Nashville-based Lij Shaw sure stays busy year-round as an audio engineer and podcast producer!
Recording Studio Rockstars is a #1 iTunes podcast that invites you into the studio to learn from recording professionals so that you can make your best record ever and be a “Rockstar” of the studio yourself. Lij started the podcast because he had loved the excitement of being an intern in the control room during a real session with professional recording engineers and producers. He remembered listening in on the amazing stories they would tell, and realized that he had a chance to help people everywhere have that same experience through podcasting.
Podcasting now allows him to help people all over the world by doing the very thing that he and other producers and engineers love to do anyway, which is talk about making great records in the studio.
During the first part of his career, Lij focused on the idea that a record that he helped to create could impact thousands of listeners. But now podcasting gives the platform to help more people—who love recording—impact many thousands more through their music that he’s been helping them create.
What is mind-blowing is that Lij’s musical and creative impact has grown exponentially through podcasting! We sat down with Lij and asked him a few questions about it all.
Q: How long have you been in the audio industry?
A: I started recording music in my teens with a four-track cassette tape machine, eventually went to MTSU for their college recording program, and have now been recording professionally for 30 years.
Q: How has the audio industry changed since your early days?
A: Recording studios used to be huge industrial spaces that required massive budgets to create and operate with 2” tape machines and wide mixing consoles. Today the recording studio has evolved and shrunk down to the size of a portable smartphone. With a simple laptop, interface, and software you can have a complete professional recording studio for a tiny fraction of what it used to cost. This year five of the top Grammy awards were swept up by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell for producing a record in their bedroom recording studio. Times have definitely changed!
A: I had been a podcast fan for a couple of years listening to business-focused podcasts like Pat Flynn, and John Lee Dumas. In fact, I started listening because I wanted to learn more about running the business side of my recording studio. Pretty soon I thought, “why not start a podcast of my own to talk about making records? It’s what we all do anyway!”I saw a wide-open opportunity through podcasting to bring my expertise and network of music professionals together to create something that I had already devoted my life to: the recording studio. I also realized that many of us making records shared the same feeling of being somewhat in the shadows of the bands and artists we recorded every day. We want to say, “Hey we are Rockstars too!”
So the title, Recording Studio Rockstars, is a nod to the listeners who are “The Rockstars” or would like to be one day, and it is also a compliment to the guests that I invite onto the show who are already there.
Q: How does your first podcast compare to your most recent?
A: My first podcast was terrible! I spent all day trying out different positions on my microphone just to see what my voice sounded like. I recorded my intro ideas over and over again and spent hours mixing one minute of voice and music. I’m sure it sounded like a mess! Then one a long drive I listened to them repeatedly and began to get excited about the possibility that this might actually work.
It took me a few years to finally launch Recording Studio Rockstars. In fact, this is my fourth podcast! My first show was called “Bitcoins and Gravy,” and was all about cryptocurrencies. I created that show with a co-host and we did quite well, getting plenty of press and were quickly added to a growing network of podcasts. But after 8 months of hard work with 30 episodes and 60 interviews conducted the partnership blew up. I had started my podcast with the wrong partner. So I had to start all over again. Plus I realized that I was being pulled in a direction that while fascinating wasn’t really where my heart was in making music.
My next podcast started with a group of four co-hosts and again fell apart after eight months of hard work. This time it just fizzled out because the four parents didn’t have the same vision for the podcast. Partnerships are tough.
Then I started my music podcast called The Toy Box Studio Show and began interviewing producers and musicians but soon realized that the show title and focus didn’t really help anyone understand why they should listen. The title made it sound like the show was all about me rather than all about the listener and helping them in some way. So eventually I got the message and launched Recording Studio Rockstars which has now grown to over a million downloads and over 250 interviews with weekly fans that love the show.
Q: There are so many podcasts these days. How do you stand out?
A: Having an easy to understand title is a great start. Recording Studio Rockstars has two keywords in it that a listener is likely to search for “recording studio.” The interview-style podcast also gains some traction by tapping into the existing networks of many of its guests. And the most important thing of all is the simple act of being unshakably consistent. By publishing on the same day every week and being consistent in the content and message, it allows the audience to know what to expect and feel like its worthwhile to give their time to listen to your show. Treat your audience with great respect and they will likely treat you with great respect, too—by listening to your show.
Q: Do you ever take your podcast on the road?
A: At first I offered to bring my laptop studio over to my guests’ studios to conduct the interviews but quickly discovered that I could be much more efficient if I had the guest come over to my studio. It took me too long to set everything up remotely. But now that the technology for recording a mobile podcast has improved so much I am looking at using new portable options like the ones offered by PreSonus.
They’re now making the AR8c portable USB interface/mixer that would easily allow you to have a professional podcasting studio in any location.
Using their high-quality, built-in Class A XMAX mic preamps, you can connect it you a laptop to record multiple mic inputs for group podcasts, and add bumper music in real time for fast-paced podcast production… OR simply record in stereo directly to an onboard SD card for convenience that doesn’t even require a laptop!
The ioStation 24c gives you a simple interface that would allow you to plug in your mic, and one for your guest to record to Studio One on your laptop. It also doubles as a powerful single-fader control surface. Plus you can record in high-quality resolution: 24-bit/192kHz.
Q: What’s your favorite podcast right now?
A: I certainly have some podcasts about music and recording that I enjoy like Working Class Audio, Six Figure Home Studio, The Mastering Show, Roadie Free Radio, Produce Like A Pro, Bobby Owsinski’s Inner Circle, and Song Exploder. Some of my favorite business-related shows are Smart Passive Income, Entrepreneur On Fire, and the Graham Cochrane Show. And there are many other great marketing podcasts like The Art Of Paid Traffic, and Perpetual Traffic. But I also love listening to podcasts that have nothing to do with my usual work topics, like The Singularity, FM podcast, or Data Dash and Crypto Zombie.
A: Get very clear on who you would like to help with your podcast and why they would want to dedicate many hours of their life to listening to you. I have fans that regularly will tell me they have listened to nearly every episode of my show. That means they have literally spent hundreds of hours listening to me interview my guests. Wow!
So, why do they do this? Because it helps them name better records. Why will your fans want to give you that much of their time? Also, why do you want to do the podcast in the first place?
It takes a huge amount of effort and time and you will definitely get to the point where you are completely sick of creating your own podcast and wish you could just take a break. But you don’t want to take a break if you are trying to be consistent. So you want to pick a topic that you absolutely love that will carry you through those very difficult moments.
Lastly… be very clear with yourself whether you want this to become a business and learn how to outline the path from a fan listening to your show all the way to you offering them the massive value that you could make the foundation of your business. What is your mission statement in one or two sentences? Get clear and then get even clearer. And then take your topic and narrow it down further. Then take that focus and narrow it even further until you have something very specific for your audience.
Over here stateside, ‘Tis the season for family, over-eating, traveling, watching football, and more eating. You may not be a huge fan of the holidays, but I love them! The holidays have something for everyone, much like a recent podcast I came across on Twitter called The F.A.N. Show.
The F.A.N. Show is a one-man, award-winning sports variety show based in Spokane, WA—and it’s in a league of its own. There’s something for every fan. The show is hosted by Richard Tieman, who is a musician, producer, sports fanatic, and Studio One user. After five years of recording 440 podcast episodes on the same AudioBox iTwo he purchased in 2015, Richard shows no signs of slowing down. We wanted to know more about how his podcast came to be so successful.
Tell us about your background. How long have you been in the audio industry?
I was a drummer for a punk rock band since I was 17, and loved music, performing live, and traveling to different cities. I also love a variety of things like football, the outdoors, pop culture, and even pro wrestling. I had a knack for entertaining people, and I’ve always been comfortable on a microphone. I met my wife seven years ago and we’ve been married for five, and she is my single greatest supporter and biggest fan. I’ve been in audio for about 15 years. 10 years ago I got really passionate about it when I started hosting karaoke at a local bar while I was still touring with my band. Then when we broke up five years later, a friend suggested that I should start my own podcast, so I figured… why not?
It’s changed quite a bit. When I was in the band, podcasts weren’t very popular yet. Not many people even knew what they were. Recording and editing equipment and software were super expensive, so you had to really have a passion for audio/video in order to justify going all-in on the idea. I remember making a business proposal for starting my own karaoke and entertainment company in 2015, and the money I needed for karaoke equipment and songs, just to get started, was about $3,000. Now, everyone and their mom has a podcast or YouTube channel and the cost to buy a “starter kit” for those is around $300. Quite the difference.
What’s your favorite podcast right now?
As a wrestling fan, he’s one of my favorites. He’s also the frontman for the band Fozzy, and he doesn’t just interview wrestlers. He has a wide variety of different guests and that’s what I love about his show. The mix. I guess his podcast is what inspired me to branch out to talk about more than just football. Yes, I love football, but I love other things as well. Music, comics, the outdoors. Why limit myself?
Tell us about your podcast.
At first, it was just me and my thoughts about football and my 49ers. It’s the sport I know well, and the one I felt the most comfortable talking about. I also hated all the irrelevant news you started to see and hear on mainstream sports media. It was less about stats and highlights and more rumors and gossip. I wouldn’t say I started my podcast out of spite, but the idea of being different was certainly appealing. What was a weekly podcast called The ButtFumble Show is now a live-streamed variety show that airs three times a week and covers a little bit of everything: The F.A.N. Show. “Everyone’s a FAN of something, and we have something for every fan.”
Where did the idea for your podcast come from?
The rooftop of a bar in downtown Spokane where my 10-year high school reunion was happening. My buddy Cameron and I were talking about his Seahawks and my 49ers. and going back and forth about their last season and stuff that needed to happen in the offseason. He was really impressed with not only my knowledge of my team and the league, but that I could carry a conversation and could back up my opinions with facts. So he asked if I had ever thought of becoming a sports analyst, and I laughed and said, no thanks. That’s when he suggested starting my own podcast.
How does your first podcast compare to your most recent?
Oh boy. My first episode was terrible. 20 minutes of me sitting in a chair in the spare room of our house, just rambling on about the upcoming season and what to watch for. I’d never used any PreSonus equipment before, or any podcasting equipment for that matter, so my mic was turned down really low and I didn’t know how to edit the recording. Like I said, terrible. Now, almost 440 episodes later, I have my own intro theme, I have segments, sound effects, I know how to edit and get the best sound quality I want. My best episode is always my next episode.
There are so many podcasts these days. How do you stand out?
In all honesty, I can’t say that I do “stand out.” I know that I’ve learned a lot in five years of doing my podcast, and even though all the changes and trying new things, I’ve always stuck to what I believe and not trying to conform to certain styles just to get clicks or downloads. My fans are my fans, and as long as they tune in and listen, I’ll keep doing it. But I do know what makes my show “different,” is that even after five years, I’m still doing it. Not everyone who has thought “Hey, I can do that,” has actually done it for very long. Some guys I know that started podcasts never made it past 10 episodes. I’m about to do my 440th. I pride myself on constantly wanting to learn and get better. Try new things. And I’m persistent.
Be ready for criticism and be open to feedback. Feedback is one of the hardest things because it’s not all good feedback, but you need people supporting you that will be honest with you and tell you what they liked and more importantly, what they didn’t like. That, and to be consistently persistent. Like I said, I know people that never made it more than 10 episodes. There will be a lot of excuses you can make for yourself, but if it’s really something you’re passionate about, you’ll make it a priority. I’ll tell anyone and everyone what programs or equipment I use, and people think I’m crazy for giving away my “secrets to success.” That’s not the secret. I don’t even have a secret. I just made my show a priority and have built a brand as a result.
How did you first hear of PreSonus?
Google. Haha. I talked with my wife about the podcast idea and since the band had broken up and I was going back to school for my AA degree in Business Management, she said I needed a hobby and thought the podcast would be good for me. So we searched “Podcasting kits” and the 2nd or 3rd result was the “PreSonus AudioBox iTwo.” About $220, it came with the AudioBox, mic, mic cord, headphones, and Studio One for editing. Connect it to the USB port on your computer and you’re ready to roll. I loved how simple the set up was, and that it didn’t take up a lot of space. It travels easily too, so it’s easy to take with me when I do podcasts on location.
What PreSonus products do you use?
I still use that same AudioBox iTwo (five years later) and I absolutely love it. I actually want to get another one so I can have one for my studio and one specifically for traveling. Or have one as a backup at the very least. You can never be too prepared when it comes to technology. I’ve since upgraded my mics, but still use Studio One and that same box for my show.
Why was PreSonus a good option for you? Was it easy to learn?
It was convenient, easy to use, and not a lot of extras. The less you have to worry about when it comes to recording, editing, and producing, the better. Not everyone has a producer or even an assistant, so if you’re a “one-man show” like I am, PreSonus is amazing. There was definitely a learning curve. A lot of it was self-explanatory, but I have a lot of audio friends that were happy to help me. YouTube is also an amazing learning tool, haha.
All the time. I’ll take it to local events like Comic-Con and interview special guests and cosplayers, or I’ll go to the comedy club and interview the comedians in the green room before their show. I’ve even interviewed bands at our local concert house before their shows. But my favorite time of the year is my annual tour. I take the AudioBox and my set up and go to different events across the country like BattleBots, or arena football games and I’ll host tailgate parties and use it for a live stream, or I’ll interview players and coaches after the game. I’ve gotten pretty good at setting up in hotel rooms and at arenas.
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
I just finished my third tour, which was awesome, and I was also hired to do media for different events where I would go and interview players, coaches, staff, cast and crew and publish them as podcasts to help promote the events. The show has a great following and I’ve gotten more and more opportunities like these as a result. I recently accepted the position of Director of Communications for the Sioux Falls Storm. An indoor football team that had heard of me and my podcast and wanted me to be apart of their winning team for 2020. I will be doing that as well as continuing what I do with my podcast. I’m hoping 2020 is my biggest year yet and that moving to a new city will hopefully create new opportunities. The new owners of the Storm were very adamant about me continuing to do my podcast and continuing to grow my brand, so that is what I will look to do next year!
Where can we listen to your podcast?
The F.A.N. Show is available on most major podcasting platforms including: