Good news, listeners: I’m back behind the microphone in the dog house studio after a few weeks of travel. This week I chatted with Mike Russell, founder and creative director of audio resource powerhouse Music Radio Creative. For the past few years Mike has been rocking the livestream space, providing audio tips and creating resources for podcasts, radio jingles, voiceovers for advertisements, and much more. Mike has lots of advice and encouragement to share for anyone considering taking their business into the world of livestreaming.
A Natural Progression
For Mike, getting into the live broadcast world was “a no-brainer.” Not only does he have a background in radio and a great audio setup, he’s also an avid adopter of new things. Between the Periscope craze of a few years back, YouTube’s improvements to livestream capability, and the rise of Twitch, Mike found himself “itching” to broadcast live! When he saw the opportunity to take his bite-sized tutorial videos into an hour-long livestream, he took it.
He officially made the leap in June of 2017, and livestreaming is now the focus of his day and week. Part of what made this such a natural progression for Mike was the audience he’d built on YouTube with audio tutorials. (I often find myself using them as a resource even to this day!) The other factor at play? The abundant value both for his audience, and his business.
Music Radio Creative, as a company, produces all sorts of audio: music, jingles, intros, spoken word, and more. They work with a wide variety of clients, from radio stations, to DJs, to podcasters. When Mike hosts his livestream, however, he doesn’t just talk to potential clients — he also talks to people interested in creating audio themselves.
“As I do the livestream, I get ideas for new products, things to promote, because people ask me questions in chat! It’s organic for the business, since people ask questions and I can immediately answer them and promote resources.”
Not Just for Gurus Anymore
What does Mike have to say to people who want to make the leap, but they don’t have his background in radio production? “You don’t need to be a guru! The barrier to entry is lower and lower.” That barrier to entry pertains both to equipment, and experience.
As for equipment, Mike uses a Logitech C920 webcam, which has “great quality” and only sets you back about $40-50 (US). What about the audio, you ask? “You don’t need a giant professional voiceover microphone!” In the US, the Audio Technica ATR2100 runs from $50-60 and is extremely popular.
As far as experience, Mike’s advice is dead simple: just start. “Everyone has to start somewhere. I was nervous my first time, too. You’ll stutter, you’ll stumble, and you’ll improve. Even in my own livestreaming, I don’t have a video background. I learn from tutorials, just like most of us do. Even now, you can see the progression on my YouTube channel. I wasn’t even brave enough to show my face when I first started! Whatever your business, just get behind the mic, get behind the camera, and get started. Doors will open. Opportunities to speak at events, things you couldn’t even imagine.”
Planning for Success
As you might expect, running a successful, long-term livestream involves plenty of planning. So how does Mike make sure that he’s able to begin his stream at 2pm, every day, like clockwork? He uses Trello as well as a free WordPress plugin to generate a content calendar that creates his schedule months in advance. In the months since Mike began livestreaming in earnest, he’s found he loves the “happy pressure” that it brings to his day. “I love knowing that I have a deadline to meet every day, that I have to turn up and provide this content.”
Mike was able to structure his day around both his own needs, and those of his audience. By scheduling the livestream towards the end of his workday, he can take care of all of his internal business beforehand. Then, after the livestream ends at 3pm, the kids come home from school and he switches gears into family life. Just as importantly, however: “When it’s 2pm for me, people are able to engage all around the world. Listeners in the US are just waking up, while listeners in Europe are in the middle of their day, just like me. As for audience members down in Australia and New Zealand, they’re the late night crowd.”
Knowing — and Growing — Your Audience
Clearly, Mike’s deep understanding of his audience also played a huge role in the success of his stream. He advises potential streamers, “You never know who’s watching and listening — there’s lots of lurkers! That all speaks to the power of the replay. Don’t just cater to the live audience. It’s important to gather as much data as possible about who’s out there and listening.”
To that end, Mike grows his audience through an online discussion board that uses open source software called Discourse. Everyone who watches the livestream is invited to join, but the true beauty of Discourse is its organic SEO benefit. People who have never set eyes on Mike’s livestream find their way to the Discourse server entirely on their own, and end up in a vibrant community. “They share knowledge with each other, sometimes answering questions before I even get a chance. […] Everyone on that board is so engaged, and wonderful to talk to. I learn from them as well! It’s a cycle of constant teaching, improving, and learning.”
Pro tip: Mike prefers the Discourse boards to Facebook or LinkedIn groups because, unlike those platforms, you truly own what you’ve created. With Discourse, it’s your platform, and you don’t need to worry about the rules changing underneath you. On top of that, it has great email integration that doesn’t automatically bombard members with messages. People active on the board won’t get bothered, whereas people who fall off on watching will receive email reminders about what they might be missing.
Getting in Touch
When you get right down to it, Mike has created an incredible place for himself. He has an active, knowledgeable audience who give back as much as they get. More than that, he’s constantly evolving, keeping in mind “what I can do to both keep existing listeners, and tailor content to those who haven’t yet discovered it, and make sure it’s easy for them to understand and consume.”
I encourage anyone who’s curious about livestreaming, and its potential for their business, to listen to everything else Mike had to say this week. I certainly enjoyed getting a peek into his world, and I hope you did as well. Those of you looking to get in touch with him are in luck: Mike is fiercely active all over social media, but his Twitter is a great place to start.
As always, if there’s ever a topic you’d like us to cover here on the Moondog Marketing Podcast, drop me a line.