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Apple Podcasts Studio at WWDC - For Whom is this Designed?

So Apple has made a studio available during WWDC for people to record podcast episodes during WWDC. This is one of those things that sounds really cool when you first hear about it. But then you spend a few minutes thinking, and you start to wonder “What’s the point?”

I don’t mean to trash Apple here. I think they are trying something new, and I applaud that. But let’s go over what we know so far and see how it benefits anyone making podcasts.

  • Time slots are limited to one hour. This is a good thing, but it disqualifies 90% of tech podcasts. All kidding aside, if you have a show with multiple sponsors, you need to record for at minimum an hour, probably longer. (That’s the real reason those shows go on so long, folks.)
  • You have to reserve on the morning of your recording, starting at 7am. If someone beats you to the slot, you’re out of luck. So you get five chances at a lottery ticket, essentially.
  • Apple will record the show for you using pro equipment, and hand you the raw audio files at the end of the session. That’s it. No editing services. No posting.
  • All the participants in your podcast have to be ticket-holders to WWDC, as far as I can tell.

So, given all that, who will get anything of value out of this opportunity?

Established pro podcasters with advertisers

If you have a show with a regular schedule, you probably want to record a WWDC episode. Before you heard about this studio, you already made plans to record in a hotel room, or a conference room, etc. You will pack all of your equipment for recording regardless, because you have no idea if you’re going to get one of the coveted slots in the Apple studio. So at best, you might get something to talk about for the first fifteen minutes of your show, if you happen to get a slot, and if all your hosts happen to have WWDC tickets and want to burn an hour session on recording rather than going to a lab, etc.

Newcomers to podcasting

You don’t have pro equipment. Maybe you have no idea how to record a show. You happen to win the lottery and get the studio for an hour. Great. And the end of that hour, you will have a few beautifully recorded audio files. Now what? You still have to edit the episode. Publish the episode. Get artwork1. Build a web site. Find an audience.

Recording podcasts is the easy part, folks. Chances are, those files will sit on your hard drive and never be published, let alone heard by anyone.

Casual podcasters

Finally, some people who might get some benefit out of this. Maybe your mics aren’t super great, and you aren’t a sound engineer. You and your co-host(s) all happen to have WWDC tickets. You weren’t planning on recording an episode that week while you were in San Jose, but if you happen to win the lottery, sure, why not? You’ll have one great-sounding episode in your feed, and something cool to talk about (recording from Apple’s studio in San Jose.) The Apple Podcasts Studio is perfect for you. A nice perk, if you happen to get to use it.

That seems like a very small group of people who will actually get much out of this endeavor.

What if Apple, instead of simply recording a show for you, actually spent the hour training podcast hosts on equipment choices, techniques for compression, mic technique, etc? What if they showed you how to use Logic more effectively? What if they taught you how to edit for content?

Basically, an Apple lab focused on podcasts.

There are so many opportunities there for Apple to actually help improve the state of tech podcasting. But I don’t see any of that happening next week, unfortunately.

Apple is known for meticulous design in its products. I don’t see much evidence of that here. At least not based on what we know so far.

Maybe next year.

*Update: *A few people have pointed out on Twitter that perhaps some podcasting announcement is in the works for WWDC that could shine more light on this studio. Perhaps it’s a bit early to cast judgment on this whole idea. Maybe Apple has a new podcast producer app for iOS that they’l be showing off, or something. That’s fair. We’ll see if there’s more up Apple’s sleeve than meets the eye. If not, I’m sure a few podcasters will find this useful, in any case. But it’ll still be a bit of a missed opportunity if there’s no more to it than what we know so far.

  1. I’m available for design services, if you’re interested.