Tag Archives: podcasting

New Features for Listeners, Stats for Podcasters Coming to Apple Podcasts



Apple logoApple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is wrapping up this weekend in California. While Apple made plenty of announcements during WWDC, the tech giant may have truly left the best for last (at least, if you’re a podcaster).

Today, Apple announced major changes to its podcast spec. The first such spec changes the company has made in years. Apple also announced that it will finally be providing at least some listener data to podcast producers.

Acknowledging recent trends in the podcasting space, Apple will now provide support for seasons, preview episodes, and bonus episodes within its podcast RSS feed spec. That means it’ll be easier for podcasters to organize episodes by season, so listeners can download and listen back to episodes in the correct order. The preview and bonus episode options will make it easier for podcasters and listeners alike to identify episodes that might not be part of a podcast’s regular production cycle.

There’s been a lot of industry pressure as of late on Apple to provide listener data to podcasters. Acquiescing to these demands, Apple will begin providing some actual listener data to podcast producers:

Apple said today that it will be using (anonymized) data from the app to show podcasters how many people are listening and where in the app people are stopping or skipping. This has the potential to dramatically change our perception of how many people really listen to a show, and how many people skip ads, as well as how long a podcast can run before people just give up.

While this might look like the holy grail to some in terms of listener metrics, it appears that this data will be limited to listener activity from the iOS Podcasts app only. Not the cross-platform iTunes desktop application. And of course, it won’t pull in data from any services outside of the Apple ecosphere.

It’s not yet clear when Apple will allow podcasters to access listener data. The full implementation of the new Apple Podcasts RSS spec will likely coincide with the release of iOS 11 later this year. If you’d like to see what the new RSS tags will look like, Apple has released a document that covers the changes it’ll be making to the spec.


iTunes Will Soon Be Available in the Windows Store



Windows Store logoMicrosoft’s new “streamlined” operating system, Windows 10 S, is being touted as the company’s attempt to compete more directly with Google’s Chromebook and Apple’s MacBook computers. Windows 10 S is aimed at the education market, and to a lesser extent, large businesses who are looking to minimize some of the headaches that can occur when users are allowed access to a full-featured operating system like the standard version of Windows 10.

The one thing that really makes Windows 10 S stand out from its predecessors is that the operating system will only allow applications to be installed from within the Windows Store. Taking a cue from other OS developers, Microsoft will fully vet all applications that are aded to the Windows Store, in the hopes that this will minimize operational problems like viruses and malware. Having this level of control will make it easier for hardware suppliers to sell and deploy computers at an institutional level.

And while the vetting process that comes with the Windows Store is likely to be a welcome change for system administrators, it may leave some individual users in the cold. Especially those who’ve been relying on the Windows version of Apple’s iTunes to consume media like music and podcasts. Fortunately, it was recently announced that Apple is working with Microsoft to bring iTunes to the Windows Store.

That means iTunes podcasts should be available on all modern versions of Windows for some time to come. Now that this has been taken care of, can Apple get to work on porting its Podcasts app to Android? It’s seriously overdue.


Podcast Subscription Code Discovered in Google Beta App



Google Play logoWhen Google announced it would be bringing podcasts to its Google Play Music app, many hailed this as the arrival of podcasting in the Googlesphere (including the Android and Google Home operating systems), likening it to the support Apple has provided for podcasting thru its desktop iTunes application and iOS Podcasts app. At the time, it felt like Google’s aversion to supporting podcasts had truly come to an end, and that having podcasts available thru the Google Play Music app would cause a massive stream of new listeners to come flooding into the podcasting space. But podcasting’s entry into Google Play Music came off with more of a whimper than a bang. Since then, very little has happened with podcasting and Google.

A recent teardown of the APK (Android application package) for the beta version of Google app 7.3 uncovered code within the app that appears to provide one-click style subscriptions to users of the app:

Last year, Google took a (half-hearted) stab at supporting podcasts with the Play Music app. The same day, in a much less expected move, it also became possible to listen to individual episodes right from a Google search. Fast forward several months and Google Assistant also gained the ability to play podcasts, which turned out to be a fairly natural feature for Google Home.

While Play Music allows users to subscribe to podcasts, listening to one through Google Search or Assistant meant asking for shows by name, and may also require a specific episode number if you want to hear anything but the most recent recording. Now it looks like Google is going to close that gap with built-in podcast subscriptions.

By all appearances, podcast subscriptions will be accessible in Google Assistant settings and will likely be treated much like subscriptions to news sources. The one obvious difference is that Google will track which episodes have been played so you won’t miss any or have to listen to repeats.

It’s unclear if this new functionality will automatically sync with users’ current Google Play Music libraries, or if it’ll be completely separate from that service. Regardless, it’s good to see some progress being made by Google in terms of podcast consumption.


No Need to Panic Over “Death” of MP3 Audio Format



mp3 logoIt’s generally accepted that podcasting began to truly coalesce into a recognizable medium in late 2004. Considering the timeframe, it’s no surprise that mp3 became the most popular choice for audio encoding of podcasts. Other formats were definitely available. But mp3 files were a ubiquitous part of the digital-music revolution that had taken place in the years leading up to podcasting’s beginning. Due to its widespread use by consumers, mp3 was an obvious choice for podcasters to use when encoding their shows.

Every few years, one group or another would make some noise about how podcasting needed a “better,” or more “modern” format for encoding audio. Despite those efforts, nothing came around that worked as a true replacement for mp3.

Fraunhofer, the German technology company that’s held patent and licensing rights for the mp3 format for decades, recently announced that its mp3 licensing program was terminated:

On April 23, 2017, Technicolor’s mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated.

We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the defacto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades.

In its statement, Fraunhofer noted that there are more advanced audio codes available today, like AAC. This statement led to a chorus of “mp3 is dead!” cries from the tech press. Marco Arment, developer of the popular podcast app Overcast, took to his blog to shoot down the notion that the mp3 format was now over:

MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year — the last known MP3 patents have simply expired.

So while there’s a debate to be had — in a moment — about whether MP3 should still be used today, Fraunhofer’s announcement has nothing to do with that, and is simply the ending of its patent-licensing program (because the patents have all expired) and a suggestion that we move to a newer, still-patented format.

The “mp3 is dead” meme began to resonate at such a high pitch that Fraunhofer came back a few days later to clarify what its original statement actually means:

…does this mean that mp3 is really dead now, as we have read often in the last few days? Of course not! mp3 is a phenomenon, which changed our way of consuming music forever, and is very much alive in 2017.

The licensing program coming to an end is due to the fact that the last patent included in the program expired. In no way does that mean that the usage permit ends. The only ones deciding on the “death” of mp3 will be the users, who might switch to more modern audio formats at some point, such as AAC, which is included in almost every smartphone today.

It seems inevitable that some other format will eventually eclipse mp3 for both music and spoken-word audio. But that day is not yet upon us. If you’ve been concerned about this news and contemplating a format change for your show, relax! MP3 is likely to still be here for quite some time.


#2PodsADay is a 30-Day Campaign to Promote Independent Podcasts



2PodsADay logoSeparating signal from noise can be a challenging task in the internet age. There are so many outlets producing various types of media that it’s impossible for any one person to keep up. With an estimated 300,000 currently active shows, podcasting is still somewhat small in comparison to other digital mediums. But 300,000 of anything is more than one person could hope to process. That’s why it’s helpful for podcast listeners when someone steps in to provide a little guidance.

That’s just what podcaster Josh Hallmark is doing with his #2PodsADay project. #2PodsADay highlights two independently-produced podcasts, handpicked by Hallmark, and features them on the #2PodsADay website. The #2PodsADay campaign began earlier this month, on May 15th, and will run for 30 days until June 13th.

In a recent article on the campaign, Hallmark explained his inspiration for the #2PodsADay campaign:

When Josh Hallmark, the host of Our Americana and The Karen and Ellen Letters, started podcasting a year ago, he didn’t realize how hard it would be— both to produce a show, and to gain an audience. “It is very much a 1 percent industry,” he says. “ You go onto iTunes and everyone that’s featured is people who are associated with networks that have tons of money and tons of leverage. It’s really hard if you’re an independent podcaster to break through that.”

To keep track of the #2PodsADay campaign, click the website link above, join the campaign’s Facebook group or follow the campaign on Twitter.


Blubrry Launches ‘Turnkey’ PowerPress Sites Deluxe Podcast Publishing Service



Blubrry logoThere might be as many different podcast hosting/publishing platforms these days as there are podcasts. This kind of competition is good for podcasters, and for the podcasting space overall, as it provides lots of different options for creators. Blubrry, one of the industry’s longest-running providers of podcasting services, recently launched its PowerPress Sites Deluxe service, which the company is describing as a “turnkey” solution for podcast publishing:

PowerPress Sites Deluxe is a full turn-key solution for podcasters and includes hosting, statistics, and a managed WordPress website. The Deluxe option includes additional WordPress templates, themes, plugins and most importantly, the ability for podcasters to use their own domain for their website. Domains are purchased separately and are added to the site during setup.

PowerPress Sites Deluxe is the second stage in the rollout of Blubrry’s PowerPress Sites service that was first announced in the summer of 2015. The “PowerPress” part of the PowerPress Sites name might sound familiar to many podcasters, as the service relies on Blubrry’s PowerPress plugin to create podcast RSS feeds. Prior to the launch of PowerPress Sites, podcasters had to run self-hosted WordPress installations along with the PowerPress plugin in order to create a fully functional podcast site. A PowerPress Site is also a WordPress site that comes with PowerPress built-in. The big difference is that all PowerPress Sites are fully hosted and managed by Blubrry. That means things like security, updates, and backups are all handled directly by Blubrry.

The new Deluxe version of PowerPress Sites specifically offers:

The Deluxe Site is for podcasters who may want to use their own domain and those wanting enhanced Search Engine Optimization / Discovery with an SSL certificate. It includes the most popular plugins and multiple site templates, as well as a variety of themes to choose from.

A Blubrry media hosting subscription is required in order to use the PowerPress Sites service.

Disclosure: Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane is Executive Editor of Podcaster News and I work part-time with the Blubrry support team.


Instrument Builder Moniker Guitars Launches Podcast



Moniker Guitars podcast artMusicians spend a lot of their time listening to audio. And while a lot of that listening time is probably devoted to music, even the most devoted music consumers have to sometimes take a break. That’s why it’s a smart move when companies that provide products and services geared towards musicians get into podcasting. That’s exactly what Austin, TX-based instrument builder Moniker Guitars has done with the launch of its new podcast.

Moniker Guitars explained its thinking behind the podcast in a recent e-mail blast:

We’re excited to bring you Episode 1 of the Moniker Guitars podcast. And just like Star Wars: Episode 1, we have our own version of Jar Jar Binks, producer and engineer Rick King of King Sound Studios. Just kidding Rick!

Kevin and Steve from Moniker sit down with Rick to talk about his amazing studio, King Sound, in Peducah KY (where?!), and his approach for recording bands such as Hit The Lights, Alta View and many more.

Moniker Guitars seems like a natural fit for producing a podcast. It’s somewhat surprising that more musical instrument and/or audio equipment companies aren’t producing their own.

The Moniker Guitars podcast can be found thru the link at the top of this article. The show is also listed on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, and Stitcher.


TV Show Based on Startup Podcast Releases First Trailer



Alex IncStartup, the podcast that documented the beginnings of podcast production house Gimlet Media, has reached a new level of notoriety. TV show Alex, Inc. will air this fall on the ABC network. The TV show gets its namesake from main character Alex Schulman, who is based on Startup host and Gimlet Media cofounder Alex Blumberg.

Alex will be portrayed by Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State). The show’s cast also includes Tiya Sircar (Star Wars: Rebels), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Elisha Henig, Audyssie James, and more.

Braff will also have a hand in the writing and production of Alex, Inc. The show’s first trailer definitely makes Alex, Inc. look more like a sitcom than a documentary series. Anyone familiar with Startup will recognize certain elements that have carried over to the TV show from the podcast. And of course, there are plenty of things in the trailer that have been embellished for the sake of comedic TV.

Major television networks (including ABC) are in the midst of their advertising upfronts for the Fall 2017 broadcast season. No word yet on how much interest has been generated by Alex, Inc. Regardless of the show’s potential success, it’s still a banner moment for podcasting to have a primetime TV show based on a podcast. Time will tell if Alex, Inc. sets off a trend or goes down as a novel idea.


Seattle PodCon is Crowdfunding for Planned December Dates



PodCon logoIt takes a lot of resources to put on a successful podcasting conference. And by “resources,” I mean “money.” That’s why the organizers of Seattle PodCon, planned for December 9th and 10th of this year, are raising money thru crowdfunding to get their conference off the ground.

PodCon is the brainchild of YouTuber and podcaster Hank Green, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale, and podcast producer Travis McElroy:

They wanted there to be a place where people got together to really just /get into/ podcasts together for a couple days. That’s going to include discussions of what is oh-so right about podcasts, but also some of the issues we have to face. It’s going to include live performances and mashed-up podcasts. It’s going to feature podcasters from tons of genres including fiction, news, science, comedy, drama, crime, interview and more.

We just love this stuff, and we want to celebrate it.

The producers of PodCon are still working on getting all of the details together for the conference. So far, they’ve confirmed live podcast recordings of the shows Dear Hank and John, My Brother My Brother and Me, and Alice Isn’t Dead (a separate, ticketed production of Welcome to Night Vale will be held adjacent to, but not automatically included with PodCon). The conference will also host panel discussions and workshops that will cover a wide range of podcasting topics.

PodCon has currently raised 16% (just shy of $50,000) of its $300,000 flexible crowdfunding goal. Contributors can gain access to PodCon with a $90 contribution. A remote access pass can be had for a $25 contribution. Remote access attendees will receive a special podcast feed that will contain recordings of many of the events happening at PodCon.

To learn more about PodCon and contribute to the Indiegogo campaign, click the link at the top of this article.