I haven’t seen any tools related to making and running a discord specifically to coordinate audio fiction production. I figured it out on my own over the course of running a few shows (as well as spying on the discord servers of shows I’ve joined), and here’s what I think works well. This article will assume some basic knowledge of how discord works, as I’ll be referring to specific features (ex: roles, channels, categories, bots) without explaining them.
Want to poke around in a discord server that matches what I’m talking about? I’ve made a template with all the channels and roles I reference.
Click this link to create your server: https://discord.new/R54BB3Ux6DHd
Categories and Channels
I like to separate the discord server into: Welcome channels, Important channels, General channels, and Role Specific channels. I’ll break these four categories down.
Welcome Channels: The first stop for cast and crew.
Make a channel for rules, so acceptable behavior is established from the get-go. Ideally, only the showrunner should have permission to post here.
Make a channel for introductions, so that everyone in the server knows each other’s name and pronouns, as well as their role in the show.
Important Channels: This category puts all the channels cast and crew might need to reference in one place.
Make a channel for announcements — use it to remind cast and crew of upcoming deadlines, post about episode releases, and talk about whatever you want the whole team to know.
Make a channel for important links, like your show website and social media. If you have playlists, Pinterest boards, or other things related to the show but scattered around the internet, link them in this channel.
Make a channel for scripts, and post them here. Google docs are often the best format for scripts, but if you have them as pdfs you can upload them to this channel.
Make a channel for pronunciation help — this is especially useful for sci-fi and fantasy shows with lots of made up proper nouns. Telling your actors how to pronounce names from the beginning will save you lots of time in post-production because you won’t have to ask for retakes. It’s helpful for actors to have this in its own channel they can easily find and access during recording. I recommend uploading separate audio clips of you saying each name.
Consider a channel for deadlines. When do actors need lines in by? When do sound designer need to give you the episode? When is release day? Put all of that information in a central, easy-referenced location.
Consider a channel for questions — a place anyone can go to ask about whatever they need. This will help prevent important inquires from being buried in the general chat.
General Channels: The place to talk and hang out.
Make a general channel. Well, discord makes this for you when you start a server. It’s a good catch-all channel.
Consider an off-topic channel. This is a great place to funnel off-topic discussion that might clutter up other spaces, and people not interested in off-topic discussion can mute this channel.
Consider a self-promo channel. This is a great place to funnel people promoting their own work. It’s nice to let people share work they’re proud of, and it can be good to provide a dedicated place to do so.
Consider two voice chat channels, one as a voice channel and one as a text channel. The text channel is for people in voice chat to use (for sharing photos or links, participating in the conversation when muted, and things like that). Discord will automatically make a “General” voice channel, but I’ve found a companion text channel prevents a lot of spam, as people not in voice chat can easily mute it and not be bothered by out-of-context photos and texts.
Role Specific Channels: These aren’t always necessary, but the larger your production team is the more likely they’ll come in handy.
Consider a channel for writers and editors to discuss scripts. It can be helpful to have all the conversation about writing in one place to reference. When writing a later episode, it can be helpful to scroll back up to see decisions made about earlier episodes.
Consider a two channels for your voice actors. One should be a voice channel to use if you’re doing read throughs or live recordings via discord. The other should be a text channel for VAs to discuss things. This text channel can also be used during read through for folks to chime in on stuff when their mic is muted (or letting the director know they’re running late).
Consider a channel for audio production— dialogue editors, sound designers, composers, basically anyone working with what’s been recorded. It can be helpful to have all conversation about an episode’s production in one place so it can be looked at when working on later episodes.
Consider a channel for marketing and social media management. What’s the posting plan? Who is tweeting what, when? Are there promotional graphics? Discuss all this here (again, for easy reference). You can upload said promotional graphics right into the channel. If you have visual artists, they should have access to this channel.
Consider a channel for your crew. This can be a catch-all chat for episode production. Maybe your sound designer has a question for the writers. Maybe the composer has a question for the dialogue editors. It’s obviously not necessary, but it can be helpful.
This section boils down to: have job roles and have pronoun roles.
Job Roles: The primary function of these roles is to use them to give access to role-specific channels. Make the permissions on your writers’ channel for writers and script editors only, then give your writers the “writer” role and your editors the “script editor” role. This also has the perk of seeing what jobs anyone in your server has when you click on their icon.
Pronoun Roles: This primary function of this is to make it incredibly easy to determine what pronouns to use for someone. Cast and crew won’t have to go to the intros channel and scroll up to someone’s post to find their pronouns, they can simply click on that person’s icon. You can use bots to automate the adding/removal of pronouns (and I’d actually recommend it, so that when someone changes their pronouns they don’t have to message you to change the roles). If you have cast and crew that use pronouns not listed in the above image, it’s super easy to add additional pronoun roles.
General Advice and What Not To Do
If you have minors in your server, I’d recommend creating a “minor” role so that folks in the sever can see at a quick glance if someone is underage.
I’d recommend against having a venting channel in your production server. Why? Mostly, it’s just not super professional. Unless you have a specific purpose for the venting channel to serve (I could maybe see it having purpose in a production server made entirely of close friends), you probably shouldn’t have one.
I’d also recommend against having a NSFW channel in your production server (and if you have minors in your server, you should ABSOLUTELY NOT have a NSFW channel in your server). Again, it’s just unprofessional. What specific purpose does it serve? What do you expect to gain by having it? You should be able to answer these questions if you want to have one. If you have a NSFW channel, you should absolutely have the rule of “No NSFW outside the designated channel.” If you don’t have a NSFW channel, you should have the rule of “No NSFW in the server.”
Avoid over-using @everyone and @here. This is partially why the announcement channel is handy — people can see notifications from that channel and know they’re important without getting a ping. Saving @everyone for truly important updates will prevent people from turning off notifications for it, which means they’ll get the important updates when you need them too.
In a related vein, make your announcement channel read-only. If other people post in the announcement channel it’ll cause clutter and distract from the important things. (It’s also a great way to get cast and crew to mute your announcements channel). The same holds for other reference channels, like scripts and pronunciations. Keep those links easy to find!
Enforce your rules. Model the behavior you want to see, and don’t let things slide — it’s a slippery slope to your server becoming a toxic place and cast/crew members leaving. Once, I left a show because the “no NSFW discussion” rule wasn’t being enforced, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Not enforcing rules is a big red flag.
Helpful bots I’ve used in production servers are:
Arcane — for automatic pronoun role adding/removal. It’s a bit tricky to setup, but once you’ve done it it works wonderfully. Users can react to a post with an emoji to add or remove a role.
Friend Time — for determining time zones. Friend Time will add a clock reaction to any post, and you can click it to get the time DM’d to you in your own time zone. (You’ll have to tell it your time zone first).
Reminder Bot — for setting reminders. You tell it “post X in Y hours” and it’ll do just that. Great for the forgetful (like myself).
Craig — for recording in voice channels. Don’t use this for your show audio, I beg you, have your VAs record on their own ends. But if you want a record of read throughs or a backup recording, Craig works great. It will announce NOW RECORDING is a very strong voice, prepare to be startled.
Simple Poll — for creating quick polls. Useful for determine when to meet or if a suggestion sounds good by creating a poll with emoji reactions for the options.
Live Countdown — for creating countdowns to specific dates. Another one that’s helpful for the forgetful.
That’s all I’ve got for you here! If you want to use the template linked above as a starting place and modify it to suit your show, feel free! Add or delete roles and channels to your heart’s content. Find bots that work for you and add them to the sever. Make your show! Good luck!