Hosting & Distribution
OR: How to navigate the ocean of podcast hosts/apps, and successfully make your SciComm podcast available online!
Congratulations! You have taken the leap and decided to start your SciComm podcast. Where will you upload it, though? If you hesitate, or are totally at loss with this, this post will help you out.
Podcast technology in pills
Podcasts are distributed to the various streaming portals/podcast apps via what is called an “RSS-feed”. If you upload your podcast on a website that does not generate RSS-feeds, people will only be able to listen to it from that very website. Plus, audio files are generally heavy and not all websites can manage them easily. This is why most people use podcast hosts.
A podcast host is a platform that stores podcasts and generates the RSS-feeds needed for their distribution. Examples of hosting platforms are Podbean, Libsyn, BuzzSprout, Acast, Blubrry. Once you have uploaded your podcast on such a platform, you can embed the episodes in your blog/website. But, most importantly, they will be automatically (or after a few easy steps) available on podcast distribution apps as well. Most hosting platforms offer additional services, like audio-editing tools, plugins for embedding, marketing tools, monetization programmes, analytics… Hosting is generally not for free. Prices and conditions vary, and you should pay attention to other aspects such as data/duration/time limits, and copyright on the uploaded material. To our knowledge, the only hosting platform that allows you to upload and distribute your podcast for free is Anchor.fm (owned by Spotify). There are other free hosting options, which, however, do not generate RSS-feeds. Popular examples are SoundCloud and YouTube: from there you can embed the episodes on a website, but they will not be available on podcast apps.
Podcast apps, or podcast directories, are RSS-feeds readers especially dedicated to podcasts. They allow listeners to browse, subscribe to, stream, download, and manage podcasts that are available for free on line. The most popular are Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcast, but there are many many more (you can find an updated, though not exhaustive, list here). Some of them are also hosting platforms. Some produce their own original podcasts as well. Some adopt the freemium model: you pay if you want extra and/or ad-free content. For now, however, most podcast apps are free for listeners as well as for podcasters. Things might change in the future, though: unfortunately, the clash of the titans (Spotify and Apple) seems to be leading towards an “industrialisation” of the podcast market, to the detriment of independent podcasters (learn more here).
What about SciComm Podcasts...?
So far, there are no platforms dedicated exclusively to SciComm podcasts (it would be a great idea, though… mumble, mumble…). Most apps, however, allow for thematic browsing, so if you want to increase the chances that people stumble upon your podcast, you should make it available on as many podcast apps as possible, or chose the ones that offer appropriate browsing categories for your subject. Besides the big names mentioned above, you might want to find out which are the most popular apps in your country, especially if your podcast is not in English. A few examples: Deezer in France, Spreaker in Italy, Podcaster.de in Germany.
Last but not least: do join the Facebook group Podcasting for SciComm, where you can share your podcast and benefit from the support of fellow SciComm podcasters from all over the world!