We podcasters always need more exposure for our shows.
And today I’m going to be talking with someone “in the know” about how you can get more exposure for your show… in a BIG way.
You may not know the name “Rob Walch” and that’s OK. I don’t think he’d mind.
But I’m pretty sure you know the name “Libsyn.” Libsyn is the world’s largest podcast network.
Some quick stats about Libsyn:
- Libsyn has been serving the podcast community since 2004
They have 10,000+ podcasts hosted on Libsyn. UPDATE: LIbsyn has over 75,000 Podcasts hosted as of 2021 There are well over 18 million+ monthly audience listeners being served by LibsynUPDATE: Libsyn is serving 130 million+ monthly audience listeners as of 2019 And 1.6 BILLION podcast downloads in 2001UPDATE: Libsyn had over 6.2 Billion Downloads in 2019
That’s unbelievable to have over 75,000 podcasts on one service. They’ve been hosting podcasts since before the iPhone existed.
Rob Walch is VP of podcaster relations at Libsyn.
I’m so thankful to have Rob on the show today…
Libsyn (and Rob) can get your show listed with Spotify. At this point, nobody else can.
TRANSCRIPT: Spotify, Libsyn, and your podcast
Carey: Hey Rob, welcome to the show!
Rob: Well thanks for having me!
Carey: I told everybody already you’re the VP for podcaster relations with Libsyn and that means exactly what?
Rob: That means I get to talk to podcasters for a living.
Carey: Man, that sounds fun.
Rob: Yeah, part of it is answering questions for people that are looking to come on board, but also business development, helping do deals like we just did with Spotify, so that was one of the deals I worked on; same with TuneIn Radio, so I do a lot of business development stuff.
And then I also work to help bring advertising and monetization to podcasters. So those are my hats that I wear.
Carey: Yeah, well that’s exciting because that’s exactly what I want to talk to you about. Back on May 20th—which is my anniversary, by the way—Spotify made an announcement, and you made an announcement at the same time, that they were gonna be offering podcasting as part of what they can provide through their service and you guys are gonna partner with them. Why don’t you describe that for us real quickly.
Rob: Yeah. We were fortunate enough to be a launch partner with Spotify on this announcement. So when they rolled out their new version, which right now, if you’re a Spotify user, it’s only about one percent or so of Spotify users US, UK, Germany, and Sweden, they’re gonna roll it out to all their users over the summer, but for right now it’s just in kind of a beta stage as they roll it out, make sure everything’s working right.
From a podcaster’s perspective, if you wanna get your podcast into Spotify, right now the only hosting company that was part of the launch was Libsyn. So to get your podcast into Spotify, you do need, at this point if you’re not one of, you know, the Nerdist network or Slate network—if you’re an independent podcaster, the only way to get your podcast into Spotify at this point and time is through Libsyn.
Carey: Yeah, we can’t even bribe ‘em or anything like that?
Rob: I guess, if you figured out who to bribe, maybe you could.
Carey: Yeah, okay. So I listened to your announcement where you and Elsie were talking about this, and that was a very fun episode of your show, by the way. By the way, give us a plug for your show.
Rob: The show that Elsie and I do is called “The Feed.” Elsie does all the hard work—she does the producing of it and I just show up. So it’s nice from that point of view.
Carey: Yeah, I enjoy the show a lot. You guys have a good relationship together. But anyway, back to the Spotify issue. You mentioned a few things that I wanted to get clarity on, just so people who are hosting with Libsyn already understand exactly what it means. You said if someone has a download only setup, they cannot get into the Spotify thing. Why don’t you clarify for us: what do you mean by that?
Rob: Yeah, there are some tutorials out there, and a couple are more popular, that have had (and I’ve told the people who’ve created those tutorials) bad advice for Libsyn users which is: when you upload the file to choose download only. And I’ve said for years, “Do not do that. Do not choose download only—that is a bad option.”
One: Just from, take Spotify out of the mix, take TuneIn out of the mix, take any of the other destinations, Soundcloud and others that we have available…publishing to WordPress and other things, out of the mix. If you do download only, your show doesn’t show up in the Libsyn directory. So, you’re missing out on the Libsyn directory, the Libsyn directory powers, the podcast source app, which is an iOS, Windows phone 8, and Android app similar to Stitcher that’s out there. So you don’t get into that. You don’t get into our Facebook directory, either.
So there’s places that your show’s not showing, if you’re choosing download only. So I’ve said for years, “Do not do download only.” I know there’s a couple of tutorials out there that recommend it—it’s bad advice, right off the bat.
Now, the second thing I would say is, “If you’re hosting with Libsyn, you should be managing your RSS feed with Libsyn and not WordPress.” ‘Cause a lot of people that are doing that download only are managing with WordPress. WordPress is a world of hurt. If you’re managing your feed on WordPress, if you haven’t had an issue yet, you will. And if you’re using the WordPress URL out there as your public URL, at some point and time, if your show gets popular, it’ll bring your site down.
That’s why, if you go into iTunes, look at the top 200 shows. You’re not going to see any of the top, or a very, very small percentage of the shows in the top 200 that actually use WordPress to manage their feeds. WordPress has a lot of issues for managing feeds—it’s the number one reported issue in the iTunes support forums. Again, what we say is, “Don’t do the download only. If you’re hosting with Libsyn, the best solution you can use is the Libsyn feed. It’s more reliable—it’s what more of the top 200 shows do out there.
Carey: Okay, so you’re saying that they would take the feed that Libsyn provides and use that to submit to iTunes and other directories, rather than the yourwebsite.com/feed/podcast?
Rob: If your feed grows in size, if that’s what you’re giving out, your URL, you can actually get more bandwidth usage in a month from your RSS feed, if you have many episodes on there, then you get from the media files. So that can crush your site. We see it every week—sites getting taken down because of bandwidth or CPU usage limits, is what the unlimited web hosts will tell you is, “Yeah, you get unlimited bandwidth.” But there’s a CPU usage limit. It’ll slow your website down and then the worst part of it is, if you’re managing your feed in WordPress and you’ve got third party plugins on your website, that can break your RSS feed at any given point and time. And the number one reason for using WordPress is third party plugins. So you really have no control of your feed if, at any point and time, adding a third party plugin will break your feed. All I have to say is, “If you’re hosting with Libsyn, there’s absolutely no reason not to use your Libsyn feed, and there’s a lot of reasons to use your Libsyn feed, versus using WordPress.”
Carey: Okay, let’s say somebody’s listening, they’re saying, “Okay Rob, you’ve twisted my arm, you’ve convinced me. I’ve got that download only option set up. What do I do to switch that over?”
Rob: Email me, Rob@Libsyn.com, I will send you a nice little tutorial that shows you how to import all your metadata off of your RSS feed, sync it up into your Libsyn account, and then put a 301 redirect in on the WordPress site so that you’re using the Libsyn feed. And, you know, one of the things people will say, “Oh, well I don’t wanna give up the control of the feed.”
First off, you never give up control of your feed when you’re hosting with Libsyn. At any point and time you can add in a redirect. You can have us put a permanent redirect in. Or you can also add in the iTunes and Vtech. Now, if all of that is still not something you wanna do, you can bring your own custom domain name over to your Libsyn account.
So, I have my own show, it’s called “KC Startup 411,” one of my shows. And my RSS feed out to the world is KCStartup411.com/RSS. It’s all managed in Libsyn, but it’s my domain. So you can still have your own domain with Libsyn, it’s a rock-solid, it is the most reliable RSS feed that’s out there.
Carey: Okay, excellent. Why don’t you send me that link as well, Rob, and I’ll put that in the show notes. Show notes will be PodcastFastTrack.com/009. Rob, also you mentioned using the publishing solution that Libsyn uses—that’s how you’re gonna get into Spotify, if you’re hosting with Libsyn—so explain that to us a little bit. For me, there’s a little confusion between using the Libsyn publishing solution and what you guys call OnPublish. Are those different or are those the same? Clarify.
Rob: Okay. So how Libsyn system works is we look at different destinations for publishing, so it’s not one RSS feed that you submit to TuneIn and Stitcher and Spotify. What you do is you have your RSS feed that you send out there to iTunes and to Stitcher, but with Spotify and SoundCloud and WordPress and Tumblr and Blogger and TuneIn, you get your own custom destination for each one of those.
So, you can set it up, if anyone got to see the video for the Spotify announcement, part of that announcement was the Nerdist industry saying they’re going to release episodes three hours earlier to Spotify than anywhere else, and they’re able to do that via our publishing tool. So, Nerdist uses us, and they set up the Spotify destination to publish first, and then the episodes to publish to the other destinations three hours later.
So, this allows to you publish individual episodes at different times, different destinations, or to publish episodes only to Spotify or only to TuneIn. So Consumer Reports has episodes that are only going to Spotify and then other episodes that are going out to the rest of the world ‘cause they had put a little message in there.
Carey: Yeah, that’s really cool. Now, I’m assuming you do that in your Libsyn dashboard. If anyone’s a Libsyn user, you know what this looks like. You go into Content > Add New and then it looks like basically a set of input forms where you put in a blog post, so to speak, and you choose your media file. And then up above that, there’s “destinations.” I’m assuming that’s where you’ll choose Spotify?
Rob: Right. What’ll happen, just to let people know right now, right now you won’t see Spotify, you won’t see TuneIn, under your destinations as ones to add because we’re rolling it out.
So, right now, if you wanna get into Spotify, you have to email me, Rob@Libsyn.com, say you want your show added to Spotify. You need to make sure you’re using our publishing tools because I’m not gonna add a destination if you don’t have any metadata in there. So you need to publish. So you have to be publishing with our publishing tools. That means you have to be adding a title, a description, uploading the file, choosing it to add as an episode, and then publishing it.
Now, you don’t have to use our RSS feed if you wanna get in Spotify, but as a minimum, you have to be using our publishing tools.
So what you’ll do, it’s a destination now. If you choose, you can choose to publish an episode only to Spotify or only to TuneIn, once those destinations are set up. If you want, you can get really detailed. You can say, “I want this destination to go live at this time, and this destination to go live at a different time—down to the minute.” Or you can just add title/description and click “publish” and it’ll publish out to every destination that you’ve had set up.
For example, when I publish a new episode for my main show, which is “Today in iOS,” I usually publish at two or three in the morning. I publish to all my destinations right away—except for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—and for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I set up a custom message to go out to each of them, but I set it up to go at noon, because, you know, if you wanna hit social media, hitting at two in the morning you’re not gonna get as much bang for your buck as you have hitting at noon.
Carey: Yeah, absolutely.
Rob: So, I set up those destinations to go at a different time to work better in social media.
Carey: Okay. What’s the time frame in which you think this Spotify, and you mentioned TuneIn also, are gonna roll out?
Rob: Spotify, right now we’re waiting to hear from them on when we can add the next group of shows, so I have a call with them Tuesday the 2nd and hopefully I’ll have a better idea at that point when we’re gonna be able to add the next round of shows. I’ve got a nice list of people that have already emailed me saying, “Yes, I want my show included,” so we’re gonna go over that with them.
It’s gonna be sometime this summer.
I just don’t know the date. You know, they don’t know the date yet ‘cause they’re rolling it out over multiple, you know, they’re gonna up the percentage of people with access and other things.
But, if you wanna get in right now, the best thing to do is email Rob@Libsyn.com and I’ll put you in the list and then I’ll show your show to them on the next ground and then they’ll say, “Yes, let’s go ahead. Here’s how many shows we wanna add in the next group.” I don’t know the exact date on when that next group’s gonna go in—I won’t know that probably until sometime next week.
Carey: Okay. That’s great. So people who are like the ones who have to rush right out and buy the next iPhone are the ones who’re gonna email you and say, “Hey I want my show in. Get me on the list. I can’t stand waiting.” But eventually, if everybody’s patient, if they’re on the Libsyn publishing tools, they’re going to have the option eventually.
Rob: Eventually. And then what you’ll see, you know, for the people that are early, too, when we turn the Spotify destination on, you’ll see a destination that looks similar to setting up just like the RSS feed destination looks. You’ll fill out information, but there’s one difference: at the bottom, there’ll be a checkbox for you to accept the terms and conditions for Spotify to have your show included, you just go, basically you’re stating that you own the copyright information for what’s on your show—‘cause that’s something Spotify is very concerned about, they don’t want…
Rob: …to add shows that are people that are pirating content, music, RIA, music and stuff in their shows. So, they wanna make sure that you own the copyrights, the content, that you’re gonna make available to them, you’re saying that you do. And then there’s a few other terms, you’re saying that you understand that this is a promotion play, not a monetization play, that you understand that you’re not gonna get paid for being on there, but it’s a great exposure opportunity.
Rob: And there’s a few others, just weed through that, click “accept,” click “Save,” and then how it works is their system will then see that there’s a new show available and automatically pull your show into their system.
Carey: Yeah, it sounds really user-friendly, so I appreciate that immensely.
One last thing I wanted to talk about on this is the issue of ads. People who do Spotify on the free version get ads thrown in in between songs and all that, and I’m sure there’s some podcasters worried, “Oh, is my show gonna be cut in half and an add inserted?” and all that kind of stuff. So talk to us about that.
Rob: They’re not gonna cut any shows and insert ads in the middle. They’ll have ads before and after, but, even for Hardcore History, which is four hours long in an episode, they’re not gonna cut it up and put ads in it. They’re not gonna cut it up and take your ads out either. So if you have an audible ad in there, even if someone’s listening through the ad-free premium version of Spotify, your ad will still play in the podcast.
Carey: Yeah, great. Great. Now, Rob, I totally appreciate your time. Anything else you wanna plug here while you’ve got the ear of my listeners?
Rob: No. I’d say check out the feed, you can listen to the bonus episode. Search for Libsyn in iTunes to find that, or go to the feed.Libsyn.com and you can check it out. Again, if you have a podcast that’s hosted with Libsyn, or if you wanna move your podcast over to Libsyn so you can get into Spotify, email me, Rob@Libsyn.com, I can help you set up, and definitely can help you get your control of your feed in Libsyn so that you’ve got a more reliable feed, and then you’re ready to go with the TuneIn and the Spotify—and other destinations as they come out.
Carey: Yeah, that’s perfect. Alright, Rob, thanks so much for your time!
Rob: Thanks for having me on, Carey!
My thoughts about Rob's thoughts about Libsyn's Spotify podcast agreement
That was great fun and a very helpful conversation.
I didn't really expect to get into that whole thing about using Libsyn's feed and all, but it was well worth hearing. As you can tell, Rob's been in the podcast world for a long time and really knows his stuff... and is not afraid to say so!
Do you realize what a great deal this is for you as a podcaster? You can now be featured as an entertainment and information option right alongside Disney, Turner media, and others (for the full list of Spotify's current partners, see the show notes for episode 008).
It sounds like for now, the only way you can get your show on Spotify is to be a Libsyn customer. I'm not sure it will stay that way, who knows, Blubrry and others may find a way to work out their own deals with Spotify in time - but...
With 10,000+ podcasts on Libsyn, Spotify's got a huge podcast pool from which to draw
It may take a while before they feel the need to add more options to their network. In my thinking, it would probably come about through some mega-show that's hosted someplace besides Libsyn that Spotify really wants to get on their platform. We'll see how it shakes out - seeing as how I don't have a crystal ball and God isn't prone to telling me what He's up to in these sorts of things.
So that's it... straight from the horse's mouth - so to speak - a very handsome and winsome horse at that.
Rob mentioned a resource to show you how to get your show from "download only" on Libsyn to the setup of using their publishing tools Here it is:
Thanks Rob Walch for giving me a bite of your time today. If you want to get in touch with Rob, you heard what he said: He gets paid to talk to podcasters. Contact him at Rob AT Libsyn DOT com.