What should your reaction be to the rumored changes coming to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and very-late-to-the-audio-party Facebook?
My suggestion is that you have no reaction.
As much as I enjoy speculating ahead of announcements like these, I’ve some very real concerns that my enjoyment is causing you way too much anxiety and stress. I hate the fact that my breathless enthusiasm for potential changes has a negative impact on the mental health of anyone.
So if you can, suspend your anxiety and worries for just a moment and I’ll let you in on a little secret: Whatever is announced by these big players today, tomorrow, or whenever; there probably isn't anything at all for you to do immediately to better position your podcast to take advantage of them.
And I’m very happy about that!
Big Podcasting Announcements Tend To Be Small Stuff
You’ve likely heard reports from Apple Podcasts beta testers that there’s a new “frequency” badge coming. The thought is that Apple will look at the release dates of episodes in a feed and then determine what badge to display next to the show, ostensibly helping potential listeners understand the episode release schedule they can expect when they follow.
Seems a simple enough thing to do, right? Only it isn’t.
What about my podcast, which comes out four days a week? Will there be a “4x weekly” badge? And what happens when I take my more-than-a-month break twice a year? How will that impact Apple’s calculation on what badge to assign to my show?
What about serialized, self-contained podcasts that are complete and will never have another episode added? Will it say “n/a”? Or will Apple finally use the <itunes:complete> tag that’s been in their spec for more than a decade?
I don’t know, because no one knows. Which means, at this point, you should not care. Remember, this is a value Apple determines based on your show’s feed. It’s not a new tag that your hosting provider will have to incorporate. It’s just going to appear, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
You may recall a few years back with Apple Podcasts added a new “Hosts & Guests” section, and everyone flooded their hosting provider (me too) asking when they’d be able to play. But no, it wasn’t ever anything Apple Podcasts was working directly with hosting providers on. It was (and of this writing, still is) yet another partially-implemented feature that was only offered to a small percentage of shows. All of that anxiety and hand-wringing for nothing.
Or think back to when Spotify added podcasts to their app and how absolutely terrible our carefully crafted episode details displayed in the app. Those giant blocks of text with all formatting and URLs stripped out looked like garbage, and many anxious podcasters were understandably looking for ways around the problem.
But… how? Were we to hack together a different RSS feed and send it only to Spotify? That’s not very sustainable. Luckily, Spotify realized their poor implementation and adjusted, and now episode details display much better.
It’s rumored that Facebook will announce some sort of a new discovery and distribution service in conjunction with Spotify. Ok, that sounds interesting, as Facebook has huge reach. Some are saying this will finally fix podcasting’s discovery problem. But I’m not convinced podcasting has a discoverability problem. Your podcast may not get discovered enough for your liking, and this new service—whatever it is and whenever it rolls out—may help with that. But there’s nothing for you to do ahead of that announcement! So don’t work yourself into a lather just yet.
Podcasting Is Very Fault Tolerant
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of valid podcasts in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and every other directory that haven’t been touched in over a decade. No one has logged in to their hosting companies to take advantage of any new tags. No one has logged into the shows’ dashboards on any app or directory to do any futzing at all.
Yet all those shows still play fine. Each of them is easily discovered by searching for their name. They work. Your show will continue to work too, even if you choose to completely ignore these pending announcements and do nothing—if there’s anything to do at all.
Whatever Facebook announces today and whatever Apple announces tomorrow, don't sweat it. Whatever Amazon Music announces after that and whatever the next big service announces after that; don't sweat it.
You keep on keepin’ on, producing the podcast content that you want to produce. Yes, make sure your fundamentals are covered, and make sure you’ve claimed your show on all the important platforms, in the rare chance that they do require more information than your RSS feed or media hosting company provides.
It's unlikely at any changes announced will force you to make some drastic change to your show to stay active. It hasn't happened yet. And if it does, I promise you’ll hear about it.
Do you have an overly anxious podcasting friend who tends to get wound up over this stuff? Send this episode to them and tell them it's okay to just relax. It’ll take care of itself, and they have more important things to worry about.
And if my words have removed some of your stress, you can thank me by going to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and buying me a virtual coffee.
So remember to breathe and think about other things for the remainder of today. If something was earth-shaking (and I really don’t think it will be), I’ll tell you tomorrow on yet another Podcast Pontifications.