My New Podcast + Playlist

It’s been four months since my last post. Sorry about that! My new album of 80s covers with Matt Mancid has been keeping me busy, among other things.

On the promotional front, I’ve got plenty of irons on the fire, including three big reviews in progress. I share all the details in my How I’m Promoting My Music This Month email newsletter, so be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!

While I prefer to focus on sites, services, and strategies that can benefit as many musicians as possible, this time I’m just going to share my latest relatively niche project. If it helps you, great!

As most of you know, I curate a playlist called Vocal Synthwave Retrowave.

As of this writing, it’s creeping up on 21K followers. I spend hours working through submissions on SubmitHub every week, and a good chunk of change promoting it with Facebook ads.

I thought it would be fun to highlight the best of the best with a top ten countdown like the ones I used to listen to as a kid. The way I remember it, Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” was always number one, but I tuned in anyway.

I started by reaching out to the graphic designer who created my playlist cover art, and hired him to do something similar for the countdown.

With that financial commitment in place, Synthwave Top 10 was born!

Next I purchased the synthwavetop10.com domain and pointed it to a dedicated page at colortheory.com. If it ever blows up, I’ll give it its own site.

That page contains a brief overview, listening instructions, a detailed FAQ, and a mailing list signup form to be notified when new episodes drop.

I still haven’t figured out how to refer to Synthwave Top 10, beyond not slapping “THE” in front of it. It’s more than a playlist, not just a podcast, and not quite a “show.”

If you’ve got any ideas, let me know! I’m all ears.

There are four ways to tune in to the not-quite-show:

Synthwave Top 10: The Podcast

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get a podcast up and running! No joke, you could do it in ten minutes using Anchor.

In most contexts, if I’ve settled on a particular platform it’s because I’ve exhaustively tested and compared them all. In this case, I just happened to hear of Anchor when Spotify purchased them, and thought their Music + Talk format sounded promising.

My big issue with most music podcasts is that the audio quality is terrible. I go to great lengths to maximize audio quality by purchasing the original tracks from Bandcamp and applying no processing beyond volume adjustment.

Anchor’s Music + Talk format handles the music portions of your podcast directly through Spotify, for the best possible audio quality.

The downside? You can’t host the podcast on other platforms like Apple Podcasts or my favorite, Overcast.

That was a deal-breaker for me, but I went forward with Anchor anyway. Rather than creating a Music + Talk podcast, I just uploaded a single high-quality mp3 of the entire episode.

They distribute my podcast to all major platforms for free, and even offer a “support the show” feature where listeners can donate, not that I expect that to happen.

You can find my podcast on Anchor here and listen to it on Spotify here:

Synthwave Top 10: SoundCloud Edition

I post the same audio on SoundCloud. So far I haven’t run into any copyright issues.

Synthwave Top 10: The YouTube Channel

People tend to use YouTube for background music, so my uploads here contain just the music over a simple visualizer.

I’m currently hosting ST10 alongside Color Theory material on my own channel. Someday it may get its own.

Synthwave Top 10: The Playlist

Finally, I’ve got a vanilla Spotify playlist with the order reversed. So it’s more of a… count-up?

The Dishonorable Mention

One of my tracks is always at the top of my Vocal Synthwave Retrowave playlist. That way when someone clicks through from Facebook or Instagram, they hear the same song they heard in the ad and know they’ve come to the right place.

But what about including my own tracks in the top ten?

I can’t very well rank my own stuff, but I don’t want to disqualify it either. I landed on this compromise:

If I’ve got a new release, I include it as an unranked bonus track and call it a “dishonorable mention.”

As a result, my first two top ten shows feature eleven tracks, but who’s counting?

Onwards and upwards!

Synthwave Top 10 is a fun and relatively painless way to promote artists in the synthwave scene, myself included.

The last episode took a single afternoon to produce, if I don’t count listening to my playlist on daily runs to familiarize myself with the contenders.

Should listenership continue to grow over time, I could take it in any number of directions:

  • I could interview other players in the scene
  • I could start a separate Patreon for the podcast and devote all funds to playlist ads
  • I could open up a sponsored slot in the top ten, basically another dishonorable mention

I’m open to your ideas! How can I make it better? Lay it on me in the comments!

6 Comments

  1. Brian, thank you for continuing to share your experience, and detailed actions on not only promoting your music, but how you are immersing into crafting the sound pallette of the genre you’re in, and serving those music fans. It’s like when one opens a new restaurant. The owner knows that people love to eat, so they solidify and build in the optimal location(s) (for us, that’s website, social media where we want to serve, streaming services, etc.), and then to get people to try the food (the music), they’ll create different promotions, or special nights to generate interest (which is like you different offerings of a playlist, podcast, etc.)

    I enjoy reading about your experience and I try to take bits and pieces that I can apply in my journey as well. The two areas where I’d like to serve listeners are YouTube and Pandora. I found over time I get more comments/music based engagement on there, and with my most recent release, using tools in Pandora AMP has peaked my interest to create more for that platform (i.e. Pandora Stories, which I’ll be using for the first time).

    You continue to practice and prove to fellow creators to make one’s experience more than the song, but to truly serve music fans in your genre by creating more opportunities to engage with music in a deeper way, one with connection.

    Keep sharing and serving! Thanks Brian.

    1. Thanks for the support and encouragement Jared! I really like the restaurant analogy. Could be I’m just hungry! 😉

      In regard to YouTube and Pandora, I’m hoping to write a review of YouTube Growth Engine in the not-too-distant future. I’ve already got a banner ad for it here on the site, so you can guess at my overall sentiment!

      I’ve been planning to write about Pandora AMP for years, but there never seems to be a good time. My featured tracks don’t get much traction, and I’m down to 1.5K streams per month. Compared to Spotify, that’s a drop in the bucket. Plus it’s US-only so the audience for it is limited.

      I’m pleased to learn that you’re seeing promising results there! Could be I’m just doing it wrong.

    1. It depends on how far down the song is in the playlist. My song at #1 got about 2K streams from the playlist in the past 28 days. Another one of my tracks further down only got 333.

    2. Hello, I’ve just been catching up on Brian’s posts and came across your question. I’ve been very fortunate to have had two songs chosen to feature on Color Theory’s fabulous playlist, both from Submithub submissions, and one had 895 streams and the other 998. Best wishes!

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