Podfest is a premier conference for podcasters of all levels. The 9th annual event will take place at Seaworld Renaissance Orlando January 26th-29th 2023. I had the honor and privilege of speaking with Chris Krimitsos, the Chief Creative Officer of Podfest. We discussed the different ticket options available to attendees and the various amenities and resources provided at the conference. So, if you are just starting out or a seasoned podcaster, Podfest has something for everyone. This includes passes that are designed for those who are at the beginning stages of their podcast careers all the way up to professionals. Podfest offers some of the most valuable podcasting education available for anyone interested in the field.
Ashley: We are here today with Chris Krimitsos, who is the Chief Creative Officer of Podfest. Thank you so much for meeting with me today. Over at the Jamwich, I’ve been looking at the Podfest website, specifically the ticket page, and it looks like you have different types of tickets available for different people who might need different things. Could you tell me about the different kinds of tickets?
Chris: Sure. We have an expo beginner pass for people getting started who might want to meet the vendors and learn about the tools and technology they need. We have two stages in the expo hall, and this pass starts at $99. We also have a creator pass for active podcasters looking to grow their shows. Our VIP pass is for those who want to have access to a lounge area. Our influencer passes are for podcasters with 1,000 to 5,000 downloads per show. Our Pro Pass is for podcasters with active networks or 5,000 or more downloads per episode, who have different challenges around programmatic ads and inserting ads. We’ve done our best to make sure there’s a level for every creator at Podfest.
Ashley: I love that. Thank you for being a resource for every podcaster, no matter where they are in their journey. A lot of people who want to get into podcasting may be intimidated by the whole process. How will the entry-level pass serve them best?
Chris: The key is that all the education is at the entry level. They can learn how to get set up and talk to exhibitors who have the gear they need to purchase. It’s all in one place, and they don’t have to go anywhere else. We’ve noticed that beginners sometimes wander into the wrong section and end up in an advanced topic before they’ve even launched their show. So the key is to launch and then get the information you need. We’ve really made it inclusive for their environment, and the price is much lower, which is something people always ask about. This way, we can keep prices under $100 for a three-day pass.
Ashley: That’s a fantastic incentive for people who are just starting out. I’ve also heard some wonderful things about the Creator Lounge. Could you tell me about that?
Chris: The creator area is where we go through topics like audience growth and monetization. Creators can network and connect with each other in the hallways and lounge areas, and there’s education in the breakout areas. It’s a great place for active creators to learn how to grow their show, which is usually the number one goal for most people.
Ashley: I read that the Podcast Editors Academy will be there too. How can we find the editors if we want to connect with them?
Chris: Actually, they will be out in the hallway. We have them in special areas where they’ll have a booth and you can ask them questions and learn from the editors. We’ve noticed that active creators are always looking to talk to editors, either to hire them or compare notes.
Ashley: That’s so cool. I’m flying down from the panhandle of Florida and I’d like to bring my handy recorder and some mics with me to do some recording there. Will there be a place where I can do that?
Chris: We usually have some extra space in the expo hall. There’s an entire atrium, so feel free to find a space wherever you can. We love it when people interview others.
Ashley: Oh, I’m excited about that. It’s my understanding that you have a background in TV production and found your way to podcasting. How did that happen?
Chris: I started with public access. Now, with social media, everyone has access. But back then, in order to get access to the airwaves, you had to get on public access and learn production. Before YouTube even started, I was doing TV shows. Then, on February 14th, 2005, YouTube came out and it was a transformational moment in history because you could put video up and everyone had access to it. So it’s been an amazing journey. I created some really great shows, and then later on, a business community came out of one of the shows. Later on, I found podcasting and was able to grow this amazing community, Podfest came out of that. So it’s been an incredible journey learning about the TV aspect, the audio aspect, and now with podcasting, videos coming into the mainstream. A lot of people are doing video podcasting, so it’s a big opportunity with video. We have an entire video track actually in the creator section for people wanting to learn and do more with video.
Ashley: I think that’s amazing. I’ve been reading that Podfest is, as it says, a multimedia expo. What would you say is the best thing for someone who has never been before to start with? How do they get themselves acquainted with the space? What should they do first?
Chris: I think the first thing is to go into the expo hall and get acquainted with what’s going on there. Then, if you have a creator pass, go into the creator area and just start sampling. Our education is some of the best in the world, so our speakers are known to be what I would call the greatest hits. You’re going to walk into a room and be like, “Wow, that was amazing. Next room. That was even better.” Because we’ve built an amazing group of educators over the decade that we’ve been doing this. We have networking on Thursday night. It’s called the influencer meet and greet. Make sure to attend that. You’ll wind up making 35 friends from that. There are a lot of cool things that we’ll create for you. You just need to step in and you’ll make friends instantly.
Ashley: Awesome. I’ve heard that there are also add-ons that you can get, like the Lunch and Learn. Can you tell me about that?
Chris: During lunchtime, you could either go in the hotel and eat lunch, but the challenge with that is you might wait an hour because there are so many people. Or, you could pre-purchase lunch, which I highly recommend. What that means is you’ll go to the expo hall area, and we’ll have tables. During that time, we’ll have really amazing, curated education during the Lunch and Learn. So, for example, Rob Walsh of Libsyn will go through podcast stats for the year. So imagine investing in a Lunch and Learn pass, and now you’re sitting there learning and connecting and networking. It just makes it easy for us to make sure that you’re served lunch and you don’t miss anything. And it makes it easy for you, the attendee, to hang out, have lunch, meet someone, learn something. And then you’re still in the expo hall area so you don’t miss anything.
Ashley: I hear there’s a brunch too, and it’s not just any brunch, it’s a gratitude brunch and I’ve heard some wonderful things come of that. Could you share a memory and tell me what you love about that particular time of the event?
Chris: Podfest is very unique because in year two of Podfest, we didn’t want to leave. No one wanted to leave, literally. People were sad. We had one gentleman who was a former trucker and he was almost in tears. I put up a mic on the stage and I said, “If anyone wants to share what they’re grateful for, feel free to come up.” Then I had to put up a second mic because the entire audience started sharing what they were grateful for. That kicked off the gratitude ceremony. For the people who buy the Lunch and Learn pass on Sunday, there’s no education except for the gratitude ceremony. Our closing keynote is the attendees themselves. They go up to the mic and share what they’re grateful for, and then that’s how we close out the show. We’ll have brunch for everybody who has a Lunch and Learn pass. If they don’t have the pass, they can still attend, share what they’re grateful for, and then be on their way.
Ashley: That’s so cool. What an interesting way to end an amazing event. Which leads me to my next question. What are you most grateful for working in the podcast and multimedia space?
Chris: I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to help so many creators get their voice out. I’m grateful that they ask me for help. I’m grateful that I’ve had people who didn’t know what they were doing, and I was able to give them some advice. They followed the advice, and the next thing I know, they’re the top industry leader for that niche. I’ve seen that a lot of times. It’s really cool when they thank me or they say, “Hey, remember when you helped me two or three years ago? Now that’s my new career.” So it’s been an amazing ride to watch all this happen, and I’m grateful for the next evolution of Podfest. This will be our ninth show, and then we’ll be coming up on our 10th, so it’ll be a full decade celebrating all the stuff that we’ve built.
Ashley: How much time and planning leading up to the event does this take?
Chris: It takes the entire year. It’s a full year project. Now, we’re in the last six weeks. So it accelerates the pressure cooker, so to speak. The first month after an event is the easiest, even though you’re following up. It’s not as urgent, but right now we’re in what we call the “pressure cooker moment” where everything is sudden death. It seems like you have to make decisions and make them right because they’ll show up on the show floor in six weeks. So that’s where we’re at.
Ashley: At The Jamwich, our main focus has been music and art, but we’re expanding to cover other things. If someone who’s interested in starting a music podcast or already has a music podcast, are there any particular speakers that you’d recommend they check out that might be beneficial to them?
Chris: I would check out Bruce Wawrzyniak of Now Hear This Entertainment. He features up-and-coming artists. He goes to NAMM, he goes to all the music shows. He’s the person. I would check out his presentation, but I would also go up to him after and say, “Hello. Chris told me to say hi directly to you.” He’s your connection point to the music industry via podcasting.
Ashley: Is there ever live music at Podfest?
Chris: Actually, there is. Our Friday night after party is at Howl at the Moon, which is a dueling piano bar. A lot of our people will come up and play. A lot of podcasters are musicians. What a lot of people might not realize is that in the early days, you needed to use XLRs to podcast, and a musician knows what an XLR is. It’s something that connects their musical equipment. Most podcasters or people who wanted a podcast didn’t even know how to use that. They didn’t know where to get adapters for it. This was before microphones were USB-enabled, so a lot of the very early podcasters were musicians. So we have a huge community of musicians because of that.
Ashley: I love that because I’m a podcaster and a musician. I’m also a local podcaster, and if other local podcasters might be interested in learning about subjects that will help with a local podcast, what speakers would you recommend?
Chris: There’s a Geo-Local speaker. Mike Ham is doing a talk about Geo-local. He has one out in New Jersey, but he talks about how to relate to local and how to monetize. So there’s a lot of good local stuff out there. I would just look for the local creators and look for the topics. We’ll be releasing the agenda shortly, and then from there you can pick and choose what you want to go to.
Ashley: Could you tell me about some of the things that you reflect on after you leave Podfest?
Ashley: Thank you for that and for being such a resource. What would you say is the most important thing that the community, whether it’s podcasting or not, needs to know about working with you?
Chris: That I’m always open to collaborating and supporting new voices, and helping them. So if you want to reach out, even if I can’t help someone directly, I can at least connect them to a resource that might be able to support what they’re doing.
Ashley: Thank you so much for meeting with me today. Thank you again for the opportunity for The Jamwich to cover the event. I’m super excited to learn, meet, and serve the community as best as I can. Is there anything you’d like to leave us with, or any information that folks should look for on the website?
Chris: Yes, just go to podfestexpo.com if you’d like to attend. Make sure to purchase a pass. We’d love to see you. It’s a special event that only happens once a year, so make sure to come out and hang out with us.
Ashley: All right, thank you so much. And thank you again.
Visit Podfestexpo.com to get your pass for and we’ll see you at Podfest Expo at Renaissance Orlando at Sea World January 26th-27th 2023. Let your voice be heard!
Chris: I’m excited to be on The Jamwich. Thank you, Ashley.