This article originally appeared in Podertainment Magazine in 2014, but the questions are still the same (I did add a new paragraph).
Jimi Hendrix loved to play the guitar. He took one with him every place he went. He had two passions: guitars, and women. I was watching a new movie on Netflix called Jimi Hendrix Hear My train a Comin’ and it shows some new footage of Jimi at the Monterey Pop festival. One of the things I love about this new footage of the festival isn’t of Jimi. It’s of the audience sitting there with their minds blown as they try to comprehend what they are watching. The movie gave me some new insights on old facts.
- Hendrix couldn’t get anything going in the USA. He had to go to England to get a record deal. He had perseverance to chase his dream.
- He had only been playing clubs a very short time when four guys named Ringo, John, Paul, and George came into the same club (please tell me you know who the Beatles are). Along with the rest of the people in the club, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. While, it’s cool to have the Beatles go, “Whoa. what is that?” There is something to remember (see #3)
- This is still before twitter, before the Internet, before fax machines. He couldn’t get booked on the Ed Sullivan show (like the Beatles, Stones, and Doors) because he was too racy. Ed wouldn’t like Jimmy waving his tongue at the ladies and grinding his amplifiers. Yet the tale of Jimi Hendrix spread like wildfire, and once people in the states got to see him, it became an inferno. All based on word of mouth.
- Jimi took other people’s music, mixed it with his own personality (that was addicted to experimenting with sounds) and combined it with his love of guitar, and turned it into something that was 100% complete original.
- He was extremely humble. While Kanye West may waltz around telling the world how he is the greatest, Hendrix would blush as the simplest of compliments.
So what does this have to do with podcasting?
We Have Had a Few “Hendrix” Moments in Podcasting
- Rocket Boom – A cute girl doing a “Daily show” type presentation about technology. It was funny, cute, and informative. It got 25,000 downloads per episode in 2005. In August 2008, Sony Pictures Television signed a one-year distribution and advertising deal with Rocketboom for a seven-figure guarantee plus a share of future revenues generated by the show. Everyone went, “How much????” Oh yeah. Steve Jobs used their videos in two presentations. Sadly it is no more (youtube).
- Geekbeat.tv (originally geekbrief, now geekslife)- An attractive perky female doing news (OK, this is SO not original, but Cali Lewis’s “shucks, snort, giggle” personality was). There was a difference between Geakbeat and Rocketboom. The difference was Cali Lewis IS a geek. She is one of US. People’s reaction, “A girl geek, really?” I’ve had a few short conversations with Cali over the years at expos. Completely humble. (see www.geekslife.com and Cali is now using her real name).
- Marc Maron – What are all these “A list” comedians doing in this Garage? Hey wait, this isn’t a two minute plug about your movie? It’s the tonight show format, without commercial breaks every 5 minutes. Marc’s tells stories that only one who has worked in the entertainment world would know. He wraps in sarcasm and cat stories. His first episodes involved breaking into his old radio studio where he had been fired (OK, they had a key) and recording at night. Even the production was a cool story. Shortly thereafter every comedian began interviewing every comedian on the planet hoping to duplicate his success. They didn’t. See Marc at www.wtfpod.com
- Keith and the Girl – While the format of straight talking male host combined with Giggling co-host is not original (Howard Stern?), Keith and Chemda uniqueness is how they bond with their audience (they have a “Keith in the Girl Week” in NYC every year). This attention to their audience creates such a loyal audience that their listeners went from tattooing the Keith and the Girl Logo on their body to BRANDING the Keith and the girl Logo on their bodies. This lead to people asking, “they did what to their what?” I do need to add in regard to originality, there is no one like Keith Malley. He is truly one of a kind. Pair him with Chemda and you can do a case study on chemistry. When I’ve interviewed Keith and Chemda, they were just as fun off the show as they are on their show. See them at www.katg.com
- No Agenda Show – The No Agenda Show features Adam Curry (you know one of the guys responsible for inventing podcasting, as well a being on MTV back in the day) and John C. Dvorak (veteran tech reporter and TV personality). They do something that today’s main stream media does not: it’s called reporting. You dig in, follow the trail of information, and present it to the audience for them to decide (you don’t decide for them). They also do something no other podcaster does on a weekly basis: they have people donate thousands of dollars to the show. When you donate $1000 to the show (there are payment plans if needed) you are dubbed a “Knight of the No Agenda Round Table.” They dub this business model a “Value for Value”. Response when you tell someone they received $1000? They got what? Adam did a tour a few years ago and happen to come through my town. He’s so layed back, he’s almost laying down. www.noagendashow.com
- John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire. I’ve had the pleasure of having a few conversations with John. He is so, well “John Lee Dumas.” He is raw energy. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of people trying to out John Lee Dumas – John Lee Dumas (it’s not gonna happen). When John launched his show he decided to do it DAILY. People went, “Woa, you can’t do that? or , “He’ll never keep it up.” Hundreds of episodes later he is still going strong. He’s also asking the same questions (pretty much) every show. Wait. Are you allowed to do that? It’s your show, you can do anything. After John started publishing his income reports, tens (soon to be hundreds) of “on fire” podcasts tried to catch his lightning -without being able to duplicate his personality and dedication they might be doomed to mediocrity. Fan John’s flames at www.eofire.com
A 2017 Reflection
So why would I print an old article from 2014? Because so many people saw the success of the podcasters above and tried to copy them verbatim. You will never out “John Lee Dumas” the original JLD as it comes natural to him. Every comedian started a podcast interviewing other comedians, and most of them are not very funny or interesting. Marc Maron is a great interviewer because he listens.
So many people want the large donations of the No Agenda Show until they realize the HUGE amount of work that it takes to produce such a show.
So quit naming your podcast “WTF is happening This Week In Cold Cases On Fire.”
Who is Next?
With the doors of creativity wide open it’s a shame that so many try to follow in the exact same footsteps of other podcasters and ignore their own unique gifts.
Is There a Drought in Podcast Creativity?
You are unique. You have different experiences, history, personality traits, and perspectives. I urge you to embrace those, and stop and think before creating a “Water Skiing on Fire” podcast. Step back, and examine what makes YOU unique, and how can you approach your topic in a complete new way that others have not?
Try it. Hendrix swapped up his band members at the height of his popularity. He was constantly experimenting.
While podcasting has been around for 12 years now, surely we couldn’t have exhausted all the formats and configurations of content? Surely someone can take the reporting skills of No Agenda and combine them with the humor of Keith and the Girl and meld it with the raw discipline of a John Lee Dumis to come up with something completely original to create jaw dropping “Man you gotta hear this” content. Is it you?
Dave Jackson has been helping people launch successful podcasts since 2005. His podcast “The Morning Announcements” has been downloaded over 1.4 million times. He speaks at media events and is the author of the book “More Podcast Money” He runs the School of Podcasting (www.schoolofpodcasting.com) and wants to help you with your podcast.