Apple recently changed the way you submit your podcast to iTunes. Instead of submitting an RSS Feed address through the iTunes application, podcasters will now use iTunes Connect. There are definitely benefits to using iTunes Connect, and we’re excited to see what other tools Apple launches for podcasters.
Step 1: Validate and test your RSS feed
If you’re using a service like Buzzsprout or Libsyn, you shouldn’t run into any issues here; most of the bigger podcast hosts won’t allow you to generate an invalid feed. But, if you built your own feed, or just want to be safe, start by validating your feed.
I’m a big fan of Feed Validator. Head to their website, paste your RSS feed address, and click Validate.
You should get a message that says “Congratulations! This is a valid RSS feed.” You might also see some comments in the Recommendations section, but those shouldn’t pose an issue when submitting to iTunes.
If you get an error, Feed Validator is good at telling you what the issue is. The most common problem is a bad RSS feed URL, check to make sure you’re giving Feed Validator the correct RSS feed. Most likely the correct address will end in .RSS or /RSS.
If you’re still getting an error, you’ll want to contact your podcast host.
Step 2: Verify your feed has all the correct fields to submit to iTunes
Once you’ve validated your feed, head to iTunes Connect to submit your podcast to iTunes.
You will need a valid Apple ID and password to submit your podcast to iTunes. If you don’t have one, you can create an Apple ID for free.
When you login to iTunes Connect you should see a page like this. (I’ve submitted a handful of podcasts already, so yours might look different).
Start by clicking the + in the upper left side of the screen.
Now enter the same URL you validated in Step 1, and click Validate.
iTunes Connect will check two things:
- it will check to see if the feed is valid (though they won’t give as in-depth details as Feed Validator), and
- it will also check to see if your feed meets the requirements for submission to iTunes.
You might receive a few validation warnings if your RSS feed doesn’t have all of the required tags. If so, you’ll need to update these in your feed and click validate again.
To submit your podcast to iTunes, you’ll need to have the follow fields in your RSS feed:
- Podcast Title — Apple uses your title as a search term in iTunes, so make sure it is descriptive. It has a 255 character limit (just under two tweets).
- Description — Write a compelling description of your podcast. This is also used for search. But don’t stuff this section with keywords, your potential listeners are going to read this. (4000 character limit).
- Podcast Artwork — This one is important. Your podcast artwork will probably be the first impression your podcast makes. Make sure you have great podcast artwork that will look great across multiple device types.
Artwork must be a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, in JPEG or PNG format, 72 dpi, with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png), and in the RGB colorspace. These requirements are different from the standard RSS image tag specifications.
- Category — iTunes has defined categories for podcasts, so don’t try to start a new category for your Vegan Rodeo podcast. Specify the three categories, or subcategories, that are most applicable to your podcast.
- Language — This is required and helps Apple know which countries should access your content. Make sure you’re using the ISO 639 two letter language code.
- Explicit — If you’re podcast includes mature content make sure you mark it as explicit. This is the most common reason that podcasts are rejected from the iTunes store.
Review all of your podcast information for grammar and spelling mistakes. You’ll want to really consider what you have in the title, author, and description sections.
Pay close attention to the title, author, and description tags at the <channel> and <item> level of your podcast. The iTunes Store uses these fields for search.
Step 3: Submit your podcast to iTunes
Once you’ve filled out all the recommended tags, you’re ready to submit your podcast to iTunes. Just click Submit, Apple will begin the review process.
You’ll get email letting you know your podcast is being reviewed, and then another email once they’ve approved or rejected your podcast. The review process can take up to 2-weeks, but typically it only takes a few days. With iTunes Connect, you’ll be able to see the status of your podcast from the dashboard.
Once you get your approval email, your podcast will be available in iTunes!
Benefits of iTunes Connect for Podcasts
The main benefits of iTunes Connect are for managing podcasts. By logging into iTunes Connect, you’ll be able to refresh your podcast, update your RSS feed URL, or delete your podcast.
Update your RSS Feed through iTunes Connect
Prior to iTunes Connect, there wasn’t a way to manually change your RSS Feed through iTunes. If you wanted to change your podcast host, or move to a new feed, you would need to add a new feed URL tag to your feed.
With iTunes connect, you can specify a new URL and your podcast listing will move right over. Just drop in a new RSS feed and click Refresh Feed.
While this is great for your iTunes listing, you’ll still need to put in new feed url tag so that your subscribers and other listings, like Google Play Music, will move to your new feed.
Apple has also added a feature called Mirror URL. This appears to be a static URL for each podcast listing that 301 redirect to the current source URL.
This feature will be great for keeping subscribers who have subscribed to the Mirror URL feed; if you ever change your RSS feed you would be able to keep your subscribers, even if you didn’t put in a New Feed URL tag into the old feed.
A permanent link to your RSS Feed URL. Users subscribed to your podcast using the Mirror URL are redirected to your RSS Feed URL in Podcasts app and iTunes. This allows you to change your RSS Feed URL without losing users subscribed to your Mirror URL.
Other benefits of iTunes Connect
iTunes Connect for podcasts also adds a few other features that you might find beneficial:
- Refresh Feed — iTunes automatically updates each podcast every 24 hours. If you’d like your content to appear in iTunes sooner, you can manually refresh your feed. (Use this feature sparingly, iTunes will remove this feature if you overuse it.)
- Hide Podcast — You can temporarily hide your podcast listing by clicking hide podcast.
- Delete Podcast —This will permanently delete your podcast from iTunes.
I hope this article has helped you get your podcast listed in iTunes. If you’re new to podcasting, be sure to check out our page on starting your podcast.