Ever wonder what goes behind podcast recordings? How are they being published and when are they actually available on different platforms? In this episode, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard answer all your questions and debunk myths and misconceptions about podcasts. Whether you’re simply curious about the whole process or looking to launch your own channel, Tom and Tracy have the answers for you. Listen in as Tom and Tracy share their views on podcast misconceptions and drop some of the tips and tricks they encountered in their own podcast creation journey.
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Myths Debunked: Addressing Common Podcast Channel Misconceptions
I am flying solo now, at least for a while. Tracy has something that she has to do unavoidable, so you are getting me alone now. What I thought I would go over with you is some common misconceptions about your podcast, especially some of the podcasts distribution channels and your episodes, when they are published. When are they available on different platforms? We are getting a lot of questions, not only from some new people but from some existing long-time customers even, about some expectations that they have for episodes and when they would be public? Some things also come back and impact the statistics of their show.
The first misconception is about the publication of your podcast episodes. Let’s talk about when you launch a show first because some of you are new. This is going to have something for those of you that are seasoned podcasters as well as something for those of you that are new but let’s start at the new place first.
People often say, “I want to go live with my podcast next Friday.” There’s a specific date. They want to make sure their podcast is live to the world on that date. That can be done but you’ve got to plan ahead because, while some podcast platforms are out there when you register your show, you can be live in 30 minutes in their system. Most often, that’s not the case.
Most often, you need to register your show, which means we submit your RSS feed to them. They get all the information on your show and put it in their system available for people to find through their app and news. That happens within 24 to 48 hours usually but unfortunately, the number one podcast destination, platform, distribution channel or there are many ways people describe these things is Apple Podcasts. That’s the new name for it.
Everybody commonly refers to it like iTunes. In reality, iTunes still exists as a program but it’s only for certain things, and Apple split up all the different things. It used to be into iTunes, into their different little individual apps. Music and podcasts used to be in iTunes. Now there’s Apple Music and Apple Podcasts. If you have an older computer, you can still have an iTunes app but it’s different. It’s not what it used to be.
I may interchangeably use the words iTunes and Apple Podcasts but we are talking about Apple. Apple invented podcasts because they weren’t even called that until the iPod existed. They created the ecosystem but now there are an awful lot more players in it but now, Apple will still, for most podcasters, be 50% to 60% of where your listeners are, and your podcast plays or downloads as they may be referred to are coming from. Ironically, Apple, the pioneer in this technology, is the slowest to putting a new show in their system and making it available on Apple Podcasts.
They have invented and created these guidelines, policies, and requirements. They still vet new shows to make sure they are in compliance with their requirements. It’s not automated. It is not this automatic process where you submit it, go through some computer stuff, and get it put out there. They have real people and employees that have to do it.
Over the years, we have found that the amount of time it takes for a podcast to become live in the Apple system can vary tremendously. At certain times of the year, when demand is not as high, and people are not away on vacations at Apple and things like that, this can happen in a few days. 2 to 3 days maybe is the shortest I have experienced but the longest we have experienced is over two weeks. I know that’s a little alarming, especially for newbies who are trying to plan around a marketing or social media push around the launch of your podcast, that’s a hard thing to deal with but often, we find it’s usually seven days or less.
Usually, at most times of the year, you can count on if you plan a week ahead, you are going to be good. We are launching shows every week. We had a couple of shows that took three days, and they were live on iTunes. Unfortunately, it’s unpredictable. Apple owns this space, and they are going to do what they do. There’s no way to make them do it any different way. When you are planning a launch, you’ve got to plan around the potential that it’s going to take you up to seven days and be ready for that or as little as three days.
You have to be ready for that as well. If the show comes out before you want it to, it’s going to be available for the world to download, and that’s the way it is. There is the option with Apple to hide the podcast. If it goes live and it’s earlier than you want it to be, we can hide it from being visible and make it visible on the exact day you want to launch if you have a real marketing push and you want everything to be timed. Precisely, you can do that.When you want to make sure their podcast is live to the world on a specific date, you have to plan ahead. Click To Tweet
However, we also have been experiencing and understanding there are some algorithmic consequences for that within Apple’s platform. You may not be well-served for your show being ranked and your show rising in the charts. Certainly, in the new podcast section, as high as it would have if the day it launched, whatever there that was, you go with it, promote it and drive as many people to it as possible. You will do better, and we don’t recommend doing that in every situation.
You’ve got to be prepared. A podcast launch could be a little bit of a fluid thing and takes place over a period of days but maybe not on one particular day. I want to make sure everybody is aware of that. It’s also a common misconception that, especially newbies who want to go and publish an episode. They publish it at 10:00 in the morning. Maybe they published it two hours ago on Wednesday, and then they keep looking in their app, “I published it. I don’t see it on Apple. I don’t see it there.” That’s true. There’s another common misconception about your podcast just because you would like to post something live. It’s quite a bit different than going live on Facebook.
That’s either going live on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram TV or something like that is the only way you are going to be completely live on-demand when you want it to be. The podcast ecosystem doesn’t work that way. When you publish an episode, it’s live to your podcast feed, and that’s the mechanism of distribution of podcasts. If you didn’t know that, it’s an RSS feed, which stands for Real Simple Syndication, that makes it available for the world to find.
Any of you that have a website with a player app that is checking your feed will be live in pretty much real-time on your website if you’ve got a website app that’s pulling the latest episode. When anybody loads that page of the website, that app goes and checks the RSS feed for a new episode, pulls it in, and people can play it right there.
Any of you working with us, we have a WordPress website, we put the fuse box player on your site, and there’s an option to have what they call the sticky player at the bottom of every page of your website. That means no matter what page or your website someone is on, at the very bottom is a track player of your latest episode. People can play it right there without being on the podcast page, blog post for it or going into any other app. They can play it right there on your site. That’s the most live experience anybody is ever going to have with your podcast, and real-time experience is going to be on your website.
In the podcast ecosystem and distribution system, all of these apps, every single one of them, Apple, iHeart, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, there are a whole bunch more. I think we are up to fourteen or so. We are putting everybody on all these apps. They check your RSS feed, usually only once a day. Some of them don’t even do it every single day. It’s a little bit unpredictable with some of them. That’s very unfortunate.
The closest you can predict as to when an episode is going to be published is the next day or the next morning, if you will after you publish it to your RSS feed. If you want your shows to go live on Fridays, and we are handling this for you, we are going to schedule that episode to publish usually Friday morning somewhere between after midnights like 12:05 AM and 3:00 AM. That’s when we are going to do it.
Most of the podcasts distribution channels are checking your feed once a day for new content, new episodes published in the wee hours or early morning hours, usually before people would be driving to work, walking to work, commuting to work or however they are getting there. The idea being subscribers want a podcast as soon as they can get it, and they are going to make it live. They are going to go look for it, pull it in, and make it available for you to listen to as soon as they can on the day they have checked the feed.
If you publish an episode after they check the feed, let’s say that Apple checks at 4:00 AM, it varies because there are so many feeds. There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there. Even as powerful as Apple is, it takes them time, a period of hours at least, to be able to check all the feeds for new content.
You publish an episode in the early way or hours in the morning, and by the time somebody drives to work, it’s available on the device that can listen to it as they are commuting but if you wait and publish an episode until after that time, they have checked it and it’s random. You have no way of knowing exactly when all these channels are going to check it. Anytime, probably 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning, if you publish your own episode at a time like that, it won’t be available until the next morning. That’s the way it works. In the vast majority of platforms, that’s going to be the case.Ironically, the very first pioneer with podcast technology is the slowest in adding and putting a new show in their system and making it available. Click To Tweet
There’s one minor exception that you can refresh a feed and force an app to publish something right away but it still takes 1 or 2 hours and it’s a little bit unpredictable. For the most part, you’ve got to plan on it and have an expectation. You’ve got to plan ahead. If you want it available on Monday, it’s going to need to be published somewhere between 12:00 AM and 3:00 AM Monday morning or you may miss it, and it won’t be available until Tuesday.
I hope that’s clear, and others can get a little confusing but that’s the way the podcast ecosystem works. It’s not a live real-time situation the way Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram TV, or anything like that. That’s for new podcasters in publishing episodes in general. Other misconceptions are, you know how many subscribers you have. It’s another newbie thing. Those of you in podcasters know this already but you will never know how many actual subscribers you have.
You can estimate it, and you can get a pretty good idea but you have probably never going to know exactly how many subscribers you have on Apple, Spotify, Google Play or at all in general across all of them because the ecosystem isn’t built for that. It doesn’t tell you how many subscribers you have. You will know how many downloads each episode has gotten, and that is a pretty good approximation of how many people have listened to it.
If you want an idea of how many subscribers you have, it’s probably the number of people that have listened to an episode within the first 24 hours. Some people say twelve hours. It depends a little bit but how many downloads you get in somewhere in that first 12 to 24 hours are usually the number of subscribers you have because they get it first. It’s not random that they are finding it. They are going to get it right away that day at publishes. That’s the way you can estimate that.
Also, on podcasts platforms, we have this happen a lot, and this is with what existing podcasters do. This is getting out of newbie territory. It’s valuable for all of you but we have people say, “I want you to publish that episode on this date.” As soon as on that day, they go and check every different platform. Every single one. They check it to find out, “Is it available? Where is it available?”
Unfortunately, the reality is that we don’t have control over every platform and everywhere that it’s made available while most of them check once a day. They are not required to. They do it on their time. They make up their rules, set up their own algorithms, and we have no control over that. Each of these different apps and channels is their own company, software and rules.
We are unable to predict and control it. Some people say, “My latest three episodes are not on Stitcher.” Sticher has been weird in recent months. I’ve got to tell you. It was this standard for listening to podcasts on an Android phone platform. Google Podcasts is starting to take that over, and they want to take it over. Stitcher still exists, and it’s worth being on Stitcher but an awful lot of people are finding that their episodes are not publishing there consistently.
We reach out to Stitcher. We try to work with them to see what’s going on. The reality is we don’t know what’s going on. They are a little unpredictable. I want you to be aware. Some people think, even if they are DIY holsters with us, they are not even people we are doing production for but we are syndicating their stuff. They publish their own episodes on Podetize, and it pushes out everywhere.
Unfortunately, this is something we don’t have control of and DIY or sometimes say, “What is wrong with your hosting? My show isn’t appearing on Stitcher.” It has nothing to do with our hosting. The episodes are published because it’s on Apple, Spotify, and it’s everywhere but it’s not on that one platform. We deal with those issues on a case-by-case basis, try to provide support, and get them out there but be aware. There’s a little bit of a misconception that it’s always completely predictable and that it always happens when it’s supposed to. There are glitches. It doesn’t happen often but it can happen.
Here’s another one. It’s somewhat related and it’s important. I have had this happen. Somebody gets threatened by someone that called them and made a threat, “You publish this. You are talking about my company. Takedown that podcast now.” I have had people have a guest that the guest was unhappy with their performance, and they would demand to take it down.If at the last minute you want to push back your podcast launch date, it can cause havoc with the algorithms and the charts. Click To Tweet
Hopefully, all of you are getting permission from your guests that they are going to be recorded, published and you have the right to publish it but in the rare exception where you want to unpublish an episode, be aware because we unpublish it. It doesn’t erase it from the internet immediately. There are some places that won’t erase it at all for quite some time because once you put it out there, it’s out there. Anybody who subscribes to your podcast will have had it downloaded already to their device. They’ve got it, and you can’t unring that bell.
There are certain platforms like Spotify that cashier episodes, meaning they put it in their system and serve it to their people from them. They don’t check your feed as often usually. They might check it a few times a week, maybe not every day. It can take a while before they take an episode down that was published there.
We have had that happen with people that decide, “They want to unpublish something.” We have had people decide to launch their podcast, and then the morning it goes live and they say, “I want to push back my launch date a week.” You can’t do that very well and effectively. That recall with the algorithms on Apple, for the charts and all that, too. Be aware of that if you are new.
A few misconceptions on stats. Some people think, “You are always going to know exactly how many plays or downloads you have on every little individual platform.” Most podcasts, housing platforms, and all of them, I don’t think there is any way you can identify exactly how many you’ve got on Castbox or how many you’ve got on Stitcher versus other platforms, even Apple.
The ecosystem is not built that way to give you that level of stats, although Tracy came up with a very cool concept that I’m not going to share with you details of because we think we may turn this into some cool new software. We think we have a method and we can implement in 2022. At some point, it’s going to take us a little time where we will be able on Podetize if you are hosted with us to give you that detailed information. Anyway, more to come on that. That will wrap up my portion of what I was sharing with you now about misconceptions, your podcast, and publication, especially in a little bit about stats.