Although there are several podcast streaming services, iTunes remains the most popular one. Despite the growing the number of Android users, Apple devices still dominated the market with over 63.2% combined market share of podcast consumption including iOS podcast app (51.1%), iTunes Desktop (4.4%), and third-party (7.7%) market share in 2017. In other words, you need to know how to submit podcasts to iTunes if you want your podcast to be a successful one.
Podcasting isn’t new. In the recent years, they have exploded in popularity. In 2017, four-in-ten Americans ages 12 or older have ever listened to a podcast, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital survey data.
Here are the steps to submit your podcast to iTunes
1. Requirements Prior to Submitting Podcast to iTunes
Podcast submission may be the last step in this process. But, your first priority is to understand the publishing requirements and conditions. So, before creating your podcast series, you need to understand various requirements and specifications to ensure a seamless experience for your listeners.
a) System Requirements
Make sure you have an updated web browser that supports the latest HTML5 and CSS3 features. You can use your Apple ID to sign into the iTunes Podcast Connect where you can access and upload podcasts as well. If you can’t remember your password, reset it immediately. If you don’t have an Apple ID, set up a new one now.
b) Artwork Requirements
When you upload a podcast to iTunes, you are allowed to add an image or artwork.
However, the image should not be less than 1400 x 1400 pixels or more than 3000 x 3000 pixels in size. It should be either a JPEG or PNG file with appropriate extension and in RGB color space. Try compressing the image for optimal results.
c) Feed Requirements
As the Podcast Connect supports HTTPS protocol for everything including mp3 files, artwork, and metadata, you have to make sure the hosting platform can handle HTTP HEAD requests and has byte-range requests.
d) Content Requirements
The Podcast Connect can’t publish password protected podcasts. However, it does take copyright infringement seriously. You can officially register your content disputes or copyright violations with Apple.
2. Getting the Podcast RSS Feed
It is no longer required to set up your RSS feed manually. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know a thing or two about XML. Usually, your hosting platform will create an RSS feed for your episode which you can directly upload to podcast connect. Here are few leading platforms and tools to help you get the podcast RSS feed.
I have displayed the screen of Sound cloud here.
You can find your RSS feed link on the Content Settings page.
3. Testing Your Podcast
Before you submit the podcast to iTunes, make sure everything including XML, artwork, and the RSS feed work properly. If it passes all the tests successfully, go right ahead and publish it. Here is what you can do.
- To check if your iTunes podcast upload is working correctly, subscribe to a podcast. Choose a podcast episode from your platform and enter your RSS feed in the text box. Click OK.
- Now download the same episode from iTunes. If you can successfully download and listen to it that means the podcast is working properly. You can now go ahead and share it with the world.
- Alternatively, you can also use a third-party feed validation service to ensure there are no glitches. Irrespective of whether you create the RSS feed yourself, or the hosting platform generates it automatically, use a validator such as W3C or FEED Validator can quickly spot RSS feed issues.
4. Validating Your Podcast
Just successful testing of your podcast isn’t enough. You also need to validate the RSS feed before submitting it to Apple podcasts. You can verify your podcast either manually or with the help of a pass-through URL. The pass-through URL is nothing but an RSS feed URL with “?submitfeed=<feed-url>” suffix at the end. It looks like the one shown below.
a) Manual Validation
- Click on the + button.
- Copy paste or type the name of your RSS feed.
- Click the validate button.
This will take you to next screen as shown below.
- Podcast connect provides you with a preview of your podcast and a “Prepared for Submission” message as well, only if there are no validation errors.
- Check the preview very carefully to make sure the name, podcast description, artwork thumbnail, and general information is correct.
- If everything checks out, confirm your submission.
b) Pass-Through URL Validation
- If you are using a pass-through URL, the podcast connect will automatically validate your RSS feed.
- The next steps in this process are same as the manual submission.
Possible Submission Errors
Validation can fail for several different reasons. That’s why you should use an RSS feed validator which will make sure your feed code is correct. Here are a few common validation errors.
- Bad RSS feed URL – This error is displayed if your podcast is hosted on a platform that isn’t HTTP compliant. You need to contact your web hosting provider for assistance.
- Inaccessible feed – Check your feed carefully. Make sure you have spelled everything correctly. Podcast connect doesn’t allow spaces in a URL. Make sure to replace them with underscores. If you are using WordPress, you may have to reset permalinks.
- Bad Artwork – When you upload a podcast to iTunes, artwork matters a great deal. Check if your artwork meets the requirements for submission to iTunes.
- Timeouts – Podcast connect will display this error message if your feed takes a long time to load. You will need to reduce the size of your RSS feed. 1 MB feed size is okay. But, try to keep it under 512 KB for better results.
Remember, podcast connect will not add your podcast to the dashboard until it is successfully submitted, which in turn isn’t possible without successful validation. You will receive confirmation via email. Usually, it takes up to 24 hours for any changes made in your RSS feed to appear in the directory.
5. Submitting Podcast to iTunes Store
Now that the testing and RSS feed validation is out of the way, you are all set to submit the podcast to iTunes.
- Click Submit.
However, this is just the first of the equation. The podcast connect still need to review your podcast before it goes public. Apple will send you a confirmation email once the podcast is reviewed and okayed. It may take up to 10 days for your podcast to be approved.
The same email will also come with an active link of your podcast. Just click the link to stream (or download) your podcast. Vola! You are ready to entertain the world with your podcast.
Here’s an informational video that will help you implement the above-mentioned steps.
Different Types of Submission Status
Adding podcasts to iTunes is an ongoing process. You will continuously add new episodes, edit the metadata and general description, and change your artwork as well. In other words, you will need to manage your podcasts to make sure your listeners can find the latest episodes without any obstacle. Podcast connect takes up to 24 hours to update any changes made in your podcast list. So, you will need to check the status of your podcasts by clicking your browser’s refresh button.
Here is a list of different types of submission status (in alphabetical order)
1) Active – This status indicates that your podcast is now active in iTunes podcast connect. The podcast becomes active as soon as you receive the confirmation email from Apple. However, indexing your podcast may take up to 24 hours. Till then it remains unsearchable.
2) Delete Pending – means podcast connect has initiated the process of deleting your podcast. You can’t undo this process which results in the removal of a podcast from your dashboard as well as iTunes podcast connect.
3) Error – This message appears if there is an error. However, this happens if something goes wrong after your podcast is successfully validated, submitted, and reviewed. Usually, there is a technical issue such as invalid XML or offline server. You can click on the error message to view the details.
4) Failed Review – It indicates that your podcast hasn’t passed the review. Several factors are responsible for this failure ranging from RSS feed issues to missing episodes. You can submit the podcast again after rectifying the pertaining problem.
5) Failed Validation – Your podcast wasn’t validated successfully. It can happen for a variety of reasons which we have discussed in detail in the third point.
6) Hidden – Podcast connect has hidden your podcast. No one can view it in the iTunes podcast.
7) Prepared for Submission – You need to check the new podcast page as this status appears only there. It means your podcast is validated and is in the process of being prepared to submit it for approval.
8) Rejected – Podcast connect may reject your podcast for many reasons. However, copyright infringement and offensive content are the two most prevalent reasons for rejection. Although you can’t delete the rejected podcast, you can submit it as a brand-new podcast after fixing the issue.
9) Scheduled for Delete – It means your podcast is being prepared for deletion.
10) Scheduled for Hide – It means your podcast is being prepared for hiding.
11) Scheduled for Refresh – It means podcast connect is preparing to refresh the elements such as artwork, description, and RSS feed associated with your podcast. Depending on the size of changes you have made, it may take a few hours to update your podcast.
12) Scheduled for Unhide – It means your podcast is being prepared for un-hiding
13) Scheduled for Update – It means your RSS feed will be updated soon. Again, it may take a while to update the changes depending on their size. 14)Submitted for ReviewYour podcast is successfully submitted for review and is pending approval. Apple will review it soon and notify you.
How iOS 11 Has Transformed the Way iTunes Podcast Directory Lists a Podcast
With the release of iOS 11, Apple has provided podcasters with much-needed features and tags. These new iTunes podcast tags have made it much easier to create rich content that determines how your podcast will show up in the apple podcast app.
Here are the improvements Apple has made. (We have shown how to upload a podcast episode using Libsyn’s new tabs.)
1) Type of Your Podcast
Before this update came out, podcasters had just one place to upload all the podcast content. As a result, listeners had to comb through a cluttered list of real episodes, trailers, and other stuff. With this update, however, podcasters will be able to specify whether their podcast is a full episode, trailer or a bonus.
- Full – This is a full-length podcast which is also the most common sort.
- Trailer – You can upload podcast promos such as teasers and trailers in this section.
- Bonus – Anything extra for your listeners can go in this section.
2) Season Number
If you release your podcasts in “season format,” this update will help you specify the season from which the episode originates. In other words, if you have 2 different seasons, iTunes podcast connect will display season 1 and season 2 episodes separately within the podcast list. You can leave this field blank if your podcast is a serial without any seasons.
3) Episode Number
This update will allow your listeners to jump back to the first episode anytime they like. So, instead of starting with the latest episode, they can start listening to your podcast from the beginning. Just the way it should be.
4) Episode Summary
The episode summary has remained an elevator pitch for podcasters that provide potential listeners with the idea of what the episode consists. However, the new update will allow you to use enhanced HTML styling. Thus, your summary will be more to the point and crisp than ever.
You can use the following HTML tags.
- <p> – Paragraph
- <ol> – Ordered List
- <ul> – Unordered List
- <a> – Links
- <strong> – Bold Text
- <em> – Italicized Text
5) Podcast Title
The podcast title will appear along with the episode and season number in the podcast directory, making it easier for your listeners to find the right podcast. Most people will decide whether to download your podcast or not after reading the title. So, before you upload a podcast to iTunes, make sure the title is optimized to draw listeners.
6) Simplified Rate and Review Process
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the iOS 11 rollout is the simplification of rating and reviewing podcasts in the apple podcast app. The new update makes it easier for both subscribed listeners and non-subscribed ones to rate and review your podcast.
But most importantly, it will also help podcasters to view ratings and reviews from both types of listeners as they are available in the subscription library and the catalog. The catalog will show you ratings and reviews from non-subscribed listeners. It’s a win-win for both parties.
7) In-App Analytics
Apple launched a beta version of in-app analytics for the podcast connect at the end of 2017. The free analytics service will help podcasters to understand the behaviors and preferences of their potential listeners.
It comes with some pretty cool features including which episode was tuned out, the average completion rate, total time listened, and consumption rate per device.
You can also learn about user’s country-specific location from over 150 countries. However, all of this analytics is available for only iOS 11 and iTunes 12.7 users. Still, Apple has made it a lot easier for podcasters to produce better podcasts. Will Apple add more analytics in future? Only time will tell!
For podcasters, podcast connect is the Holy Grail. Now that you know how to publish a podcast on iTunes, you can explore this unique podcast streaming service to its fullest. I am sure it will provide your potential listeners with an improved experience and your popularity will surge in no time. Have additional questions or perhaps your want share something on this topic? Share your queries and ideas in the comments below. Happy podcasting guys!
Hazel Raoult is the Marketing Manager at PRmention, a digital PR agency for SaaS and Tech Businesses.