🙈 Overcoming Podcast Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Presented by StreamYard

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.

Overcoming Podcast Gear Acquisition Syndrome

The idea of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) was brought to my attention on a call with the amazing Bob Krist (photographer and filmmaker) a few years back. Here’s the gist: We distract ourselves from the delayed gratification of doing the work by focusing instead on the easier, instant gratification of shopping for, and acquiring, new gear.

Sound familiar?

Daniel J. Llerena wrote a great article about GAS as it relates to his life as a musician. “According to neuroscientist Joshua Sariñana (2023), GAS can significantly alter our brain’s reward and stress systems. The act of acquiring new gear, whether it be a musical instrument, a piece of camera equipment, or a kitchen gadget, can serve as a coping mechanism to alleviate anxiety.”

He continues, “The anticipation of acquiring new gear triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in our brains. This dopamine release can create a temporary high, a feeling of euphoria that makes us feel good. However, like any high, it’s temporary. Once the dopamine levels drop, the feeling subsides, leaving us craving for more. This can lead to a cycle of continuous buying to recreate this feeling, a hallmark of GAS.”

A podcaster’s life is rife with distractions, especially when new, shiny gear drops on our radar at an alarming (albeit exciting) rate.

But how well do you really know the gear you have?

By focusing on mastering what’s in front of us, we bring our attention to the here and now, rather than perpetually projecting ourselves into a “better” future where we have the latest microphones, pre-amps, and all those other electronic goodies. Gear is simply a tool. It’s our creative problem-solving that we should upgrade often.

Signal Flow: Lee Adams

Industry game changers and valiant minds from other creative professions share their wisdom, adversities, and paths to innovation.

Lee Adams, documentary filmmaker and journalist

Lee Adams is an award-winning Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker and journalist with over a decade of experience creating dynamic, engaging, and thought-provoking content. Best known for his work in front of the camera at VICE in a groundbreaking series he created called Minority Reports, Lee has continued his work as a storyteller in audio, producing the Luminary Original podcast The Midnight Miracle hosted by Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli. You can see all of his work at leeadams.nyc.

The pitching process is what separates the people who make it from the people who won't because it's a lot of hearing “no” and it's a lot of hard work. It's common to go out with an idea you're super passionate about, you really feel like you've captured lightning in a bottle. And then you just hear no from everyone you pitch it to. Some people don't even give you the meeting, you don't even get in the room. And that's the point when a lot of people will want to quit. The pitching process requires mental fortitude and self-assuredness so when you hear no, it doesn’t derail you.
The brilliant thing about audio is that if you get a bunch of no’s, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to just make the show yourself and prove everyone wrong.
Even if you keep getting rejected, you’re still growing your network. Every time you take a show out, people are getting to know you, they're getting to like you, they're getting to know your ideas. Even if the first show doesn't go or the second show doesn't, now you've got a development person at some shop or a buyer who knows you and likes your ideas and is waiting to hear the next one.
It’s a tough business, but it can be rewarding. Because there's nothing better than getting paid to work on your own ideas.
Oftentimes, companies will approach me and say, hey, someone came to us wanting their own podcast, what do you think would be good for them? I like to think of my part in the initial stages as playing the role of a songwriter. I sit down and think, okay, what do I know about this person? What are their interests? What makes sense for them? How can I write a song that they can sing really well? How can I create a podcast for them that's really going to shine and differentiate itself from just being another talking pod that has nothing to do with anything and is just a mechanism for advertising.
The most important thing to think about when you're pitching a show is that you only get one chance. So you need to put the best materials forward. It doesn't matter how good the idea is, there are very few people in the industry who can just send an email and start the wheels in motion to get a show set up. For the rest of us, you really need to present yourself and your idea in the best way you possibly can. That means your idea and execution plan are well thought out and presented in a killer pitch deck. And it always helps if you have something that demonstrates your vision, meaning a good sizzle or a good trailer.
A podcast trailer could be the single element that gets someone really excited about your project. And that's what can get it off the ground.
A good trailer should be able to do everything. It should elicit numerous emotions from the listener within the span of two to four minutes. And make sure people aren’t going to get tired of listening to it. Think about the last time you put on a song and you didn't like it, and how quickly you skipped to the next one. 20 seconds, maybe 30 seconds. Same thing with a trailer.
How I got involved with producing The Midnight Miracle is a weird story. I was driving with my dad from North Carolina to New Jersey listening to the show. And soon after I got an email from Salt, the folks who make it. They were like, hey, we're big fans of your work. We'd love to work with you sometime. And I guess our storytelling instincts aligned with what they were trying to do with The Midnight Miracle. To this day, I still tell people it’s the best job I've ever had.
For that show, you just let those guys do their thing and you're there to be a safety net. The Miracle was the first job I ever had where someone was like, any idea you have we can do. There really isn't a song we can't afford to license, there isn't a voice that we can't get. And that was the most liberating experience I've ever had. I was literally only limited by my own imagination.
I feel like I grew so much just by working on that show for the few months I was on it. I wrote full episodes that will never see the light of day, but they were so much fun to discuss and experiment with. I hope everyone gets to have an experience like that at some point in their career because it really jumpstarts your creativity.
An empty Word doc used to be intimidating, but not anymore. Once the first couple of sentences get written, it starts to write itself. Once the words find you, it's a lot less scary than it feels like it should be.
Don't be afraid of your own ideas. I feel like a lot of times, we’re our own worst enemy. It’s easy to shut down ideas or explain them away while you're putting them in an email. Don’t kill ideas in their infancy. I think that's the most important part.
I've had some of my best ideas walking my dog. Just being out in the world, away from your keyboard, helps. You can't just sit in a room and expect great ideas to come to you.

Level Up with StreamYard

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Further Exploration

The Creative Independent

This week’s recommendation comes from Matt McGinley (interviewed in the last issue). Behold a resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people, published by Kickstarter.

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Until next time, have a bold week.

– Doug

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