In episode four of Podcaster Stories, I sit down with podcasting veteran Mark Asquith, CEO and co-founder of Rebel Base Media, as well as host of many podcasting shows and resources.
After getting started in podcasting way back in 2013, Mark realized there was a gap in the market for the kinds of tools and services that podcasters were crying out for. This led to the birth of Rebel Base Media and its slew of podcasting services, including podcast host Captivate.fm.
In this week’s show, I sit down with Mark to talk about his podcasting journey and where he sees the medium going next.
Topics on the menu include:
- How his love of the DC Universe first got him into podcasting
- Why he thinks like a geek when it comes to his approach to podcasting
- Why he’s glad the industry has moved away from tech gobbledegook
- Why podcasters need to buy into the Podcaster’s Presence Promise
- Why podcasters shouldn’t worry about sponsorship until they’re truly ready
- Why he believes Spotify’s entry into the podcasting world could be a bad thing
- How his hair metal past saw him appear on the same stage as rock legends Whitesnake
Settle back for an enlightening conversation about someone who’s immensely passionate about not just podcasting as a medium, but in helping those who want to be part of it, too.
Connect with Mark:
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rode Podmic
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen
- TRITON AUDIO Fethead In-Line Microphone Preamp
- Denon DJ HP-1100 Over Ear Headphones
- RockJam MS050 Adjustable Mic Suspension Boom
- Dragonpad Pop Filter
The following transcript has been created using an automated service, so may not be 100% accurate.
Hi, and welcome to Podcaster Stories. Each of us will have a conversation with podcasters across all mediums and share their story of what motivates them, why they started to show up as a group of show and more, but also talk about the personal lines and some of the things that have happened that made them the person you have to do it. And now here’s your host Danny Brown hi guys. And welcome to another episode of Podcaster Stories the show that it talks to the people behind the voices of our favorite podcast. This week, I’ve got a veritable veteran of the podcast and industry Mark as they ask for it.
So ass and quiff, put together, Asquith.
Oh, that’s an easy one at a minimum. Otherwise you make sure that I got your right now. So might have to be in our own podcast in for a few years, but he’s got a lot of podcasts behind them that they can not only runs are as well as the podcast and hoarse and a whole bunch of stuff that will talk about, you know, during the, the, the shore So Mark thanks would be an option. And if you want to him to be just to introduce yourself.
Mark (1m 1s):
Sounds good to me, my man, thank you very much. So I’m CEO and founder with my compatriot Kieran, and I have Rebel Base media where a tech company, we own a, a number of podcasting tech platforms in the space. So we were on Captivate dot FM, which is a hosting analytics and, and distribution platform. We were on podcast website, his podcast, success Academy, and productivity. And we have a podcast recording studio here in the UK, down in Sheffield. Andy, of course, I’m on a podcast too, as well. I think you have produced around at this point around 1200 episodes of their own podcasts since 2013. So yep. Every day I’m on a podcast in is what I do.
Danny (1m 40s):
And I know of one of the podcasts that you have is a spark of Rebel, you know, a star Wars podcast, which is very 70 plus we have to do
Mark (1m 47s):
It is indeed, may the fourth be with, you were recording this on star Wars there, which is pretty bad ass. So, you know,
Danny (1m 53s):
Did that, that’s cool. Have you guys got any plans for a special episode or if they haven’t come up with a list that you did
Mark (1m 58s):
The Saturday? Actually, it was our, it was our anniversary. We launched on may the fourth of last year with three episodes. So the show is a year old and we just had a little internal lockdown celebration, you know, it goes, and I just shoot the breeze for a little bit, but ah, you know, it was, it was cool, man. It was, it was nice to just do a, do a, an episode ready for may the fourth. So yeah, we just, we just enjoyed it as normal and did our, our, our birthday episode on Saturday all day.
Danny (2m 24s):
Cool. Well, I’ll still listen to that later for sure. I’m so like you mentioned, you’ve got a host of podcast behind you. What was the first one you did and why that topic or buy that podcast and
Mark (2m 35s):
Got into podcast. And so remember this is where before and I had a tech company and podcast and it’s where before it was as deep in podcasting as I am now. And this was in 2013, I launched a show with Gus, the same guy that are in, on spark of rebellion with, and that was called two shots to the head, which was a DC comics podcast. And cause we’re a big DC funds as well as a big star Wars fund’s we launched a show called two shots to the head, which was based on the block that we ran for couple of years are also called two shots a day, which is from a, from a lion in Batman, dark victory is a Line that Harvey dense speaks plus many of the people. And it’s it, it was, that was our first foray into podcast in real, really? That was in, I think probably I want to say like mid 2013, maybe early 2013.
Danny (3m 20s):
Yeah. And that we will start a podcast or run on or was that a sunset need to do spark Rebel you mentioned it is with gas for both shows.
Mark (3m 26s):
So we actually, we wound that up. So what happened was I M I was at the time I was running my agency in my design and, and digital agency, and we sat the show up and that kind of, it, it kind of came at a time where I was getting into personal branding myself and started to step away from the agency that I built. And it was going to this weird time for, so we, we gathered and I kinda parted ways. We will always stay at friends and I was always chatted, but I think we did that for about a year. And as I got busier creating podcast websites, which then became a Rebel Base Media and spawned off of a number of products, We, you know, we just partied way as gas went off and did the doctor who podcast the big blue box podcasts, which is still still moved to this day. He still does it till this day.
Mark (4m 8s):
I created a podcast tech and, and, and create that, you know, number of other podcasts, ah, in the space. And then we come back together the last year. So yeah, two shots with a sunset in a while ago, although randomly, we still get sent like loads of swag. So we used to get sent loads of swiped to review in lots of like comics, you know, like pop culture of memorabilia in like invites to comic cons and all sorts of like, I think that only stopped about six months ago, which is pretty sweet. So, you know, you know, it’s still reaping the benefits.
Danny (4m 39s):
That’s awesome. I mean, I’m a, I’m a geek myself and I love the DC university who gets an a, a, a, a far richer, a universal in the Marvel one, but that’s, that’s pretty cool that it led to you all of these opportunities and, you know, people and brands reach out to you because I was so that’s one of the things that are a lot of podcasts that are asking about how do I get to see a sponsorship and working with Brian’s, et cetera. How would you, would you have like any particular advice on how to best approach that for podcasters?
Mark (5m 3s):
So, because you’re a geek, I can do it. I can come at this from a different angle, so this is good. And then there’s so much advice out there. And it’s usually, it’s usually given by people who have not done it. So I’m going to come at this from a different perspective and, and use a different example to why I would normally give ’cause you’re a geek. So the example that I would give is that look, people are only going to spend money with you. If there were no you like, and trust you, you just marketing one Oh one, you know, is it’s basic marketing. But the problem is podcast is don’t think like that they think download numbers, AKA sales. So they think as soon as they got some numbers, I can start to sell some stuff and it, it just doesn’t work like that. So what we did from where we are from the beginning, we have two shots of the head even was We.
Mark (5m 45s):
We got to know the people and added a lot of value to them and, and really kind of, it would just present all the time. So we would, for example, we’re in, in the UK, umm, you know, we got to, for example, got to know a lot of the artists that worked for DC. So I got to know Chula latte who went onto a replay as Greg polo on some of the Batman stuff we were in term of where we just got to Snyder M and she runs a, an event up in Leeds, which is like 10 miles away from it was called the thought bubble. We ended up being pressed at thought bubble interviewed Scott Snyder interviewed a number that you like Tim sail was stood next to me. I like the guy that pretty much inspired Smallville. And it just, it, it, that kind of thing really led to a lot of opportunities for sponsorships.
Mark (6m 27s):
And for a lot of stuff that we do now is a spark, a rebellion. And they all came about through being constantly present. I’ve just recorded an episode today, actually for my other show though, the podcast accelerate, which comes out on Wednesday about this thing called a Presence Promise where you, you know, you have to Promise to be present for your listeners all the time. So the way to get sponsorship is turned that on its head light, do what we did with two shots of their head and even do what we did when it came to build in the original Rebel Base Media product podcast websites, which was just be ever present at as many things as you can, because people don’t really care about the numbers. Once they’ve got to know you, like they want to know they’re going to get a return on what their spending on it, but they’re much more willing to understand your audience and work with you.
Mark (7m 9s):
If they’re not, are you there? Not just going to look at the numbers and say you are on here. So you’ve got to be present. Like a lot of people don’t do this. A lot of people will pitch sponsors like from day one, the number of people that use Captivate it’s a ride, I’ve got two episodes out. How do I get some money from this? And you’re like, what are you kidding? This is mental. So be present, get to as many places you can do what we did. We thought bubble and Chula be around them, you know, just help them, you know, go an offer to do the things, you know, like when we were with chiller a thought, but we do, we offer to volunteer. Do you want to get, will just turn up. We’ll bring a mic and we’ll just whatever you need to, and we will just do it all right. And it works. It really works. So you got to do that sort of stuff.
Mark (7m 49s):
But the problem is right. As soon as you can record into a microphone, the flip side of that is you can press, play and listen back to yourself. And when you can listen back to yourself, it makes you feel like you’re famous. So then you don’t want to do the little work and that’s the problem. So that’s a huge issue. Be willing to do the little work.
Danny (8m 6s):
That’s good advice. And that’s like the image that you mentioned marketing one Oh one is kind of like network and one-on-one as well, right? When you go to either the industry events or a local business events, et cetera, to grow your own small business. And it’s all about networking, have the right people in it. And as you see, offer and value, as opposed to just want us to grab that.
Mark (8m 24s):
Yeah, it is. And it gets, you know, a lot of people get really hung up on that. Yeah. You just show up, like you look at any online entrepreneur, like most people online will say add value. Like, okay, I get that a real, like a guy. I really get that. I really get that. But its to its to macro. So it’s like a plumber turning up and saying, well, yeah, I’m a plumber. This is what I do. I’ve got, I got, you know, I can do plumbing. Well of course he can by virtue of turning up, that’s the best level of my expectation late for you to say it, I’m going to add value. That’s how I’m going to do things like that. That’s the base level. That is not the USP. That’s not the standout, that’s the base level. But you got to be really creative with this.
Mark (9m 5s):
How can you add value and a creative way or that people are going to remember that’s the key and that’s the kicker that no one really gets too, is they just do the bare minimum and think they can, you know, they can, there are some, I’ll put a tiny bit of sweat equity and equity and, and they can draw from it forever. And it just that’s how it works. Yeah.
Danny (9m 20s):
No that’s great advice. Completely agree. Now you mentioned that obviously your first podcast is way back, probably 2013. Why find, I mean, podcast is one of those funny things are going to say it’s a little bit like blogging. It’s always been said that it’s going to go away because social media came along and X, Y, Z came along, but it still here and podcast and especially as real as in a resurgence in the last 30, I don’t know, a 12 month, maybe a Apple. I think you have a shared recently has just published a 1 million for a podcast or something like that. So, and there’s a lot of people you’ll know yourself by running Captivate DIFM, there’s a lot, a lot of people are getting interested in podcast and as a medium, why do you think that since such as a result a surgeon’s and you think that it can maintain?
Mark (10m 2s):
I think it’s, I think it’s the perfect storm really, you know, podcasting has been around for, for a long time, since 2005. And it was one of those things where it was kind of difficult and kind of for the geeks, you know, you know, podcasting had this, this, this perception of, you know, it’s for people that want to sit in a basement in the plants talking about loss. Yeah. Cool. It, it is, you know, we are all geeked. I had podcasting started with a niche and really getting tight into that. People genuinely talking about stuff in their pants and what they enjoyed talking about. And that’s how it started out. It was a cottage industry, but then a few different things happened, you know, EDU education came along, I’m in the form of Netflix and Uber and Airbnb, you know, everything now he’s on demand.
Mark (10m 45s):
And that podcast, it was one of the original on demand media, but no one thought about it like that. Everyone thought it was podcasts. And this is why some of the old guard in podcasting get way too hung up on our RSS feeds like who cares? It was just on demand. AUDIO like stop crying about your RSS feeds. Yes they work. Yes, they do their job. Yes. There are power podcast in, but Holy ground we’ve got to, we’ve got to be mindful of what’s happening. So this is what’s going on is that the industry has been educated. And, and when I say in the industry, I mean the consumers have the audio as much as the creators. So they were educated that they could get content on demand and it was just as good as the BBC. And it was just as good as it was NBC.
Mark (11m 25s):
So that was the first thing, you know, we got educated as consumers by Netflix and by Uber, by Airbnb, but not everything had to be as it was. So that’s the first thing that happened. The second thing that happened was internet bandwidth speeds were Nope, which meant we could not only consume information much easier, but we could push information up to the web, much easier. We can stick some in the cloud and now we can put a big AUDIO files up there. And people became used to iPads and iPhones in simplicity. And people started using the concept’s that saw on the web apps and on iPads and on I-phones to create software light Captivate that makes it easy to publish or not like a, another set of hosting companies that are really cumbersome and old school. So all of that complexity that people wanted to hold on to, into podcasting because it was their bare butt and it is complex.
Mark (12m 10s):
And where are the experts and where are the only elite cruel that know how to do it? Like all of that is gone because people were more savvy now because interface has been designed too much expectations. So there, there are the big things that had happened. But then of course there were the, the, there were another, a number of things that, that kind of came off the back of house, which was brand dollars, started being piled into it. And with the brand dollars came, the network’s like wondering who was then we wanted to make podcasts just to sell. And in order for them to sell, they had to be really, really good. And in order for them to be really, really good, they need an investment. So they became these startups, these businesses. And then the last thing that happened of course, was someone like Spotify got involved where, you know, I’ve got some, some thoughts on why that might not be a grit thing, but ultimately they managed to really boost the education in the market by saying to people, do you know what, forget that this is called a podcast.
Mark (13m 3s):
This is just audio when you want it on guess, you know, the, the original star Wars AUDIO dramas. Yeah. Well, they’re there to look the free, you know, so it becomes, it becomes that kind of set up. So that, that means that’s a huge range of reasoning, but that it was the perfect storm, the perfect storm. It was like video when YouTube came about just as bandwidth limits came about, YouTube is not a coincidence that YouTube took it off, you know? So that just happened to get in podcasting.
Danny (13m 28s):
And, and, and that makes me wonder to your point about video, be an easy, obviously you had to do YouTube that, but that was the first time. And you’ve got the likes of a Vimeo in Viddler where it was more for the creators, but then it will have disappeared. So do you think there’s going to be a time when I’m with the amount of podcast companies and host’s et cetera, that send me to be explored in. And as you mentioned, there are some that are just in a purely to try and get their, the dollar of revenue back to them. Do you think will be a peak with it or settle down and as it may be just 10 or 12 costs that are left, are you think that there’s this room for many, many more?
Mark (14m 0s):
I think that that’s actually a two part question. I think there are many that there isn’t much room for many other hosts in my view. Uhm, because you can’t put, you can’t put too much between any of them right now. Like we try really hard to be much different and much better than the other hosts. We achieve that through how we think. But I think the first part of that question is someone like Spotify right now, this is something that I’m going to dig into an a blog post. Like Spotify was one of the biggest, dangerous to podcasts and because the big difference with podcasts and, and other mediums is that podcasting started open and RSS feeds are open, but Spotify in my view wants to close it down. They want to put a wall around it.
Mark (14m 40s):
They want to make it like you to where you create an upload via Spotify or Anker. The problem with that is that video, you know, nothing really existed like YouTube before. Yes. A few of those videos are of immune or a few others like that existed and still exists. But what they don’t do is they didn’t have any, we have that open industry field like with RSS. And I think this is one of the challenges is that Spotify needs because of the money is spent in podcasting has to go up. How many people listen to podcasts through Spotify and I think they are wanting to put a big wall around podcast. And so they actually, you upload directly to Spotify. You don’t need an RSS feed, just upload here with this button.
Mark (15m 23s):
And I think that over the next three to five years, as one of the biggest risks to podcast, and in fact there is an interesting thing with this is you got to consider, you know, we, as a podcast host in platform, we’re going to have access to Spotify as a new API. We can get data from Spotify in giving you that we’ve never been able to get before and on the surface, that looks really, really good, but actually it’s like someone put in a dam over a stream or a river in saying, no, this is a good look because we were letting you have with the water, but they’ve got the ability to turn the tap and to say, actually you can only have this water. You can only have this information on our terms. So I think that becomes a risk. So to answer your question, I don’t, I don’t think that is the future of podcasts.
Mark (16m 5s):
And what you suggested, you know, is the room for the host where we see a drop it off. No, I don’t think it will drop off, but I think the landscape will change. And I think there’s a bit of a risk to it. What to actually see happening. This is a bit of a fracture where the end is I wrote a big piece on this a while ago where the end is, will remain as they are and still make the money. How could they do? But their quote unquote bigger podcast is, will go to the other way and they’ll work in a slightly different manner. And then somewhere in between, somewhere in between, there will be this YouTube Presence that is Spotify where you can upload directly, but you will and they get there audience. So I think you will become fractured. So over the next three to five years,
Danny (16m 42s):
No, but you’re looking for an interesting to look it up and see what happens here for sure. Now just to change it up a little bit, what is something that people that might know, you know, you for your podcast and et cetera, and you, you know, your geek affiliation, et cetera, but what is something that not a lot of people know about you that might have been,
Mark (16m 59s):
I, once I’d put this on the Facebook group there now the other day I want to support at Whitesnake as a, when I was in a band. Yeah. So that was nice that they did that come about. How did they do,
Danny (17m 9s):
Ah, what role did you pitch them? Did, were they looking for the dispute to your manager
Mark (17m 13s):
Or something or yeah, we have this, this promoter called Ronnie who was crap. He, he, for some reason we managed to pull this off. I have no idea how it happened. We were on the young, like 16 and 17 and we ended up doing a few of the bits as well that we did some Christmas lights switch on is in big cities where we supported like Beverly and I and Keane. And I’m like the guys that did Agadoo, which was just absolutely hilarious. And he was all down to just promote that. And he was terrible, man. He was terrible, but he managed to pull off like three or four gigs over a four year period that were just decent and Whitesnake, it was one of them, but everything else was awful. I mean, awful,
Danny (17m 51s):
But you know, a fair player on that. That’s cool. That is like a, a, a super cool story. I’m like, well, I, as I mentioned at the start of the show, I really appreciate coming on. I know, I mean, I’m with Captivate of them because of the, what the platform offers and I really appreciate learning. And as I started growing and podcast and from your own podcast and the support you give to the guys in the Facebook group, et cetera, and I’m sure the S the sec sort of bring out a lot of value to, you know, people like myself are reasonable, the news to podcast. And then what are they going to take a bit more seriously? So I appreciate your coming on today. Oh, well, thank you for
Mark (18m 22s):
Very much, man. I appreciate all you do for the community and all you do for all of this Media and Captivate in particular. We all appreciate that. So thank you when I, I appreciate everything you do. Yeah.
Danny (18m 30s):
So you’re pretty sure that I can say, so this has been another episode of Podcaster Stories. If you enjoyed this week’s episode, make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast app or head on over to Podcaster Stories dot com to get the latest episode sent to you until next week, take care and we’ll speak soon. You’ve been listening to podcasts or stories. If you enjoyed this week’s show, be sure to subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode and feel free to leave a review on iTunes to help us on the train the show today. And we’ll see you the next time on Podcaster Stories.