As podcasters, we come to a point where we have to question whether we should list our podcast as explicit or not. Sometimes, no matter how much we keep our show clean, we can’t help but have people come in for an interview and utter words that are unrestrained or uncensored. So where should you place yourself in this dilemma between explicit and non-explicit podcasts? Follow through as we take a little dive into the topic and give you some recommendations on what to do.
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Explicit Versus Non Explicit Podcasts
We’ve got a great subject to talk about that is relevant to just about every podcaster out there and even any of you that are future podcasters who are reading this episode. It has to do with the subject of whether to make your podcast explicit or listed as explicit on iTunes and the other distribution channels or not to. Then even a little deeper dive topic into what you can do regarding editing your podcast, even if you have a clean show and your guest uses a four-letter word or something that is not officially clean according to the guidelines of iTunes. We’ve come across some things with a lot of the podcasts that we produce and have developed a new practice we wanted to share with you for you to consider for your show.
Let’s talk about explicit or non-explicit because this comes up with pretty much every new podcaster. We had a podcast called Get WealthFit! hosted by Dustin Mathews. The company is called WealthFit that he is now a part of. They followed our recommendation and launched their show with 25 episodes because they wanted to kill it out of the gate on iTunes. That’s not the focus of this episode, but they did just that. Let’s say they launched it on October 24th and as soon as it was listed on iTunes within 36 or 48 hours, they were already ranking very high in the business category on iTunes and the business investing category on iTunes within the top 200. Anybody could look it up. This is publicly available information. Initially, they were in the top 100 on the general business category and well under the top 25 or 50 in business investing and continues to be that. It was all organic because they hadn’t even promoted the show yet.
Not even social media posts.
They hadn’t sent an email out to their list yet. This was organic on iTunes and that’s very interesting. Just so you understand, one of the reasons that it gained quickly is they’re in a very hot category. The business category, business investing category or any of those business-related categories.
Especially investing. I find even more than just general business, people love listening to podcasts in that category.
There is a very big market of listeners. When a new show shows up, they take notice. They also managed to get 44 reviews within that first 48 hours and that was unsolicited.
This being said, Dustin Mathews is a very high-level speaker and he’s a trained speaker. He had a bit of a following to his name before he started the show. He probably got a lot of those reviews because people who are already listening to podcasts, who already knew who he was found him and were like, “I love Dustin. This is amazing. Let’s do a review.” Also, that’s not just 44 reviews. Some of those just happened because it was an awesome show that they discovered.When something is new, people take notice. Click To Tweet
He is a very well-known person in the business and entrepreneur community for sure. He’s been a well-known figure in the entrepreneur community for at least a decade, if not more. He had not sent out an email or a social media post or anything yet. The reason I’m telling you about Dustin is because this subject about explicit or not explicit came up. In his recording of those foundational 25 episodes, the first ones, he had some guests use some four-letter words. The reason I wanted to reference Dustin’s podcast is this issue came up to make a show explicit or not because as he recorded those foundational 25 episodes, he had some customers just in the way they normally speak and in the context we’re talking about said, “We’ve got a s***load of customers who do this.” Another one was, “I don’t want to half-a** in doing this. I don’t want to do this process or venture if I’m going to do it in a half-a** way.”
He struggled with whether he wanted to edit out the swear words, maintain it as a clean podcast or whether to leave them in and mark his entire show explicit. It was to the point where in enough of these first 25 episodes, there were a handful, at least a good number of guests that were using profanity not in a vulgar way or anything but in a way that was natural in speech for them and the way they talk. Ultimately, Dustin decided to mark his show as explicit and just to make sure he’s covered. We’ve talked about this issue in past episodes where if you don’t mark your show as explicit and you do publish any profanity in any episode, if someone who’s listening in their car and their kids who are in the car and it’s playing over the open speakers hears the profanity, if you have not labeled your episode as explicit, then if they complain to iTunes, you’re at risk to have your show completely taken down and be listed off of iTunes. We certainly don’t recommend that.
In this case, Dustin decided, “For now, let’s list it as explicitly. We have to go back and re-edit and change that decision in the future. There is another option.” This is why Alexandra and I were discussing in reference to clients in general because this has come up with other clients. One of the things that people struggle with is if you’re insisting on having a clean show, which most shows are, meaning they’re not explicit. If you were to just remove the swear words that are said, edit them out as if they were never there and then hear the episode. In certain situations, that creates a bad context in terms of listening to the audio. Meaning what is said by your guests doesn’t make sense you when you take that swear word out of context. This picks up the quandary of what you do.
We came up with the idea to do what they do on television, which is to just bleep it out. That way, you can still make sense and any adult who’s listening will be able to fill-in the word but it’s still clean and follows iTunes rules for explicit versus non-explicit.
I see this most often if I’m watching maybe The Tonight’s Show or watching The Late Show on CBS. Usually, a guest isn’t caring or even thinking about the fact that they’re being recorded on TV and they will let swears fly here and there. I think they struggle with the same thing. It’s like, “If we edit that out, it’s chopping up the interview. It’s not going to make a whole lot of sense,” especially when it’s in video. They have different camera angles, so they could probably make it work but it’s a lot more work. Usually, what they decide to do is to just bleep it out. I’ve seen Stephen Colbert smile as that’s said while he fix it, “How do I pick up from there?” I’ve seen it happen where even the host of the show decides to swear in their opening monologue. More and more, they tend to bleep it out. The reality is if you’re listening to an episode and somebody says, “We have a bleep load of customers. We don’t want to do something in a half-bleeped way,” in the reality, it would make the most sense for people to understand the full context of the situation if you do that.
Again, we’re here to tell you that there’s no right or wrong answer here. In reality, this is a decision that is in the hands of the podcast host. It is a business decision, it is a personal preference or style decision. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. You just have to decide what makes the most sense to you. You want to leave it in, have your show be truly authentic and market explicit? I honestly don’t see any evidence in the history of all the podcasts that we’ve worked with and all the downloads that we see that having it marked as explicit reaches fewer people than if it’s marked as clean. In general, we’re involved with businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals, podcasting to grow their brand of the business. You’re dealing with adults all the time.
It doesn’t discourage them from listening to episodes, especially if you’re in a self-help field. You don’t have to worry about that at all because a lot of self-help field deals with love and relationship building so you end up with some explicit topics anyway. It’s especially in that category you do not have to worry whether you’re explicit or not because most of the podcast in that category are going to end up being explicit. In the business category, we haven’t seen evidence of any difference. We have some people that decided to market their whole show as explicit, others decide to keep it non-explicit and bleep out their words or cut them out completely. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in viewership.
I agree with that. Get Wealth Fit podcast hosted by Dustin Mathews is case in point. His show’s put out as a brand-new podcast and everything’s marked as explicit, whether there was any language that needed it or not. In some episodes, they did need it but he is ranking in the top charts from the get-go. We don’t see any evidence that says it’s a problem. However, we have another friend, Chris Krimitsos, who is one of the founders of Podfest Expo that has the kid-friendly joke of the day podcast. Clearly something like that is intended for the youth audience has to be marked as clean and you have to keep it clean because kids are going to be hearing it.
Explicit or not explicit is more of a warning to the person who’s listening to it like, “Don’t play this one in your car with your kids.” That’s what’s more important about marking your show as explicit or not. It’s not necessarily being bad content or bad words. It’s not like there’re just bad words in it, it’s also about, “Is the content appropriate for minors or not?” That is truly how podcast listeners view explicit or not and that’s why there doesn’t seem to be a difference in listenership. It just tells the person, “Times to listen to it maybe are not in your car and maybe you’re not putting it on speakerphone when you’re out somewhere in public,” that sort of thing.
I was thinking one of the places that people listen to podcast a lot more and more these days is not just in the car example I gave, which a lot of people listen, but over smart speakers. It’s becoming more and more popular. We have Alexa in our kitchen, so while we’re cooking, we’re listening to some podcast and multitasking.
Or Google Home.
Same thing. You can understand that that’s an open environment where if you have any kids in the house, they’re going to hear it. It brought up a question in me that I don’t know the answer to. We need to find this out and get back to our audience on a later date on it. I’ve never heard Alexa tell me when I go and listen any old podcast on there, “Fair warning, this is an explicit podcast,” before they play it. They just go and play it.
They do go and just play it but I do know in Tune In, which is the app you use on Alexa and on Google Podcast, which is the app Google Home uses, on both of those platforms, when you view the podcast on their platform like on a phone or on the computer, it does show you whether or not it’s explicit but no, they don’t speak that before you play it, which is interesting,
I wonder if that’s a standard that’s going to change in the future as the smart speakers become more popular. As parents, I would want a little warning that, “Please be aware. This podcast is marked explicit,” and then play it. You have the opportunity to say, “Alexa, stop. I’ll listen later.”
We’ll keep you up to date.
With the emergence of smart speakers and more things like these, they’re going to have to address those issues. We want to bring you some thought we’re having on this issue because I know everybody, as a podcaster, faces this issue at some point in time, whether you have a clean podcast or not. We’ve had it happen occasionally where a guest says something that should be marked explicit. We either have to edit it completely out or here’s another solution that we’re suggesting. You can keep the integrity and authenticity and the full context of the interview with your guest without having to mark your show explicit or if it’s no big deal, mark it explicit. That works.
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