International Podcast Day is coming up quickly and MacKenzie and Steve Lee talk about how you can celebrate and just what this day is about on the latest PowerPress Podcast. First off, for an event such as Podcast Day, streaming services are very important, and we discuss the value of a service, Voice Republic based out of Europe. For those of you that are looking to live stream your seminar or speaking session, particularly with a piece of hardware, this may be your answer. We dig into why International Podcast Day was started, who works on it, how people celebrate – such as conversations from 14+ countries all over the world, and most importantly bringing the podcasting community together. Steve has also started a podcast network, Modern Life Network, so in the discussion about creating a network from your podcast, he had some personal insight on the matter. Thanks for listening and subscribe to the show, and please leave a review for PowerPress! Happy podcasting.
You’ve spent countless hours coming up with a great concept for a podcast, recording, editing, publishing, and promoting. But your show still isn’t getting the traction you’d like. What’s going on?
In a time when iTunes and other directories act as virtual catalogs, allowing potential listeners to browse and select based on what grabs their eye first, success isn’t just about having a great idea and a high-quality show. You must also grab attention visually.
Here at Blubrry, we’ve had plenty of experience with both great and terrible podcast artwork – and everything in between – and we’ve got some suggestions for how to optimize yours to be attractive, eye-catching and relevant to your audience. In this post, we’ll be delving into some of the necessary technical issues of creating podcast art, and in a follow-up post, we’ll go into the creative design principles you need to know.
5 Tech Tips You Need To Know To Rock Your Podcast Art
- Your Show Cover Art is the image that appears in directories, like iTunes, Google Play and Blubrry. The current iTunes recommendations are 3000 X 3000 pixels, in order to look good on Apple TV. If you are a PowerPress user, you can use the Google Play setting blank and it will automatically pull your iTunes image. (This is what we recommend.)
- Keep in mind that all podcast art must be created in the RGB color space. RGB (Red-Green-Blue) is the color of the light that is emitted from the screen to represent a pixel of the image. Avoid using the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) color space. That’s meant for printing, and if you use CMYK for your podcast artwork, the image could show up as poor quality when resized or viewed on different screens and devices. Note: If you change the iTunes image without changing the file name, it might take some time (possibly even months) for iTunes to update the image in the iTunes Podcast Directory. Please contact iTunes Support if you are having issues with your image changes not appearing in iTunes.
- Your Individual Episode Image is the artwork that appears when a specific episode is being played. It can be unique to each episode (if you don’t upload a specific Episode Image, your cover art will appear instead.) Episode images need to be saved into the media file in the form of tags (ID3 tags for mp3) following the production of the media file. It should be smaller than the show cover art image – a good guideline is 600 X 600 pixels – because a larger size could cause problems with your iD3 tags being read by iTunes and other directories.
- Make sure your images look good scaled down to as small as 60 x 60 pixels. Text might not be readable at that small size, but the logo/text should still be recognizable. iTunes scales images to as small as 30 x 30.
- Your iTunes Show Cover Art should be saved in JPEG (.jpg) format to optimize the file size. A detailed PNG format image at 3000 x 3000 can exceed 1MB in size, which is known to cause issues with applications including iTunes. More importantly, the larger the file is, the longer it takes to load.
In our next post on this topic we’ll cover crucial design tips to make your artwork stand out and represent the high quality of your show!
Last week the IAB, in partnership with a consortium of 23 companies within the podcasting industry referred to as the Podcast Technical Working Group, released a set of guidelines meant to shape the use of ad metrics by podcasters, podcast service providers, and others in the space. In this Q&A, Blubrry/RawVoice CEO Todd Cochrane tells us more about the document and what it means for podcasters.
Q: How many companies participated in the creation of this document?
A: “In total, 23 companies in the podcasting space participated in the creation of this document, including Blubrry and other major players like Google, Libsyn, Nielsen, Westwood One, and NPR. It was quite the process: as we are all passionate about what we do, there were a lot of opinions to sort through. But after 20 months of hard work by all parties, we were able to reach a set of standards we could all agree to.”
Q: There are a number of podcast companies that did not participate, why is that?
A: “I really cannot speak for other companies on why they may not have joined and participated, but we choose to become involved as we have 11 years of experience in podcast metrics, and wanted to make sure the podcasters we represent had a voice and seat at the table. That said, we hope non-participating podcast companies will still widely adopt the guidelines as that would help measurement data come into alignment pretty closely across the industry.”
Q: What guidelines are included?
A: “The document mainly focuses on how downloads are measured, the criteria around that, and how to count partials and total downloads. For example, a download of an episode from the same IP address can’t be counted more than twice – that kind of thing. They aren’t necessarily rules, but guidelines. If everyone sticks to those basic tenets as outlined in the addendum of the document, it’s going to go a long way toward leveling the playing field among companies in the industry.”
Q: How in-depth are the guidelines?
“We’ve heard a little bit of feedback from some podcasters that say the guidelines doesn’t go super deep and there’s no certification process. But the IAB isn’t an enforcement or auditing organization. They are more interested in making sure a set of guidelines can be put forth with information that will help solidify the terminology and provide guidelines that make the digital advertising space more navigable. You could never get 23 companies to agree to a rigid set of standards, but it’s a good first document that we worked hard to unite on.”
Q: What isn’t covered in the document?
A: “Neither filtering or fraud are covered in detail in the guidelines it’s mentioned, and we think those are both crucial things for podcasters and podcast service companies to be paying attention to. Hopefully, we can dig deeper on the next revision of this document. For example, we at Blubrry were recently able to identify podcasts that were using multiple Twitter accounts to directly link to new episode media files. Bots were picking up those media links and downloading the file many times. Because we have such a huge and wide data set, and because most podcasts are consumed in a predictable way, when we come across something weird it sticks out like a sore thumb and we can see it very easily in the data. It was a gaming of the system that was unfairly inflating traffic for the podcasters using that tactic. Because we are looking for that kind of thing and have strong algorithms set up for fraud, we were able to find it and put in filters to prevent it. If some podcast service providers offer that kind of filtering and others don’t, there will still be discrepancies between their numbers.”
Q: So how can podcasters and media buyers get a complete picture of what’s going on?
A: “By studying both the new IAB Podcast Measurement guidelines and the IAB Audio Buyers Guide, which is being updated by the IAB right now, podcasters and media buyers will both be using the same terminology so there’s no confusion. Everyone will be singing from the same page, as long as everyone adopts the guidelines. It’ll still be up to the media buyer to ask questions about how the service provider the podcaster is using measures its traffic, though. Blubrry has been completely in compliance with the guidelines, and then some, since we developed almost the same set of standards in 2008 with the Association of Downloadable Media. At some point, we’ll probably come out with more information, and share deeper data with the podcasting community as needed.”
Q: What about downloads – how can they be accurately measured?
A: “As we recently stated, 60% of podcasts are still downloaded on-demand. But it’s a a myth that those downloads can’t be measured. Many podcasters and media buyers are under the impression that there’s a black hole, and once podcasts are downloaded, there’s no way to know if they are ever listened to or not. But there is still a story to be told based on trending data. We can tell a lot more about how those podcasts are consumed than many people believe. After 3-5 episodes in a row aren’t listened to, iTunes and the iOS Podcast App will stop downloading that show. And since iTunes / iOS is still so dominant, we know that if a show is still downloading, it’s being widely listened to across a period of time. Podcast listening is different – it’s not like a banner ad, but more like the radio equivalent of the home DVR. Advertisers won’t get all the answers, but when these guidelines are adopted, they will get numbers that are consistent across all service providers. Everyone listening to podcast has grown up with a DVR and podcast consumption is like most media we consume today – “on demand.”
Hello again! This episode of the PowerPress Podcast MacKenzie spoke with Nancy Gaines and they talked about her podcast, The Nancy Gaines Show, as well as the IAB Podcast Ad Metrics Guidelines document that was released earlier this week. For those of you that don’t know, the Hitachi Foundation helps businesses that are helping the economy thrive and improve. They also happen to have a podcast coming up soon, the Cambridge Optimists. You can submit your story to be on the podcast – that is if you’re an entrepreneur. Next up in the episode, MacKenzie learns all about Nancy’s consulting team and business and what she loves about podcasting. She’s also a big fan of Blubrry tools and services. Lastly, Blubrry was heavily involved in the creation of the IAB Podcast Ad Metrics Guidelines that were recently released to the public. These guidelines ensures everyone is on the same page for podcast advertising, and sheds light on information that not all podcasters, media buyers, etc previously were not aware of. Please, listen and subscribe! Thank you!
Fan of PowerPress? Leave us a review, here!
Here at Blubrry, we’re pretty proud of our customer service. After all, we’re all podcasters here too, and our customers’ success is always our number-one priority. We don’t mean to brag…but here are six reasons we believe our podcasting customer and technical support is second-to-none:
1. Free phone support. Blubrry’s tech support is second-to-none. Tickets are answered within 24 hours – often much sooner – and calls are either answered live or else returned within the day. “I like to say we’re the only podcasting hosting company with a phone number,” says Lead Support Technician Mike Dell.
2. West coast coverage. We don’t assume that all of our customers only have problems or concerns between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM EST. We have a dedicated support team to serve customers on the West coast – or those who may simply like to burn the midnight oil.
3. Airtight ticket-based support. Our internal tracking system ensures that your ticket won’t go missing and will get a timely reply. And if you prefer not to submit a support ticket, we offer many other ways to reach us!
4. Basic and advanced plugin support. Need to find a quick answer to a simple question about PowerPress? Chances are good that our plugin resources page has the answer you need. But if your question is more complicated, don’t worry! We also offer one-on-one podcast consulting for a more personalized deep dive into your particular issue.
5. Value-laden support forums. Blubrry customers are smart, generous, and many have been around the block enough times to figure out answers to the most common support questions. Before you make a call or send an email, it might be worth checking out the Blubrry forums to see if a fellow podcaster has already found out the answer – and is willing to share!
6. Support beyond tech. We know that podcasters have questions that go beyond feeds and plugins. Maybe you need someone to walk you step-by-step to help you better understand our products and services. Or maybe you want to learn more about advertising opportunities. Either way we have a dedicated staff member to help get you the answers you need.
Want to learn more? Check out our Support page for a list of contacts and links.
For many podcasters, the holy grail is monetization: getting sponsorships to support their craft. But anyone considering starting a podcast – or deciding whether to continue podcasting after a slow launch period – should keep this in mind: often, the benefits of podcasting aren’t as direct as advertising dollars. In this post we’ve detailed three real-life stories of podcasters, from fledgling to “old pro” level, who’ve had surprising and exciting opportunities come their way…all because of their podcasts:
Meeting a Childhood Idol
The Higherside Chats is an in-depth interview show featuring leading conspiracy/occult/alternative researchers. Creator and host Greg Carlwood shares this story:
“One day I wake up to a random invite from professional wrestler Chris Jericho to be a guest on his show. I was a huge fan as a kid, so it was pretty surreal. We did the interview in-person from his hotel room when he was in town for a wrestling gig.
A guy I idolized as a kid found value in my podcast and wanted to interview ME?! What more validation does a guy need?
Entering The Speaker Circuit
You don’t have to be a long-time podcaster to see big rewards from your show. Rachel Cassinat, co-host of The Table Chat Show, says she’s only been podcasting since April…but already has seen big rewards.
“Both my co-host Erinn Gregory and I are registered dietitians. We were invited to speak at an upcoming conference for dietitians and nutrition professionals and will be talking about using nontraditional media to educate the public and create a unique brand.”
Rachel’s example is a great example of using your podcast to expand your personal brand!
Hitting the Local Airwaves
As a kid, Meagan Francis always thought she might like to be on the radio one day – but life had other plans. And as many of us who grew up loving radio have found, podcasting is a great option with a low barrier to entry and much more creative flexibility, which led her to starting a variety of podcasts including The Mom Hour and LifeWork. But what she didn’t expect is that her side-step from her original dream might bring her full circle.
“Recently I was asked to guest host a local morning radio show that was in need of a new co-host. The station reached out to me in large part because my podcast allowed them to get a sense of my personality and skills before they committed to having me on the show. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the guest spot was essentially an audition, and that podcasting for the past few years gave me skills and knowledge that set me apart. The upshot: I was asked to join the show permanently, so I’ll soon be both a radio morning show co-host AND a podcaster. Best of both worlds!”
So there you go! If you haven’t yet dived into the podcasting waters, or are wondering if you’re on the right track with your podcast, keep this in mind: sometimes the coolest opportunities aren’t just about money. We’d love to hear what unusual or unexpected opportunities your podcast has brought!
MacKenzie is happy to have Joe Pardo back on the PowerPress Podcast, this time to talk about his event, Podcast Mid-Atlantic. Before they discuss the event, MacKenzie and Joe have some pretty strong opinions on transcribing your podcast – did you know that Auphonic has put out a beta for this? Those of you that are interested in making transcribing or speech recognition services better, get involved with this private beta. September 9-10 in South Philly, podcasters will gather for a podcasting event meant for fostering creativity and community. Listen to get all the details about the event and why you should attend. Blubrry is happy to be sponsoring this event and hope that everyone involved has a great time. At Blubrry we’re always happy to encourage growth in the community. Lastly, Tascam recently released two new soundboards, made specifically with podcasters in mind! It’s not everyday that a podcast specific product is debuted, and from a largely known company such as Tascam. Thanks for listening and please subscribe to the show.
Fan of PowerPress? Please leave us a review, here!
As podcasters, it’s important to know how audiences are listening. So here at Blubrry, we’ve crunched the data for you. Over 35,000 podcasts are represented in this breakdown, and whether those apps stream to a player for instant playback or download based on subscriptions to play on-demand.
60% of podcasts are downloaded for playback on-demand
Correction, we previously reported 80% which did not factor in that the iOS podcast app provides both stream play as well as save (download) play on-demand functionality.
No surprise here. This includes mobile and desktop podcast applications as well as desktop browser downloads. This reflects trending data about subscription consumption, demonstrating that loyal listeners use podcast applications to subscribe and listen to podcasts.
Here are the 4 main distribution categories of podcast consumption.
1. Mobile apps (play on demand) account for 71.6% of podcast “downloads”
Mobile podcast applications represent the bulk of podcast consumption today. Podcast apps are designed to run in the background both for playback and for subscription management where episodes are automatically downloaded for playback at the listener’s convenience.
Blubrry’s Podcast Statistics measure over 30 mobile applications including the official “Podcast” iOS app from Apple, Stitcher for Android and iOS, Pocket Casts for iOS and Android, Overcast, Downcast, Other iOS Apps, AntennaPod, Player FM, BeyondPod, Android Podcast Apps, as well as apps for Windows mobile, Blackberry and other niche mobile hardware.
Note, the Stitcher app sends a “ping” for measurement when content is played. Blubrry Podcast Statistics count each ping as a download. Stitcher, like all mobile podcast applications, will download or “update” subscribed podcasts with the latest episodes when the device is connected via WiFi.
Note, the iOS podcast app by Apple accounts for 39% of the mobile app downloads as well as streamed plays. The iOS podcast app by default subscribes listeners for stream plays and allows users to save on demand (download) as well as download new episodes automatically. We estimate that 1/2 of the consumption is downloaded and the remaining half stream played on demand.
2. Desktop apps (play on demand) account for 13.1% of podcast “downloads”
Desktop podcast applications account for an ever-shrinking slice of the podcast consumption pie. Similar to mobile podcast apps, desktop applications are designed to run in the background to download podcast subscriptions for synchronization to mobile devices such as iPhones and iPods.
Blubrry’s Podcast Statistics measure over 30 desktop applications including Apple’s iTunes, Juice (iPodder), Zune desktop, gPodder, and Sony MediaGo. Today, iTunes desktop application alone makes up 80% of the desktop app consumption.
3. Desktop browsers (in-page stream plays and play on demand) account for 10.7% of podcast “streamed plays” and “downloads”
Desktop web browsers account for a solid 10% of podcast consumption. This percentage has remained within 5-15% since we started measuring podcast consumption in 2005. Desktop web browsers provide a way to play the audio directly from within the webpage. For podcasts where we measure plays within the browsers separate from downloads, approximately 2/3 of the consumption is played instantly. The remaining 1/3 accounts for listeners who download the podcast.
Blubrry’s Podcast Statistics measure over 15 desktop web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
4. Mobile browsers and TV apps (in-page stream plays) account for 4.6% of podcast “streamed plays”
Mobile web browsers account for nearly 5% of podcast consumption. This percentage saw modest grown from 2008-2012, though in recent years it has plateaued. Mobile web browsers provide a way to play the audio to be played from within the webpage. On older phones that do not provide native browser play functionality, the media URL is automatically opened with the built-in default media player app. Playback from within either the browser or with the default media player results in a streamed play.
Blubrry’s Podcast Statistics measure over 25 mobile browsers and TV applications. Mobile browsers include Chrome on Android, Windows Mobile, and Safari on iOS devices. TV applications include AppleTV, Roku, Samsung SmartTV and AndroidTV.
Android based web browsers do allow listeners to download podcasts rather than play them instantly, but the option is rarely used on such mobile devices. thus is not included in this report.
Podcast applications account for 85% of podcast consumption
No secret here, podcasts that are consumed from desktop and mobile podcast applications make up the majority of the podcast consumption. Podcast applications by nature provide an easy way for listeners to subscribe to a podcast to listen to their favorite podcasts at their leisure. This is what podcasting is all about!
Interesting Facts about Podcast Consumption
- Most consumption occurs within the first 72 hours of release.
- Podcast applications account for the majority (84.7%) of consumption. Such downloads occur within the minutes of an episode release and account for the bulk of all consumption within the first 24 hours. Podcast downloads occur in the background similar to how a DVR records TV for on-demand playback at the convenience of the viewer.
- Podcast applications can provide “streamed plays” identical to in-page steam plays found in web browsers. Such cases typically occur for podcasts that are not subscribed to but are either bookmarked/starred or were recently discovered by the listener.
- Based on trending information and factoring in episode release spikes within the first hours of release, we estimate 75% of podcast episodes consumed by desktop and mobile podcast applications are downloaded for on-demand playback (approximately 57%).
- Podcast downloads from desktop web browsers account for 1/3 of desktop browser consumption (approximately 3.5%).
- Stream play based applications such as web browsers and smart TV applications have a longer (24-72 hour) window of consumption. This implies that stream played consumption tends to take longer to be consumed, where-as subscribed to “downloaded” podcasts for on-demand playback spikes within the first hours an episode release.
Measuring Streamed Plays vs Downloads
Measurement of a streamed play (sometimes referred to as a progressive download) and a download for playback on demand is handled in the same way. When a player plays a media file from a URL (such as in a web based media player), the file is “progressively downloaded” from where it is hosted. A progressive download is a fancy term for downloading the file in the form of chunks using HTTP byte range requests. The chunks provide a way for the player to promptly allow for playback of the recording once the first chunks have been downloaded. In technical terms, these chunk downloads use byte range requests to download portions of the file at a time. It is common to see many requests for one file when this technique is used. Podcast downloads can also use byte range requests for reliability downloading on mobile networks, resuming a download, or for speeding up the downloading process. It is as common to see byte range requests for downloads from mobile podcasting applications. Since both a streamed play and a download appear the same way server side (either in 1 request or with multiple byte range requests), both consumption methods can be measured the same way.
We hope this information is useful for you as you decide how and where to reach your audience!
I’ve been consistently producing and editing a podcast for a tad more than eleven years, and like most podcast producers, I listen to more than a few podcasts. In fact, I’m always seeking out podcasts that fit my fickle and changing interests. Maybe my podcast-producing experience has reduced my podcast-listening pleasure because I tend to focus on the quality of the product rather than the content. I’m not perfect, but I know what I’m hearing with my critical ear when I listen to podcasts.
What follows is my rant about big mistakes I hear podcasters making over and over and my tips for fixing some common podcasting mistakes. When you finish reading this, you may label me a podcast snob. That’s okay. But hopefully I’m not as annoying as a friend who is a coffee snob watching me brew a cup of coffee – “you didn’t let the coffee bloom,” you’re pouring too fast,” “you’re water is too cold,” and on and on. It’s tough being a critic.
Okay, into the hot water we go:
- Change Sample Type to Mono! The left and right stereo channels are not separate rooms where you, the interviewer, are in one room and your show’s guest is in the room next door. I get dizzy when I listen to an interview where the host is heard in my left ear and the interviewee is coming through in my right ear. There are call recorders that record your conversation this way; the caller is recorded in one channel and the person you called is recorded in the opposite channel. This is a great feature for the podcast producer. You can adjust the audio in each channel separately so you can match levels and quality using your audio editing software. However, after your edits, if you don’t change the sample type to mono, the listeners of your show are going to feel like the net on a ping pong table with the audio in your show bouncing back and forth between the left and right channel.
- Adjust Audio Levels! One of the podcasts I listen to regularly has a serious audio level problem. The host’s volume level is so low I have to crank the volume up to hear her. Her guest’s audio level is so high I have to crank the volume back down to save my hearing. I’m constantly rocking the volume level back and forth on my iPad. The is a simple problem to fix. Remember when we were talking about your recording software recording you in one channel and your guest in the other channel? You can use this feature when you are editing your audio file to adjust the levels in each channel so the volume levels match, and then you can change the sample type to mono. Your listeners will love you.
- Choose Music Wisely! Please do not use your six year old daughter’s violin practice sessions for your bumper music. Seriously, one podcast I listen to has someone, likely a child, playing the scales on a violin and using this as “music” to end his show. Please save this kind of thing for the grandparents. They will love it. I don’t. It hurts my ears. Consider that your listeners will have to hear your bumper music every time they listen to an episode, and choose carefully.
- Clean Up Language Litter! I spent many years in Toastmasters. If you don’t know what Toastmasters is, Google it. Spending time in Toastmasters’ meetings can do wonders for your podcast and your life. In Toastmasters we try to clean up your language by making you aware of how often you say, “um,” or things like, “yaknow.” I like to call these utterances, “language litter.” Language litter is very common in our culture and difficult to stop using. A podcast is fertile ground for language litter, so make yourself aware of it and try to eliminate it. I still find myself using language litter in my podcasts. I use audio editing software to zap this crap whenever possible.
- Brush Up Your Interviewing Skills! A show I recently subscribed to combined language litter with poor interviewing skills. The host of the show constantly interrupted his guest by saying, “yeah, yeah, yeah,” or “right, right, right.” These three words were blasted out, rapid fire, and sounded like one word with three syllables like, “yehyehyeh,” and “rierieright.” Over the past couple of years I’ve heard this “yehyehyeh,” or “rierieright,” litter creep into our informal conversations, and I assume people think it’s a cool way to let the other person know you’re listening. But if you are really listening, your mouth is shut, plain and simple. Let your guest talk instead of interrupting! Also, please refrain from revealing to the world how smart you are by doing most of the talking when you have a guest on your show. I was so frustrated with this podcaster because his guest was telling an interesting story I really wanted to hear, but the podcaster kept interrupting the story with his own comments, and then talked over the guest with “yehyehyeh,” and “rierieright.” The interruptions were so bad I had a hard time piecing the guest’s story together because the podcaster couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Click-unsubscribe.
I hope you walk away from this rant with a good cup of coffee and one piece of advice: please listen to your podcast with a critical ear and strive for continuous improvement.
-Attorney Barry Kantz is General Counsel and CFO of RawVoice and Blubrry. He can be found on Twitter @kantzb.
MacKenzie is solo on the PowerPress Podcast, you’ve got to listen to the episode to find out why. Regardless, she tells you all about this new thing, the podcast garage in Boston, discusses her podcast chronicle, gives a quick update on Blubrry and last but not least, a list of some podcasts to listen to if you’re feeling like you can’t escape the Olympics. The podcast garage is a new community space for ‘audio enthusiasts’ and a great outlet if you’re looking to record somewhere other than your closet. Podcasting issues come up, if you’d like to know how to prevent a potential podcast failure, learn from MacKenzie. Thanks for listening and please rate and review the PowerPress Podcast in iTunes! Don’t forget to subscribe as well. Options are on the right hand side of the webpage.
Fan of PowerPress? Leave us a review, here!