05. Working with Podcast Directories
The first step in submitting your show to any directory, including iTunes, is to validate your feed. Your feed is similar to a webpage, organized code that programs such as iTunes or Google Reader uses to make the RSS feed into something usable and you need to be sure that code is correct.
You can get your feed URL by logging into your Libsyn Dashboard and go to Destinations –> View Feed.
If you need help configuring your feed, click here.
Once you have your feed URL, go to Feed Validator and enter your feed URL –
Hitting the validate button will show you if you have any errors. Usually, the ‘Recommendations’ listed can be ignored, but if you have any questions contact email@example.com and they can help ensure your feed is fully valid.
Now that your feed is valid, it needs to be tested in iTunes. This is done by opening the iTunes application (this will work on a Mac or a PC) and click on File –> Subscribe to Podcast then enter your feed URL and hit OK. iTunes should subscribe to the feed and start downloading episodes automatically.
Your feed is valid, it has at least one (we recommend three) episode posted, and your test in iTunes is working. Great! Now its time to submit to the iTunes store.
iTunes is currently changing the process for handling submissions and working with shows in the store. Please visit the following blog post for updates, this tutorial will be updated with the new process once iTunes verifies they are fully launched with the new system.
Note: It may take iTunes up to a week or more to approve or deny your show. Acceptance and how long it takes to be accepted is entirely up to iTunes. Once approved, it can take another week or so for your show to be fully indexed for search in the store.
Need additional assistance? Contact our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving to Libsyn
If you already have an RSS feed with an active show setup in iTunes and are migrating to Libsyn, you will need to update the feed iTunes is pulling from so that they pull from your Libsyn feed. You will need to make the change at your current feed, not within Libsyn. The feed will need to be modified to include the following tag:
Replace “http://www.myfeedurl.com/rss.xml” with whatever the URL of the feed you will be using (Libsyn) is.
Moving from Libsyn
While we would hate to see you go, the ability to change your feed URL in iTunes is important so we’ve made it easy. Just follow these steps:
–Log into your Dashboard (www.libsyn.com)
–Select Podcast RSS Feed
–Scroll towards the bottom and select Advanced Options
–Enter the iTunes redirect tag in the Extra RSS Tags text box:
Libsyn will add the entered iTunes redirect tag to your feed for you, and iTunes will pick up on this change within a few days.
There are several different types of images you can optimize to improve the branding and marketability of your show. There are three images in particular that are important to your show:
- Your Show Artwork
- Episode Thumbnails
- The ID3 Tag Artwork
We will go through each one of these in detail in this tutorial.
The Show Artwork
The show artwork, also called the channel level image, is the image that will appear in iTunes and other podcast directories for your show.
iTunes has very specific requirements in order to accept the image in the iTunes store. The image must be:
- 1400x1400px (minimum)
- 3000x3000px (maximum)
- Under 500kb
- Use rGB color space
- Be a JPG, JPEG, or a PNG file
Having great show artwork increases your chances of being featured or having better search rankings inside the iTunes store.
Important Note: If your image does not meet iTunes specifications, your feed may stop updating properly in iTunes. New episodes will may not appear, metadata changes may not update.
Once you have your image, you can upload it using your Libsyn dashboard. Go to your on your main menu and scroll down the page.
Once the image is uploaded, scroll down and hit the button. That’s it, the image is uploaded to the show and in your feed. iTunes will pull the image.
Note: If you upload your image after your show has already appeared in the iTunes store and/or you update the image, it can take several days or more for the iTunes store to update. This is normal. If more than a week goes by and your image still has not updated, contact our support team at email@example.com.
The Episode Thumbnail and your RSS Feed
The episode thumbnail appears on your Libsyn blog page and your HTML5 web player. The image also is used by your RSS feed and is pulled by directories such as iTunes for use in podcatchers and the iOS Podcast App.
Your episode thumbnail follows iTunes specifications for show artwork. Those specifications again are:
- 1400x1400px (minimum)
- 3000x3000px (maximum)
- Under 500kb
- Use rGB color space
- Be a JPG, JPEG, or a PNG file
If your episode images do not meet iTunes specification, similar to your show artwork, your feed may not update properly in the iTunes store.
What if I have <lots> of episodes and not all images meet spec, or I simply don’t want to have to keep reuploading the same image?
We’ve provided a way for you to utilize your show image as your episode image throughout your RSS feed. This means you upload one image, and the rest is done for you.
The option is found under Destinations –> Edit or View Existing:
From here, hit the edit button for your feed destination:
Scroll down to the Episode (Item) Settings:
From here, check the check box to Use Show Image for Episodes. This will allow all your episodes to use your show artwork as your episode artwork as well for your RSS feed.
Note: This can be turned back of at any time. If you turn this off, the episode artwork in place will simply take over.
Blog Page Episode Thumbnails
You can select to Use different thumbnail for blog (custom) if you are using one of the Libsyn blog page options and want the image to be different than what goes out to your RSS feed. This is true particularly as not all blog page templates will want an image 1400x1400px or larger. This image should be upload in the size you want it used as. So for example, if your blog page has a content section that’s 3-400px wide, you wouldn’t want to upload an image much wider than 250px as it will break the flow of the webpage.
You upload your image thumbnail when you generate your episode. The thumbnail upload section offers a number of options.
When you upload an image, you can choose to not to use the thumbnail on the blog (the image will still be used in the HTML5 player and in the feed), you can choose to use the thumbnail on the blog (and the feed and the HTML5 player), or you can choose to upload a different image for the blog (while using the original image for the feed and the HTML5 player).
To upload the image, hit Upload New.
Hit Browse and select your file. The file will upload.
That’s it. When you publish your episode, your image will be attached to that episode. The image will appear on your blog, and in your player.
The ID3 Tag Artwork
The ID3 tag artwork is probably the most missed, but most asked about image. When you upload your show artwork, that artwork will appear in the iTunes store. However, in some cases the player or podcatcher used will look to the ID3 tag for details rather than the RSS feed, so make sure not to miss this important step.
The episode artwork is added to the ID3 tag before uploading the media file to the Libsyn system. If you upload an episode without an image attached and choose to edit this later, you will have to reupload the file which will affect your storage.
The easiest way to edit an ID3 tag is to import your media file into your iTunes library and use the iTunes editor.
The ID3 tag options for that media file will open up.
Click on Artwork, which will allow you to choose an image from your computer.
Browse your computer for the image and select it.
Hit OK and the image will be attached to your ID3 tag. You can then publish your episode as normal. Listeners will download the episode as they usually do, and the image will come with the file.
Having different episode, show, and ID3 tag images allows you to customize different images for your blog, player, iTunes, and even have episode specific images to show off your episode number, title, and more. Have fun with it!
Have questions? Contact our support staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have a show that’s been in operation using Feedburner, but now you have employed Libsyn. Should you stop Feedburner and instead use Libsyn? If so, how do you make such a change without breaking your iTunes submission, or loosing any subscribers? This article will answer each of those questions.
Should I Use Feedburner?
Many producers choose to use Feedburner. The number one reason Feedburner is used by producers to generate their feed is because they do not otherwise have a way to generate a valid, iTunes compliant, RSS feed. The other major reason Feedburner is used is to make sure you, as the producer, maintain full control over your RSS feed, over your show. Not all hosts provide the ability to change your host by redirecting your feed to another. By using Feedburner, a producer can work around this limitation.
Libsyn always allows a producer full, 100% control, over their RSS feed. This has always been true, and it will always remain be true. We provide a fully valid RSS feed which can be customized, even redirected, as you see fit. When using Libsyn, there is no good reason to use a third party feed generator.
The downside to using Feedburner (or any other third party feed generator while using Libsyn) is that if your outside feed breaks, we have very limited ability to support you, to help you fix the feed. The other issue we have seen through our support team is that many settings inside Feedburner do not play nicely with the iOS Podcast App, causing shows to appear incorrectly or stop updating entirely.
So Libsyn Recommends Switching. How do I do that?
Start by logging into your Feedburner account.
Click on your feed to open the feed configuration. This will seem strange, but you first need to get Feedburner to pull from Libsyn instead of from wherever it is pulling from. To do so, click to edit the feed:
Change the Original Feed field to your Libsyn RSS feed URL.
Hit the button.
Side Note: Feedburner does have a way to cancel the Feedburner feed and redirect the feed when you do. However, Feedburner does not let you pick where to redirect your feed. It automatically redirects your feed to the feed URL it is pulling from. This is why we have to change Feedburner to pulling from Libsyn first.
Next, we will setup a redirect. Log into your Libsyn dashboard and click on , then hit edit to edit your RSS feed:
Scroll all the way down the page to advanced options. Clicking on the advanced options bar will open them up for you.
We will enter a tag into the extra RSS tags field. Note: Do not use the redirect field here, use the extra rss tags field.
Hit the button.
A More Detailed Explanation: Feedburner works by taking an already generated feed and burning it into something valid for a specific purpose. If you are using Feedburner, you already have a feed elsewhere, which Feedburner is pulling from. So what we just did in the above above is set Feedburner to pull from Libsyn instead of it’s prior feed. The redirect we entered into the Libsyn feed gets pulled in by Feedburner, redirecting the Feedburner back to the Libsyn feed. While it sounds strange, we promise, it will do the job! iTunes will see this redirect and update to pulling from Libsyn, and subscribers will automatically be updated. This arrangement should be left in place for at least 4 weeks.
Have questions? Contact our friendly support staff at email@example.com.
One of the most common errors when submitting a show to iTunes is:
There is a problem with your feed. Your episodes are hosted on a server which doesn’t support byte-range requests. Enable byte-range requests and try your submission again.
Libsyn fully supports byte-range requests. The error is a generic error thrown by iTunes for one of two reasons:
- Your feed is missing important/required fields or is otherwise improperly configured
- iTunes is having trouble accepting submissions
If you receive this error, there are a few things you need to check:
- Have you configured your feed category and other required and important fields?
- Make sure to configure at least a category, author, summary, and rating. These are all configured under Destinations –> Libsyn Classic Feed in your Dashboard. Details and walkthroughs can be found here.
- Does your artwork meet ALL iTunes requirements
- Your artwork needs to be 1400x1400px to 2048x2048px in size (anything in between goes as long as it’s square). However, iTunes has three other major requirements as well, and can throw the byte-range error if your artwork does not meet those specs. Details and walkthroughs can be found here.
- Make sure to validate and test your feed.
- Copying episode descriptions from other websites or even Microsoft Word can include additional code that can break your RSS feed. Other issues such as a bad media file, missing feed fields, and so on can cause a feed to be invalid.
- Before any submission to iTunes (or any other directory), make sure to validate and test your RSS feed. This can be done by following the steps found here.
If your feed is fully configured, valid, and works properly, iTunes should accept your submission. If you still get the error, you are likely hitting issue number two, that they are just under heavy traffic and need a breather. Give about an hour or so, and retry your submission.
If you still need assistance, contact either iTunes at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Libsyn Support at email@example.com.
Google Play Music accepts podcast submissions similar to iTunes and other podcast directories. To submit your show to Google Play Music, follow the steps below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Google Play Music is currently accepting submissions, but the directory is not yet available for browsing in Google Play Music. This tutorial will be updated once the directory has been made available to listeners in Google Play Music.
Preparing Your RSS Feed
Libsyn has generated a new destination specifically for Google Play Music. This RSS feed has Google specific RSS tags, and by having it as a separate destination from your primary RSS feed, you will be able to use our advanced scheduling solutions to determine when a post goes to Google or when a post goes to iTunes.
Log into your Libsyn show and click on Destinations –> Add New.
You will see Google Play Music as an option to add from the destinations list. Click Add.
A destination will be created you can edit.
Feed Extension: This should be ignored and left as is.
Author: This is the author of your show. It can be the name of your company, it can be your name, it’s whoever is creating the podcast.
Owner Email: This e-mail address is populated in the RSS feed and is used by Google (regardless of what Google account you submit under) to contact you regarding your show.
Language Code: This will default to ‘en’, but if your show is using a different language, you can enter the two letter language abbreviation here.
Category: This is the category your show will appear in via the Google Play store.
Contains Explicit Language: If your show contains explicit language, this should be set as yes. If not, leave it at no.
Artwork: Like iTunes, Google Play Music has artwork requirements as well. Images should be 600x600px minimum to 7000x7000px maximum. Google Play Music will not feature a show unless the artwork is at minimum 1200x1200px. Images must be square, and must be a jpg or a png file.
Once you have entered all the settings, hit save.
Submitting to Google Play
With your feed configured, it’s now time to submit to the Google Play Music Podcast Directory.
Go to https://g.co/podcastportal to get started.
If you aren’t already logged into Google, you may be asked to do so. Once logged in, click the Get Started button.
Click on Add A Podcast.
You will need to enter your RSS feed URL into the above screen. Don’t remember what your feed URL for Google Play is? Log into your Libsyn dashboard and click on Destinations. The Google Play Music feed URL will be listed at the top.
Hit Submit RSS Feed.
Hit Confirm E-Mail. At this point, Google will send an e-mail to the Owner E-Mail you provided when you generated the RSS feed. You cannot proceed until you confirm that e-mail. The e-mail will look something like this:
You can either click the Verify Ownership button, or, if that doesn’t work copy the code they provide. Go back to the Google Play Music Podcast Portal and place the code in the text box they provide.
Hit Verify Ownership.
The next page gives you a chance to review what they have pulled from your RSS feed. It will display your show artwork, title, description, even the episodes they see in the RSS feed. Look over your details carefully. While updates can be made, it can take up to 5 days for changes to appear in Google Play Music so it is important to make sure your submission details are correct.
Once you have verified that everything is in fact correct, click on Publish Podcast.
At this point, your status will change to Under Review. The team at Google Play Music Podcasts will review the show and either approve or reject the show. They will e-mail the address listed in your feed under Owner E-Mail with your approval or rejection notice.
You are now submitted to the Google Play Music Podcasts Directory. Have questions? Contact our friendly support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.