The podcasting world is always buzzing with changes, one of which is the major changes to iTunes that Apple released. They’re getting rid of iTunes as we know it, meaning that iTunes is going away, but they’re going to have three new apps and separate TV with Apple TV. In this episode, Tom and Tracy Hazzard discuss the implications of these major changes to podcasters and content producers. Don’t be fazed with these changes but see this as a learning opportunity as Tom and Tracy share the things to consider when looking for alternative podcast hosting websites.
It’s strategy day for our weekly client coaching call and we are going to talk about some news that hit in the podcasting world that I’m sure a lot of people may be wondering about if you’re an existing podcaster. That is that Apple announced that it is going to get rid of iTunes as we know it. That doesn’t mean they’re getting rid of podcasts. That just means they’re getting rid of the main program that was a combination of selling music and TV through Apple TV and also podcasts. Not selling podcasts but distributing podcasts. What they announced, which I know might seem scary to everybody at first, is that iTunes is going away, but they’re going to have three new apps and separate TV with Apple TV. They separate the music and also podcasts.
Podcast, the Apple Podcast app on your smartphone was already its own separate thing. The desktop app, which you would connect your iPad back in the day, you connect your smartphone to sync things to your phone. Not a lot of people do that these days in terms of syncing their actual phone by plugging into it, but you still could do that with iTunes. Podcasts, if you’re going to access them on your desktop, look something up on iTunes, look at the charts in all the categories what the top 200 podcasts are, look at the new and noteworthy, you would use the iTunes app on your desktop. Now, there’s going to be completely unique in their new IOS going forward, podcast app on the desktop. That’s a big change. Personally, I’ve done a lot of reading about it and seeing what other people had to say about it, I’m excited. I think this is a really good thing for the podcasting industry.
There’s going to be a dedicated app to it. I always felt like podcasts were the stepchild within iTunes desktop because it just doesn’t sell podcasts. They don’t make any money on them. This may be at the beginning of a path for Apple to potentially make money on podcasts perhaps with advertising and things like that. They haven’t announced anything like that yet. That’s purely speculation. Anyway, I think it’s good because there was a couple of years there where iTunes, in terms of podcasts, was neglected.
Apple, we heard through the grapevine, had reduced the number of dedicated employees that they have just focused on podcasting in terms of iTunes and podcasts. The new and noteworthy section of iTunes and all the different categories was not being updated. There was a period of almost two years where that was not being updated. It wasn’t algorithmic and there was no staff picks being entered. It was frozen for a very long time. That changed. That was the first hopeful sign, good sign that things are improving. This is the next step, the next evolution in it. The other thing I think is good about it is when you would go to iTunes and you would search on something, there was a good chance that you might actually pull up search results for music instead of podcasts.
I think that’s a negative term. That’s negative because now with people searching through who wanted music or TV, they were getting a podcast as options and now they won’t. That’s the difference. That’s desktop users and they believe that their users are more app users than they are desktop users. They probably have a lot more data and information on that. I do think it may hurt most of the new shows that were getting served up randomly because music happened to have a similar title or something like that. The bigger issue would be there. I don’t think it’s going to change anything about your subscribers or listeners any because they were always using the app to begin with.
The app has been separated for a long time and most people access through your smartphone. I do think there was confusion. I think a lot of times when people went to iTunes desktop to try to search on a podcast or go browsing podcasts to find some new content they want to listen to that way. Oftentimes they were getting served up TV, music, other things and that was confusing to users. Plus a lot of people rate and review podcasts on iTunes desktop, as opposed to the app. You can do it either way, but a lot of people go to the desktop to do it. I think that it also caused a lot of confusion. No matter how you slice it, when you go and update and get a new piece of software for your industry and this is a major piece of software for the podcast industry. When you get a new one, things are naturally inherently going to be updated, more modernized and it was in dire need of an update.
Things are also going to be a little wonky for a while. There may be things that aren’t working as well as they would like them to be working. We may find disruption in feeds and other things like that or we will stay on top of it and we will keep you notified of that. The first thing we will do is always investigate whether or not it’s an iTunes problem. If it’s not, that’s the first thing you should do too. If you see an outage on your iTunes app, the first thing you should do is go to Google podcasts, go to Stitcher and to any one of those other apps. I have three apps on my phone that I use at all times just so I can check that.
If there’s a disruption in the feed, it would be disrupted everywhere. There’s a true disruption in your feed, your website wouldn’t be receiving it. That would be the only connection between us and you or your website having an issue. Those would be the only two red flags for that. If it’s serving there, then it’s not a feed problem. It’s an iTunes problem. I always keep the Stitcher app, even on my iPhone and I could say, “Alexa, play the latest episode of this podcast.” If that latest one doesn’t show up, then that might indicate a more of a bigger problem. You’ve got to have a couple of different sources to check things about your podcast and not just rely on iTunes.
We see a lot of cache problems and other things across all kinds of desktops websites and other things. One of the really, the first thing, we’ve had this happen with somebody who’s like, “There’s a problem.” We get text messages and crazy and then they go, “I cleared my cache and I reloaded and it’s fine.” Do that as well because it can be some cookie or cache issue that’s happening on your end based on the way you last saw it. Yet updates happen and they don’t appear proper. One of the things we should let you all know is if you are hosted on Podetize and many of you are who are in this group. We’ve had some major improvements and upgrades to our MP3 server, all our files serving basically.
You know iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcast and TuneIn, all those places, the majority of them do not store your MP3 files. They’re just a directory and a middleman. Your files are stored on our servers. When anybody downloads or requests to stream or subscribes to your show, a request comes from that service to our server to serve the file. We’re serving, I might not even know the numbers, hundreds of thousands of files every day and maybe even well more than that. With all the different shows, all the plays they all get. Anyway, there have been some major improvements for speed, efficiency and stability of our backend systems. That’s some really good news for everybody. That was implemented.
It’s been really stable and great and it’s been fast every day. Corey Jahnke, we want to address something for you as well. We were just talking about your message. We’ve done some investigation and everything. Corey’s question to us was that the smart podcast player, not the track player, but the big player that’s on the main page of your or your podcast page or your homepage depending on how your website’s configured loads slowly. This has been a classic smart podcast player problem. It’s a plug-in that has a lot of bandwidth that goes with it. It takes a while to load on somebody’s site.
We have at times put in a special code on it that it caches it so it just reloads faster. The problem with that is it doesn’t always update your feed on time as it would otherwise. That’s a problem because then you go to your site and you think, “My site and my newest episode didn’t go live.” You panic about it, but it does that because we can put that caching thing on there, it doesn’t work right. It only checks once a day for new episodes in your feed if you do that. There are pros and cons. There are certainly some things that we can look at to see some configuration to give you a chance to load.With podcasting, make sure you understand your contract, your terms and conditions, and that you have full ownership in your content. Click To Tweet
We’re going to check that out for you and see what we can do there. The reality is that if you’re just unhappy with it, you’re going to have to get a new podcast player. We honestly looked at all of them and there aren’t that many that have all the special features which allow you to email, allow you to go subscribe, that have all the things that the smart podcast player has and digitally looks great on your site. Some of them are so awful-looking and so hard to use. That’s the tradeoff there, is that it’s a speed problem because you’ll see it, it’s like a gray box and it’s loading.
The other thing about that is depending on where your website is hosted and where in the world somebody is accessing your website and loading your website from. There are all sorts of internet traffic issues that can impact how quickly that loads and how quickly the person loading the page sees the results. I’m not trying to make excuses for it, but maybe it makes a problem like this of smart podcast player isn’t loading quickly, why not? It can be a hard problem to troubleshoot. There are certain things we see happen periodically and maybe that’s more likely than not the issue. There could be something else too. We also have seen an awful lot of websites with new upgrades available for plug-ins and not just that plug-in, but other plug-ins that are related to it. There are a lot of things to keep track of on your website.
If you’re not on our website maintenance program, we’re probably not monitoring that and optimizing it, but we certainly can do that. If you don’t know about our maintenance program and you’re interested in that, send us an email and let us know. We can talk about that. It’s pretty reasonable. We do have a way and we are implementing a new piece of software that will scan all of our client’s websites who are on the web maintenance program. There’s a cost to it for us. It’s not something we do for every site we work with. It monitors and will tell us on a real-time basis on whose websites there’s a plug-in that’s out of date and needs to be updated. You can fix it before a problem happens, where your sites are broken and then you’re reactive instead. This allows us to be more proactive and head things off before they become a problem.
If you had your site created by us in the last year, you’re automatically enrolled in that program for the first year of your site. That’s what we decided. You may not have gotten the notification yet because that software’s being implemented. That will be coming for you as well. We want to make sure in the first year your site is as stable as possible. That’s included. The other thing that we do want to mention is that one of our site partners and one of the people who have a site with us, they had a hack into the Infusionsoft plug-in. It looked like their site was being held hostage, which it wasn’t, but that’s what it looked like. If you have them and if your site goes down, you tell your web developer that it is this Infusionsoft plug-in.
You should look into it. There is a lot of combination of factors. Infusionsoft plug-in with other software on the site that hasn’t been updated enough can provide this vulnerability. We didn’t even know what it was. This was a bad hack. It took about four or five days to work it out and extract all the malicious code and get the site back up and running. It was a pain in the neck. At the end of the day, our tech team determined it was the Infusionsoft plug-in that was the culprit. If you are maintaining your own site, it’s really easy to set it up for automatic plug-in updates and automatic updates on these things.
Here are our few pieces of advice. I know this isn’t a tech call, but this is forefront in our minds and it’s been in a lot of the traffic and emails we’ve been getting from everyone because there’s been a big WordPress update and that’s causing lots of updates to all the plug-ins and issues. Do not set your plug-ins to update automatically. When you log into the back end of WordPress, you go in and you manually do it. Do one at a time, quit and restart your site, check your site. If it went down right before you update any plug-ins, you back up your entire site. We recommend BackupBuddy. There’s a bunch of other backup programs if you want to put them on your site, but backing up, then update a plug-in one at a time each time. If you’ve got to do a WordPress update, you do the WordPress update first before you update the plug-ins.
One caveat to that that we learned in terms of the WordPress update and I don’t want to get too technical, but this is important. Every WordPress site has a PHP software on it and that’s a very important part of how the site functions. We discovered certain sites that have certain hosting limitations like with their hosting account, the hosting service that they’ve purchased from GoDaddy for example. GoDaddy is a great service. I’m not knocking GoDaddy in any way. We really like them. If you have a certain hosting, it won’t allow the PHP software to be updated. If you do that big WordPress update, it will take your whole site down. That we also discovered the hard way. We had to revert the site to the earlier version of WordPress, get the site back up and then move the site to a new hosting that allowed the PHP to be updated.
I really am frustrated with that because I thought why wouldn’t any hosting allow you to update PHP? Anyway, once you have the site moved to new hosting to allow the PHP to be updated, the WordPress can be updated and all the plug-ins can be updated there. You don’t have to change the hosting. You’re upgrading your package, your type of hosting. You could stay with the same host, but you have to upgrade the service. That is what has frustrated me because when our team was talking to GoDaddy, they were like, “You’re on different hosting. You can’t upgrade this until you’re on another hosting.” I was thinking, “How much more are you going to charge?” It wasn’t even something like that. The hosting for the new version with GoDaddy was less expensive than our client was paying for previously. Companies don’t tell you all this stuff and do the right thing for you. They make it be a mystery, like a treasure hunt.
Words to the wise, if you’re doing this yourself, then go ahead and make sure you’re doing it during office hours. Make sure that your host is there to answer your questions because stuff will go down. Some of the better ones have 24/7, but others don’t and you could be in trouble. I want to explain to you guys, remember that if you need to ask us questions, you can only chat on Facebook. You want to come on live and have a strategy call. You want to hot seat it, we’re happy to do it. You’ve got to go into the Zoom. 962169812 is the Zoom meeting ID. You should keep that number in general and you can save that because we use the same one for the weekend calls. If you have a question, what’s your greatest challenge, anything like that, we’d be happy to work with you on that. The Apple update was the biggest one that came out. People have had a chance to think about that and talk about it. I think it’s a good thing. Not everybody agrees, but it’s a really good thing. What else is new in the industry? That’s the biggie.
What else is new and exciting in this world? There’s been some Spotify news going on. Spotify has been making a lot of plays and a lot of news. There are a lot of people talking about, “They’re offering this recording software and everything.” I want you guys to be really clear and advise your friends. It’s $14 or something, $14, $15 or something for them. You get to use this special app to record over your phone or over. I don’t know if you could even do it over the desktop. I know you can do it on the phone. It’s an app to record, but it is no different than the Anchor app. At the end of the day, the terms and conditions do you say that they will steal your authority, that they have a right to put ads into your things. They have a right to the full recordings. You don’t get to keep them. Even though you’re paying them $15 a month, they’re telling you that the $15 a month is utilization of the software, not recording rights. You be careful here. If your people ask you, it’s not a good thing.
Obviously, the terms and conditions don’t say they can steal your authority. What they’re saying in the terms and conditions, they own your content. That’s something you always have to be careful of with any outside service that you use, especially if you’re doing a radio show or anything else. Make sure you understand your contract, your terms and conditions and that you have full ownership in your content. We’re all doing this. Everybody who we’re talking to anyway is doing this because they’re in business in some way, shape or form and they’re trying to market and grow their business. It’s very hard to do that if you don’t have the rights of your own content to repurpose it any way you want.
I’ve been doing a lot of strategy calls lately for a lot of new podcasters coming on. There are lots of great ideas floating around. We’re getting lots of shows that are going to do multiple seasons, which is exciting. They’re really starting to utilize the five show strategy that we have here. For those of you who don’t know what the five show strategy is, I did an episode on that about having five RSS feeds in your Podetize account. Make sure you utilize them and know all the different ways that you can. Check that out. That one’s public on the Feed Your Brand Facebook page. This group right here, Brandcasters, it’s clients only. There are only clients on this, not just the general public. We have our general listenership, as well as clients who also like the Facebook page. You might want to like the Feed Your Brand Facebook page and definitely stay in this group because this group is where you get updates and all kinds of information. These calls are private to you guys only. You’ll get stuff here that the average Facebook member who is browsing and interested won’t get.
I try to post a few days ahead of time a little post in this group so you can ask your questions. If you want to submit questions in advance, you can do it there. If you want to submit to Hello@Podetize.com, make sure you put in the subject matter so that we know it’s time-sensitive, that it’s a question for the coaching call. That way we’ll pay attention to it and make sure that we get it in time. You can submit questions anywhere, anytime. These are deep-dive questions. You can always ask our team questions, like the quickie stuff or things that are personal to your particular podcast. We do want you to have the opportunity to be able to brainstorm and work with us and figure out how you can up the ante on your show. How can you get your show to be up there? How can you do more with your show? How can you be strategic about it and grow your business from the show? Here, we’re looking at answering more questions as podcast questions.
Business-related and marketing-related. The lines are blurred. Promotion, publicity and any of those things. Feel free to ask any of those questions at any time. I know we’re still getting used to this new weekly thing where a lot of you are on the monthly and very comfortable with this. We found that Friday noon was a problem for a lot of people. We wanted to make sure that we have more calls all around. We do have a lot more people in the setup process than ever before and so they have more intense needs so we do end up getting a lot more of those. Last time was a good example of that where we get some early, more newbie questions and that’s okay. There’s always value and everybody learns and things change. There are new things as well to be learning and talking about. For a lot of people, if you join on the Zoom and we’ve had very few attendees on the Zoom side. We get more on the Facebook side. You get a private mentorship session, so you can hot seat it with us and you can ask us a ton of questions if nobody else is asking. We’re going to keep going. Thank you so much. Reach out to us by email or any which way you know how to do. Thanks so much everyone.