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Jun 3, 2019

This content was created just before the big WWDC -- World Wide Developers Conference -- from Apple kicked off. All around the world, podcasters just like you (and me) will be watching live to see how the company that controls something like 85% of all podcast episodes downloaded around the world will change podcasting. Again.

Over the weekend, The most talked-about assumed change was that iTunes is going away and what sorts of changes podcasters would need to implement on their website -- quickly! -- to preserve their listeners after this dreaded change.

Two things on that:

  1. Yes, you should change your website, podcaster, especially if you reference iTunes in any way. Get rid of any reference to iTunes everywhere on your website. You know, like Apple and anyone worth their salt in the podcast world has been telling you for the better part of the last two years?  
  2. Calm down. Apple is not a stupid company. When they do kill off iTunes, they aren’t going to start throwing 404 errors when people click on your legacy links to iTunes. They’ll all redirect to Apple Podcasts. At least for a while. But even if they do work, you should change them. See #1.

So yes, make the changes. But before get in there to make the changes, let’s talk about a way to improve the experience for the brand new listener. Because maybe those big company-provided “listen with [app]” aren’t as helpful as you might think?

Apple & Google Branding vs A Better Listener Experience

Both Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts have given podcasters branding guidelines of how they would like us to represent their apps on our pages. You've probably seen a consistently branded “Listen with Apple Podcasts” button and a “Listen with Google Podcast” button podcast websites. Those all look the same because Apple and Google (and a bunch of other apps) provide the button for easy integration.

I think it's time to reconsider our reliance on those auto-generated buttons. Specific to our consideration: Are those auto-generated buttons helping our listeners, or just helping big tech companies with their branding efforts?

When Apple finally kills iTunes, they’ll put a lot (at least I hope so) of marketing effort into the brand change. If Apple starts “advertising” Apple Podcasts, more people will be aware of Apple Podcasts. And in turn, the logic is that they’ll start looking for the Apple Podcasts branding. Because that’s how branded advertising works.

But I don’t think that’s a likely scenario. I just don’t see your average person having any recall around “Apple Podcasts” or “Google Podcasts” as an app. Not anytime soon.

Also, I don’t think it's incumbent upon podcasters to do the work of running branding campaigns for big tech companies. Our primary focus should be on our listeners, making it easy for them to consume our content. And for the ~70% who don’t listen on a regular basis, talking up “Apple Podcasts” and “Google Podcasts” isn’t leading them to giving your podcast a shot.

So let’s shift who we’re working for, podcasters. Until such time as Apple or Google (or someone else) puts out a significant branding campaign that leads to high awareness and recall of their branded apps, let’s tie the listening experience to brands they are familiar with.

Listen On Your Mobile Device

~85% of all podcast episodes are downloaded directly to a mobile device. Create two buttons for your website (I’m working on this today) that reference either “iPhone” or “Android”. Perhaps something as simple as “Listen on your iPhone” and “Listen on your Android” does the trick, where the first links to your show’s listing on Apple Podcasts, and the second to Google Podcasts.

I’d present these two options first. Every reasonable person can easily sort themselves into those two buckets. (We’ll cover the exceptions in a moment.) And there’s no uncertainty that comes with thinking about installing another app (even if they don’t actually have to install it).

Listen The Way You Listen To Other Stuff

That means that Spotify and Pandora. Remember, we’re designing this experience for people who don’t yet listen to podcasts on a regular basis. So I really don’t care -- and you don’t care -- if there are more superior listening apps than these two music giants. What you care about is letting users of these music giants that your content is already included in the listening service they already use.

Listening Dead Simple & Terribly Complex

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who never listen to anything on their mobile device that isn’t a live phone call. Weird, right? On the opposite side, there are power-listeners with complex listening apps that you can’t possibly cover. So we need to take care of both of them, and I think you can do it in the same section.

First, you need to make it possible for people to subscribe to your show via email. They give you their email, and you (via automated process unless you have way too much time on your hands) send them an episode of your podcast every time you publish.

For the second group, you need to expose the raw RSS feed to them. I highly recommend doing so in a text-field so that it’s not clickable. For many, seeing raw XML in their browser is terrifying. But you can’t click-thru on text in a text field, you can only copy it. Genius, I know.

Properly implemented, now you’ve covered mobile-listeners who don't on the regular, added support for the two most popular listening apps, and provided uncommon options for the people who just would rather listen to your content some other way.

That's what I'm working on this week. If you're a client of mine, that means all new stuff for you and some changes. We'll help you implement these changes, obviously, because it's what I do.

If you’re a business owner or a professional service provider looking for help getting your company or brand into podcasting, get in touch. You're the kind of client we work with. or go to to see a list of all of the services we offer our clients.

I shall be back tomorrow we get another Podcast Pontifications.