Before we jump right into the in’s and out’s of adding some cool royalty-free music to your intros, I want to point out that there are many ways to edit and improve your episodes. You can start by having good equipment, working on tighter scripts, or even polishing the audio levels in Audacity. This piece of a podcast or even a video makes a difference, but not an overwhelming piece of the puzzle.
This topic is geared towards the end process and not the tutorial on creating an intro. Most of us don’t have the time to create music from scratch. I could be 100% wrong on this and you might be focused on the logo, artwork, and the sound before anything else. After working with many podcast hosts over the past 5 years I have my own process set in a certain way. For most shows a jingle or intro is fairly straight forward as is the next section will dive into.
Do You Need an Intro?
There are many podcast shows that don’t use any music or sound effects and still are highly rated. I have never used any until probably about 3 years ago (2013). My answer to this question is that you only need music if you are coming out with a budget and high expectations for your potential listeners. This means that you might be a celebrity or have tons of followers on social media. Another reason this might be important up front is that you want the absolute best podcast possible to ensure a great first impression. I fall into the latter part because I built a podcast network.
Getting something that works or even unique really isn’t to difficult, but there is an overwhelming population of podcast shows that have a limited budget. Spend the money in equipment, hosting, artwork or somewhere more important if you have a finite amount to invest. Another reason I say don’t spend the money on an intro is because you probably will never earn it back. I don’t mean that in a snide way either. I just know that building an audience and making money is complicated at best unless you are blogging, YouTube’n, or doing more than just recording audio. Look at the top content creators in any medium and take in their rise to the top.
There is a photography podcast hosted by Sharkey James that uses a different intro for each episode. The intro is voiced by other professionals in the field of photography…which is interesting, and builds-in “social proof”. At the end of the intro, Sharkey gives a short bio (plug) for the photographer that the listener just heard from. While it’s not a jingle, it is another interesting on-ramp to podcasting content.
I would love to find/read a list of interesting/unique podcast intros somewhere, but don’t know if anyone has put this together.
On the subject of jingles though, do you know of a podcast that uses a jingle effectively? – I would love to hear an example of what a good podcast jingle is.
Deciding on how you will address the audio aspect will differ depending on who you get advice from or how much you have to spend. Moving into how to spend your time or your money could help make that decision for you. Let’s do a small dive into each area to make sure we cover the topic in full and if there are remaining questions you can ask them in the comments.
Creating a Jingle
If you are stubborn about spending your money on a jingle from some of the common places online, you’ll probably try to make your own. I always search for royalty free music first to see if I can use Audacity to bring it together. Figuring out how much audio I need and trim down everything in Audacity can take a few hours (YMMV). I also have FL Studio as well if I want to build something from nothing, and feeling really stubborn.
Here is a few programs that I know of to make some sweet sounds. I am not expert or pushing them either. I have hundreds of hours using Audacity but it’s more of a mixing of pre-made audio. It doesn’t create the audio from scratch like other programs.
- Garageband: Mac only
- Linux Multimedia Studio: Free & for Linux and Windows
- Rosegarden: Free & for Linux only
- Muse: Free & for Linux only
- FL Studio: Starts at $99 & Windows only
- Audiotool: Free & Browser-based (all OS’s)
- Audacity: All platforms & a refining tool
- Many other programs if you do a search.
You can use an open-source music creator if you wanted something free to start off with. If you want to invest into a tool then I would recommend FL Studio 12 (assuming you use Windows). The biggest selling point is that you can watch an unlimited number of YouTube videos on how to use it. Those will help you find the notes and sounds that fit your podcast and practice. You will spend hours and hours doing this if you don’t know how to already, but you might find out that you love creating them.
Otherwise, I think the free programs I have listed will absolutely meet your needs if you want to try making something unique.
This isn’t really in my bag of talents so I always go straight to buying one. It’s easier and time is money. If you are like me then you are going straight to the next section so you can get it started. Besides, I don’t mind spending a little money so I can work on other stuff instead of trying to learn how to be a musician for small compositions. To the market we go!
Buying a Jingle
Plan B could be to go over to Fiverr and search for keywords like “intro”, “outro”, or “jingle” and pick someone that has your kind of sound. Make sure you take the time to see how fast a seller is pushing out orders, their portfolio and their reviews. I took this route and it’s perfect. I paid about $5 for 2 killer intros when I started out and I still use them today. The easy way out can be effective and allow you to focus on the content. I would put my expectations at a 72-hour advance, but most of the time creators have a quick turnaround. I would hate for you to be in a crunch to publish and still waiting on audio. Don’t rush your projects because most likely it will show. This is a no-no anyways in my world.
Let’s cover where to get these quick services. You’ll have a few choices that I know of to spend your money at. How much money is entirely up to you. You can start cheap and get something standard like other shows, or spend a bit for that unique sound. There is nothing wrong with starting cheap and have the audio re-done as your show grows. These low priced “gigs” use a template type of production to churn out intros at a regular pace. These will normally have more options that you can choose to pay extra for something more unique. The bottom line is to find something creative and in the budget.
- Fiverr: Closed my account in 2014 because of their terms of service change.
- SEOClerks: This is what I have been using lately.
- Freelancer: Meh, costs significantly more money and time wise.
- Upworks: Garbage freelance site, but possible to find something.
- AudioJungle: Their terms are intimidating so I have never bought audio from there.
- Commercial Websites: Do a search on Google and there will be plenty.
- any others? (I will add recommendations from the comments)
My Personal Preference
I buy my audio when possible at Fiverr in the past and SEO Clerks today. I have an issue with wanting the best possible result from the very first episode. I am a perfectionist, but perfection should not be the expectation for the vast majority of shows. Normally there is a great progression of audio along the way. The jingle should be only a very small consideration. I think at most you should search, select, pay and move on within a 2-hour process. That’s probably still extreme, but the point is that you should be focused on your episode content and leave the intro to the experts.
Hopefully, this post gives you an idea of how to go about getting an intro or short piece of music for your show. I seriously never sweated this stuff until I got at least 10 episodes out. If you have the time and want to launch with a good sound then do this. It’s cheap and worth it in the end. If you are on a shoestring budget then hold off for now and focus on making great content that people want to come back for.
Let me know if I missed anything or tell me how you did yours. The comments are where the money is at.