Interview: Jazzman – „Fake likes won’t generate plays, downloads, shares or whatever. It’s a waste of money!“
These days you get flooded by a large amount of podcasts, radio shows and much more. Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Hearthis.at and many platforms offer simple hosting, upload, download and playback for mixes. This circumstances in combination with low prices for homepages and social media like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and many more seduce people to start their own show. Due to this a lot of competition is going on, but what divides a good podcast from a bad one? What do you need to start? Which problems could occur? To answer all those questions we invited René “Jazzman” Wolski, the host of the “Deep Inspiration Show”, to give some advice. On top we will talk about the vivid house scene of Africa, where a warm, jazzy and soulful house sound seems to work perfectly on the dance floors.
Hello René, your hosting the “Deep Inspiration Show” successfully for years now. Before we start to talk about how to start a podcast would you please give us the basic informations about you and your platform?
I started the “Deep Inspiration Show” six years ago, after already hosting a podcast called “DTH-House” with a friend of mine from Freiburg. We did “DTH-House” for one year before I decided to do my own show on a weekly basis. I had a lot of time back then and also enough music because I’m Djing since my 17th birthday. I bought records every week so it wasn’t a problem at all to do weekly mixes. The first 100 mixes on “DIS” were done by myself, afterwards I invited other artists with the same passion for music. The focus was on house from the very beginning, of course my taste changed a bit in the meantime, but at the end of the day it’s still house and deep house. But I also like genres like hip hop, disco, down-tempo stuff and other laid back types of music, so there’s not a guideline for my podcast series. I simply play what I feel.
Let’s start from scratch. Before you can actually start a podcast, you need to make some decisions. For example which platform do you use, which genre would you like to care of, which artists should participate and much more. Do you think those are the essential things you have to take care of and how do you do it?
There are really many ways to do it. I started the show with my own server, because there was no Soundcloud, Mixcloud and all the other sites to share music in the past. But it was important for me to have a download option on the mixes I provide and have all the content on one page. That’s why I choose to host a blog. It’s very easy to establish and you don’t have to know anything, it’s very simple to use. I added a nice little flash player, so people could play the mixes comfortably on my homepage, later on I used the Soundcloud player of course. Plus I post my podcasts on iTunes and still update the playlist now. The benefit of involving iTunes is that people can subscribe to your podcast and automatically get the new shows as soon as they are online. Nowadays everyone calls mixes podcasts, but it’s just an invention of apple if you ask me.
When you solved those problems you have to take the next step. You need ways to spread your mixes. The most obvious way is Facebook, but you could generate a homepage as well, than you have Tumblr, Twitter and tons of alternatives. Any advice you can give or informations about the different ways?
The most important platform in these days is definitely Facebook. But when I started the “Deep Inspiration Show” I shared my mixes on different forums and websites where people can add and share their recordings. At the moment I also use Instagram to post the artwork of the shows besides Facebook and Soundcloud. There are several ways to run a podcast, but for me it’s the best to focus on Facebook mainly because I reach a lot of people using it. I also do a bit of Twitter, but it’s just to spread the links there as well.
The next step has to be an artwork. Whether your listeners are on Soundcloud, Facebook or your homepage they should instantly know from the look and feel that all those sites belong together. This is one of the most important things besides the content and often done completely wrong. If you’re not good at photoshop and so on, you should leave all this to a professional. Or what are your thoughts about the appearance of the podcast?
Exactly, artworks are very important to produce attention and get people to listen to your stuff. I’m very uncreative and I have no idea how to use photoshop. For the first 150 shows I did the artwork on my own, but it wasn’t an artwork really. Just some pictures with informations on it. Now i’m thankful that I have a few people that know how to take care of artworks. With the first professional artwork I immediately reached out to more listeners. A podcast is about music, but there are thousands of mixes on the internet, so you have to convince the people to choose your podcast over the others. Therefore it’s very helpful to have a nice eye-catching artwork.
Finally everything is set up, so now only the content is missing. What would you tell someone that wants to start his own show? Should he go with the big names from start, should he involve friends and himself or randomly write people on Soundcloud?
Of course it’s a good start with a podcast from a known DJ, but when you start your podcast without having any references, followers and so on it’s almost impossible. Most of the time guest-mixes come in after a few published podcasts by yourself and it’s quite nice to present your own mixes at the beginning. The “Deep Inspiration Show” attracted many people and so I’m now doing a lot of guest features, most of the requests come from South Africa when it comes to contributions for my mix series. As soon as you have some followers and a few shows online, you have the chance to get mixes from other DJs, it’s that simple. But for me it always was about spreading my musical taste and vision, so I don’t care about big names and try to focus on artists and music I like. So I often stumble across DJs I didn’t know but have a great taste in music. All of that led me into the situation I’m facing right now, round about 20 requests for a podcast per week are coming in and that’s great. Everyone wants his piece I think. [laughs]
Should podcasters gather a few mixes before they go online and make sure they releases recordings regularly?
I think so, but everyone has to decide how to run a show on their own. In general it is better to have a schedule for your show, whether it is weekly, monthly or whatever. So people easily know when they have to check for new music, that’s how I did it from the beginning. But the most important thing is quality, not quantity.
for our 28th edition of our monthly podcast series we invited a very special guest. ohrenschmaus podcast #028 was recorded by jazzman, the owner of the deep inspiration show. over the last years we stumbled across some nice podcasts done by rené himself or from one of his guests.
Is it one of the biggest problems that, especially well-known DJs, need to be contacted months before their podcast should go online?
Yes, that‘ the truth. I experienced problems in scheduling podcasts from well-known DJs a few times already. Those artists play a lot of gigs and live from the music, so they don’t do many podcasts because of the little time they have. Also they want to surprise the crowd at the events, not behind the notebooks or so. But if you want a big name to participate, you definitely have to ask a few months upfront.
Let’s pretend we have our pages, artwork and content ready. Now you have to build a fan base, because without followers no one will realize the music. How do you do that? Promote your posts on Facebook, ask your friends for help or what else could be done?
Having a solid network is one of the most important things. I was lucky back then, because I already had a small fan base, because I was Djing for a few years already and had a podcast before. To expand my network I also recorded a lot of guest-mixes for other podcasters like “Deeper Shades of House”, which really helped my on platform. I still do mixes for other shows I like, but that’s very rare nowadays. To spread the word about your podcast is difficult, but I never asked friends to share it or something like that. If the mix is good it will be noticed, I’m not a fan of tagging hundreds of people and stuff like that, that’s spamming!
All the basic steps are done. Now you’ll have to take care about the details. One of the most important things is building a network with your friends, DJs, other podcasters and so on. How should you communicate?
Building a network with DJs, podcasters, friends and so on takes time first of all. Facebook is brilliant to get and stay in touch with people, it’s also easy to build a relationship with your followers. If they like your mixes they will talk about it, I also try to let artists and labels know when I’m playing their stuff. They really appreciate the effort and are enthusiastic when they hear their release in a great mix. Sometimes the share the mix as well and that’s the best thing that can happen. As soon as your listeners, labels and artists you like share your mix, that’s when you create a solid network. And of course it’s important to stay in touch with all those people, even when you simply write a few lines. It’s a small culture, so we are not talking about thousands of messages a day. I just don’t like people that don’t respond at all.
Building a network is probably the most difficult part and will take some time. Many don’t want to wait and buy some likes, plays and so on. Could you highlight the pros and cons if there are any?
Buying likes is stupid, plain and simple. Those are just numbers, for me it is and always was more important to have people that simply enjoy what you’re doing or posting. Fake likes won’t generate plays, downloads, shares or whatever. It’s a waste of money! The sad story is that many clubs, labels, promoter, booker and so on think it is about likes. The more likes, the more guests, the more money or something like that. That’s where the commercialization happens, but that’s not the topic here. Doing the show always was a hobby to me and always will be. It took a bit of time, but I reached out to more people I’ve ever imagined.
To end our little guide to podcasts, anything else you would like to add? Some ideas on how to make your podcast unique or some general advice maybe?
Not really. I started with my project because I love music and I like supporting my favorite artists and labels. If you’re having fun spreading the word and love about music, a podcast is a great way to do it. If you want to make money, you should do something else! But you get other things in return like promos, some bookings and the most important things: love, appreciation and messages from people that are grateful for the work you do.
Let’s talk about podcasting in general. Many booking agencies, clubs and labels now have their own podcasts. On top of that radio shows and podcasters pop out of nowhere. Is it harder then ever to establish his own podcast series?
Yes, it really is harder than ever. There are countless podcasts, mixes and live-streams out there. Plus radio stations and Youtube and so on. Everything is already out there, so it’s hard to create something unique that stands out. The concept has to be great or you have to come up with a completely new idea. Most of the podcasts that work quite well are playing the game for years, so it’s pretty hard for newcomers with so many competitors.
Boiler Room is streaming live. You can watch their shows on Youtube, listen to them on Soundcloud and they have a huge network which allows them to involve almost all the DJs they want. Do you feel Boiler Room is a direct competition for podcasters?
For sure, a lot of people are enjoying Boiler Room with all the big names of the business. They have a lot of attention, money, connections and a vital network. You can’t compete with that, no chance at all. But I’ve always focused on less-known DJs and so on. Showing people great music doesn’t need the big players. I hope that people have faith and trust in my selection and most of the time they have. My listeners appreciate my attempt to present new and hot DJs very much. People have to listen to your show because of your show, not because of a big name providing one mix.
Two of the best podcasters and bloggers for contemporary club music ceased in 2015. How do you feel about the endings of “Little White Earbuds” and “Keep it Deep”?
Pretty good for me. [laughs] No, to be honest both podcasts did amazing work. “Little White Earbuds” hat a lot of great guests, but I always listened to “Keep it Deep” a lot more. “Keep It Deep” was so special, with the nice blog and all those neat reviews and interviews. It also introduced my to many artists I didn’t know before and I also had the pleasure to do a mix for the series as well. A lot of people were following “Keep It Deep” and as fas as I know there will be a new project from the mastermind behind “Keep It Deep” called “Emotional Content” in the near future. I’m pretty sure it will be dope as well.
The first show this year is a guestmix by Sven Weisemann from Berlin, Germany. I’m more than happy that Sven did a journey for the Deep Inspiration Show, because I’m a big fan of his productions, mixes and piano sessions since a long time.
Talking about love and emotions. The “Deep Inspiration Show” particularly attracts the African continent. It seems like they are in love with your work. Any explanations for that?
It’s not the whole African Continent, it’s mostly South Africa. A lot of things came together, it’s quite a long story. Before the “DIS” I used to play a lot of afro stuff and music from South African artists at “DTH-House”. I always tagged the artists in the playlists and they were very thankful, sometimes we talked on Facebook as well. That’s how the contact started, later on I did my first podcast for Lars Behrenroth and his “Deeper Shades of House” which was played on a German radio station before he moved to the USA. A lot of people from South Africa liked my recording and I got in contact with them.
The African house scene seems to be in love with mid tempo house music that has a warm, jazzy and soulful touch. Most of your podcasts and your DJ sets match this sound. As you’ve already played a few times there, could you describe the scene for us?
House is very popular over there. House music can be found everywhere. Radio, TV, Bars and so on. They love afro house and soulful house tracks, but also deep house is played. They also have a lot of commercial house music in South Africa, but the scene itself is much bigger. South Africa has soul! It’s fun to play in Germany as well, but SA [South Africa] is special. They are heavily interested. They ask for tracks, they want to shake hands, they want to tell you how much they like your music and sometimes they come up to you and say things like: “I know this track from “Deep Inspiration Show” 300, you played it at minute 27.” They are really passionate over there. The most popular genre definitely is soulful house, but the deep house scene still is bigger than in Germany. Every region has its own sound. Johannesburg is more into that tech-house part whilst Pretoria loves soulful house tracks. They just love house music in all its facets, that’s what I love most about South Africa. I can play lounge music, mid-tempo, deep house, house and they always appreciate your music. No one bothers you with requests to play faster, harder or a special track. They simply enjoy the music and party, plus they really dance to house music. Not like we Germans with our head-bopping, they really go mad and dance their ass off.
Besides your “Deep Inspiration Show” and yourself there are a few DJs that are superstars in Africa, but almost unknown elsewhere. Lars Behrenroth and Ralf Gum for example, how does that happen?
I’m definitely not a star in South Africa, but more people know my there than in Germany. I visit the country for 2 weeks every year and play more gigs than in the rest of the year in Germany. It’s a crazy feeling to play on the other end of the world and have more people around you that know what you do than in your home country. Ralf Gum is a real superstar in South Africa and Lars Behrenroth is very known there as well. His “Deeper Shades of House” podcast has a lot of listeners from SA, they really like his taste in house music and always come out to see him play. Especially Ralf faces a bright future in SA.
It always seems like African people have a different way of going out and a different connection to music. Also they are super active on Facebook and social media in general. What makes the people, hosts and DJs so special over there?
Yes, they are super active on Facebook. They love to tag people and let them know which song or mix they like and so on. Sometimes it’s almost a bit too much. [grins] Almost everyone wants to DJ over there or produces music. It’s sad that they can’t afford the expensive equipment because they really have talent over there and their way to share their passion is via social media. You have to appreciate their interest and love, they are so serious about it!
Do you have any predictions how the scene in Africa will evolve in the next years or are they already at the peak right now?
They are not at the peak at all. They are still hungry for house music. That’s what I think, but it’s the best to ask this someone who lives there and experiences the whole movement. I’m only in South Africa for two weeks a year as said before, so it’s hard for me to talk about that.
Thanks for the conversation René. To come to an end tell us something about upcoming projects whether it is related to your “Jazzman” moniker or your “Deep Inspiration Show”. What’s happening in the near future?
Thanks for having me, for the nice interview and your interest in my “Deep Inspiration Show”. I scheduling my first guest mixes for the show at the moment. There will be podcasts by Petr Serkin, who runs “Freedom Sessions Records” and Melchior Sultana who recently released his superb album on one of my favorite labels “Underground Quality” by Jus Ed. The upcoming show comes with a young talent from South Africa I’ve been following since I started the show. His name is Gabbana and he’s 19 years young and already released a few tracks. Sabz from Johannesburg will have a mix in February, I’ve met him last year during my stay in SA. I’m also planning to return to South Africa later this year and play a few gigs.
New edition. New Music. New Inspirations 😉 The mix contains music by Kuniyuki & Jimpster, Marco Nega, Andy Vaz, Glenn Underground, Darand Land, Viktor Birgiss and many more. Full playlist needs some time. Please write a comment for track id’s. NEWS: Tina Athens, thousand thanks for all the great artworks for more then 2 years.