an open letter to podfic recorders/readers

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Title: an open letter to podfic recorders/readers
Creator: cofax7
Date(s): December 6, 2009
Topic: podfic
External Links: an open letter to podfic recorders/readers, Archived version (dreamwidth)
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an open letter to podfic recorders/readers is an essay by cofax7 posted to dreamwidth. It was part of a larger meta discussion about the use of music in podfic that resulted in more podficcers providing no-music versions when posting podfic containing music.


I love that fans are spending a ton of time and energy recording stories for other fans, as a service to the community. I love general_jinjur's archive. And the one time someone recorded one of my stories was a revelation to me. But now I'm going to ask you, as politely as I can: do not read over music. Because not everyone will agree with you about the song being perfect. Not everyone will think the lyrics are appropriate. Not everyone will expect an entire song to be playing over the words of the story, so that the listener can't figure out which is more important, the song or the text. In fact, some listeners will find that the words or the music interfere with their ability to follow the text.

Fan Reactions

The post was linked to from metafandom and got 52 comments. The post addressed a very niche trend--putting background music under the reading and not just for the intro/outro or scene breaks--and several commenters expressed surprise that it was happening at all.

I've only listened to one podfic where the music was playing at the same time as the words, but I found it very difficult to listen to, because . . . well, I'm one of those listeners with hearing problems! I have a lot of problems distinguishing noises from other noises, so it's bad enough if I'm walking down the street or on a plane, to just make out the reading itself. So I ADORE the clear-enunciation, I-pumped-the-decibels-after-recording-to-make-it-louder podfic readers.

I do like it when there's a bit of music at the beginning and/or end of a story, though, just to set a mood - I think that allows some creative freedom to the podficcer without making the story inaccessible.

I rarely listen to podfics because I haven't had the need to - I could read it instead. But people do that? If you listen to audiobooks, no one (that I've come across) do that. It's sometimes hard enough to listen to the words with clarity, and now you want to add music to that? That's not awesome at all.

What about self-composed, intrumental music? Like an underscore on TV?

Think about it: with television and movies, fully half the narrative is being carried by the visuals. The audio track provides only dialogue, not scene-setting or description of action, so there's room in there for instrumental music that doesn't overwhelm the dialog, if properly managed.

However podfic and audiobooks has no visual component. Only audio. Which means that any interference with the listener's ability to follow the words is damaging the narrative.

Is the ability to add a soundtrack so much more important than the story itself? Are you willing to alienate those of us who do, in fact, have hearing problems just so you can share your instrumental music?

In a 2014 Pod Aware podcast, jinjurly made some general observations about podfic meta posted during this time:

I found that most of those posts were very negative, a sort of 'you shouldn't do this' rather than 'here's a cool way to do this if it floats your boat'. I think that most of the meta and most of the stuff that was said, particularly around music and putting music into your files, was very very negative.[1]

Related Meta


  1. ^ Day 1: The History of Podfic, Archived version, posted to pod_aware, 9 November 2014.