Every year, Spotify’s SoundUp program helps aspiring podcasters from underrepresented backgrounds gain the expertise they need to create their own podcast. The only criteria? A good idea and a big dream. This year in Germany, 20 aspiring LGBTTIQ* podcasters were chosen out of 300 applicants to take part. Those selected got a chance to start their podcasting journey through the seven-week virtual program, honing their skills in storytelling, designing a podcast, editing audio, and learning the business of the medium.
By the end of the program, three of the participants, Fabio, Taiina aka Maria Moschus, and Tai were declared the winners. Their podcasts consist of topics such as “tracing and connecting your identity as a queer Polish-German person,” “personal stories of drag artists around the world,” and “safe spaces for marginalized groups in nerd culture.” Over the next six months, they will each have regular check-ins as part of a mentorship program, and will eventually have the opportunity to pitch their format as a Spotify Original podcast.
Check out what each winner had to say:
Fabio: “I was able to learn a lot not only from the numerous experts in sound, technology, language and concept development, but also from the 20 absolutely horizon-expanding participants that Spotify brought together. For this experience a huge thank you to all of you—you have made the year 2020 a lot sweeter for me!”
Taiina aka Maria Moschus: “I am super happy to finally share these exciting stories with the world! There is still a lot of work ahead of me, but I am really looking forward to the day of release. Who knows, maybe we will celebrate it with a drag show!”
Tai: “My podcast idea was born shortly before the deadline out of frustration at the spaces I move around in. It’s incredible that I’ve gotten so much good feedback since my first application interview—which made me very proud again at the end of the pitch. This gives me confirmation as a person, because I put everything into my podcast idea that makes me special. Especially as a trans* person, working only with the voice makes me vulnerable.”
Three participants from SoundUp 2019 who already have their own podcasts on Spotify were also involved in the 2020 program, serving as mentors and sharing practical tips on creating a successful podcast. We asked them a little bit about what’s changed from SoundUp 2019 to now.
Podcast: Gay Mom Talking
“By now I have become a lasting part of the queer podcast world! Having produced 25 episodes made me get used to some kind of relaxed podcast routine and I am grateful for many loyal listeners. However, some interviews still make me a little nervous, but I usually feel very comfortable in my role of a podcast host which I have been for more than a year now.
In the last year I have learned a lot—both about podcasting and myself. My podcast project has even helped me to grow a bit personally. I can now make many new private and professional contacts and I am proud of having achieved what I intended with my podcast.”
Podcast: Somewhere Over The Hay Bale
“My political opinion on queer life in the countryside becomes more clear and profound. My podcast does not only stand for visibility, but also for the constant demand of creating safety and safe spaces for “coming outs” and queer life in rural areas. Many people helped me share my point of view and I am very grateful for that. I enjoy being an advocate for these matters, receiving messages from people all over Germany—I have the feeling that my podcast and the inherent mission develops into more than just an audio file, which feels great.”
Podcast: BIN ICH SÜßSAUER?
“Before SoundUp 2019, I knew nothing about podcast production and what potential there was in the podcast world. Also, I was not sure if anybody would be interested in stories of queer Asian people living in Germany, since we are seldom visible in the media. Through the mentoring and lectures provided by SoundUp, however, I learned not only technical skills necessary to start my own podcast, but also developed the confidence in me that life stories of queer Asians do matter and my podcast would connect people across boundaries. As I produced the first interview of Bin Ich Süßsauer?, I stubbornly tried to stick to what I learned from SoundUp, especially regarding the length of the episode. Very soon, however, I learned that life stories needed more time to be told and people were ready to take time to listen to them. Today, I have a growing number of audience and I am grateful that they share their enthusiasm with me via mails and messages.”
Spotify’s SoundUp is held in the U.S., UK, Germany, Australia, and now Sweden and Brazil. The program assists aspiring podcasters from underrepresented backgrounds in gaining the expertise they need to create their own podcasts. Read more about it here.
In the German market, LGBTTIQ* stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer; the asterisk represents unnamed identities.