Why the Music in Your Podcast Matters

 

(5 min read)

There are thousands upon thousands of podcasts available. Every decent one has a solid concept, engaging host, and quality production. Those are the non-negotiables.

But the great podcasts have something more — purposeful music. And we’re not talking about the host’s favorite Bon Jovi song that they (illegally) pulled in from their iTunes library, but music that matches the aesthetic and emotion of the podcast itself. For a closer look at this, let’s check out of one of the standout podcasts going today, Lore.

via @lorepodcast Instagram

via @lorepodcast Instagram

Lore is a podcast that is written, hosted, and produced by Aaron Mahnke. On his show Mahnke tells bizarre tales of the darker side of history using the tagline “Because sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.” The brilliant selection of stories and soft-spoken, earnest narration give him a headstart on the haunting vibe. But those things are just part of what makes Lore so impactful. Mahnke only brings you halfway. The beautifully somber and eerie tones of Chad Lawson’s piano fulfill the other half of the show, partnering with the language of Mahnke, building the subtle suspense of the story, and giving more weight to the most startling moments. It’s only the combination of these two forces that results in the award winning, spine-chilling magic of Lore. 

Just like the overture to a broadway show or a classic film, Mahnke knows the importance of setting the stage.

Episode 59: A Deep Fear masterfully showcases real reportings and sightings of a sea creature in Gloucester, Massachusetts that date back to the early 1800s. If you need more evidence of the power of Lawson’s music, just listen to the beginning of this episode. Mahnke lets the solo piano go for nearly 15 seconds before he begins to tell his tale. 

Why? A new listener could get bored and move onto the next podcast. In a world of shrinking attention spans, why use the opening 15 seconds of an episode for only music?

Just like the overture to a broadway show or a classic film, Mahnke knows the importance of setting the stage. These are podcasts after all. Folks are listening on their morning commute, running at the gym, or filling spreadsheets at work. If you want the audience to truly feel something, you need to get them into the right frame of mind. And no amount of isolated narration will do that… not to the level you need to inspire your listeners to subscribe, become a loyal fan and, of course, spread the word.

There are frequent, somewhat lengthy pauses in narration that expose the piano score. It gives the listener an opportunity to process the information that Mahnke has just presented, or ponder the possibilities and questions he posed. The arpeggios and dissonant chords add to the arch of the story. Without it the spell is broken and our minds are drawn back to reality. But having the music continue through those pauses keeps the audience captive. You can come up for air, but you’re still in the water. 

Folks are listening on their morning commute, running at the gym, or filling spreadsheets at work. If you want the audience to truly feel something, you need to get them into the right frame of mind.

These are just some of the ways that Chad Lawson’s haunting piano score is not just an accompaniment, it is literally the sound of Lore, the sound of the story. When you listen to Lawson’s music out of the context of the podcast, you can’t help but wait for the narration to begin, automatically bracing for the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end, ready to hear a tale of some ancient creature or tormented spirit lurking in your home. It’s a partnership that has helped boost Lore out of the depths of the unfathomably deep ocean of podcasts and put it up among the best. 

How can you add more sonic impact to your podcast? Let’s talk and find the sound of your next story. Email us at info@licenselab.com


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