium’ service go beyond what a simple podcast can afford. Going from free to $399 a year is a steep climb. And free accounts are now cut to half an hour a day of live streaming, with little more left for archived recordings. To an internet company streaming live audio, that probably seems like a lot of data and service. To someone using the service, that isn’t much.
Have you heard what a Blog Talk Radio show sounds like? This is the Preds on the Glass show. It’s phone quality at best. In fact, that intro voice you hear is mine, recorded using my system (using a Heil PR40 mic, dbx 286a voice processor, Tascam Fireone interface, and Logic 9 for the mixing), and this is how it comes out on the show, thanks to their low quality of audio. For me, that would be unacceptable, but as you can probably tell by now, I’m a bit of an audio geek. The tradeoff of audio quality is ease of use, but that isn’t an insurmountable issue. If you know this going in, then you are probably fine with it and made an informed decision. Knowing which side of the tradeoff you are in favor of may be the secret to podcasting service happiness.
There are other ways to make podcasts with most of these services, as well as having a bigger hand in what you create, and how it’s distributed. I am a huge believer in owning your own work. And I mean everything. Instead of ‘borrowing’ music that I don’t have license to use, I throw a few loops together that I do for intros and bumpers. It takes more time, but I will never have someone come to me and tell me I can’t use those music clips anymore. I take the pictures for my site as much as possible (I know the banner isn’t the most professional thing in the world, butI created it, and I own it). If I want to use an audio clip, but not sure if it would fall under ‘fair use’ (which is as cloudy an issue as any for media creators), I do without. I retain control of my work, and therefore get to call the shots on what I do with it. Forever.
In light of this, and other issues I know that people have had with free or outside services, I want to start talking about how to do everything yourself, and host your own show on your space. I will be talking mostly about the tools that I use, since I am most familiar with them, but I also want to know what you are using. Do you use a service? Do you roll your own? Do you stream live?