One of the first questions I’m asked in podcast consulting meetings is how to get a podcast on Apple or Spotify.
It’s not quite as simple as uploading to Apple Podcasts or Spotify. The podcast distribution model is very similar to the music streaming model — there’s a middle man that helps get your content out to the world.
Just as platforms like DistroKid and TuneCore help artists get their music onto Apple Music and Spotify, podcast hosting platforms help distribute your podcast to the listening platforms.
What do hosting platforms do?
A hosting platform is a place where your audio file, artwork, and notes are stored. The host creates an RSS feed (an online file that contains all the content from your podcast), which is then submitted to the distribution platforms (i.e., Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, etc.).
Some hosting platforms will distribute to most distribution platforms, offer monetization options through an ad network, and provide analytics, so you know who is listening to your podcast and where, when, and how.
There are countless hosting platforms available today, with a range of features and pricing. It can be quite overwhelming to research and choose a platform when you’re first starting, so how do you decide?
Here are five things to consider when choosing a podcast hosting platform:
As with any business investment, the first thing to consider when choosing a hosting platform is your budget. Every platform has different features and options at varying prices, so it’s essential to know just how much you can put towards hosting your podcast.
Platforms range from free (Anchor.fm) to $85 per month (Simplecast) depending on the features, amount of storage, and downloads.
Analytics can be important for podcasts that are part of a larger content marketing strategy, and you want to make sure you choose a platform and subscription level that provides the insights you need.
Some platforms will offer you basic analytics, including the number of total downloads, the number of episode downloads, the platforms your audience uses, and their location. Others can get more in-depth, often providing information on browsers, network (ISP), and detailed locations.
Sponsors and advertisers will want to see your analytics to understand your audience and market. It will also help you determine if your content is resonating with a particular device user, listeners in a specific location, and more to target your content or potential products and services.
Monetization is a newer feature that podcast hosting platforms offer, and it’s often through an ad network. Depending on the platform, your podcast might need to hit a certain number of downloads to activate this feature. However, some platforms provide basic advertisements for podcasts with lower download numbers.
There are many options for monetizing your podcast, but if you think you’ll diversify into advertisements eventually, make sure you choose a platform with this feature.
Storage / Listeners
The amount of storage or downloads per month is how some platforms calculate their subscriptions, rather than basing their subscription on the features offered.
While it can be challenging to predict the number of downloads and listeners in a month, especially if you don’t have a strong brand following yet, it is easier to predict the amount of storage you’ll need. One way to test this out is to get your first few episodes recorded and ready to go before choosing a hosting platform. I always suggest recording up to four episodes before launching anyway, so once you have these recorded and edited, you can add up the file sizes to determine the amount of storage you’ll need.
As you choose your hosting platform, understand the features you need for your podcast based on your goals and objectives. This includes analytics, monetization, and the amount of storage or downloads per month, but each platform has other features that might sway you one way or the other.
- Web players — consider the types of web players offered if you embed these into blog posts or your email newsletters.
- Distribution — all hosting platforms help you distribute the podcast to distribution platforms, but each offers a different level of ease. Some automatically submit to specific platforms, while you have to submit to others manually. Some offer Apple Podcast Optimization, while you have to do the leg work with others.
- Podcast website/branding — this feature might be helpful if you don’t already have a website, and each offers different options for developing a podcast site and branding.
- Multiple shows — some platforms make it easy to host numerous shows with one login, so if you have plans to launch more than one show, you might want to consider a platform with this feature.
- Content creation tools — in-app recording, episode building, and collaboration tools allow you to be flexible in your content creation. While you can only upload one mp3 file to certain platforms, others offer creation tools. With these tools, you can upload multiple files per episode (think intro, outro, ads, and your main episode) or allow you to collaborate with others in their app.
There’s no one size fits all hosting platform for podcasts because each podcast has its own goals, objectives, budgets, and feature requirements. As you plan your podcast and prepare to make decisions on software and platforms, be sure to recognize your budget, what you need, and where you want the podcast to go.
Here are a few platforms that I recommend to clients based on their budgets or needs:
My Top Platforms
Anchor.fm is a great option for hobby podcasts or podcasters testing the waters because it’s free, and there’s an opportunity to earn money through their monetization settings.
Simplecast is another excellent option for starting your podcast. It’s intuitive and easy to use, has basic or robust analytics depending on your tier, and makes connecting with distribution platforms easy with a click of a button.
Libsyn is a great option for podcasters looking to scale their podcast. With advanced analytics, scalable plans, and a monetization option that connects hosts to an ad network, it’s one that many clients opt to use when they launch their podcast.
Buzzsprout is a platform that gets rave reviews and frequently receives number one rankings for hosting platforms. I don’t use this platform myself, but it’s a popular option that many podcasters use.
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