To round off my week of podcasting-themed blog post, I want to take a closer look at the show that’s responsible for my love of the medium and the reason I started my own podcast; the incomparable and brilliant That’s Not Metal.
For the uninitiated, That’s Not Metal is a weekly show about metal and rock music presented by Terry ‘Beez’ Bezer and Stephen Hill, a pair of hosts who can boast experience of working for Metal Hammer, Rock Sound, Team Rock and Scuzz TV between them. In short, they know their stuff.
Now, I could spend this blog waxing lyrical about what wonderful content Hill and Beez offer every Friday, how their show is the audio highlight of my week and how my record collection has already been vastly improved thanks to their recommendations over the past few months. However, I’m not quite going to do that (although some of what I’ve put in that last sentence may well get mentioned).
I wanted to look at That’s Not Metal to highlight how this influential pair of journalists are using the medium of an independent podcast to not only grow their influence but also maintain it; in terms of using a podcast to position yourself as a thought leader or, in short, someone whose words will always be taken seriously, there is plenty to learn from That’s Not Metal.
It would be easy for an outsider to look at the pedigree of That’s Not Metal’s presenters – who I forgot to add both had slots presenting the hugely popular Metal Hammer podcast – and not be in any way surprised at the success of and love for their show. If you’re part of ‘our world’ as Beez puts it (i.e. a British fan of metal and rock), you’ll know who this pair is and you will be inclined to listen to them.
However, it’s not as simple as that.
For all of the magazines and media empires Hill and Beez have worked for, That’s Not Metal is a 100% independent venture. Any temptation to rest on their laurels or reign in their opinions to appease advertisers – as might be the case when working for an established big hitter – goes out of the window for this show.
Yes, Hill and Beez are undoubtedly influencers in ‘our world’, but with That’s Not Metal they are staying influential and growing this influence every Friday by being utterly brilliant, entertaining, compelling and, perhaps crucially, always winning your trust.
Let me explain further.
Back on the very first episode of That’s Not Metal – before they had their amazing theme tune (courtesy of Skindred’s Benji Webbe), before I owned my prized That’s Not Metal beanie and before the hilarity of long, glorious hair and wanting Simple Plan to die – they proved their worth and set the standard for what was to come. In this first show, where Hill and Beez reviewed 10 albums that had been released so far in 2015, they offered the upcoming British band Employed to Serve and their phenomenal debut album ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ as a recommendation for us listeners to go away and explore.
It’s fair to say that everyone who has done so loved it – I certainly did.
With one simple recommendation, That’s Not Metal won the trust of everyone listening and established Hill and Beez as the go-to people for what’s hot in ‘our world’ right now. They saw the reaction to their first suggestion, took confidence from it and offered us more bands to check – each time putting forward absolute gems.
The reason I’ve been able to add bands like Creeper, Milk Teeth, Black Peaks and The Dirty Nil into my collection (and favourite bands list) is down to them, and I can’t thank them enough.
Their album reviews are consistently excellent and engaging. Listening to them is like having two sage big brothers guiding you through what new releases to explore and which to avoid. Whether it’s shouting to the hills about underground bangers like the most recent albums from Magrudergrind or The Armed, or being bold enough to call out underperforming big names like Def Leppard and Iron Maiden, I now know that I can rely on That’s Not Metal to call it.
And their influence is spreading; just the other day I had an email from Amazon recommending me the That’s Not Metal-approved album ‘Winter’ by Oceans of Slumber. What was most interesting here though, was that all of the related albums that other people were checking out had all been highlighted on the show. Coincidence? I think not.
By being so on point every week, they’ve also earned enough trust from their audience to try a few different things, such as as including interviews with special guests every now and then. This also proves one of their own theories, as Hill and Beez regularly talk about bands being good enough on a consistent basis to earn the right the try something different every now and then.
They’re also redefining how podcasters can survive; as I mentioned earlier, That’s Not Metal is 100% independent. You won’t hear adverts for Squarespace, Audible or Mailchimp here. Instead, they consulted their audience and came up with a subscription offer that, if you enjoy their regular show, is too good to refuse.
While you can always get their Friday show for free, for £17 a year you get access to a wealth of bonus specials that are some of the best pieces of rock journalism I’ve ever consumed. Whether it was their nostalgia-inducing specials on both Roadrunner Records and the year 2002, the hilarious A-Z of awful or their incredibly innovative and in-depth pieces on Pantera and Metallica, they make the subscription fee seem an absolute steal. To be honest, based on the quality so far, they could increase their prices this year and I don’t think anyone would cancel – I certainly wouldn’t.
They’ve shown that, by listening to and involving their audience and giving them what they want, you can make a living from podcasting without having to go cap-in-hand to sponsors and potentially compromise your output. Any other podcasters considering implementing a premium option should stop and look at how That’s Not Metal do it.
Finally, there is no arrogance when it comes to That’s Not Metal and no sitting back and getting comfortable – they’re pushing the boundaries of what a podcast can do when it puts building and nurturing its community at the heart of what it does.
This was evident last month when they organised a charity pub quiz to raise money for the American hardcore band The Ghost Inside, who were in a terrible coach crash last Autumn. Six months on from that first episode – comprised of two passionate music fans sat in Beez’s front room round a microphone talking about metal – they were able to pack out a London pub, offer prizes donated by big players such as Playstation and Download Festival and raise a staggering $2,000 for their cause, not to mention put on the best quiz night I’ve ever been to.
Just think what they’ll be able to do in a year’s time!
I’ll round off with probably the biggest compliment little old me can offer to Hill and Beez. Thanks to their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm I’ve not only had the guts to start my own podcast about music but they’ve reignited my passion for music, me me feel absolutely ok about taking music so seriously and, if truth be told, have made me fall in love with music in a way that I haven’t done since I was a teenager.
These guys are real influencers and are worthy of being called so – if you have ambitions for your podcast give them a listen, see how they operate and learn from them.