As someone who has found herself traveling a lot recently, podcasts have been a lifesaver. And if you’re a music junkie like me, a regular dose of new discovery is essential to your routine. This week we interview Jack Miles, founder of podcast The Music Bit. Check it out below and don’t forget to follow and like them, and support the site by pledging on their Kickstarter.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you?
Thank you for asking me to be involved! I’m a little jaded at the moment, been placed back onto the early shift so my body clock is out of sync. However, a flat white and a busy cafe is helping me through. Plus this is helping me forget about a couple of bills I need to sort out!
How did you first get involved in the music industry?
For me it stemmed from carving a career in the radio industry. Whilst I was growing up I became really interested in the wireless and would create mini shows in my bedroom (That’s what all kids do.. Right?) When I was a teenager a small volunteer run station opened up which gave me my first chance to do it properly. Here I was able to go out to interview musicians that were touring in my local area.. People such as Frank Turner and Johnny Marr who was playing with The Cribs at the time. This gave me a taste of what I wanted to do so throughout university I followed my passion of sharing music and artists via the radio. I would record sessions with bands for the student radio station and again would promote local touring bands. After Uni I started working in radio full time but got a bit sick of playlists and the same artists being played over and over and thus The Music Bit was born!
I can definitely understand getting sick of the same playlist over and over. Can you tell me more about how The Music Bit came to be?
It was a mixture of reasons. I knew I wanted to share and promote music that I thought was excellent and radio is the best way to do this. Unfortunately many stations are now dominated by the dreaded PLAYLIST. Also in a world where discovery is as easy as typing a few words into the internet, what place does traditional media have? I wanted to create something where people could consume when and how they want. They’ll hear great new music, hopefully artists they haven’t heard before, and have a laugh along the way. So every Friday, I sit in my front room and talk nonsense for 50 minutes! Obviously there’s a little more work that goes into it than just this but the core ambition is always the same. To share and promote emerging artists.
We’re only a year into the show but have a growing audience. The future is something I’m looking at carefully and have a few ideas lined up for the podcast.
What is it that you think makes The Music Bit stand out from other podcasts?
Particularly bad presenting? I’m not sure.. There’s a lot of good music podcasts around each with their own style. For me, I make a show that I would enjoy listening to. That sounds weird I know but it has to tick several boxes. I want to surprise the audience with something new that they might not have heard before. I want to inform them with stories from artists or those that work within the music industry. Whether that’s via an interview like this or by finding interesting characters, there’s so much we can share and learn.
Finally it has to entertain. If you listen to the show you’ll find there’s bits which seem a little random, but personality and fun is just as vital as sharing and hearing great music. I find mainstream radio is a little tame in the UK. With The Music Bit I have the flexibility to trail some creative ideas.
In addition to your podcast you have a blog. How do you manage both, and do you think it has helped strengthen your brand?
Keeping on top of everything is tricky, especially as I juggle it with a full time job. Fortunately my job involves working early in the morning so I get afternoons to myself. This helps give me the time to organise and structure the podcast and the blog. I’ve also enlisted the help of my girlfriend, Gabby, who’s been brilliant at writing up interesting stories.
At the moment the podcast comes first and it’s important for me to back up the episodes with a blog post. This all comes down to the ease of listening idea. People consume media in a completely new way now. They have the option to find music from wherever they want. Some will listen to the show, others may just check out the blog listing online, but it’s important for it to be easy to discover for anyone that wants it.
The blog will grow in the future. We’re working on ideas relating to the whole project at the moment so it’s taken a slight back burner. As we get to the new year it will have more updates and interesting features. For the brand it’s great as it attracts people to the website. Hopefully then they’ll discover the podcast and the music we’re sharing.
Doing a podcast is a lot of hard work, but you guys make it seem easy. What advice do you have for others looking to get into podcasting?
There’s a few things to consider, but it is a fun thing to do! The first thing is to have in mind how you want the show to sound, what kind of interviews will you do and what will you feature. Once you have this, think how it should sound as though you are a listener… I think some people presume you just talk randomly into a mic and hope for the best but everything is thought through.. People can switch off very easily now!
Also it’s important to think how will you record it. Equipment can be expensive but you can do it without a huge spend. Some personal memo recorders will do a great job of recording your voice, but please don’t use your laptop mic because they sound awful!
When you start recording or looking to begin a show, have a plan. I try to plan out interviews and shows in advance so I know roughly what I will put in each one. Unfortunately my organisational skills suck but the more organised and on top of it you can be, the better the show will be!
On the flip side, what advice do you have for guests of podcasts?
Don’t be scared and say yes! People can shy away from doing interviews because it makes them feel a little self conscious or they don’t think they’re that interesting. The thing is, everyone has a story to tell! The best way to think of it is as a conversation with the presenter.. Not as anything else. Ignore the mics and chat like you would in the street.
If you get asked to be in a show and do feel a little anxious about it, ask beforehand what topics you’re likely to cover so you can best prepare out for it. When I approach people for an interview I tend to think what are the 2 or 3 things I really want to get out of this. The more I tell the guest about the interview, the more prepped they will be, although don’t script your answers. Bullet points are best as then you won’t sound forced.
The presenter’s job is to get the best from you, but if they ask a closed question try to avoid just a yes or no answer. Often people ask these wanting you to expand on them. The more chatty you can be, the more you and the presenter will get from the interview when it aired to the audience. Don’t worry about ummms and ahhhs.. If the show is pre-recorded, these can be editted out easily.
As a blogger myself, I know how swamped blogs or even podcasts can get with submissions. What can bands/publicists/labels do to ensure you check out their music/to make your life easier when submitting?
Ah! The secrets of the inner circle. We do get a good number of submissions every week for the podcast and it is a good way of discovering something different.
For me, the important things are to make sure there’s an easy link to hear the music. At the end of the day that’s what I’ll check out. A lot of emails come in with quotes from different blogs and some PR blurb about the band. That’s great for when I come to prep the show but at the first instance I want to hear your stuff!
Unfortunately some tracks will get lost, only down the number of tracks we receive. Don’t be scared to tweet or email again. Anything which may catch my attention to hear your tracks!
The only thing I will say is be careful when sending out generic emails. Spell and get names right. We’ve all sent an email and realised that you’ve accidentally sent it to the wrong person or left the wrong name at the top. That extra minute reading it through will make a big difference to the person receiving it!
What’s in the future for The Music Bit?
After a year of the show I’m starting to see some potential to take it further and make it more established. In the UK the podcasting craze hasn’t caught on as much as it has in the USA, however the world is turning to easy to find and on demand services.
Over the next few months we have got plans to launch a new project, which will need help from Kickstarter funding. We do feel like there is great potential for The Music Bit to become a strong voice in the promotion and championing on emerging artists. Obviously to do this there are risks and the need for investment in time and money. The show will continue, however it may have a slight rejig in its sound over the coming months. We would also love to get more visual content with bands performing sessions so people can see and hear what they are like.
For now, watch this space. You’ll hear from us very soon with some new plans!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Download the show! Let me know what you think of it. Search for The Music Bit wherever you get your podcasts from or on Google.
Jack Miles is the director, presenter, and producer of The Music Bit. He works in radio for the BBC, and has been working in the industry for 8 years. When he’s not discovering new artists, he’s building a vision for The Music Bit. He runs the company with his girlfriend, Gabby.
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