July 29th, 2014
The Internet is buzzing with news that Apple is about to buy podcast/streaming-media service Swell for about $30 million. Swell has been billed as a “Pandora for spoken-word content,” the service provides a personalized listening experience based on a listener’s individual preferences. Swell is different from most other podcast apps in that it focuses solely on news and talk content. In fact, it’s not even possible to use Swell as a traditional podcatcher. Any content not currently carried by Swell has to be approved and added to the service by Swell staff.
Most of Swell’s current staff are expected to be asked to join Apple. And apparently, the team was working on an Android version of Swell. But that will likely be abandoned.
July 23rd, 2014
I received an e-mail today from Skype that read:
“We are now retiring older versions of Skype and it appears that you’re currently using one of these. To continue signing into Skype on your mobile or tablet, you’ll need to download the latest version. The new version comes with improved performance, the latest features and security updates, so you’ll get the best possible Skype experience.”
I hadn’t ever received an e-mail like this before from Skype. And usually, when iOS apps are updated, the process is pretty much automatic thru the App Store. I decided to investigate further. I launched iTunes and looked at apps I’d already downloaded. I saw that the Skype for iPad app (the only version I’m currently using) didn’t indicate an update was available. I looked at the listing for the Skype iPhone app in the App Store and saw that there was a new version of that app released earlier this month. I’m assuming that I received the e-mail because I had downloaded Skype for iPhone in the past, but I no longer own an iPhone, and I guess Skype somehow knew that I hadn’t downloaded the latest version of the iPhone app, and that’s what triggered the e-mail.
July 21st, 2014
Audio-sharing platform SoundCloud is reportedly in talks with major music labels that could lead to the labels gaining equity in the service. SoundCloud is likely making this move to avoid copyright lawsuits on behalf of the music labels. In recent months, big music labels like Universal have been sending an increasing amount of takedown requests to SoundCloud users that had uploaded unlicensed songs (or songs with unlicensed samples) to the site. It looks like SoundCloud may be making this deal instead of dealing with potentially costly legal entanglements.
Since its inception, SoundCloud has been popular with music makers. The service also has a growing number of podcasters using its beta program for media hosting. If this equity-sharing deal goes thru, it’s hard to say how this will impact podcasters who distribute thru SoundCloud. But if you’re considering making SoundCloud your primary media host, you may want to hold off until this deal is worked out (if not until the media-hosting program actually comes out of its three-year long beta).
July 12th, 2014
Long-running NPR favorite This American Life has switched its primary distribution point from Public Radio International (PRI) to Public Radio Exchange (PRX). This is relevant to podcasting for a couple reasons. First, the show will now be distributed primarily via the Internet instead of NPR’s satellite system. Second, This American Life will now be able to seek out its own podcast sponsors and potentially make more money.
Under PRI, This American Life was paid by NPR stations that chose to carry the show. And overall, NPR had more involvement in the business side of the show. Thru this new deal with PRX, the show is essentially going independent. It’ll still be heard in all of the same places, and the changeover should be seamless to most listeners. And while This American Life has a huge audience to build from, the change doesn’t come without risks. According to the CNBC article linked above, the show is foregoing a guaranteed seven-figure income with its old PRI deal. Under the new system, This American Life host Ira Glass and the show’s producers will be directly responsible for managing the show’s marketing and monetization efforts. From that CNBC article:
July 11th, 2014
Sometimes, you may need an easy way to create a URL on your podcast site that automatically forwards to another location. For example, instead of simply asking your listeners to visit your iTunes listing by searching for your show inside of iTunes, you could simply tell them to go to example.com/itunes (example.com being replaced by your own URL, of course) instead. You can achieve this by setting up a 301 redirect on your website. The redirect will automatically tell a web browser to go from your specially crafted URL to wherever you’ve sent the redirect.
301′s are usually added to your website’s htaccess file, depending on what type of software your site is running. I use WordPress for all of my podcast sites, and all WordPress installations include their own htaccess files.
Htaccess files may be difficult to find with typical FTP clients. You may need to alter a client’s view settings or you may need to access your server’s control panel to get to the htaccess file. This may be annoying, but it’s actually a good thing as you can do some serious damage to your site if you were to accidentally delete or damage the htaccess file. But you can easily gain access to your site’s htaccess file by using the free Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin.
July 10th, 2014
I had different intentions when I first thought about typing this post. I wanted to compose something critical. Maybe even a bit snarky. But after doing some research, I’ve found that I may be in the minority in my way of thinking here.
Let me explain.
I subscribe to the popular StarTalk Radio podcast. Traditionally, StarTalk has released one full-length episode a week for as long as I’ve been listening. But recently, they began inserting short “Cosmic Minute” clips into the main podcast feed. I was a bit confused when I heard the first one, as there wasn’t any warning that these clips would be coming. I shrugged off the first Cosmic Minute and moved on. Until the second one landed in my podcatcher. Then, I became annoyed.
I subscribe to StarTalk Radio to get the full-length episodes. Not these minute-long clips. Yeah, I know. StarTalk Radio is technically giving me more content that I already like, so who am I to complain. But Cosmic Clips are simply snippets of interviews that have already been aired on full-length episodes, some of which I’ve already heard. I just don’t really have any desire to listen to this repurposed content. In the future, when a Cosmic Minute clip announces itself in my headphones, I’ll hit the next button and. No harm done, right?