All posts by Blubrry

4 Steps Newbie Podcasters Should Follow For The Best Possible Launch



On the blog last week, we discussed RSS feed best practices. But while that post contained great advice for intermediate to advancd podcasters, newbies may want to take a few minutes to understand just exactly what happens when they publish an episode to make sure they aren’t missing opportunities to get their show in front of the largest possible audience.

Here are our best tips from Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane:

  1. Subscribe to your own show. “If you’ve done that, you can save yourself some pain and embarrassment by checking to see if your show episode shows up in your favorite podcast app,” says Cochrane.
  2. If you haven’t done #1 and you load the podcast listings in iTunes, Stitcher, or any other app to realize that your latest episode isn’t there, keep this in mind: those sites periodically check your show listing and update it. If you’re lucky, that happens within a few hours, but if you publish infrequently it may be up to 24 hours before the episode shows up.
  3. When you subscribe to your own show, most apps actually subscribe you to your feed that you initially submitted to iTunes, Google, Stitcher, Blubrry etc. So while your subscription will update immediately, the other sites will get around to you at some point. Today the Apple Podcasts directory is pulling 325,000 feeds every 3-4 hours, and sometimes they get behind.
  4. It’s really important that you keep your image art in compliance in both image pixel size and in keeping the image smaller than 500k in size. Not doing so will handicap your show’s ability to be updated. Note: your ID3 Album art does not need to be the same spec as the Apple show art. The larger the physical size of the album art embedded in your mp3, the longer it takes your podcast to start playing, explains Cochrane. “All of my episode art is 600×600 .jpg and under 100k, plus the smaller episode art saves you space with your hosting plans.”

It really comes down to some proactive management to keep your show thriving and your anxiety level low.

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C’est Cool! Blubrry/Rawvoice Featured In French TV Special



Très bien! Earlier this year, the French cable TV channel Cable Plus produced a program on podcasting – and naturellement, Blubrry staff were asked to appear on the program as experts in the industry. At the 5:28 mark, MacKenzie Bennett, Services and Affiliates Coordinator at Blubrry, describes how Blubrry/Rawvoice provides statistics and demographics information and why they are so crucial for monetizing a podcast – and her interview is dubbed over in French, bien sûr.

Watch this well-produced programme below!

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The Genesis of Blubrry’s “Own Your Own Podcast Feed” Credo



Here at Blubrry, we have a long history of encouraging podcasters to retain control of their own feed. Simply put, that means that your feed should look something like yoururl.com/feed – NOT yourpodcastservice.com/yourpodcastservice.xml.

Controlling your own podcast feed allows you to take it with you easily should you decide to change podcast service providers, and also protects you against outages or other problems that might occur with your feed provider.

But some might wonder how and why Blubrry arrived at this approach when other companies in the podcast services community advocate controlling the podcasters feed. Following is Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane’s story, explaining why he took and Blubrry adopted the philosophy of Your Show, Your Brand, Your feed.

“In October of 2004. when I launched my show, I was using MovableType. There were some hacks used to get the feed podcast-compliant. At the time, it truly was a technical challenge, and a lot of folks across a variety of systems were hand-writing their feeds or using rudimentary software tools. In mid-2005, around the same time that Apple opened up Podcast support on iTunes, the folks at FeedBurner – which had been around since 2003 – updated their service to support all of the newly announced iTunes tags.”

Podcasters who didn’t have an easy way to implement those tags or create their own feed ran to Feedburner, says Cochrane. After all, it was an easy fix to what was, at the time, a difficult problem.

But “The geek in me screamed “No!” because, at the time, podcatcher software applications – which are largely extinct today – ruled the roost as the top podcast download and consumption tool,” explains Cochrane. “This was in the iPod days – no iPhone – so in our shows, we promoted our RSS feed in every episode as a primary way to subscribe. Promoting geeknewscentral.com/podcast.xml was a lot easier than promoting Feedburner as the place to sign up for my show. Everyone was very sensitive to their feeds, as a lot of directories launched then and made the mistake of not including shows’ sources feeds in the directory listings, which they often had to quickly correct as the outcry of podcasters was fierce.”

But all the while, Cochrane was producing his show and building his brand while growing a dedicated following around his site where he also fed listeners extra content including daily blog posts and special content surrounding events he attended. So it made no sense, he realized, to hand over his brand to a totally different company that could potentially dilute his brand or possibly control or cause delays in content delivery, like what happens today on FeedBurner.

And sometimes, putting your feed in another company’s control can lead to unexpected consequences. “When we launched RawVoice/Blubrry, and then later PowerPress, we had already witnessed podcast services going out of business and the podcasts that relied on their services, leaving podcasters and their audiences high and dry. I told our team that no matter what, we never want to put any of the users that use our tools or services in that position.”

As a result, the company has built a menu of services and products that allow a podcaster to build their podcast and brand as well as control their feed to exist and thrive independent of Blubrry. “Today Blubrry could cease to exist, and folks that use our tools would only need to find new hosting and stats,” explains Cochrane. “Customers would never lose their show, brand, feed, or audience.”

“It is a core part of the philosophy of this company that we fundamentally believe a podcaster should own and control his own intellectual property. This includes a .com, site, feed, brand, etc. Sure we have some customers that use a Bubrry.com provided RSS feed for their show, but that is less than 1% of our business and usually only when they have very special publishing needs. 99% of our customers own their stack and rely on our tools to power it. We believe if we are providing superior tools, service, and support that we will be rewarded with subscribers using our services.”

Recently, says Cochrane, a few naysayers in the podcasting community have asserted that Blubrry is trying to scare folks into using their own feeds. That’s not true, he asserts. “Our company fundamental beliefs is the genesis of how we developed this philosophy. With 65,000+ podcasters using PowerPress alone we know that our message resonates with a lot of creators out theirs. Podcasters need to weigh their options before launching a show, and if they decide to take control of their brand after launching with another service, we are here to help them.”

While Cochrane realizes he has a fundamental difference in philosophy from other podcast service companies, he believes Blubrry still offers the best possible services and products for those in the podcasting community. “I think our philosophy is a best practice for podcasters. While other services out there are doing interesting things, as a podcaster, first I want to make sure I control my stack top to bottom and use cool tools I so choose and not be limited by any service provider.”

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Radio Professionals: Learn From Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane at NAB Show 2017



The annual NAB Show, where professionals in the fields of media, entertainment, and technology learn, network, and expand their skills, returns April 22 – 27, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane will speak on a panel specially geared toward radio professionals, helping them make the best success of their podcasting efforts.

The panel will help radio professionals create more effective and profitable podcasting programs, answering questions like:

  • How do 2017 podcast download numbers compare to previous years, and what might this mean for radio stations?
  • What is the download reach of the top podcasts in iTunes?
  • How have the IAB’s new podcast metric guidelines impacted podcasts?
  • What are the different platform, OS and device distribution shares?
  • What current trends in podcasting will continue to grow?
  • How can radio benefit from podcasting?

The panel “will also give radio professional insights into how their peers are leveraging the talent within their stations to create the content that they do so well, to build new revenue streams and reach audiences that have shifted to digital media consumption,” explains Cochrane.

There will be an open Q&A to round out the session, so be sure to come prepared with questions.

The session will take place Wednesday, April 26 from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM in room N253. For more information on the session, click here. Or, take this opportunity to register for the NABShow.

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Is “New and Noteworthy” Really The Podcaster’s Pot of Gold?



For many new podcasters, getting added to iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” section is the Holy Grail. While there is a lot of conjecture about the exact number of downloads and reviews a new podcast needs to amass in the first few weeks after launch to make it to the N&N list, mysterious strategies seem to have allowed shows with less than 100 downloads and just a couple of reviews to make it onto the list. The mystery surrounding the New and Noteworthy list seems to hold new podcasters hostage, with marketers selling “guaranteed” strategies to land a show on the list and podcasters feeling like failures if they don’t make it.

But are there any tried-and-true strategies for landing on the N&N list? And how important is it, anyway?

How It (Really) Works:

All podcasts that exist in the iTunes directory wind up in the “new” part of New and Noteworthy, explains Angelo Mandato, CIO of Blubrry. “There are about 10 thousand rotated through that section, and they’re ranked based on download and play popularity on iTunes itself.” But while “they say” you can stay in the “new” section for 8 weeks, he explains, the truth is a little trickier. “There are 1,200-2,400 shows added each week to iTunes, and they rotate through. So if it’s been 5 weeks and 1,200 shows were added each week, you’ll still be in the new list – but if they added 2,400 each week, your show rolls off New and Noteworthy sooner. It’s not set by time, but how many shows are added at a given time.” That means that if your podcast’s category happens to be seeing a lot of action right now, the chances of your show making it to the top of the list or staying on it the full 8 weeks will go down.

And when it comes to the Noteworthy part of N&N, Mandato explains, it’s out of your hands. “Podcasts in the “Noteworthy” part of New and Noteworthy are hand-picked by Apple staff, and you cannot influence that,” he says. “For example, around the Stanley Cup playoffs, Apple staff may pick 2-3 hockey podcasts to appear in New and Noteworthy.” Of course, putting out a high-quality, consistent show will make it much more likely your show will catch Apple’s eye. And there are other strategies you can employ, says Mandato, such as having a few episodes already published when you launch and then promoting hard so you can raise your show’s visibility. But there’s no “formula” that can ensure that your show appears in the Noteworthy section – it’s more about overall cachet and timing.

Why New and Noteworthy’s Prominence Is Dying Down

While newbie podcasters still covet that prized N&N recognition, Mandato points out that changes in the way podcasts are consumed has greatly reduced its overall effect. “In the iTunes desktop, the New and Noteworthy section was the first thing someone would see when navigating into the podcast portion of the app. That’s why in the past it was rather fortunate to be in the top of New and Noteworthy in particular categories,” he explains. “Today, though, the mobile app has the bulk of podcast consumption, and the mobile podcast iOS app does not display New and Noteworthy unless the user navigates into it. Usually folks navigate into the search or directly into their current subscriptions.”

The Bottom Line

When it comes right down to it, your podcast’s success will be determined much more by long-term effort than any get-big-quick schemes. “Getting on the New and Noteworthy list is great for ego, but there’s very little – if any – long term-gain, in my opinion,” says Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry.

So what’s an ambitious new podcaster to do? While getting on the N&N list might be a nice temporary boost, publishing a quality show, doing plenty of listener outreach, and being consistent and patient will yield much better results over the long haul.

And just as importantly, don’t forget that iTunes is in itself a search engine. “Users rely heavily on searching for podcasts, so it’s important that you have a search strategy for your podcast,” says Mandato. It’s important to note that web SEO and podcast SEO are two very different things, and that using the free PowerPress plugin will help you maximize both.

So there’s the bottom line. Focus on quality, publish consistently, and put the bulk of your efforts into strategies that will help you over the long haul. That way, if you land on the New and Noteworthy list, it’ll be just a nice perk – not your show’s make-or-break strategy.

 

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PowerPress Tops 1 Million Downloads!



Here at Blubrry, we’re pretty proud of PowerPress, the FREE podcast publishing tool that powers more podcasts worldwide than any other plugin. But now we really have something to celebrate: On March 10, PowerPress surpassed 1 million downloads, pulling even further ahead of the pack when it comes to podcast management and distribution.

“PowerPress was created by Blubrry to fill a void,” explained Todd Cochrane, CEO. “The WordPress podcasting plugins at the time were plagued with compatibility issues and poor support.” The plugin was launched in 2008 and quickly became the most popular plugin on the market. “The industry’s response was phenomenal,” says Cochrane. Approximately 18 percent of all podcasts found on iTunes use PowerPress, more than any other service or platform, and the plugin now powers more than 65,000 podcast websites ranging from single podcasts to radio stations and podcast networks, the biggest having over 600 shows on a single install.

There are many reasons PowerPress has been downloaded 6X as much as any other podcasting plugin, but perhaps most important is the ease of use and all-in-one experience it allows.

“PowerPress allows individuals to manage podcasts directly from their WordPress website,” explained Angelo Mandato, CIO of Blubrry and the main developer of PowerPress. “By combining the website experience with your podcast, podcasters can leverage the synergy created between web visitors and podcast subscribers. With more than 100 iTunes compliant features, users can manage multiple podcasts in both audio and/or video.”

For thousands of podcasters, PowerPress has served as a free, easy-to-use introduction to the top-notch services Blubrry provides. But the real magic happens when PowerPress is used in tandem with other Blubrry products, such as hosting and professional podcast stats. The products work seamlessly together, allowing podcasters to create, publish, and distribute their podcasts – plus share new episodes on social media and check analytics – all without leaving their WordPress dashboard. And we don’t stop with creating great products: we’re here to help you every step of the way, with free podcasting tutorials and top-notch customer service. 

If you haven’t tried PowerPress, now’s the time to discover how easy and streamlined podcasting can really be! And if you’re one of the million-plus who’ve already downloaded the plugin, we’d love to hear what you think.

Leave us a comment below: what do you love about PowerPress? Why do you think it’s the most popular podcasting tool?

 

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5 Reasons Radio Professionals LOVE Blubrry



The best talent and minds in the radio industry can boast a strong understanding of a century-old medium. But while radio professionals see the huge potential in podcasting – both as an additional revenue source as well as an opportunity to build stronger brands by delivering on-demand content – it isn’t always easy to for a mass media company to launch a podcasting program.

Luckily, Blubrry has a solution for that.

“We are a small media market within a medium media market,” says Zack East, Digital Media Manager for Midwest Family Broadcasting in Benton Harbor, MI,  “Our consumers are thirsty for local content, swimming in a sea of out-of-state and corporate television and print.” Still, while management understood the value of podcasting, rolling out an organized effort to begin producing podcasts proved difficult until the company discovered Blubrry’s all-in-one solutions.

Here, East shares the five things he most appreciates about being a Professional level Blubrry hosting customer. 

Ease of Use:

While most of the company’s on-air talent was already producing some podcasts, the popular service they were using was cumbersome and required a lot of extra effort from the already-busy staff. After switching to Blubrry, he says, “we spoke with our staffs across six radio stations and explained how they never have to insert code again, that they could do everything in one step inside their station’s WordPress website, that they didn’t have to deal with more usernames and passwords, and that their podcasts will show up among their station’s blog posts,” explains East. “Needless to say, it went really well! And, as we all know, if it’s easy to do, there’s less chance someone will ‘forget’ to get it done.”

Accessibility for Listeners:

Ease of use for the listener is also key, says East. “I am a big believer in accessibility. The more accessible material is to the consumer, the better chance they’ll give it a listen.” Blubrry’s Subscribe on Android feature was a particular hit with the staff, many of whom use Android devices and had found the process of subscribing to podcasts time-consuming. Blubrry’s attractive, innovative media player was also well-received as a great way to introduce less technologically-oriented listeners to the world of podcasts.

A Streamlined Solution:

With six radio stations housed under one roof and a lean management team, there isn’t always a lot of time to individually coach each on-air personality through a lengthy process of publishing, promoting, and sharing podcasts. That’s why Blubrry’s suite of complementary services was such a breath of fresh air to East and his team. “This idea of keeping podcast content and stories or blogs all in one place is just magical. Who would have thought that we could easily marry a lot of tech together with such little effort? And, if we are able to explain to our listeners that EVERYTHING you hear on the air – the stories we talk about, the songs we play, the chance to see our social media or listen live, can all be found at the same website – they’ll be more likely to use us and come back,” he says.

More Opportunities To Monetize Content:

Of course, any media company’s primary goal is to be profitable, so a podcast program has to promise more than just personal satisfaction. East is finding that the “easy button” nature of Blubrry’s services has made it much easier to define the benefits and potential for sales staff and advertisers who may want to sponsor a podcast or even buy a client-focused podcast of their own. And the staff workload is so much less. “We don’t have to create a brand new website just to help them host a podcast either,” he says. One great example is the company’s new Meet the Makers podcast, which focuses on crafters of beer, wine and spirits in the company’s region and was the network’s first client-focused, sponsored podcast, all created using Blubrry’s professional-level hosting services.

World-Class Stats:

In any media buy situation, potential advertisers want to know one thing: how many people are listening, and who are they? Blubrry’s top-notch analytics make it easy for the team at MWFB to determine and communicate those numbers. “When we talked as a radio company about how we could monetize what we produce for our podcasts using our local sales staff, metrics were the number one concern. Most of our stations’ staff had been podcasting using other random services, most of which have no analytics for free. Since our sales staff is used to using our listening and digital infographics to help sell our products and audiences, it was integral that our podcasts also have just as much data. We were ecstatic to find out that Blubrry had data we didn’t think we could track from podcasting – most of it for free,” says East. “And, having data accessible to our airstaff, our clients and our sales people helps all of them justify the time and money spent on these sometimes major projects of producing a great product.”

Here at Blubrry, our focus has always been on handling the technology details so that talent can concentrate on what they’re best at: creating high-quality, compelling content. That goal explains why a small-but-mighty, locally-focused broadcasting company decided to trust Blubrry with its fledgling podcasting program. We believe that other broadcast companies, big and small, could learn something from that kind of forward thinking – and we’ll continue to be here, creating the products and services that fuel their success.

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This Week’s AWS Outage And Why Blubrry Was Affected



If you use Blubrry hosting, you may have noticed a pause in service earlier this week as Amazon Web Servers went down worldwide, affecting hundreds of thousands of digital content providers – the vast majority of which were not Blubrry customers. You may also have been asking yourself, “What does Amazon hosting have to do with me – I’m not an Amazon hosting customer!”

If you wondered why an Amazon outage affected you, and how it happened in the first place, here’s the answer.

Like many web and digital services companies, Blubrry uses Amazon’s limitless storage system for our media hosting. At Blubrry, we use it because it provides endless storage and comes with a guarantee of service, which has been failure-free since we started using it in 2009. Tuesday, February 28 was the first time we have encountered an issue with the service that directly impacted you, our customer. Amazon has explained that the problem was due to an employee error and that the length of the outage was limited.

Our media delivery of fresh podcast content was not impacted by the issue, as we use a separate partner for our content delivery network. Statistics were not affected, nor were other key services we provide.

Here’s a list of what was impacted in the outage:

  • The ability to upload and publish new episodes was interrupted from 1:00 – 5:00 PM Eastern time.
  • There was limited access to archives of episodes between 1:00 and 3:00 PM Eastern time.
  • Customers experienced delays updating their podcast artwork in the Blubrry podcast directory.

We are currently reviewing the failure that happened at Amazon and will be incorporating changes to mitigate future failures so that podcasters are not impacted in the unlikely event that this problem occurs again. Amazon has also vowed to make changes to its services that will render such an event unlikely in the future.

Since AWS has such a long, solid track record of steady service without failure, we are Blubrry are confident that this was a temporary, if annoying, bump in the road.

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What’s In A Name (And Logo?) How To Register And Protect Your Podcast Trademark



As a podcaster you have spent hours developing your show, finding topics, locating people to interview, writing show notes, putting together intros and outros, recording and editing. Your show is uniquely yours with topics that are dear to you and the show is produced with a style your listeners love. Your potential listeners are drawn to listen to your show through you show’s title, logos and artwork. Your current listeners identify with your show through your show’s title, logo and artwork.  This is your branding and your trademark.

What if another podcaster decides to create a show and brands his new show with a show name and logo that is similar to your show’s title and logo? The answer is that new listeners may choose the new show over yours, and your current listeners may become confused not knowing which show is yours and which show is the new show.

This is the exact scenario that our trademark laws are designed to prevent. Our federal and state trademark laws are designed to allow you to have your unique brand that cannot be copied if those copies will confuse, cause mistakes or deceive when used in commerce.

You obtain a trademark when you first use your branding in commerce. When you pick a show name and logo and you publish a podcast using that show name and logo you have created your trademark. Of course your show name and logo must be unique and not a copy or something similar to another podcaster’s show name and logo.

Contrary to what many believe, it is not necessary to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to have a trademark. However, registering your trademark with the USPTO makes it much easier to defend your trademark should someone else copy or use a similar mark to identify their podcast. Registering your trademark gives you the presumption that it is unique to your particular marketplace and that you were the first to use it in commerce.

I have successfully fended off trademark encroachers by simply sending the encroacher a cease and desist letter containing our trademark’s USPTO registration number. I’m sure defending the trademark would not have been as easy if the trademark was not registered and I was simply claiming a common law trademark. Unfortunately if your cease and desist letter does not work then you must decide if you have the resources to file a trademark infringement claim in the United States District Court.

You may want to consider registering your trademark if you are growing your audience with hard work and scarce resources. Why let someone confuse and dilute your audience by branding their show with something similar to your branding?

 

barry kantz-Attorney Barry Kantz is General Counsel and CFO of RawVoice and Blubrry. He can be found on Twitter @kantzb

This post is part of a series on copyright law as it pertains to podcasters. Check out Barry’s posts on using music for your podcast without breaking copyright law, determining what “fair use” means when it comes to podcasting, and DMCA takedown and shakedown notices.

 

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What Are ID3 Tags, And Why Do You Need Them?



Why are ID3 tags important? When you create a new podcast episode the meta information – such as the title of your episode, artist/author, your website URL and any episode-specific artwork – are attached to each episode’s media file in what’s called an ID3 format.

All that information helps ensure that a listener knows what your episode is about and enables it to display correctly in a portable media player or software-based audio player. “If a media file is somehow separated from the app that downloaded it, these tags are the only information left to let the listener know what they are listening to,” explains Angelo Mandato, CIO of Blubrry.

While it’s possible to download a free tagging program such as EasyTag or to manually enter tags via iTunes, one of the benefits of Blubrry Powerpress combined with Blubrry hosting is that the tagging can be set up automatically. This means the tags will be written to your MP3 files based on the data you’ve already entered into PowerPress settings and in the blog post associated with your podcast episode. This streamlines the production process and makes it less likely that your show will get separated from important tagging data.

To configure PowerPress to automatically populate your episode meta tags, scroll down to the PowerPress menu to the left of your WordPress dashboard and select “MP3 Tags.” From this window, you’ll have the opportunity to use the default tags provided by your feed, or to create your own.

If you don’t have the PowerPress Plugin or Blubrry hosting, you’ll need to write meta tags yourself each time you upload an episode. Our Podcasting Manual has instructions for how to do this and what programs you can use.

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