Why You Need Music For Your Church Podcast

Do you have a favorite podcast? Is there a particular host that impresses you? A go-to show with content that excites you every single episode? Do you keep a shortlist of podcasts you’re constantly recommending to your friends and family?

Chances are you answered “Yes” to all of those questions, because 57% of people in the U.S. (over the age of 12) listen to podcasts on a regular basis. It’s as much a part of daily life as drinking coffee or watching Netflix.

But have you ever thought about why you love some podcasts more than others? Sure, the content and conversation carries a lot of weight. But high-quality production tips the scale — sometimes even making up for inexperienced hosts or shallow discussions.

There’s a science behind the most successful podcasts, and people are still studying the “This American Life” formula 25 years after that show first aired.

So let’s look at one part of the secret production formula behind the biggest podcasts, something anyone could take advantage of to improve the quality of their podcast right away.

Yup, we’re going to talk about why you should be using music to elevate your church podcast.

The Importance of Music

When we think about why sound matters, it’s easy to think about worship services. And we’ve all watched a movie and felt deeply moved by the music in a scene. But few people really understand why we react to a song or even a specific note more than others.

Sound (and, more particularly, music) affects almost every part of the human brain. It can trigger memories, influence emotions, compel motion — the list goes on and on. In fact, the psychology of music is something that we experience every day, even if we aren’t aware of it.

So it can’t be stated enough: Music has a powerful influence on our lives. And that translates to everything, from the songs you hear on the car radio to the jingles in marketing commercials.

And yes, it even plays a part in intro songs or ad break music in your favorite podcasts.

Drawing In Listeners With Music

The first opportunity you have to put music in your podcast is the intro. And if you think back to your personal favorite podcasts, you could probably hum whatever song they use to kick things off.

Podcast intros are like first impressions, so you’ll want to hook listeners. It may seem odd to compare podcast production with YouTube content creation, but people in both industries succeed or fail depending on their ability to draw in an audience and then keep them around.

Music provides an easy way to do that, injecting energy or creating a specific tone. Whether  your podcast is conversational or educational, there’s still a level of storytelling involved. And learning to incorporate music is a little trick podcasters pull from filmmakers and other “live performance” storytellers.

Humans are naturally drawn to music — it’s literally hardwired into how our brains receive and digest audio signals. But in the case of podcasting, that works two ways: creating emotion (storytelling) and establishing familiarity (branding).

Your podcast intro is as much a part of the show’s brand as a logo or name. And choosing the right music cues listeners into what sort of experience they should anticipate, setting their expectations so you fulfill them and satisfy your audience episode after episode after episode.

Establishing A Mood Or Atmosphere

Music is a cultural unifier in a lot of ways, bringing people together regardless of background or opinion. It’s why you can have such eclectic audiences at a concert, and it’s why people from all walks of life (and all corners of the world) can come together.

This particular study of how music unites different religious groups provides unique insight. And while the interfaith movement can at times be a little controversial in the Church, it does provide a solid example that music is a unifying force for people. It’s a means of establishing a safe and familiar space where we can come together and share ideas.

And how does that affect your church’s podcast production?

Well, it should paint a picture of just how much value music can bring. You rely on worship music to create a particular mood or atmosphere during services, almost guiding the congregation on a spiritual journey that opens them up to the teaching.

Compare that to podcasting. Regardless of how you organize your church podcast, you’re most likely presenting teaching materials — a “radio show” is a different medium than a church service, but the goal of discipleship is still the same.

In the same way, the right background song during a podcast can have a similar effect to quiet instrumentals during a prayer service or an emotional song during a video testimonial. Podcasters can use music to hold someone’s attention and guide them to a specific mood is part of being a storyteller, which isn’t all that different from how the best teachers work.

Overlooking the value of music in a podcast means missing out on a valuable opportunity. And it certainly helps you keep your audience engaged during the show.

Setting Your Podcast Apart

Church podcasts tend to exist for one of two reasons: Either you wanted to provide a supplementary source of discipleship for your community, or you’re so passionate about a specific subject that you want to share that knowledge with the global Church.

If your podcast is aimed to connect with people outside of your local church body, you’ll lose a lot (if not all) of the brand association and recognized expertise. In order to grow the podcast, you’ll need to attract and hold new listeners to engage with more and more people.

In 2021, experts predict that the total number of monthly podcast listeners in the U.S. will reach 117.8 million. That’s a lot of people looking for shows to connect with.

Unfortunately, there are more than two million podcasts (and counting) out there, and more than 48 million podcast episodes available. Which means you’ve got a lot of competition, no matter how specific or niche your content is.

In such a competitive market, you’ll need every advantage you can get. Doubling down on the production value of the show increases the sense of professionalism, and often that can be enough to establish your podcast as an expert opinion or reliable study tool.

Licensing music is something you probably already take advantage of for video production. Translating that same mindset to improving your podcast production is an easy way to make your show more appealing and ultimately create a more effective platform to engage your community.