Danny Brown: A Call to Support
Updated: 4 days ago
At its core, podcasting has always been about marketing. So it should come as more surprise that Danny Brown found his way into podcasting.
I first became aware of Danny when I found his assisting many others on Facebook groups with typical podcast problems like, "How do I get more Downloads?", and "I just bought a Blue Yeti and it sucks, what is a better podcast mic to use?" That led to Danny becoming about of renowned Captivate.FM as a support leader.
In this episode, you will hear answers to some of those typical podcast questions, find out Danny's take on Podcasting 2.0 and the value of having transcription on your show, and what Scottish football club he cheers for and why. As a fun bonus, we are going to attempt to use a new transcription service to see how it fares with Danny's Scottish accent and my Canadian accent. Check below the transcript to see Aidan's review of the new service.
Speaker 1 00:00:01
The sound off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Speaker 2 00:00:11
Today, someone I would like you to meet. Danny Brown. Hails from Scotland and moved to Canada. He works customer support for Captivate FM. That's a very good podcast host, by the way, if you're looking to start a podcast, danny was a big help. When I went looking for a transcription service to use, he suggested Poten dot IO, which is sadly no longer in service. Not sure if that's temporary or not, but as of now, we're looking for something new. And by the way, as you can hear from Danny's voice, finding a transcription service that functions well with accents is a must. Danny's path to working with Captivate FM is more captivating. He's been a regular participant on Facebook Groups and helping people with everyday podcast issues. We're going to answer some of those questions today. Danny Brown joins me from the podcast capital of Canada, Huntsville, Ontario.
Speaker 3 00:01:03
I thought I would come out of the gate with a very, very serious question. And is it Celtic, rangers, hibs or hearts?
Speaker 4 00:01:10
I'm from Edinburgh originally, so it should technically be Hibs or Hearts, but I was always a Meadow Bank fiscal supporter, which was like a third tier team, really small team in Edinburgh and then Edinburgh City Council didn't want a small team competing with Harts and Hibs, so they took the stadium off them and booted them out. Edinburgh, they moved 7 miles west to Livingston, renamed to Leinster, and that's my team.
Speaker 3 00:01:32
How did you get to Canada?
Speaker 4 00:01:33
I met a girl was away. I was a big fan of Dashboard Confessional, which is a very old emo band from the early Knots. And I was on the website, on the forum and just reviewing their latest album, where I think I'd maybe talked about some Scottish punk music or whatever, and this girl replied and said, I really like that. My granddad's Scottish. I'd love to hear more punk music, stuff like that. So we got communicating. Six months later, something clicked. She came over to visit me in the UK in October of that year. I came over to visit her in Canada December of that year, and that was 2006. Been here ever since. And now we've got two kids and been married 16 years. 15 years.
Speaker 3 00:02:11
After going up and down the LinkedIn, it looks like at your core, you're a marketer.
Speaker 4 00:02:15
I am, yeah, for my sins back in the day. And my my background is corporate marketing and marketing agencies. But I moved away from that probably about 2018. 2019. I've been doing it for years now. I've been there for a long time, so I just moved away and I was getting more into the tech side, like podcast and Lake hosting. That attracted my geek side from a career point of view as well.
Speaker 3 00:02:38
So what was your first podcast experience?
Speaker 4 00:02:41
I would say unofficially, 2009. And that's when I had one singular episode on Blog Talk Radio, where I interviewed Chris Brogan, and Chris was like a really leading light of social media at the time. So I thought, that's pretty much my peak. I'm done, I've reached my guest status is up there, so I'm done. So that was my first episode and then I didn't do anything until 2016. So what's that seven years approaching now?
Speaker 3 00:03:07
I guess when I look at podcasting, I see a marketing opportunity. Every time somebody puts out a podcast episode, you've got the marketing background. How do you look at the opportunity for podcasting? Because I'm guessing you see a marketing opportunity before you see monetization.
Speaker 4 00:03:26
Yeah, and I think that's true for any marketing. My colleague Mark, who's one of the cofounders of Captivate, where I work, is an awesome marketer, and he's always telling, you, know your goals first and know what you want to achieve first, and then suddenly you work that back, sort of reverse engineering and what steps you're going to take to get there. So if you want to sell a book, if you want to sell an online course, great. Who's your audience and what's the cost of that? What's the benefit to them and the cost to them? And then, okay, what's all the steps leading up to that? So, simply, podcasting. You want to release a podcast? Sure, you can release a hobby one and not even worry about monetization it's for you, your friends, your family to listen to. But if you want to take it seriously and make it generate revenue, et cetera, for your business, yourself, your brand, whatever way, end goal, work, back, start point, and then that's your path to that end goal.
Speaker 3 00:04:18
How did you get involved with Captivate?
Speaker 4 00:04:21
I started off as a customer. I was a user, I joined them. I think I tried maybe three or four different hosts prior to landing on Captivate, and I wanted to start to experiment more with different formats and different types. But at the time, if you had an additional podcast, you had to pay an additional licence fee for that podcast, which got pretty expensive pretty fast. And I don't know, I think it may be it was on a Facebook group or somewhere that I I learned about Captivating. They had like, it fit my needs. It was unlimited podcast, unlimited, no upload limits, etc. So it really fits my needs. So I became a customer. I'm going to say 2018, not 2019. They came up with beta 2019, so maybe even a little bit later, maybe even early 2020 when I talked to them, to Captivate, and then I just sort of got to know the team. I was a very active member of their private Facebook group for their customers, I guess I should say our customers now. And I was just always helping people out with questions because I'd been going through that anyway, so I knew the answer to it. So when they posted a position that spoke to that. I thought, you know, I'm going to reach out to Mark and see, I throw my name in the hat and here I am.
Speaker 3 00:05:23
I kind of love going through all the Facebook groups and seeing all the questions I think we get a lot of them are the same. A lot of them are, how do I get more downloads? What's your standard answer when somebody asks, how do I get more downloads on my podcast?
Speaker 4 00:05:38
I think that's often the wrong question because downloads, yeah, that's a great starting point for getting listeners. You can't have a listener without a download, but a download may never be listened to. It's a catch 22 situation. I can auto download from Apple podcasts, I may never go back to that, but it cancelled the download. So it gives me the podcaster, a false sense of security. So it's more about, well, why do you want X amount of downloads? Is it to attract sponsors? Is it to attract advertisers? Is it to make you feel good? What's your end goal to these downloads? And then why does it matter so much? So if it's the attract sponsors? Well, downloads is the wrong question. You need to be looking at the engagement point of view and how engaged are the listeners of these downloads? So I always like advise people to be wary of just thinking about downloads alone, but go beyond that. Thinking back to your marketing question and what does the end goal look like? So you got to download, what does that mean? Does that mean that helps you reach your revenue? Great. But how are you going to make that download turn into that? So always have the goal of what the download means to you.
Speaker 3 00:06:39
If you could wave your magic wand and make one big podcast mistake go away for everybody who was starting out, what would it be?
Speaker 4 00:06:48
It would probably be editing. I hate editing. I've got better at it. I appreciate it. Now, I appreciate the value of editing, obviously, but it's not my favourite party podcasting. And so many people get told by, you know, podcasting leaders, experts, or whatever you want to call them, that, you know, don't worry about the editing. Be yourself, be natural. Your audience will love it. The audiences won't love mouth clicks, they won't love lots of arms, they won't love the dog barking through next door's neighbour. Even if your content is awesome, joe Rogan may be the most popular podcast in the world. I don't think he'd get away with having really crappy audio at some stage that would impact. So I would always say think about editing and how you can do it. You don't have to be like a super highly produced editor, but just make it clean. Clean it up and make the levels the sound the same level. Keep your audio the same level. There's nothing worse than listen to your podcast and the ad comes in and it's five times louder than the audio file.
Speaker 3 00:07:43
So that brings up dynamic audio insertion because you were just talking about ads that would come into a show. What are some of the best ways that one can use dynamic audio insertion to really boost their podcast?
Speaker 4 00:07:54
Make it really relevant to the audience? I mean, there's a lot of ways you can use dynamic audio insertion, dynamic content insertion, whatever you want to call it, make it really, really relevant to the audience. A lot of people think of dynamic audio as an ad. So I'm going to do a preroll ad from a sponsor and then I'm into my show. Or a midroll ad all about sponsor and that's great. But if the sponsor or the advertiser or the dynamic insertion doesn't match the topic of the episode or your show or your audience, there's that disconnect and you're going to lose your listeners. And then these all important downloads you mentioned earlier, they're going to go away. So think of your audience. Let's say a seasonal message. We've just finished Christmas new Year. If you celebrate Christmas, for example. So why don't you put a little jingle at the start of all your episodes, hey, happy holidays. Whatever you're celebrating, I hope you have a safe one and we'll see you in 2023, something like that. It's a nice little seasonal message. If you're a news podcast, if something's happened, can you use dynamic content to update a story that is now out of date? Because new evidence has come to light of a criminal case, for example. So there's lots of ways that you can keep it relevant and live and active as opposed to just advertisements.
Speaker 3 00:09:01
You sound great. You got a roadcaster that I believe might be new at your end. It sounds great, but what would you suggest for somebody who's starting out as a first microphone, perhaps?
Speaker 4 00:09:12
Yeah, first microphone. You don't need to spend a lot. The main thing I always tell people is try treat your room first and make that sound good. So that means if you've got a lot of hard walls, if you're in your bedroom or spare room or whatever, and you got a lot of hard surfaces, try treat them first or maybe cushions, moving blankets, anything like that, that dead ends, that sound from a very hard surface. That's a great place to start. Doesn't matter if you've got like a $50 mic or a $500 mic, if you've got a bad environment, it's going to suffer. But yeah, I just started out, I started out originally with Snowball Ice, which is like a tiny little mic, picks up every noise in the room. And you can tell by my early episodes that I use that mic. But get a great mic, like a Samsung QTU or an ATR 200, 100 X. They're dynamic mics. They're a USB and XLR. So you can plug that mic straight into your laptop and start recording right away. Use a free recording programme like Garage Band or Audacity. So you've got very low output to start and you can use a free podcast to get your podcast up and running. So very little output because I don't want people to spend money and then find they don't like enjoy podcasting. So start off low, work to your budget and then build from there.
Speaker 3 00:10:20
One little suggestion that I have for people who do start out and they're not sure, maybe they want to continue the podcast past maybe two, three, four episodes just to get a few of them out there. It's okay to go and put your podcast up on Anchor and then when you say, okay, I'm really serious about this, then give you a call and move it over to Captivate and get the upgrade, as it were. What are some of the things on Captivate that any beginner would be excited about getting involved with Captivate for?
Speaker 4 00:10:44
So one of the things, I mean, we've got a whole bunch of tools. Obviously you mentioned dynamic ad and session analytics are top notch. Obviously I'm biassed, but our analytics are top notch. We've got a whole suite of tools inside. It's easy distribution, but one of the easiest and the best things that we've got is our resources for education. So inside our dashboard we have the growth labs, which helps you. We've got a whole bunch of online courses and videos, helps you grow your podcast. We've got how to start your podcast. We've just launched a course on identifying the four key stoppers that stop people from launching a podcast, which one is you? And then we can help you from that. So I think you've got a great resource section. It's all been put together by passionate podcasters. Everyone in Captivate is a passionate podcaster. Mark here and Gary, myself, Sarah, everyone's. Passionate podcasters. So we know what's missing if you like, sometimes from the podcasting space when it comes to starting or being a new podcast. And we really want to make you a better podcaster. And that's why we give our tools on all plans. There's no hidden analytics or hidden upgrades hidden behind plans. Every podcast, all features from day one.
Speaker 2 00:11:50
In just a second, more with Danny, including some of his thoughts about what lies ahead for podcasting in 2023. Also, I'm using a new transcription service and you can see how well it handled. My Canadian accent and Danny's Scottish firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaker 1 00:12:08
This Podcast supports Podcasting 20. If you like this show or getting value from it, hit the boost button now. If you don't have a boost button, you can get one now at new podcastapps.com.
Speaker 3 00:12:21
So you're one of the catalysts along with James Cridland and Rob Greenley for encouraging me to get transcription for my podcast. Why do podcasters need transcription? Why should they have transcription for their podcast?
Speaker 4 00:12:34
And that's a great question. Why should they the key one is accessibility. There's. I think I read a stat where it mentioned just in the US alone, I think 56% of adults are hard of hearing, so they will struggle on an audio on the podcast. It's why when you see an audiogram on Twitter that's been created for a new episode and the captions aren't there, that's missing a big chunk of audience. You should always prove transcripts on an audiogram, but it's all about accessibility. If I'm hard of hearing, but I want to enjoy a podcast just like anybody else, I've got the transcript, the text of that audio right in front of me. And depending on the player that you might have installed with the transcript, the words will follow along as have been spoken. So, first and foremost, accessibility. But it does help with SEO as well. The way that transcripts are put together, you've got these little nuggets that are hidden away deep in the transcript that search engine algorithms and AI can pull out and help listeners find your show.
Speaker 3 00:13:28
So SEO and transcripts I find interesting because I see some people, they will just attach the transcript to the bottom of the blog post and then all of a sudden the blog post is a 15 minutes read and Google's going to mark that below the line. So what's the proper way to really sort of infuse the transcripts so we do get the best SEO?
Speaker 4 00:13:47
Yeah, and my colleagues there would be far better to talk about that she's SEO through and through. But yeah, when you attach it like that, as you mentioned, you've got this huge, huge lantern. If you've got like a three hour podcast episode, that's going to be a long scroll for the transcripts. I'm a big fan of the embedded transcript players where it's still on page, but now you've got an embedded player by the transcript service, so your show notes are on the normal blog post and then underneath that you've got the embedded transcript player and that will play and scroll along with you. That saves a lot. I know a lot of people say, well, just link out to a PDF. But the problem is you're not making accessible because now you're forcing the hard of hearing and those with accessible issues to actually click another link just to access the transcripts. And don't even get me started on people that offer transcripts of the premium feature. Only people do that. People do that and they're proud of it and thinking, no thank you, I won't be listening to your show. But yeah, I just think when you're talking about accessibility and you say, well, this particular part of the audience has to pay to enjoy it like everybody else. No, not for me.
Speaker 3 00:14:52
Sometimes I think it's old broadcast habits that come back because I remember you get to the end of the local talk show or the town hall meeting for a transcript of this episode, send 89 95 in a self addressed amped envelope and we'll send you it back.
Speaker 4 00:15:07
Yeah. And maybe it's, you know, old school, you know, broadcasting or TV media people using it, but I just I don't see it as much now but when I see it, it's it's an annoyance for sure.
Speaker 3 00:15:19
You're up in Huntsville, Ontario, which to me is cottage country. It's not far from Algonquin Park where I used to spend summers. How's the internet up there?
Speaker 4 00:15:28
You know what, it's pretty good. We're on Hub with Kojiko at the moment, so it's not like a massive plan, but we've got 150 meg downloads. Speed Lakeland, who's our main provider up here, they are installing fibre outside our house next spring. Actually this spring 22 and three in a year. So that would be like 1 TB or whatever. It's going to be crazy fast, so it's actually pretty good. They're investing a lot of money in it, but as you get further out, we are not too bad. We're sort of in the middle of a Huntsville and Bryce Bridge which is like two large towns in Muskoka, so we're kind of feeding off their internet.
Speaker 3 00:16:02
Can you share some of the podcasting 2.0 initiatives that you're banding about the group between you, Mark and Sarah?
Speaker 4 00:16:09
Yes. So we already we support officer, we support transcripts, we support the people tag. We're also looking Mark and Kieran who are the Cofounders, they've been speaking to Adam and Dave pretty much since the beginning of podcast and 2.0 and they're always in a lot of contact. We always look at the tags that will make sense for our users or customers. We could add all the tags right away, but we feel that some they'll hinder the users. So I mean, there's a lot of talk obviously about value for value. That's one that we get asked a lot about taxonomy. We included the taxonomy in their podcast taxonomy. So there's a lot of tags that we're looking at, but it has to make sense for A, our roadmap and B obviously our users.
Speaker 3 00:16:48
You'd be excited to know that if you listen to this podcast on the Fountain app, you can send us some satoshi's right now.
Speaker 4 00:16:55
There you go. And that's the funny thing. I launched the new podcast just at the beginning of last month. It's like a really short, fun podcast and it's main audience is on Fountain. My main audience has always been like Apple, Spotify and for whatever reason Fountain and it has nothing to do I find a lot of podcasts on Fountain are value or bitcoin, et cetera, has nothing to do with them. So I was surprised to see that come through.
Speaker 3 00:17:17
I saw you mentioned in a blog post about your podcast taking a small hiatus because the people who wanted to be on your podcast were really all about pitching themselves. So can you talk a little bit about the poor form, about pitching yourself and really do us all a favour, that if people are going to be pitching themselves to be on a podcast, maybe don't or do it better.
Speaker 4 00:17:35
Yeah. And I think it's nice because it shows validation of what you're doing with your podcast, which is good, but it's not so good because now, like you mentioned, I took a hiatus with that one because I was just tired of just getting pitched by people that want to come on and speak about the books or their courses, et cetera. Not speak about their experiences, which could help my listeners, because that's really why you want to guess on. It's all about their experience, their story, and how that can help your listeners based on whatever topic your podcast is about. So I'm a big fan, if you're going to pitch yourself to your podcast, a know what the podcast is about. I got a podcast, most of my podcasts are about the podcast in space, and I got a pitch about someone that wanted to talk about feminine products and I thought, that's interesting. I'm not sure, maybe my wife could come on as a guest host or something. So I think sometimes a lot of people see podcasting. They've been told at podcasting is this multi billion dollar industry, it's growing all the time. It's a great way to get exposure as a guest. So pitch all the podcasts and they don't listen to the show, they just see someone speaks about podcasts online or the podcast appears popular or whatever, because they see people sharing it or recommending it, et cetera. So, yeah, just do your homework and don't be a dick when you pitch. Yes, you want exposure for yourself. That's what the podcaster will do. He or she will make sure that their audience is exposed to you and afterwards promote the heck out of you and your episode. So that's going to come. You don't have to sell you or yourself. When you're on, what do you tell.
Speaker 3 00:19:05
People who ask if their podcast should be on video?
Speaker 4 00:19:10
I think if it makes sense for them, by all means. I know people say, well, video is replacing audio. I don't subscribe to that. I think there's space for both. I only listen to audio podcasts if I do have video on it in the background, I'm not even aware it's on it's probably because it's autoplay on my phone or something. But, yeah, if you're going to do it, by all means do it. And to your point, Matt, you were on about it earlier. Experiment first and see if you like it, and then if you do, go fullto. So it takes a lot to podcast, you know what it takes to research, outline a guest, an interview, do the editing, etc. And that's twice as much again when you're looking at video, if you're going to offer both versions. So, yeah, by all means if you're interested in video. But be wary that it's not just a matter of getting an iPhone camera, sticking it on and then uploading it to YouTube and you're going to make a million dollars because it's just not going to happen. So, yeah, there's space for everything and videos, your preference, go for it.
Speaker 3 00:20:04
Previous years, when it came to making podcast predictions, between 2018 and 2022, with a pandemic in there, it seemed to be a little bit more obvious when we were making our podcast predictions for the year. But I I feel that 2023, it's harder. Do you have any podcast predictions that you want to take a stab at?
Speaker 4 00:20:22
Well, I think the interesting thing, I just saw a report about how 2023 advertising budgets are being pulled back. Advertisements might be like a huge boom, obviously, for podcasting. In 2022 was an amazing year for advertisers and advertising and podcasters, lots of revenue for all creators. But now Spotify is pulling back with exclusive shows. Amazon's just, I think, cancelled a $10 million deal with a show that we're going to do. Companies are letting people go. I think what's happening is we're getting to that point now where it's plateauing and now you really have to be doing something good, or you really have to be doing something different, or you really have to be offering something that not a lot of others are offering when it comes to advertising monetization, et cetera. So I think we're going to see more of that what's the word?
Speaker 3 00:21:07
Speaker 4 00:21:08
Yeah, more of that attrition. Thank you. More of that attrition where it's not going to be the Wild West now, where it's going to be money thrown all over the place. And I think, like spotify. They just lost Brenny Brown. Her podcast is no longer exclusive. Joe Rogan is coming up at the end of his contract, I think, so he might go. So I think it's going to be interesting to see exclusives. If that's going to be the case, I think maybe exclusives are going to be less now and companies like Spotify, like Amazon, like Wandering, etc. May be looking for more indie creators, mid tier indie creators that they can bring on and be, you know, not so much exclusive, because I think that's hurt. So I think we'll see less exclusive, but bring the mid to the creators on that are building a really solid audience as opposed to the big names and all the money that's been thrown out there.
Speaker 3 00:21:53
I don't know that we necessarily needed a recession to find out that being exclusive really isn't worth it. I know Joe Rogan got a hundred million dollars, but I think he was underpaid. I think he probably would have done better just staying where he was. Is going exclusive really not all that big a deal?
Speaker 4 00:22:12
I put a piece up on substance, but I referred back to the original piece where they were talking about that very thing and how it's one of the reasons some of the big studios let people go, because the exclusive approach didn't pan out as well as they thought it was going to. And nobody was like all the listeners that they were expecting to come over to the exclusive side didn't follow. There's a lot of people for their own reasons, don't like Spotify. There's a lot of people don't like YouTube, et cetera. So if you're exclusive to a channel that people don't like, that's going to cause a problem no matter how big a name you are. The Obamas, they've moved away because the Obama's complained about their listener drop off when they went exclusive. So now they're opened up to all platforms again. So I think it makes sense from the hope that you want to keep a high visibility artist on your platform and that's the only way you can access that. And then if you charge X amount of dollars to access that, obviously that's incoming revenue to you as a platform. But it doesn't make sense, as you mentioned, if the exclusivity means that listener base drops off because now the advertisers aren't going to pay as much revenue because the listeners aren't there. So it's that weird catch 22 situation.
Speaker 3 00:23:20
Are we going to be able to see you on the road this year?
Speaker 4 00:23:24
I think so. I'm going actually on my Podcamp Toronto next month. Mark and Kieran are at Podfest in Florida.
Speaker 3 00:23:32
Pod Festive. End of the month in Orlando.
Speaker 4 00:23:35
Yeah. So yeah, end of the month. And then I believe we're going to what's one that just happened?
Speaker 3 00:23:40
Speaker 4 00:23:42
Podcast movement. Why could I not remember that? That's my, my brain fog. You know what people talk about long coordinate and that and I firmly believe it. I'm getting bad with brain fog. But yeah, I believe we're going to the podcast movement. Like the sort of spring summer one evolutions in Vegas. Yeah. So I think the Captivate team is going there. I'm hoping we'll get out and we'll see how it goes.
Speaker 3 00:24:03
Danny, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast to tell me about your podcast story. And I'd say welcome to Canada, but you've been here long enough.
Speaker 4 00:24:10
Yeah, I feel like I'm an honorary Canadian now. I still would get my citizenship, but I might go for that this year.
Speaker 1 00:24:17
We'll see the the Sound Off podcast, written and hosted by Matt Kundal, produced by Evan Surminski, social media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the sound of media company. There's always email@example.com.
Avrio: Feature-Rich, Except Where It Counts
Written By: Aidan Glassey
As a part of my role at The Soundoff Podcast Network, I handle the transcription of most of our shows. Until very recently, I had been using Poddin.io, but as you may have heard in this episode, they’ve recently shut down. This meant we had to find a new transcription service, and after digging through the mountains of paid services out there (and believe me, there are more than a handful to choose from), we landed on Avrio.com.
While searching, Matt asked me for a short list of features I’d like to see from a transcription service. I told him I was mostly looking for something that improved on Poddin’s shortcomings, as while Poddin was great in a lot of ways, it also made me tear my hair out on more than one occasion. And to its credit, Avrio does indeed fix many of Poddin’s problems- at the expense of adding a few of its own.
Let’s start with the good. First of all, Avrio has a positively stacked feature list. The basics are there, like automatic speaker separation, playback syncing so you never lose your place while editing, video integration, and a search feature in case it’s repeatedly transcribed a word wrong throughout the document. These are all things you’d normally expect from any transcription service, but the selling point of Avrio is the ways it goes above and beyond. It automatically detects questions in the transcript and places markers on them, which makes it extremely easy to pinpoint highlights of an interview or podcast. If you’ve got a video component, you can highlight sections and export them, with transcription included, right from the website with no additional work required. You can adjust playback speed, so if you have a particularly slow talker (or you just have ADHD and a need for speed like I do), you don’t need to wait for them to drag themselves through every sentence. These are some of the highlights for me, but the list goes on.
And here I have to compare it to Poddin directly, as well as several other transcriptions I’ve tried to use- compared to a lot of its competition, Avrio feels fast. With Poddin, I would almost always have to wait upwards of an hour for it to save the changes I’d made to the transcript. If I refreshed the page, all my progress would be lost to the void, and there was no manual save feature. Autosave only. Avrio, on the other hand, seems to save instantaneously. I’ve been using it for several days now, and not had a single issue with my work not being saved. There’s no lag on the site at all, either, which is a blessing. It also does a pretty great job of the actual transcription part. It seems to be mostly bang-on with picking up words accurately, even with varying accents. Danny’s Scottish accent didn’t give it much trouble, except on words where the Scottish change the vowel sounds, like “cannot” becoming “can-n’y.” It seems to struggle a bit with the placement of punctuation, but if you can find me a transcription service that doesn’t, I’ll kiss you on the mouth. Overall, everything feels buttery smooth… Except, unfortunately, the actual editing process.
Yes, we’ve reached the cons section. While Avrio does nail a lot of high-level features, it seems like they come at the expense of a bit of basic usability. Despite the near-instant load speed of the webpage, editing can be quite tedious, largely thanks to the way it’s laid out: You can only edit one word at a time. Let me say that again. In a transcription service, where you are looking at paragraphs of text at a time, you have to manually select each individual word and tweak it, then press Enter, then move on to the next word. Now, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. The slick UI design of the website makes this pretty intuitive, and in reality it’s only one or two extra keystrokes compared to other services, but it did still slow me down enough in my editing to be worth noting. One or two extra keystrokes per word will add up when you’re working on an hour-long podcast.
There’s a difference, however, between slowing down your editing, and missing a key editing feature altogether. This is by far the biggest gripe I have with Avrio, and you may even be able to notice it in the recent transcripts: As far as I can tell, you cannot delete words. At all. When you want to make a change to the transcript, you must select an individual word. It will then bring up a text box containing that word, with a 30-character limit. It will not let you exit this text box if it is empty, and there is no other way to edit the transcript. I spent quite a bit of time digging around the site, because I couldn’t believe they would have missed something like this, but from everything I tried, the only way to remove a word is to replace it with a space. For example, if a speaker says “anyway,” but Avrio mis-transcribes it into “In a way,” you can change “In,” “a,” or “way” to “anyway,” but you cannot remove the other two words. You can only replace them with a space. So this example would go from, “I thought that was interesting, but in a way.” To, “I thought that was interesting, but anyway.” It’s not the end of the world, but it’s seriously jarring to see in the midst of a paragraph, and it seems like a colossal oversight to not have this feature present. I sincerely hope this is changed in the future.
Overall, it seems like Avrio’s developers focused too much on having a huge list of high-end features, and missed out on really nailing down the basics of editing. With that said, those high-end features are both impressive and useful, and I do think Avrio surpasses Poddin and many other transcription services because of their inclusion. The website’s loading and saving speed cannot be understated either. While the one-word-at-a-time editing system is a bit clunky, it’s something you can get used to, and I don’t imagine they could sacrifice it while maintaining the speed of the website, so it’s a worthwhile tradeoff. If they do someday add the ability to delete words properly, Avrio will be an industry-leader, but for now it remains simply adequate. If its pros appeal to you, then I’d recommend it highly, but if you don’t feel as though you need or want the tools it provides, I believe you can find better elsewhere.