Mar 13, 2018
Alexa podcast is a thing. Really, it is. We podcasters need to start thinking about where the industry is headed.
Now that podcasts can be listened to on Smart speakers like Alexa, there are a handful of things that I can think of that we need to consider in order to make our efforts more widely usable, which will include those kinds of devices.
On this episode of Podcastification I have a few things for you to think about when it comes to Alexa podcasts and the distribution of your show through those platforms.
Smart speakers are like Alexa or the Amazon Tap is like a mini version of the Alexa. The Tap is really just a fancy bluetooth speaker. We happen to have one of those that we were actually given through a drawing at a podcasting event that I was at a little while back.
But that's all beside the point. We're talking about Amazon Alexa and Google Home and all of the smart speakers they're starting to come out with. They are all connected to the internet and they are able to play audio for you through voice commands.
My wife uses our Amazon Tap quite often to play Spotify - the speaker has really good sound so it's a great little application of a smart speaker. But you can also speak to it because the Tap functions in many ways like an Alexa because you can connect through an Alexa app, which then connects to the internet, which you are able then to ask questions just like you would Alexa herself. So, we say things like “Alexa, tell me a story,” and it starts telling us a story.
How is this is relevant for us is podcasters?
It’s very relevant. We are on the cutting edge of a digital change of behavior for most people in the Western world and we don’t even realize it. The voice command features of these devices are going to make it easier and more common for people to listen to podcasts. So as the title of the episode says, Alexa podcasting is a thing.
Will Alexa podcasts work for your particular podcast name? Maybe not.
I did some experimentation with my little smart speaker - the Amazon Tap. I tried to get it to play a my particular podcasts - I have quite a few of them. I would say something like this…
“Alexa, play Podcastification.”
And it actually started playing a podcast but it wasn't a my podcast, it was something else.
What I think happens is that because the name of my show is not very clear and distinct and easy to pronounce and understand even for humans, the little smart speaker ain’t so smart.
It can't quite find my podcast because the name is not easy to decipher.
Could the technology improve in the future to the point that saying it by that name it might actually find and play my podcast?
Yeah, maybe. But at this point it's not able to.
So what's the principle we can draw from this?
It may be better to keep this identification issue in mind when it comes to naming our podcasts. It should be something very distinct, very clear, very easy to pronounce, very easily understood so that people using smart speakers can easily say the name of your podcast to their smart speaker and have it understand what they're saying.
Now you can always go back and rename your podcast if you're up for that. Or maybe not.
When we’re thinking about these smart speakers and listening to our podcasts on them, there is an important issue to consider: loudness levels.
I was noticing the other day when I was working inside Auphonic that podcast levels are recommended to be at what's called negative sixteen LUFS - L. U. F. S. That's nothing more than the measurement used for loudness of a digital audio file.
Podcasts are recommended to be at -16 LUFS. But there’s a different recommendation for Alexa and other smart speakers. The loudness level for them is -14 LUFS. It's two points difference and that's actually in the louder direction.
So these smart devices - or their developers - are wanting us to submit audio for them to use that is louder.
Now why might that be?
Well, given the context these smart speakers like Alexa are in, you may have background noise going on in the room. You may also have the speaker sitting on the other side of the room. So they are wanting the original audio file that's being drawn from to be louder to begin with - so that it's easier to hear on those devices.
That makes total sense to me.
If you're even aware of the loudness level of your podcast you may want to consider adjusting to negative fourteen LUFS. Yes, negative sixteen is still what is recommended for podcasting, but because smart speakers are becoming more and more prevalent throughout our society, negative fourteen may be what we need to go to.
I'm considering it for all of my shows, including my client work because we want to optimize things the very best we can.
What are you doing about loudness levels? Anything?