Switching Hosting Companies in Podcasting

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UPDATE 12/19/18: This post is from 1/23/2018. Many of the actions that are described happened in 2017. Things may have been updated since then.
I’ve been approached by the Podmio legal team to remove all screenshots.

As a podcast consultant, I like to try all sorts of technology to stay informed with what is going in the space. Today I’m going to talk about things to keep in mind when you move, how to move, and why or why not you should move. I also have a resource if you’re moving your entire website without learning any code.

First the disclosure. I was a customer of Libsyn.com for 10 years before becoming an employee almost two years ago. So when I talk about Libsyn competition, I do my best to keep my Libsyn employee hat off and keep the Dave Jackson School of Podcasting hat on. I also have taken extra effort to base my comments on what happens. Now what I think should happen. I will be sure to tell you when something is an opinion and when something is a fact (as I know it).

Here are my Updated Criteria for Podcast Media Hosting

  1. Don’t mess with my file name*
  2. Don’t mess with my file format (bit rate, ID3 tags)
  3. Give me the ability to have an unlimited back catalog (unlimited storage)
  4. Don’t limit my audience size (unlimited bandwidth)
  5. Don’t control my feed, and make it easy to leave if I choose to do so. I need to be able to put in a 301 redirect.
  6. Give me support. Preferably within 24 hours.
  7. Charge me for your service so you can stay in business
  8. Give me stats so I can see what’s working. It would be nice if they were accurate.
  9. Support the iTunes Serial, Episodic, Season, and Episode Numbers
  10. Be IAB Compliant (please note as of 1/2017 certification is not in place, when it is, I want my Podcast Media Host Certified)

*Some media hosts offer to inject your mp3 file with an advertisement and in those instances, they pass my criteria.

So if I look at the following media hosts

Amazon S3
Buzzsprout.com
Podomatic.com
Libsyn.com
Blubrry.com
Podbean.com
Spreaker.com
Soundcloud.com
Simplecast.com
Podmio.com
Pinecast.com
Whooska.com

Here are the ones who made the cut

Libsyn.com

Blubrry.com

Podbean.com

Use the coupon code sopfree to get a free month at any of these services.

Why Would You Move Your Podcast to a New Media Host?

You’ve run out of room, or in some cases, they just aren’t any good. For example, Soundcloud put out two updates to their system last year and neither one had any improvements to their podcasting tools. They do not (or to the best of my acknowledge) even acknowledge that there are new fields available in Apple Podcasts. Throw on top of that, they have lost millions of dollars.

Maybe you’re not happy with their service, features, etc. Maybe they sell you on certain features that you find out later aren’t entirely accurate.

Maybe you decided to host your media files on your web host and now they are telling you that your files are taxing the servers too much, and you are monopolizing resources.

What Moving To a New Podcast Media Host Will NOT Do For You

If your show doesn’t bring value putting your files on a new media host won’t help you. Even if the new service officers more promotional opportunities, if your show has no value to your listener telling more people will not help you grow your audience. If you’re moving hosts to see if your audience grows, that is a bad strategy. Your hosting has nothing to do with popularity.

The Process of Moving Your Podcast To a New Podcasting Host

While there are subtle differences, most of the podcast hosting companies follow this process

  1. They import your feed
  2. They help you put the <itunes:new-feed-url> –yournewfeed–</itunes:new-feed-url> tag into the NEW feed
  3. They help you redirect your feed.

To follow this from a listener point of view. You’ve put in a “New feed Tag” into the new host, and on the old host, you have put a 301 redirect (kind of like a change of address slip). So now you listener fires up their app, and they see the 301 redirect and it directs the app to the new feed. When their app gets to the new feed, it says “HOWDY I’M NEW, and for the most part, it will update the app to look at the new feed.

Apple recommends you leave that redirect in place for four weeks. Why? Because not everyone fires up their podcast application every day. By leaving it in place for four weeks, most of your audience will get the message and their apps will update.

In some cases, (Google Play Music, and TuneIn) you will have to contact them to have them manually update your feed. You can update it yourself in Stitcher.com by going into the Stitcher Partner Portal.

Redirecting Your Feed on WordPress

Please note the newfeed tag is intended to be on the NEW feed to alert apps to update. It DOES NOT redirect your feed. So if you’re using a feed based in WordPress, who do you redirect it?

There is a great free plugin at https://redirection.me/ from John Godley who works for Automatic (the people behind WordPress). If you use it, please donate as it takes a lot of work to keep this update to date

It’s super easy. You install the plugin, and put in your old feed address, and enter your new address and the plugin does everything else.

For example, when I moved my feed for the School of Podcasting from http://schoolofpodcasting.com/feed/podcast to http://schoolofpodcasting.libsyn.com/rss you don’t need to put in your full domain for your source. My settings look like this

The redirect goes into place almost instantly (you may have to clear the cache on your web host). You can test the redirection by “going to” your old feed (put it in the address bar of your browser and press enter). You should see it redirect to your new feed. If it doesn’t something is wrong.

The Grass is Not Always Greener on the Other Side: My Experience with a Then New Podmio

I was contacted by a company wanting to know if I wanted to test drive their new podcast hosting service. They stated that they were more innovative than some of the current hosting companies. I’m really not doing this anymore (as I often spend hours to find out that it’s not a hosting company that meets my criteria, but I was told they did). I invited the person to come on my Ask the Podcast Coach show (12/23/17) and do a brief demo. I let the person know I was a Libsyn employee, but would not be jumping down his throat or be combative. They had a deal going, so I jumped on to test it. I wanted to see these “New” features.

The company was called Podmio. Their front page had this statement: “Podmio is world’s #1 podcasting platform that has everything you need for a podcaster of any level at an affordable price.”

While he was on the show he explained how the company had been around for two months “for the back end, and to the public two weeks.” When I asked about the claim of being the World’s #1 Podcasting Platform he stated, “When I show the features and the services we have you’ realize that no one even comes close to what we do. My co-host stated that he thought it was a little misleading to say “World’s #1 Podcasting Platform.” He replied, “As a podcast who comes to the website’s sales page we have to convince them. ” Later he said, “We did a beta on Redit and had almost 500 people comment on it saying that podmio has features that other competitors should look around. There hasn’t been any innovation.”

I decided to move my Podcast Rodeo show to their platform.

I had some questions and not all my information came over, and when I went to their ticketing system, it was mandatory that I choose a category. There weren’t any categories.

Their support was quick and answered back to use a different ticketing system.

This again did not have a drop down and stopped me from supporting my request.

So I was interested in their “new” features at the time their site was advertising dynamic ad insertion. (they have since updated it show “No more stale ads. The interchangeable advertisement that’s guaranteed to generate revenue). I was really interested in this as most companies that offer this (Libsynpro, Omni studio) start a $99 a month. Podmio is $47 a month (UPDATE: They are now $19 a month). There is really only one problem. For most people in the podcast industry, dynamic ads are where your hosting company inserts ads at a place that you specify. Then later if you change the add out, it swaps out the old ad for the new advertisement. That is true dynamic ad insertion.

With Podmio, their ads only work on your website (where you have the player embedded) . So when you click play, a window appears with the image and link that you specified. However, this add is NOT inserted into the mp3. The advertisement only works on your website (80% of podcasts are consumed on a portable device, with quite the minority listening on the website).

So when you are dealing with a new podcast hosting company, you may be finding more bugs. In some cases, you may find things missing (Like the Apple iTunes tags – still missing from Soundcloud).

In dealing with this new company I found:

  • Their advertising feature does not inject ads into the mp3 file.
  • They had a few bugs to work through. These have been repaired.
  • Their feeds at the time were questionable.
  • As they DO change the file name, they don’t meet my standards for podcast hosting companies (Spreaker, Blubrry.com, Libsyn, Podbean, do not change the file name)
  • They did refund my monthly payment due to the issues I faced.

I would not recommend them as a host. Again, you may have a different experience as most companies are always implementing new tools and features. This experience was from early 2017. Even when I first started using Libsyn in 2005, they had some issues when they were new.

Be Careful with Statistic Redirects/Prefixes

If you are using a new company that wants you to add a prefix in front of your media file URLs, be careful. The way this is structured the listener goes to the company with the prefix, the download is counted and it redirects the listener to your media host (where the download is tracked again).

As the listener goes to the first tracking company, in the event they have an issue ALL of your episodes will be affected and will not be able to be downloaded or streamed.

In regards to companies like Podtrac.com and Blubrry.com, I trust them as they have been in the podcasting space for years and have a proven business model. Other companies such as chartable.com currently have no revenue streams in place and are doing things “out of the ordinary” such as asking for your login and password to your Apple ID, and media hosting company. This confuses me. What company asks you to give them the password from another company? For me, that is too “outside the box” for me to understand.

Cast.plus has had over 45,000 in VC money they started in 2015, and reports are coming in on Facebook that they are closing their doors.

The other question you might want to ask is what additional stats are you getting from using a third party? Blubrry, Podtrac, and Libsyn deliver very similar results (and using two stats system just complicates matters).

Be Leary of Free Media Hosts

Right now Anchor.fm is getting a lot of attention as they are free, and easy. However, free is not a good business model.

HOW LONG DOES FREE LAST?

In my 13 years of podcasting, here are some companies I’ve seen come and go.

Opinion Podcasting 11/2015-10/2017 (23 months)

Audiometric.io 11/ 2012 – 8/2014 (21 months before being purchased by panoply and taken off the market)

Podango 9/2006 – 12/2008 (27 Months)

wildvoice.com 7/2006 – 7/2009 (36 months)

Podshow/Mevio 8/2005 – 4/2014 (116 months – 38.8 million dollars spent)

mypodcasts.com 2007 – 2011 (estimated 48 months)

The average is 45 months. Take Podshow and the 38 million they spent out of the picture and that drops to 31 (which is close to my typical answer of three years or 36 months)

One Other Point About Anchor.fm – If You Want Apple Stats

Inside of Anchor.fm there are screenshots that explain who it is “recommended” for you to let Anchor submit your show to Apple Podcasts “for you.” What they don’t tell you is when you do this, they submit it under THEIR APPLE ID. This means they OWN YOUR SHOW in Apple podcasts. If you want to see how far people have listened to your show, you can’t. If you want to see what I’m talking about here is a video from Apple Click Here

While Anchor has now added dynamic ad insertion, they need downloads from their customers to work. In a recent study, close to 60% of anchor account are inactive

Dynamic Ad Insertion Rates

It sounds great that there are systems that will inject advertisements into your episodes. After all, you are only getting 300 downloads per episode and that is not enough to get a “big” sponsor. The problem is the Dynamo system I am using from voxnest is delivering rates of $1.77 per one thousand downloads (.00177 per download) that means if my episode gets 300 downloads I make .51 and for the month if I do a weekly show I will make approximately $2.04 for the month. Yes, this is better than nothing but how much work are you putting into to placing these ads. How many potential listeners tune out because they don’t want to hear unrelated ads. Often the answer I hear about this is to have an intro, midroll, and outro add (to triple my revenue). This would mean I would make $6.12 at the end of the month. Dynamic ads do not work for the majority of podcasters as a few hundred downloads per episode won’t pay for your media hosting bill.

Maybe It’s not the Tech

If your show is not growing, and you want to blame it on the technology another strategy you may want to look at is taking to your audience. See if you can’t assemble a “focus group” of listeners who will talk about your show like you are not in the room and give you feedback. While some hosts are decidely better than others, in some cases it may be the content that is holding back your growth.

10 thoughts on “Switching Hosting Companies in Podcasting”

  1. Hi there!

    I am considering switching from SoundCloud to LIBSYN while my show is still pretty new. Will this affect the quick growth/subscribers/etc I already had? Is there anything I should be ready for while making this particular switch? I am soooo new to software so any help is great.

    Much appreciated! Thank you!

  2. Coming very late to the Podmio thing – that could be because Gmail sends their promotional e mails straight to spam. Thanks for the review of them. It all looks too good to be true. Think I’ll be sticking to Libsyn, if there is a feature worth having I know they’ll eventually add it – and it will work, no fuss.

  3. Hi there!
    I am considering switching from SoundCloud to LIBSYN while my show is still pretty new. Will this affect the quick growth/subscribers/etc I already had? Is there anything I should be ready for while making this particular switch? I am soooo new to software so any help is great.
    Much appreciated! Thank you!

  4. Hi there!
    I am considering switching from SoundCloud to LIBSYN while my show is still pretty new. Will this affect the quick growth/subscribers/etc I already had? Is there anything I should be ready for while making this particular switch? I am soooo new to software so any help is great.
    Much appreciated! Thank you!

  5. Go to libsyn.com and use the coupon code sopfree to get one free month. Libsyn numbers are more accurate (some places like podtrac won’t event acknowledge Soundcloud numbers as you can buy Soundcloud plays – they are VERY unreliable). Libsyn can import your files for free, and you paste a small bit of code into Soundcloud and you’re done.

  6. Go to libsyn.com and use the coupon code sopfree to get one free month. Libsyn numbers are more accurate (some places like podtrac won’t event acknowledge Soundcloud numbers as you can buy Soundcloud plays – they are VERY unreliable). Libsyn can import your files for free, and you paste a small bit of code into Soundcloud and you’re done.

  7. Hello. I don’t think these guys existed yet when you wrote this, but what do you know about Transistor.fm? Would you say they fit the criteria?

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