What is podcast media hosting?
There are two different types of hosting that you need to know about as a podcaster.
Web Hosting is the hosting account where your website and all files associated with your site are stored.
Media Hosting is the hosting account that stores and delivers your audio and video files to your subscribers.
There is some confusion about web hosting vs media hosting and whether or not you can or should combine the two?
Can I use web hosting for my podcast media files?
“I’m already paying for Web Hosting… and I get unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth? Right?… Right?”
Well not really.
You get unlimited storage for content related to the needs of your website. That doesn’t mean you can upload your archive of data from all your hard drives and use your Web Hosting Account as your online mass storage service. The terms of service of your web host clearly state you CAN NOT do this.
Similarly, You can’t upload a bunch of media files that are going to be syndicated to other sources unrelated to your website like iTunes and other podcast players. The terms of service in your web hosting account probably state that you CAN NOT do this either.
Also, a shared hosting account which is the type of hosting account most of us indie podcasters and bloggers start out with has finite resources devoted to it. What that means is that although you don’t get charged for using more storage and bandwidth, your site will be suspended if it uses too many resources and starts affecting other peoples sites.
A podcast that becomes really popular will cause a shared hosting account to be suspended pretty quick if you are hosting your media files there.
So if you are starting a new podcast it is a good idea to sign up for a media hosting service in order to serve your podcast to your listeners without any issues.
When you are first starting out you will most likely have low download numbers and therefore the bandwidth used will be minimal. So you could get away with using your web hosting account to deliver your audio or video to your podcast feed. However, as your show gets more popular the bandwidth demands increase. This is especially true when listeners start downloading your podcast back catalog. Once you have 50 episodes and someone discovers your show for the first time and loves the show, they may download not only the 50th show but ALL of your past shows. If enough people do this your web hosting company will suspend your account because the demands on your shared hosting plan are too high.
So where can you put your podcast media files?
- Web Hosting Account
- Amazon S3
- Free podcast hosting services
- Professional Media Hosing company
We’ve already looked at this option. It can be done if your show has minimal downloads but it may be a tedious and unwelcome task to move all your files to a new host and change all the links to your media files in your podcast RSS Feed so that your audience can still get your content.
So I recommend that you not host your syndicated media files on your web hosting account.
Archive.org is a free media file hosting option that many podcasters use. And many people say that it works well for them. The downside is the download speeds are slower and there may be downtime where the files are not available. For the podcaster with no budget at all, archive.org is a good option.
Hosted Services like TalkShoe, Podomatic or Blog Talk Radio
“Everything done for you” services like these may seem like a good solution for a podcaster that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. However, I don’t recommend using a service where you don’t own your RSS Feed. Because if you don’t own your feed then when you leave the service you are leaving your audience behind too. When looking at these services make sure at a bare minimum that you can permanently redirect your RSS Feed if you leave them.
What about Soundcloud?
Soundcloud is not optimized for podcast hosting and does not support the new Apple podcast categories. The Soundcloud stats are meaningless and are easily gamed and manipulated.
Soundcloud is primarily a music sharing and discovery service. They have added podcasting to the mix but their podcasting platform has been in beta for years now. The service isn’t user-friendly yet and requires extra work to find your media file download links compared to the other hosting companies.
So I don’t recommend Soundcloud as your primary media hosting service but you can use them in addition to your main media hosting service so people can find you there.
Amazon Web Services is an affordable file hosting service that is very popular among internet marketers for membership sites and sales page videos or audio files. Although it is affordable per megabyte, it can add up quickly if your show becomes popular. Because it is a variable cost it is not the option that I recommend for podcast media hosting . Also, podcasting has become more complicated over time and Amazon S3 is not optimized for podcasting. As Rob from Libsyn likes to say – Amazon doesn’t host it’s podcasts on Amazon, they use Libsyn. So if Amazon isn’t using their own service for podcasts then that should tell you something.
Free Media Hosting Services
Anchor was originally a social network where you could share short form audio. It was like an audio version of Twitter. It was a neat idea but it never really took off. Anchor went through a couple transformations trying to reinvent itself into something that worked. If finally became a podcast hosting company that offered free podcast hosting with the ability to monetize through their in house advertising platform.
There was some controversy over the terms of service which stated that Anchor had a license to use and repurpose content.
Anchor was purchased by Spotify and is still offering free podcast hosting services to podcasters.
Anchor is an option for podcasters with no budget but I can’t recommend them due to the TOS issues.
Podcast One recently launched its own podcast hosting service, LaunchPadDM which they say is 100% free and gives the podcaster complete control of their content and RSS Feed.
It is too early to say whether this is a good service for podcast hosting.
LaunchpadDM is not IAB Certified.
Best Podcast Media Hosting Services
This is the preferred method if you have a small monthly budget for your show. There are a few options to choose from and all of them are decent media hosting companies.
Libsyn (Liberated Syndication)
Libsyn is the podcast media hosting company that I have experience with. I’ve used them for years now and I am very happy with their service. You pay for monthly storage, not bandwidth. And you won’t get any surprises at the end of the month because the bandwidth is truly unlimited. Libsyn supports podcast destinations and often gives customers early and exclusive access to new podcast destinations. Libsyn is the first and largest podcast hosting company.
Libsyn stats are IAB certified
Blubrry is another top media hosting company and like Libsyn it is owned and operated by podcasters for podcasters. It has some advantages but is on par with Libsyn when it comes to podcasting. Blubrry is also the company behind the very cool WordPress Plugin – Powerpress and the RSS Feed tool – Podcast Mirror.
Blubrry was the first podcast company to be IAB certified.
Podbean is another professional podcast media hosting company. It appears that they are also a good option when it comes to media hosting, however, I have no experience with them and therefore can’t make a personal recommendation. Steve Dotto from Dotto Tech is a person that I respect in the podcasting and technology space and on the Maven Interviews podcast he mentioned that he uses Podbean and is very happy with them. So there you go.
Podbean claims to be IAB compliant but is not yet IAB certified.
Spreaker is a reputable podcast company that is known for its live podcasting tools. You can produce live podcast broadcasts using spreaker studio and they also have a mobile podcast recording app.
Spreaker claims to be IAB comopliant and is in the process of IAB certification.
Transister is a podcast media hosting company that is starting to gain some traction in the podcast space. They are a new startup that is documenting their progress in their own podcast called Build your SAAS.
Transister offers podcasters unlimited shows within various account tiers. This is the distinguishing feature that they offer. You don’t need a separate paid account when you start your second, third or more shows.
Transistor claims to be IAB compliant but is not IAB Certified
Transistor performed well in Daniel J. Lewis’s podcast hosting study.
So do you really need to pay for a separate media hosting?
No, you don’t have to. As you can see there are many options to choose from. But it is a definite best practice option.
What to avoid:
The major mistake that can be made here is subscribing to a service that will hold your audience hostage if you move to a better service. Don’t let them own your feed. This generally eliminates the hosted services like Podomatic and Blog Talk Radio.
Also, don’t let them downgrade your audio quality. Some services will compress the media file which lowers the audio quality. And some services may change your file names to a long impossible to remember name full of numbers and characters. You probably don’t want that either.
Choose a service that is going to be around for a long time (forever is good). You don’t want to have to manually change all your episode links after 400 episodes are in the can… major pain in the butt.
And of course, you want to respect your audiences time so a service that has a slow download speed or has periodic downtime is not convenient for your listeners.
So what is the best option for media hosting?
Clearly, the best option is a professional media hosting company if you can at all afford it.
And Libsyn or Blubrry are the two services that get my recommendation.
More podcast hosting services:
$5 to $40 per month. Libsyn stands for Liberated Syndication and is the oldest and largest podcast hosting company. 28.2% of Apple Podcast downloads...
Paid Podcast Hosting / 153 views