From the Road to the Studio

From the Road to the Studio
From the Road to the Studio

May 26 2022 | 00:31:19

Episode May 26, 2022 00:31:19

Hosted By

Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

In his decades-long relationship with audio, Marcus dePaula has been a musician, a live audio engineer touring with bands and now he’s a podcast producer. Through his company “Me Only Louder” he works with business and creative professionals to make podcasts and website content. He also works with his wife at Mixtus Media to create websites

He joins Audience to discuss his time on the road and how he gained the technical skills and the attention to detail that are crucial in making good podcasts. 



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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:01 Years ago, I used to work for a music festival as a runner, and I always heard this really weird story about van Halen and a bull of M and MSMS. It's been told a lot of times before, but in case you haven't heard it as legend acid on their writer before every show, they required a bowl of M and MSS with all the brown ones removed. If they saw even one brown, M and M, they could at least in theory, terminate the contract on the spot. What a bunch of primadonnas. Right. Well, no, actually the real reason for this Otter quest was to ensure that the venue had read every single line of the contract. Speaker 1 00:00:37 You see, van Halen was one of the first bands to put on these super complex productions, complete with big lights and pyrotechnics and all that jazz back in the seventies and eighties, not all of these older venues could handle such a setup. So it was vital that the promoter read every single line of the contract to make sure they could put on the show safely. If the band walked backstage and saw brown M and Ms. They could do an immediate line check of everything else in the contract to see what else had it been read As a podcaster. You probably never have to deal with anything quite that dramatic, but making podcast is still a production and the attention to detail and craftsmanship matter Speaker 2 00:01:18 Just like with anything that has a human feel to it. And the human voice is one of the greatest things that is a organic connection that we have between us. It is much better for an, a human being to manipulate it and perfect it than it is for a machine to use an algorithm to try to perfect a organic element. Speaker 1 00:01:46 Next you'll hear from a podcast producer who spent 15 years touring with bands as an audio engineer and how that experience not only helps to make better audio, but a better podcasting experience and how his clients get more value from that experience. Speaker 1 00:02:05 But first I've gotta sell you this mattress <laugh> Nope, just kidding. But I did wanna mention that Casto offer some great integrative tools for your podcast. For instance, you can create a subscription based podcast. Thanks to our partnership with Stripe using our new integrative tool. You can create a private podcast and accept payments directly from your listeners. So no more clunky ad algorithms that don't actually generate income. No more middle men take a 30% cut. It's a direct payment from your audience to you. Simple, learn or click on the link in the show notes. Speaker 2 00:02:41 Communicating is also a skill, but it is, it is far more challenging to me <laugh> than learning how to push the buttons, learn how to set, gain, learn how to use EQ and compression and microphone technique and all that stuff, because we're dealing with other people and we never know how they're gonna react. And it's very, very unpredictable. Whereas my, my pre amp is predictable. My microphone is predictable Speaker 1 00:03:01 <laugh> for years, Marcus DEPA had toured the world with bands as a live audio engineer, musicians like creed, Michelle Branch, and jars of clay. As anyone familiar with that world will tell you it's a grind. His time will tour probably felt more like 30 years. So in 2005, he retired from the road and now runs me only louder, a podcast production and consultation service. And he also offers audio workshops. He produces an array of different podcasts, like the photo untaken with renowned photographer, Alan Clark audio is a big part of Marcus's life. It's something he's been around ever since he was a teenager. Speaker 2 00:03:42 Yeah. I originally started out wanting to be a singer and then quickly found out that I did not have what it took to be an entertainer on stage. You know, it takes more than having just a good voice and found that being behind the scenes behind the desk is more where I belonged. And I had just a technical brain. I like understanding how things work and just really enjoyed serving the musicians in a way, and being part of the show in a way of helping the audience connect with the singer through the sound that I would help the, the art that's like. So the speakers are how the audience is being able to connect to the singer and just like in podcasting, you know, our earbuds and, and what we're doing as, as editors is we're kind of like the intermediary between the person speaking in their ideas and, and the end listener we used to spend like a week or more preparing for that tour. Speaker 2 00:04:42 So, and I kind of equate that now to the pre-production process in podcasting that you don't just sit down and hit record on the microphone. You have to think about what you're gonna say. You have to test your equipment, make sure that, you know, you know what you're doing and with the touring situation, I think that's where I kind of got that mindset. Cuz we would spend first, we would set up for a few days in the warehouse, just the equipment test through every single input test, every microphone test, every cable, make sure it was all labeled and set up just like it will be on the tour. We'd like tape the cables together so that we could efficiently lay them out on stage, you know, around the drum kit and all that sort of thing. And then we would take pack up, take it over to rehearsal space and then rehearse there for two or three days with the band, the band would be learning the music and also just kind of getting the flow of the show down kind of like the format of the show. Speaker 2 00:05:34 And then we'd also get all the mixes dialed in and kind of get everything just fine tuned in such a way that when we show up to the first venue for the first show, we're not spending all day trying to figure everything out. It's just a matter of figuring out that specific location, how we're gonna set up on the space, given us how we're gonna get the stuff in the, and then getting set up, doing a quick sound, check, eating dinner, and then doing a show and then packing up, doing it all again the same day in a different city, different location. So getting a process down, that's what we were doing up front is getting everything prepared so that we could repeatedly do the same thing very efficiently every morning and then pack it back up in a way that, that we're not just throwing it in cases when we're done and just craming it in the truck. We had a very systematized process to get it in the truck so that it would come back out in the proper order and then end up laying things out on stage and in the most efficient way possible. So we could save time and not run into any problems and make sure that show went as good as possible the next day, too, Speaker 1 00:06:41 When you're making a, a podcast with, for somebody or you're consulting, what experiences are you pulling from to help, you know, other podcasters be successful? Speaker 2 00:06:50 The most challenging part for me with any job, but especially with podcasting is the actual communication part for my job. As a producer, I need to make sure that the guests are communicated with, I need to make sure that my hosts are communicated with about how to properly use their mic if they don't necessarily know how to do that. But especially when I'm on Mike, this is all communication. It's, it's the art of conversation. And I don't care if you're doing an informational podcast or an entertainment podcast. Uh, if you're doing a fiction podcast, it's even when it's just a story that you're broadcasting out for a, for a fiction podcast for entertainment, you are having an idea, exchange a story exchange with the listeners. And so there is this back and forth that needs to be in my mind that I'm not just talking to you Stewart right now on a microphone through squad. Speaker 2 00:07:48 I'm actually thinking of the people who are gonna be listening to this show. I'm, I'm having a conversation through you with them. And so to me, yes, all the technical stuff is a huge part of what I do, but the most challenging part EV day in and day out, like I can learn the new technical skills and get good at them by rehearsing. Communicating is also a skill, but it is, it is far more challenging to me <laugh> than learning how to push the buttons, learn how to set, gain, learn how to use EQ and compression and microphone technique and all that stuff because we're dealing with other people and we never know how they're gonna react. And it's very, very unpredictable. Whereas my, my pre amp is predictable. My microphone is predictable. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:08:30 I'm looking at your website now. Uh, me only What's the story behind me only louder. Speaker 2 00:08:36 That's a really good story. I borrow that saying from a friend of mine who I used to tour with a guy named and who, who actually was my crew chief. So technically he was my boss, uh, as well, but his name is Vance Powell. Vance is a Grammy award winning audio engineer for Chris Stapleton, uh, Jack White from the white stripes and a lot of other artists he's, he's mixed a bunch of stuff. You can Google him, but I toured with him back in the early two thousands and he was mixing front of house. I was mixing monitors on stage. And when you're mixing front of house, part of that process is refining the sound of the speakers for the space that you're in. So even though you ha you're carrying a lot of times, the same speakers with you, sometimes you aren't, but every day we, before sound check, whoever's running front of house will play some music through it, some reference tracks. Speaker 2 00:09:26 And then they also usually get an SM 58 or the vocal bike that the lead singer is using and speak into it with their voice that they're familiar with through the PA and then fine tune the EQ and limiting and the zones and all that stuff to make sure it sounds just right. And then the, so that it's as close as possible during soundcheck, so that by the time they get to the show and it'll change when the body's fill the room. So you have to make some fine tune adjustments, usually during the first couple songs. But anyway, all that to say Vance, when he was done talking into his SM 58 through the PA before sound check, when he was happy with how his voice sounds, he would say, it sounds like me only louder. And that I always enjoyed that because I feel like the authenticity is what he was going for in the sound. And I want that as well, not just for the audio quality, but for my voice and how it lands with my audience, how my clients' messages and their information and their entertainment or whatever it is that I'm doing, helping them distribute to their listeners, that it is an authentic representation of who they are. Speaker 1 00:10:41 So obviously Marcus learned some good technical skills on tour and those skills come in handy when he makes podcasts. But being a good producer is about more than just pressing buttons and mixing sound. Speaker 2 00:10:54 My job as a producer is not to, to just coordinate the technical details and make sure the show runs without a hitch or sounds good, or we get all the pieces that we need to actually produce the show and get it published. I feel like my biggest role is to make it so that my clients, the host and the guests are as comfortable as possible and that they don't have any kind of distraction from the technical side of things. So I, I don't just check boxes when I'm making sure that we have, you know, all the levels set. And especially when I'm dealing with a remote guest, who's not in the room with us. Uh, it's a lot easier when everybody's in the room with me because I just kind of disappear into the background, you know? Um, and, and they don't even, I, I, I feel like if they don't realize I'm there, I'm doing my job, but there's always this, you know, early part of the conversation when there's a remote guest where I have to make sure that they're close enough to their mic, that they have the right microphone selected. Speaker 2 00:12:01 They have their headphones on all those little technical details that we as podcasters take for granted. And it's not just me conveying again, the com the information, it's how I communicate it to them. It's that, that comfort that I it's like, I, I want them to feel like they're in good hands as a guest and kind of because they guests do when they're remote, they do end up, I think, stressing themselves out a little too much about the technical details, especially if they don't do it on a regular basis. And so I try to be that soothing voice of comfort and like, no, we got you. We're good. That's, it's all good. You know, we'll, we'll get it worked out if, if there's a problem, you know, and then so that by the time they get to the actual interview, their kind of stress level has lowered so that they can engage in a more connected conversation with the host. And especially with the host, who has to be thinking ahead, hopefully thinking about their listeners, not just the information that they wanna get out of the guest, but thinking bigger picture, uh, about how this particular conversation fits into their overall business, into their overall show arc, you know, they should be thinking about everything except for what I'm taking care of for them. So that I'm allowing them the space to just focus on the creative elements and those communication elements with their listeners. Speaker 1 00:13:20 There's a lot of people who would probably say, why do I need to come into your studio, Marcus and, and record this conversation with, with a sound engineer and all that. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> why, why can't I just record directly into the script? It will, it'll transcribe my audio for me. Yeah. It can. It'll automatically export into a multitrack Adobe session if I want it. Uh, so why, why have an actual experienced producer essentially you're making radio. If, if you really wanna think about it, you're, you're making radio on demand is what you're doing versus, you know, the, the one stop shop I'm just gonna upload some audio into the script. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and let the AI take over. Why have, have the human capital behind it versus just paying a few bucks a month to the script. Speaker 2 00:14:05 I have a lot of admiration for the programmers who are creating AI that will help us make better audio, but the human voice is a very, very fickle thing. <laugh> and is very hard to capture on top of it. The process of recording audio, even if it's not the human voice, any audio recording is way trickier than you would actually think it is. It's not just a matter of sticking a microphone in front of your face, hitting a button, hitting stop, and then publishing it. First of all, to get the quality of audio you're, you're used to hearing on the radio, it requires a lot of post processing. You can't take the raw audio that we're recording right now, and just maybe turn the volume up or down a little bit. And then, I mean, you could, but it's not gonna sound like what you hear on the radio, and it's not about necessarily getting the radio sound per se. Speaker 2 00:15:07 That is part of why people hire me it's cause they want it to sound like a full on professional broadcast. And there there's definitely a sound, uh, for that, but it's more about making sure that the human voice, which is very quiet in parts and very loud in parts. And everybody's when there's more than one voice, getting them to blend and be about the same volume level, even though they don't sound anything alike. All of that, those elements can make it difficult to hear the words that you're actually saying when you're in a car, when you're on a sub subway wearing, you know, earbuds that don't seal or isolate the sound very well. You don't want to have your listeners having to turn the volume up and down. So all of that to say, I'm hired by my clients because I have been doing sound for the vast majority of my life, almost 27 years, I've been doing it professionally. Speaker 2 00:16:02 And I take a lot of little fiddly steps along the way. And everything that I'm doing is a part of my process is with the end goal of getting this pristine, polished, sounding audio into the ears of the listener so that they don't, they have the best experience possible, no distractions. They don't have to adjust the volume dial or any of that stuff. And it takes time to develop those skills and understanding I'm still learning too. There's new tools that come out new software, like stuff like the strip I've I've played with it. And I've tried to see if I can incorporate into my workflow, but getting back to the AI part of it, just like with anything that has a human feel to it. And the human voice is one of the greatest things that, that is a organic connection that we have between us. Speaker 2 00:16:56 It is much better for an, a human being to manipulate it and perfect it than it is for a machine to use an algorithm to try to perfect a organic element. And it's the same with photography, the same with film, same with food. You know, if you had a robot making a sandwich, <laugh> it probably, it's not gonna taste quite as good or, you know, I guess the sandwich is probably pretty easy, but if you had them creating a dish, you know, uh, that's more complex that has a lot of different seasoning. There's just like with cookie. I, I, I equate audio to cooking a lot of times and what I'm doing is adding flavor and it's, it's these seasonings that I'm putting layers of in, and along the way, it's not just one button I push to get a result. I'm layering things in a way. And depending on just like with cooking, depending on the air pressure or, you know, the, the altitude you're at things could cook differently. There are all these factors that are environmental that come into play and a robot, uh, an AI is not gonna be able to compensate when there's something that's just a little bit off. Speaker 1 00:18:06 You work with a lot of clients. Uh, do they see a lot of like return on their investment from, from working with Speaker 2 00:18:12 You, right. This is tricky with, uh, a lot of clients, but the type of clients that I'm attracting and the type of clients that I enjoy working with, it's not ROI is, is bigger than the show itself. And I do feel like in podcasting, in any creative endeavor, whether it's YouTube or social media marketing, whatever it is, we tend to kind of get, uh, transactional and the, the, the zero sum game when it comes to the dollars in versus the dollars returned. And like, my wife also, uh, does a, uh, book marketing business. And so, you know, a lot of times authors will pay her thousands of dollars to consult, just to sell a few hundred books, you know, but it's not all, all that to say, you have to think bigger than the show itself, especially if you're doing an informational podcast, a business podcast, but even if you're doing a fiction podcast, that's supposed to be making money in and of itself. Speaker 2 00:19:14 The kind of people that hire me are thinking broader and their overall career, their overall business, and the, what the podcast is doing for them is not just bringing in ad revenue for the show. So, you know, they try to, they try to bring in enough ad revenue to offset the cost of just hiring me. But most of the shows that I do what they're making from the show, a lot of 'em don't even do ads. So why are they paying me so much money if, if they're not even making money from the podcast itself? Well, the insight that they're sharing is reinforcing their expertise and leadership in their field, in their niche. And from one podcast episode that they pay me a few hundred dollars to produce. They could get a $200,000 contract with a client. So that is the ROI for them. They're, they're basically, it's part of their marketing budget essentially. Speaker 2 00:20:12 And I'm just a piece of the content creation puzzle, but it's not the show itself. That's seeing the return. It's the bigger, the broader it's, we're not just the sh you know, even podcasters that are just making money from their show. There's also t-shirts and mugs and stickers and, and pins and stuff that hope if you're doing it right. You know, it's broader than just the show itself. The podcasters that can make a living just from their podcast are very, very, very lucky. And it's the same thing with musicians. They are not making money from their recorded music on that. You're streaming on Spotify at all. They're making a very lousy living. Spotify is taking a huge, huge advantage of musicians and pay do not pay them musicians enough for all the work that they put into their recordings that they have on their platforms. So musicians make money touring, they sell tickets to shows they sell t-shirts. They sell lots of, you know, any, anything you can do, any kind of merchandise, any kind of events, like special events, especially like private events, private parties. Those are like the high dollar things where they make a, a killing on, you know, and, and kind of boost a whole season for them, just with one private event. Speaker 1 00:21:22 You mentioned that a great point, whether it's like a fiction podcast that you're trying to, or you're trying to make some sort of like audio drama, whether it's B2B, whether it's like a narrative investigative series, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, all of it requires I think a pretty strong foundation of not just like the knowledge that you as a podcaster have to have, but the support you need from, from a Marcus to Paula Speaker 2 00:21:44 That, and the creative originality, like a, a, a new idea, fresh idea that a lot of times the, you can substitute some of the more technical things. If your idea is super powerful. And I feel like there unfortunately has been a lot of unrealistic expectations set by quite a few people giving advice online. I'm not gonna name any names, but, you know, <laugh>, I feel kind of gross whenever I hear someone talking about monetizing their podcast, even before they've talked about who they're going to be talking to much less what they're gonna be talking about, and anyone who goes into podcasting thinking it's going to be this massive money maker. It has to be a creative, personal, creative endeavor first before it can be something that you're passionate about. Something that you have, that's unique, a unique way to connect with listeners in a new way. Speaker 2 00:22:50 Uh, especially now that there's so many things for us to listen to not just in podcasting, but, you know, I spend a lot, way too much time on TikTok. You know, we're also competing with podcast or competing with all the other social media platforms, competing with YouTube. We're competing with Netflix or competing, competing with HBO. It it's all about creating something that's worth your audience's time. And if you're putting the cart before the horse and thinking, how can I make a buck from this time that I, that what's my ROI for the time I'm spending, editing my podcast? Well, what's the ROI for the listener. <laugh>, you know, <laugh>, Speaker 1 00:23:27 I don't think we can overstate how, how important, like the time and, and the craftsmanship. Yes. I think maybe if that's, if that's a, you know, if there's really a word I want to use, it's, it's craftsmanship. I Speaker 2 00:23:37 Love that word. Speaker 1 00:23:38 Yeah. And it sounds like you provide it for, for people. Speaker 2 00:23:41 Yes. It's not just a service. It is. I am bringing my personal experience, the, the skills that I'm continually developing and my own flavor into my, my own personality, into what I do for my clients. And that's, that's why, that's why they hire me. I'm not just another guy who can push buttons, you know? And that, that honestly, that's the same thing with, with audio engineering. When I was touring, they weren't just hiring me because I could do the job. They, they were hiring me because of who I am. <laugh>. And that, that is what I think a lot of us forget about our podcast too, is the listeners. Aren't just listening to the information. They're wanting to connect with you as a human being, especially if you're a solo podcaster. So, so seeing it as something bigger than just that product, just that MP3 file you're sticking in their ears, you know, um, that, that's the challenging thing. Speaker 2 00:24:41 And I remember like when I was hearing you talk, I was reminded of yesterday, I got frustrated with myself because I spent way too long creating a video that I posted yesterday on social media about SM 50 eights. And I, you know, it just took way. It took the vast majority of my day, and I was kicking myself. I should not be wasting time on this video. This is just a social media video. But the value of that, the ROI for me, <laugh>, it's like gross term, uh, was me perfecting my video production process, cuz that is the thing that I don't have enough experience with yet. And that, and video is more and more important as we go. And so I'm trying to incorporate that, not just for myself and how I can connect with my followers and my prospects, my potential clients and, and the people that I consult, but also the services that I can provide as a consultant, but also as a producer. Speaker 2 00:25:38 So I'm learn, I learned some really cool new techniques in, in premier pro yesterday that I did not know before. So it was not a waste of time and I don't need to be kicking myself. <laugh> all of these skills I can take with me wherever I end up. Like I did websites for a little while when I first retired from the road, you know, when I first stopped touring, uh, and I took that like a lot of, even though nothing of it had to do with audio, there was still the interpersonal exchanges. There was still the relational things that I learned. There was, you know, there were still elements that, that I was bringing to that. So absolutely like I'm constantly looking around and, and that's, that's the other thing is not getting tunnel vision and staying in my hole in my one D a w of choice and using the one group of plugins, I'm constantly looking at what's new. Speaker 2 00:26:34 And is that something I'm trying new things? I, I get frustrated even with my own spouse, if I'm honest, when they wanna stick with what they are comfortable with, even though there's this new tool, this new service that could save them so much time. If they took the time right now, if they took an extra 30 minutes, it could save them hours and hours and hours down the road. And so that's what I'm trying to do with my consulting work is not just showing people how to use a particular device or particular piece of software, but understanding the process so they can develop their own and apply that to any of these software suites that we have that we use. Cuz it doesn't matter what D a w you use. Honestly, it doesn't matter which one I use it. What matters is the UN like what I can do with anything, a good, a good engineer can take a, an iPhone recording <laugh> and make it sound like it was in a broadcast studio. Speaker 1 00:27:36 It's definitely, uh, a fine balance. Like you wanna have a good setup. It, the technical side of it matters, but at the same time, it's like, I, I could, I could give you $75,000 or whatever and say, all right, set up a stage for me. I can't play any instruments. It's not gonna matter. <laugh> Speaker 2 00:27:53 Right, Speaker 1 00:27:54 Right. You can give me a good, you know, any, you hear that a lot from people and create maybe not a lot, but I, but you know, but there's, there's always that guy, who's always like, man, when I get that right. That right camera. Yes. I'm gonna take, I'm gonna take that. I'm gonna take that picture. I'm gonna get the perfect picture. And I heard, well, Speaker 2 00:28:09 I'm gonna get the million YouTube followers, you know, if I just had the right camera, I'll, I'll get a million followers on YouTube. And it's like, Nope, <laugh> Speaker 1 00:28:17 Right, right. I mean, I heard a photographer say, you know, the best camera in the world is the one that you have in your hand. Yep. At any given moment, but it's the ideas. And then obviously the idea comes first and then the means to kind of bring that idea to life. So it's, it's, it's the importance of like, why you have kind of a, a team, right? I mean, uh, instead of trying to do it all yourself Speaker 2 00:28:37 Yes. And understanding how something works is much more important than what you have to work with. So my goal is to help podcasters, make whatever they have and front of them work as good as it possibly can. And then also give them the power to know and be confident that where they can invest when they, when they can invest to upgrade their equipment, that they're not second guessing it or they're dissatisfied with, with their purchase. So that that's the other piece of it is making sure that, that you understand things enough to where you're not investing your money in the wrong tool. Speaker 1 00:29:18 Is there one or two like projects that you've worked on or are working on that you're just, you know, stoked about? Speaker 2 00:29:23 Yeah. I just finished, uh, we just finished releasing the last episode of season four of steal the show with Michael port. And it's been very informational for me. I've enjoyed learning as I've been editing. Uh, he had conversations with his, uh, CPA with his accountant about, uh, financial strategies for entrepreneurs. And I technically, and I'm an entrepreneur cause I'm a, I'm a freelancer. And while there's a lot of it, you know, he's talking to speakers like public speakers for, for his company, cuz he does like a, a training program for speakers. But it, it applies to anyone who does not have a nine to five job <laugh> and even some like a lot of the insight they gave does apply to people who have nine to five jobs too. So, uh, that, that, that was a very, very, I, I Michael's an amazing guy and super, super smart. And Matt who had was is his CPA had a lot of great insight to share about finances. So that was a really great fun project. Speaker 4 00:30:24 Hey there, listener it's Matt, before you go, I want to offer you the aspiring podcaster two special items. Number one, if you haven't started a podcast yet, or you want to find a better podcast hosting company, start here at Casto use our coupon code audience 20 that's audience two zero. When you sign up for a new, start a podcast like the one you just heard or about gluten free muffins, whatever it is will help you get your podcast out into the world. Number two, did you know that our academy is free enrolled today for get access to our courses, videos and templates all for free. Thanks for listening to the audience podcast today. We hope we're helping you become a better podcaster. All that's left for you to do is share this episode on social media buy for now.

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