I’m an audio guy. Always have been.
One of my earliest memories was when I was five, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, loading a stack of orange, green and yellow 45 rpm vinyl records with a big hole in the middle, onto a kids’ victrola that my parents purchased to keep their easily distracted child busy.
The recordings were made by Disney. I still remember those wonderful, cheerful voices and the jingles of Jiminy Cricket, Uncle Remus, the Mickey Mouse Club, Brer Rabbit and many more. A little boy’s imagination ran wild.
Today, as in the days before television, there’s an audio renaissance once again. Millions of people are feeding their brains with a vast array of podcasts and audio books.
They know that listening to voices or music is about so more than closing your eyes and hearing sound without video.
But in our highly visual age of VR, digital billboards, 360-cameras, video games and super heroes — with so much emphasis on how things look — many brands, marketers, advertising agencies, and content producers forget this.
- They don’t understand that sound can create a world that is just as rich, exciting and vibrant as TV or movies.
- They devalue the potential of well-produced sound to inspire and motivate.
- They fail to recognize that many of us often prefer audio to print, websites or video for stories and information.
Commercial radio is full of advertising produced by sponsors who fail to grasp the importance of well-produced sound. Those awful Cars4Kids ads are just one of countless, jarring examples of soundtracks that were produced for TV.
The problem has also spread to podcasting as well-intentioned non-profit groups, companies and trade associations, anxious to grow their reputation as thought leaders, slap together episodes with little respect for what made the medium so popular.
Just this morning after searching a podcast app for something to listen to on migration and refugees, I was subjected to a long and poorly produced recording of a webinar.
Re-broadcasting webinars or conferences are terrible ways to use podcasts.
The opportunity to spread your message inexpensively with storytelling and interviews has never been greater than it is today. But the way we concentrate and listen to podcasts — usually away from our screens and on our own — is different than when we are watching something.
Thinking of podcasts as sound without pictures doesn’t cut it.
Richard Davies is a podcaster and podcast consultant. His firm, DaviesContent, makes digital audio for companies and non-profits.