Back in the long distant past, I ran a website called OneMetal.com, and as part of that project, I ran a podcast cunningly named the OneMetal Podcast. It was hugely unsuccessful but amazingly good fun and was a lot better than the user metrics would have you believe. When I launched the Deviant Robot website, I knew I wanted to start podcasting again; and using the lessons I learned from the OneMetal podcast, we launched the Deviant Robot Transmission. This time it was hugely unsuccessful but amazingly good fun and was a lot better than the user metrics would have you believe. Fuck.
Right about now if you haven't heard the show, you might suspect that maybe it was just not as good as I thought it was and that the lack of success was just a reflection of the quality of the content. If you had heard the show, then you will know that was the case. Oh, I jest. Honestly, I think the essence of an excellent show was there maybe not all 101 episodes were golden but for the most part, it was a good show. The episodes were fun and entertaining; quirky and erratic for-sure, incredibly inconsistent and frequently inaccurate, misleading, confusing, messy and deeply offensive, most definitely, but fun and engaging none-the-less. The little feedback we got was generally positive, and the shows certainly seemed to find an audience, all be it a small one, that stuck with it.
The greatest show in town
The primary failure (certainly not the only one), I think, was a total lack of promotion. Having done some reading on the subject, I now understand that the chances of acquiring a significant audience for your podcast without promotion are about the same as Trump eagerly releasing his tax returns without impeachment.
Early on the challenge was just learning how to make a podcast; and how to make it not sound like hot garbage. How to edit, how not to edit and perhaps more importantly, how to not edit. Then it was keeping it going and sorting out the cast schedule, format, content and all that jazz… I mean that literally, we had jazz on the show. We figured this out as we went, and over 101 episodes we got better and more confident and things improved. What we didn't know was that it was probably already too late.
Bow before your machine overlords
Most of the actual mechanisms for your show's success are hidden behind the secretive process of third-party recommendation services. Black box algorithms quietly, and impersonally, optimise themselves by tweaking, tuning and refining their performance; forging the perfect platform offering for its customers from the abundant raw material that is the hopes and dreams of millions of desperate attention whores.
The word on the street (by 'street' I, of course, mean podcast related internet articles) is that early success is crucial to the long term success of your podcast. iTunes, for example, pays particular interest to your shows engagement in its first few weeks. If you show shows signs of early audience interest, you will get a shot at being promoted on the 'New and Noteworthy' sections of iTunes. After that, it's down to the strength of the reaction to your content. If your show gets people listening and those who listen, then choose to subscribe you stay on the new and noteworthy section, and the audience numbers start to grow dramatically. The whole time the cold iTunes machine is watching no doubt in a virtual black polo neck with an emotionless expression, hands held at chest height and fingers pressed together to form a small temple to personal smugness.
Those who don't make it to the promotion slots will be very unlikely to get an audience through the platform and instead will need to rely on its own audience acquisition and social media reach. The value of this promotional slot is the differences between 100 - 200 downloads a month and 30,000 - 120,000 downloads a month or more for a brand new podcast.
So what's the plan
Clearly, we missed our chance to create the all-important early impact we needed with the previous iteration of the Deviant Robot Transmission. This wasn't the only issue with the show, but if we are going to give it another shot, this is something we need to address. How can we give a show that's at 101 episodes an early impact? Well in the words of Elon Musk 'What if we relaunch this beautiful bastard'.
So that's the plan we will relaunch the 'Deviant Robot Transmission' as… 'The Deviant Robot Transmission'. We aren't changing the name; we are, however going to relaunch it by creating a new feed and dramatically rebooting the format. If all works out, we should have a tighter and more entertaining show, and launch with a bang, a launch party and maybe some fun surprises. We are still working out the details, but that is the plan.
The old show will be renamed the 'Legacy Deviant Robot Transmission' and those past episodes, including the episodes of the ComicsCast and short-lived GamesCast and MoviesCast shows, will be made available soon via deviantrobot.com. This is in part out of gratitude to all those who put in the considerable work to put them together, and if you have 't listened to them, and you find your self with a long flight or two.. have a listen; they are more entertaining than you might expect.
We will document our journey as we figure this out on the site so as always keep your eye on the website for more updates coming soon.