It is purposeful that we have chosen to describe PodTales as a “festival” rather than as a conference or a convention. We are an arts festival modeled on independent comics shows–most specifically on The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE). This style of show is centered on celebrating an artform, catering to both creators and fans, but particularly fans of the media of audio drama and fiction podcasting as a whole, rather than fans of specific popular shows. PodTales is as much about discovering new work by new creators as it is about meeting the creators of work you already enjoy.
As this is our first year, we are taking care to work at a scale that we are confident we can successfully manage. You should expect PodTales to be a much smaller show than some others you may have been to. Think of this year as our “proof of concept;” if all goes well and attendees have a good time, we hope to expand to two days and a larger space in the future.
There are two main components to PodTales: the exhibit hall and programming.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
The exhibit hall is the real heart of PodTales. In this space, you will find dozens of podcasters displaying their work and offering merch related to their work for sale. This is an opportunity to meet with some of your favorite creators, as well as to meet new creators and hear about new shows that may be the next great story you’re looking for!
In curating the exhibit hall, we are aiming to present work across many forms and genres, as well as to represent a diverse array of voices in the medium.
Celebrating the work of our exhibitors is the primary aim of PodTales.
There will be three types of programming events: Panel Discussions, Workshops, and Featured Guest Spotlights. Examples are given below of possible topics, but please be aware that we have not developed our programming yet–these are examples of the kind of programs that may appear.
These will be topical discussions among a group of creators, similar to panel discussions you’ve seen at other conventions. In keeping with our goal of celebrating the work of our exhibitors, the majority of our panelists will be drawn from among our exhibitors, allowing them to discuss topics related to the work they have on display. These might be fairly broad topical discussions (“The Rise of Hope Punk,” “Humor in Actual Play”), or more specific discussions of theory and technique (“Sound Design for the City of the Future,” “The Mechanics of Combat in Actual Play”).
Workshops will usually be led by one presenter offering skills-based presentations, including demonstrations and sometimes activities. These are geared toward attendees interested in becoming podcasters themselves. Topics may include sound design, microphone use and technique, voice acting lessons, etc.
There will be four featured guests at PodTales this year. These are creators engaged in noteworthy work who will feature in our programming. Featured Guests are not necessarily “celebrities,” but they are accomplished creators with interesting perspectives to share. They are also exhibitors–they will have tables in the exhibit hall just like all our other exhibitors, and will be available for informal meeting and discussion with attendees.
FG programming may include individual presentations by the FG, audio screenings with audience Q&A, or one-on-one interviews.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF PODTALES (For Attendees)
PodTales is first and foremost a venue for discovery. Our ideal outcome is that every attendee will leave PodTales with a list of new podcasts they are excited to begin listening.
Be sure to explore the full exhibit hall, taking in the breadth of work on offer. If you see a display that looks interesting, take time to stop and ask the creator about their work, listen to any samples on offer, and if you like what you hear, subscribe to their show!
You will probably also find the creators of some of your favorite shows on the exhibit floor–feel free to stop to chat with them too, and tell them what you love about their shows. It is common for attendees to make multiple passes through an exhibit hall–a survey pass first, to get a sense of everything on offer, making mental notes about what you want to come back to, followed by a slower pass to explore the displays that caught your attention.
Some exhibitors will also have merchandise on sale, such as t-shirts, pins, posters, or stickers. Purchasing these items is a great way to support the shows you already love–but so is simply letting the creators know what their work means to you. Many people wait until their second pass through the hall to begin purchasing merchandise, so as to plan their budget around the items they want most.
If you would like to attend some of the programming events as well, it’s a good idea to look over the schedule early, so you can plan your trips through the exhibit hall around the events you don’t want to miss.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF PODTALES (For Exhibitors)
First and foremost, PodTales is an opportunity for you to introduce your creative work to new listeners. Second, there is a strong social component to these shows, and substantial opportunity for networking with other creators, performers, designers, and producers. The exhibit floor can be fertile ground for growing future collaborations!
At PodTales, more than most podcasting gatherings, there is a high likelihood for a significant portion of our attendees to be fairly new to fiction podcasting, or even to podcasting in general. Admission is free, and the festival venue is in the heart of Cambridge in a square that serves high walking traffic, making it an appealing diversion for curious passersby. We have seen this dynamic lead to the development of a new comics fans at MICE, which takes place in the same location. We will have the added benefit that MICE will be occurring simultaneously with PodTales, in the nextdoor building, bringing a large audience of fans of creative storytelling into our immediate vicinity–and the MICE organizers have plans to address overcrowding in their own show by flowing their audience through PodTales as well. We are hopeful that PodTales will engender new fans of fiction podcasting among these curious explorers. Your show might be the entryway for one of these new fans!
To prepare for meeting with these potential new listeners, you will want to plan how you will introduce them to your show–it helps to have a practiced elevator pitch. You will also want to have samples of your work for attendees to listen to, such as a trailer or short, compelling clip. We have plans to help you share your audio with attendees, and will keep exhibitors informed as those plans develop.
You will also want to plan an attractive display for your table–this can be as simple has bringing a colorful tablecloth to give your display a distinctive look, but you may have other ideas as well. Creativity is good! Having some merchandise available for sale can help add to the visual appeal of your table, while also helping to earn back the cost of your table fee. Because admission to PodTales is free, our attendees are likely to have a little extra budget available for purchases than they might at a ticketed show.
We are preparing detailed information for exhibitors that will help you plan for a successful exhibition, and will be delivering those documents as we get closer to the show date.