NOTE: This post was updated on 12-6-18 to reflect changes in the podcasting space.
I spent this week surrounded by thousands of podcasters at the Podcast Movement conference in Anaheim. This year, Jacobs Media hosted a day full of sessions geared towards radio broadcasters: “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters.” It was great to see so many of our brethren show interest in the medium; two years ago I complained that hardly any radio broadcasters were present at the conference.
But if you've recorded your first episode, you're now ready to upload the audio file to a hosting company and submit your to directories around the web to ensure that listeners can find it.
Here's how it works:
Hosts and Directories
You create create your episode as an MP3 audio file. Just as the files for your website live on a hosting platform like GoDaddy, your audio files will live on a podcast hosting platform like AudioBoom, Art19, Blubrry, Libsyn, Omny Studio, Spreaker, etc. (I don't recommend SoundCloud.) Of course, people don't go to GoDaddy to access your website files; they use a browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. By the same token, people don't go to your hosting company to access your audio file; they use an app like Apple Podcasts, iTunes, PocketCasts, Overcast, etc. How do you get your audio file from your host into the thse apps? Through directories.
Your Podcast's RSS Feed
When you first set up your podcast hosting company, you will be provided with an RSS feed. Think of this feed as a pipe. When you upload a new audio file to your host, it will be pushed down the pipe. Now you need to hook your pipe up to the directories so it goes to the right places.
When submitting your RSS feed to the different directories, it's best to already have at least one audio file uploaded to your hosting service. Because it can take several days for a directory to approve the submission of your RSS feed, I recommend creating a short (less than 60 seconds) teaser instead of sing your first episode.
Once the feed has been approved by all of the directories, then you can publish your first episode and it will appear everywhere almost immediately. Using a teaser for the RSS submissions makes it much easier to coordinate the timing of your marketing efforts around the first episode of your podcast.
There are more podcast directories than just those listed below, but here are the major ones that you will want to submit to:
Approximately two thirds of all podcast listening happens on iOS devices. This is primarily because Apple began shipping iPhones with a pre-installed Podcasts app with the introduction of iOS8 in 2014. If you only submit your podcast to one directory, it should be iTunes.
2. Google Play Music Google Podcasts According to this year's Techsurvey13, 28% of North Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, while 48% have never listened to a podcast. Many of us in the podcasting space believe that podcast listening will see a huge jump when Google fully embraces the medium and starts shipping Android phones with a pre-installed podcasts app like Apple does. Unfortunately, there's no telling when that may happen. There was a glimmer of hope last year when Google incorporated podcasts into their Google Play Music app. While this app isn't responsible for anywhere near the amount of listening as the Apple Podcasts app, you'll want your podcast in it just in case Google suddenly decides to embrace podcasting.
12/18 UPDATE: In the summer of 2018, Google introduced Google Podcasts, a stand-alone app for podcasts that is native — sort of. The app was introduced with a lot of fanfare, including a keynote speech at the 2018 Podcast Movement conference, but so far the app has not lived up to the hype. Nonetheless, it's probably worth taking the time to make sure that your podcast appears in Google Podcasts. Unlike the other directories listed here, you do not need to submit your podcast to Google Podcast directly. Instead, you need to ensure that your podcast's website (yes, it will need its own website) has certain elements.
When Google Podcasts was introduced, rumors started to swirl that Google Play Music would be retired. To date, this hasn't happened, which has resulted in confusion among the podcast community. While it may not be necessary to submit your podcast to Google Play Music anymore, it can't hurt. You can submit your podcast to Google Play Music here, but on your website, I recommend linking to your podcast in Google Podcasts, not Google Play Music.
Spotify has quietly been making moves that suggest it wants to become a player in the podcasting space. At the moment, submission to the Spotify directory doesn't guarantee that you'll get into the app, but it's worth a try. Plus, you'll want to be there if and when they do fully embrace podcasting.
12/18 UPDATE: Spotify has opened up its directory to all podcasts. Moreover, the company has made serious moves in the podcasting space. It has invested in high-profile talent like comedian Amy Schumer to create original podcasts, started a podcasting bootcamp for female voices of color, and launched an original branded podcast. Most importantly, it has become the de facto #2 source for podcast downloads behind Apple, making it an important place for podcasters to submit their shows.
12/18 UPDATE: Pandora is now allowing all podcasters to submit their shows, though at this time they say the company says that it will not be able to include them all. This is most likely due to the sheer number of podcasts out there — over 600,000! Spotify limited intake in its early days of offering podcasts as well, though it eventually opened up to include all podcasts. Pandora will probably follow suit in time.
iHeartMedia got serious about podcasting when they hired Chris Peterson, a smart guy with experience at The Blaze, TuneIn, and in terrestrial radio. Chris, who was on our Executive Roundtable panel at this year's Podcast Movement conference, is leading an effort to turn iHeartRadio into a directory that provides podcasters with analytics.
When the Stitcher mobile app was acquired by Scripps in 2016, it was the second largest source of podcast listening behind Apple — though it was a very very very distant second. Take a few minutes to submit your RSS feed to the Stitcher directory.
TuneIn's bread and butter is streaming radio, not podcasts. But it's the default app for the audio on the Amazon Echo, so if your listeners say “Alexa, play the WKRP podcast,” you'll increase the chances of it being found if you've submitted your RSS feed to the TuneIn directory.
Also: Post a Direct Link to Your RSS Feed
It's also wise to include a direct link to your podcast's RSS feed on your website. This allows experienced podcast listeners to manually subscribe in the podcast app of their choice or in any other manner they choose.
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