Updated: Feb 15, 2019
It won't be all that surprising to hear that February is absolutely speeding by in comparison to January, which felt more like a slow trudge through molasses, allowing us the time to prepare everything and order things and make last-minute decisions, until we reached the light at the end of the tunnel that was PodUK. Point being, it's already been 12 days since PodUK, and it's gone real quick, suddenly. There are still a couple of post-event things to tie up, but mostly it's all done with, and that's weird.
So I thought I'd write down some thoughts What I've Been Having! Inspired particularly by the feedback forms, which have all been an absolute joy to read, by the way, thank you! (.. Okay, an absolute joy once I got over the initial panic attack of 'oh god it wasn't perfect, oh god', because Anxiety)
I'm still cursing the ever-loving shit out of the snow. Of all the days it chose! Of all the days. That's nature for you, I suppose. That said, one thought that keeps coming back is 'would the day have been the same with more attendees?' In the big scheme of things, 150 people ain't many, but it certainly kept things chilled and friendly. I wonder how many people it would take before the scale tips and things begin to get more complicated - but then, that's just another fun challenge to find a solution for as an event manager. Saying that, though, it's all down to the attendees, to the guests, to the team, that everything went as well as it did. People make the event, or something. If 500 people turned up and they were all as nice as the 150 we got on the 2nd, it'd certainly go a long way towards event success.
Caroline Crampton of Hotpod posted a lovely PodUK write-up, which contains this quote:
" .. What really stood out to me was the atmosphere: it was one of the kindest, most supportive podcast things I’ve ever been to, with strangers striking up conversations in the halls and plenty of listener-talent mingling."
That's all you, my friends.
[Photographs by Neil Munro of Clockwork Prism, Jess Anson]
Something that got brought up a few times in the feedback forms was whether or not we planned to have so much audio drama at PodUK, and the honest answer is no, we didn't! It just sort of organically came about the way, and although for future events we'll likely try to get a little more variety in there, it ended up being in our favour, I think, for a first event. Here's the thing: PodUK is, at its heart, a fan convention. It's still finding it's feet in that regard, as fandoms in podcasting aren't nearly as solidified as, say, TV fandoms, or anime fandoms, but they're there. On average, 33% of attendees said they were podcasting fans first and foremost, to put it qualitatively. Point being, stories - good stories, relatable characters, gripping plot - bring about passionate fans, and that showed at PodUK.
It's also been mentioned that audio dramas are, in the majority, kind of a British thing. Not that I've looked up statistics, but musing on it, it would make sense - we are a culture that's been brought up on radio dramas, so it makes sense that others would want to go on to make their own independently. Certainly, a huge percentage of podcasters who have asked us if they can participate in PodUK have been audio dramas, and we're happy to be somewhere they feel they have a platform. Our emphasis is on independent British podcasting, and audio drama is a huge part of that venn diagram.
[Audio dramas, photographed by Neil Munro]
We do also see the comments saying people felt the audio drama emphasis became a little samey, with voice actors turning up in multiple performances. But that speaks to the familial nature of British audio drama podcasting - one that I've really enjoyed getting a look into by doing PodUK. It's such a supportive atmosphere, with everyone helping everyone else, supporting their creations, making sure they're all heard. It's lovely. Plus, on a logistical note, sharing actors meant lowering travel costs, something I'm sure we're all keen to do! Most audio dramas that came to PodUK are, I believe, situated in London, so not everyone could afford to get to Birmingham, or had the time available to make the journey. Hence, voice actor sharing to compensate for those who couldn't. Still! I understand the point.
Which brings me, actually, to another point - diversity. We didn't have it. For future events, we absolutely, 100% want to have BAME focused shows, LGBTQ+ focused shows. I won't make any excuses, because we failed here, and to the very best of our abilities, it won't happen again. Podcasting is a fantastic space for minorities to get out there and make themselves heard, and as a result is also attracting listeners of the same calibre, which is fantastic. We want to help facilitate that, and that we couldn't at PodUK is something I want to rectify. After all, something that made me really happy was hearing from Boo Makes Things, who was selling her adorable handmade crocheted products, that she sold a lot of her LGBTQ+ themed items at PodUK. As a member of the 'A' in the elongated LGTBQIA, and with a team comprising most of the rest of those letters, I'm so glad to provide an environment where those also in there can feel welcome and safe :)
A'ight, next up, tickets. Most people have said they were reasonably priced, which is good - a decent proportion even said you'd pay more! If you were wondering how we figured it - venue cost divided by perceived amount of attendees, basically put. We still lost out, but not by much, and if you make more than you spend at a first time event you're probably Event Jesus or something.
I'll try not to get into too much boring detail here, but events aren't cheap to run, and, as was said to me many times (and by me, lol) during the planning process - podcasting is done by those without money for those without money, and we as event planners are no exception! It's sort of amazing, the sheer amount of things you have to take into account in an event budget that attendees wouldn't think twice about. With that in mind, all ticket proceeds go straight back into the next event. Everyone helped out of their own good will, PodUK team included, myself included, and from it still came an amazing event. I wish, wish, wish I could pay everyone involved, but that's for Jess 10 years down the line when PodUK is big enough for that. Or, well, hopefully less than 10 years. I can dream :P
Of course, there's no way we can get there without support, but that's a post for another day. (Though I will say - sponsors helped dramatically, and I am incredibly, eternally grateful!!!)
Finally.. another PodUK? Gosh darn it, we hope so! Planning is in process, though there's a huge amount to consider, so it could take a little while. Needless to say, we'll keep you in the loop! We have some... ideas. We do, we do. :) Want to get involved in future PodUK happenings? Shoot us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Til next time! Jess