New Media Pioneer: Jason Tippitt of Mental Nomad Podcast and Pod Across America
Mental Nomad Podcast: Eclectic music podcast. I play almost every sort of music, though geared a little more toward singer-songwriters.
Pod Across America: Also an eclectic music show, but each episode focuses on one American state at a time.
Q: How long have you been broadcasting?
A: The Mental Nomad Podcast started in March 2007; it was initially a
twice-a-week show but has been weekly for about a year now, with a few
exceptions. The show’s eclectic, with an intention toward including
music from outside the United States and music from female vocalists
in almost every episode.
Pod Across America started in October 2008 and will be two episodes a
month, usually one episode per state. I started in Delaware, the first
state, and will go through Hawaii, the 50th state, in order … a few
states will get two episodes just due to the sheer number of musicians
from those states.
Q: In your opinion, what does a good song need to consist of?
A: To me, a good song is one that gives me some sort of emotional
reaction … thrilling to the highs, coasting through the lows,
laughing at a clever turn of phrase or feeling my stomach churn over
some emotional conflict that rings true to me.
A song can be really simple and yet really powerful: Bob Dylan’s
“Tomorrow Is a Long Time” and Queen’s “Bijou” are contain very short,
very simple lyrics but the mix of the lyrics, the vocal delivery and
the music turns them into something magical.
Most of the music I really enjoy has lyrics, and usually the lyrics
are in English. I do listen to some instrumental music, and I do
listen to some non-English-language music, but the instrumentalists or
vocalists really have to soar above and beyond for me to really engage
Q: What is your favorite band or favorite genre of music and why?
A: Attorney and writer Andrew Vachss has observed that “blues is truth,”
and I agree wholeheartedly. Blues gets down to the core of the human
experience, the raw truth of emotions laid bare. It’s naked and
honest, and even when the blues singer engages in bragging, the
exaggerations point the way toward his or her insecurities.
More broadly, music that tells a story is what really gets my
attention. Blues, certainly folk music, certain rap and rock ‘n’ roll,
the cabaret storytelling of a Tom Waits or the deeply emotional jazz
of Jimmy Scott … music with personality.
Q: What changes in content laws, broadcasting rights, etc., have
affected you most?
A: I feel unqualified to answer this question. I haven’t paid a lot of
attention to the legal issues, whereas I probably should pay more
attention. In early episodes, I was a lot quicker to download a song
from MySpace and play it, then ask permission after the fact. I
wouldn’t dream of doing that now.
Using a content provider such as the Podsafe Music Network and working
with publicists such as the folks at Ariel Publicity — where the
music is pre-cleared and podsafe — is the smart way to go, I’ve
found. I’d rather be able to find new music I might not have heard
before and play that than risk getting sued for playing a U2 song that
everyone’s going to hear all over the place, anyway.
So the limitations put in place by respecting the law challenges me to
look for the next Bob Dylan, the next Tom Waits, the next Emmylou
Q: A recent study found blogs to be more effective than MySpace in
generating album sales; do you feel podcasts have that power?
A: I haven’t personally experienced any huge revenue surge from doing
podcasts and the blogs associated with them, though I do include links
to both the music I play and, to a lesser extent, to the videos that
strike my fancy from artists podsafe and non-podsafe.
That said, I have absolutely discovered new music that I’ve
subsequently bought through blogs and podcasts. Blogs and podcasts
offer a great way to sample a lot of music that I wouldn’t hear on
heavily formatted local radio or even the music channels on digital
Podcasts come to you. Blogs come to you, if you syndicate their feeds
through a reader. They require less effort than logging into MySpace
or Facebook, slogging through the many pages of contacts you have, and
noticing when a particular band has updated the profile. So yes, I
think podcasts are a more forward-thinking way of marketing a band —
it’s letting other people be your street team, rather than trusting
people to find you.