Guest post by Matthew Marteinsson
So podcasts… there’s a lot of them. I’ve been running one for three years now and feel we’ve got a pretty good listenership. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. It’s Beards, Cats, And Indie Game Audio, or #BCAIGA as I like to call it. (I’ve got a thing for unwieldy acronyms). I co-host with Gordon McGladdery from A Shell In The Pit Audio. And I’m Matthew Marteinsson from Klei Entertainment. We have one episode a month and have only been late once so far (and that was only by a day). That said we have slipped from our first week of the month deliveries to last day of the month.
I definitely feel we’ve done some things right and have failed on other parts but have come out ahead in the end. So I guess I’m supposed to know something about what I’m doing…
Our creation myth is we drove down to a Seattle audio meetup and we really enjoyed chatting together on the car ride there and back. From there I thought others might also like to hear us chat. But we still needed something to stand out from any of the other game audio podcasts out there. That hole felt like indie game audio. So there was the tent pole we hung our hat on. (Metaphors, we mix them). We had a focus and just needed a name. In my brainstorming I tried to think of any commonality we shared, and what popped into my head was that we both had cats and beards. Boom. Done. Named.
Next we decided on a schedule. We felt once a month was often enough to not be forgotten, have enough content to talk about, and not over-commit ourselves to something we couldn’t keep up with. For the first while we edited right after we recorded so that we were sure we’d do it. There’s actually a lost first episode that we recorded that never got edited because I sat on it too long. That immediate edit has changed as we’ve developed, but we now have such momentum that we feel we can’t miss publishing once a month. The one month we were a day late I beat myself up over it way more than any of our listeners ever did. If they even noticed at all.
The Golden Rule
We also set out one rule that I think really helps with our appeal. We only do in-person interviews and conversations. From the start we wanted to set a really casual vibe about our recordings. I’ve always felt something like Skype messes with that casual conversation feel even if your podcast uses video. The actual face to face conversations always bring something else out of the situation and that’s what we wanted. It definitely limits us to people in our location or places where we can meet people when we’re both together like GDC or PAX, but I don’t think our content has ever suffered from this limitation.
Location, Location, Loc- eh, whatever
Due to planning time with guests at conventions and conferences and our own busy schedules we’ve never too worried about where we record. When we can, we record at one of our studios but when we can’t, we’ve been pretty open to locations. As long as we can hear our voices clearly on the recorder, we’re game. We’ve done hotel rooms, cars, sitting on the floor at GDC, pretty much wherever. Of course many of those non-studio situations get some heavy RX work because we do still pride ourselves on making a good sounding podcast. I mean it is a podcast about audio. We should be able to make sound good if anyone can!
Life in the Topics
Our topics are always things we really want to discuss. We’ve talked about lots of personal stuff like the loss of someone who got you your start in the industry or working yourself into burn-out because that’s what was on our mind that month and we figure if it’s on our minds, it’s probably on other peoples’ as well. The same thing goes with guests: It’s always people we want to talk to. We answer lots of questions from Twitter and other social media places, but the main topics are always driven by us. We’ve made an effort to remain timeless as well, trying to stay away from flavour of the month topics so that people can come back to episodes later and they’re still relevant.
Hawking the Goods
Getting the word out about the podcast has not always been the best to be honest. I think we did a good job when we first started of spreading the word wherever we could. We tweeted about it. We posted to any subreddit we could think was relevant. We told our friends. We posted on Facebook. We made buttons. Basically we hard pressed on all social fronts. Since then I feel we’ve dropped off a bit on that and mostly just post to twitter when an episode is released. That’s an area I plan on getting better at. We currently don’t have our own domain or twitter account. So that could get better as well. One good thing about our slack promotion plans are we don’t annoy anyone with always being in their faces. I certainly see #gameaudio on twitter overrun with self-promoting tweets that turns me off certain services. Even as I think about growing or getting the word out I’m constantly aware of how little it takes me personally to get annoyed by someone over-promoting something and we try to make sure what we do doesn’t fall into that.
I think the main thing that’s kept people coming back is our passion for what we do and our desire to share information about what we do comes across in the recordings. It’s always been on our terms and because we’ve wanted to. Nothing we talk about is forced or for any outside reasons. We’ve always tried to sound good but kept our production agile so as to not hold us back. Gord and I have used the whole process to experiment with how we do things and to try out new methods. We never claim to be experts but are happy to give advice and opinions from our viewpoints.
It’s still a genuine thrill when people tell me they listen to the podcast. So thank you to everyone who’s ever listened. And there’s a ton of other great audio-focused podcasts out there as well. Check them out, you never know what you’ll pick up from one of them. And if you see an area not being covered, start your own. Our path may not be right for everyone, but hopefully it gives you a sense for how two guys with beards and cats have made it work so far.